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.

loungewear-pj-pant

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

IMG_0620

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

IMG_1059

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.

IMG_1256

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!

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.

img_7396

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.

img_7348

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.

img_7350

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.

img_7391

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.

img_7443

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.

img_7417

Handmade Christmas Gifts 2015

So here’s the run-down of everything I made for Christmas this year. I didn’t make much, which was the right choice given that this was The Year of Stress. I managed to finish everything up by mid-December without any rushed, late night speed-crafting sessions so I’m pleased.

Winterlong

img_7082_medium21

Recipient: My dad’s girlfriend, Jess

Pattern: Winterlong by Bristol Ivy

Yarn: Patons Classic Wool in Grey Mix

Notes: I still love this pattern as much as the first time I made it and would make it a third time in a heart beat. I decided to make this for Jess while we sat together in the waiting room during my dad’s bypass surgery in October. She is a wonderful person, and I was very grateful to have her there.

Family Stockings for the Newest Additions

Modern Classics Stockings

Recipients: Our twin nephews, Gus and Oliver

Pattern: Modern Classics Stocking

Yarn: Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in Hollyberry and White

Notes: This is the sixth and seventh time I’ve made this pattern. I made stockings for me and Aidan about six years ago, and then another set for Aidan’s sister, her wife, and their son a couple of years ago. They had twins in August, and so the new boys needed stockings to match the rest of the family. As I’ve done every time before, I mixed the “classic” and “modern” charts from the pattern. It’s a good thing that these are quick to knit (I think I managed the second one in three days?), because I was not feeling this project, which made for rather joyless obligation knitting.

Ninja PJs

Alex and Anna Winter PJs

Recipients: Our trio of nephews–Rowan, Gus, and Oliver

Pattern: Alex and Anna Winter PJsAlex and Anna Winter PJs

Fabric: Blue Riley Blake “Year of the Ninja” cotton-spandex jersey, plus some black cotton-spandex leftovers for the neckbands and cuffs

Notes: This project was driven entirely by the potential cuteness of getting all three boys in some kind of matching clothes. Rowan is almost five, so getting him on board with matching his baby brothers seemed like a window that could slam shut at any moment. I went with the Winter PJs pattern because it has a huge size range (3 months to a size 12), and because they are similar in style to the PJs Rowan usually wears.

Alex and Anna Winter PJs

Figuring out sizing was a bit tricky. Rowan is such a skinny thing that his waist measurement puts him in the 6 months size. I ended up following the 3T for width (but cutting the elastic shorter than recommended for the 3T) and extending to the 4T for length. The twins’ measurements put them squarely in the 3 months size at Thanksgiving. They are growing fast (as babies do) so I was worried that the 6 mos size would fit them for about a minute, but the next size up was the 12 mos. I improvised a sort of 6-9 months size by using the 6 mos size as a base, adding a little bit of extra length, and then sewing them with a slightly smaller seam allowance.

Alex and Anna Winter PJs

When I was looking for reviews of this pattern, it was hard to find much discussion of the sizing, beyond that they are meant to be close fitting. I haven’t seen the babies in their PJs, but I was surprised at just how close-fitting Rowan’s were, especially since his width-wise measurements put him in the 6 mos size and I made him a 3T in width. It might have just been shocking since he is so skinny that all his clothes are baggy–my father-in-law even asked, “How did you get them to fit so close?”

Alex and Anna Winter PJs

Rowan’s PJs fit him really well right now, but it makes me nervous about the fit on the baby PJs and makes me wish I had washed and dried the fabric twice before cutting. I would also say that the length on Rowan’s pair seems just right for his size. So, to sum it up, these are really cute but you definitely need a jersey with at least 50% stretch and you should just automatically cut one size up–it won’t give you baggy PJs; it will just give you some wiggle room.

So that was the gift scene this year. I don’t think I disappointed anyone terribly by giving them something handmade rather than, say, a Target gift card. The real risk was giving the 4-year-old clothes. But we also gave him a truck that shoots out Hot Wheels, so I think we managed to balance the scales.