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!

A Monkey for My Monkey

I have a backlog of projects that I finished before Jude was born that still need to be blogged. The oldest is probably this little knit monkey, which I made using Rebecca Danger’s Jerry the Musical Monkey pattern.

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I’ve knit this pattern twice before—I made our nephew and our godson both monkeys for their first birthdays, which are only four days apart. It turned out that when I finished the first two monkeys, I had enough yarn left over to make a third. And that yarn has been sitting around in my stash for several years (our nephew and godson both started first grade this fall), waiting for the right recipient.

It turned out that the right recipient was my own little monkey.

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The yarn is Knit Picks Comfy Worsted in Bison and Doe. Again, I bought this yarn several years ago so it doesn’t look like the Bison color is available anymore—I think their current Coffee color is probably the closest match. But I think Comfy works nicely for a toy like this since it is soft but very sturdy.

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I don’t knit a lot of toys because I find them a little tedious and trying. The knitting itself isn’t hard, and this pattern in particular knits up pretty fast. You end up with a whole series of body parts that you have to sew together. And while I am not opposed to stitching together my knitting (I actually kind of love seaming sweaters), I struggle with getting all the parts of a knitted toy together just so to avoid a wonky looking finished product. Basically, the part where you put the toy together and do any embroidery triggers my perfectionism and makes the enterprise kind of stressful.

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The upside of Rebecca Danger patterns is that her design aesthetic is such that a little wonkiness adds to the character of the toy. I mean, I was still a bit particular about how this came together (I’m fairly certain I sewed both the mouth and the legs on twice to get them to a point I could live with), but I was ultimately able to get a cute finish without driving myself completely crazy.

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Anyway. Aidan incorporated the monkey into some of the 1 month shots he took of Jude. Totally worth all the picky assembly!

Socks, Scarves, and Kitties

A busy end of the semester meant lots of stress knitting and now a backlog of yarn-related projects.

Estuary Scarf

First up is Estuary, which I knit up in Knit Picks Gloss Fingering in Blackberry. Estuary is a free lace scarf pattern from the Fall 2012 issue of Knitty. The pattern makes use of two different lace patterns that run alongside one another, which makes for interesting knitting–neither pattern is easy to memorize, especially since you are often increasing or decreasing the size of the scarf through the pattern. The pattern has something like 8 different lace charts, and I definitely had to pay close attention to the charts almost the whole time I was knitting. But I’ve been looking for more challenging patterns, so I enjoyed working on this project.

Estuary Scarf

There is some errata for this pattern. Most of the corrections have been made on the version of the pattern that appears on Knitty, but there was still a point or two where I was confused. The designer actually provides a clearer explanation of the errata in the comments on the Ravelry pattern page.

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I ended up doing an extra repeat of Chart E to make the scarf a bit longer and deeper. My finished scarf is about 82″ long and about 16.5″ wide. I didn’t block this very aggressively (primarily because I was feeling too lazy to pin out the lace). If I had pinned it out, I’m sure it would have ended up a few inches deeper. I’m really pleased with the shape and the size of the scarf, and very happy to have this in my closet.

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After I knit up Estuary, I went ahead and finished up a pair of socks that I started at the beginning of this year. This is Glenna C’s A Nice Ribbed Sock Pattern, which is another free pattern for a top-down 3×1 ribbed sock. The yarn is Knit Picks Stroll Tonal in Raven.

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I love these socks. Purple is clearly my color right now. Not only are these socks and my Estuary scarf purple, but my Onyx Shirt and Camas Blouse are both in a sort of reddish-purple.

Dumpling Kitty

My last project is probably one of the cutest things I’ve made. This is the Dumpling Kitty pattern, which is a free crochet pattern that was posted on Ravelry recently. It’s so cute and requires such a small amount of yarn that I had to make it when I saw the pattern. The gray yarn is leftover from my Madigan pullover and the white is leftover from the stockings I made my nephews for Christmas.

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I’ve been able to manage the basics of crochet for about the same amount of time that I’ve been knitting, but I crochet so rarely that I’m definitely still a crochet beginner. But I found this pattern very easy to follow, and I’m really happy with the finished project. I have no idea what I’m actually going to do with it–maybe use it as a pin cushion? Or maybe it will just continue to live on the bookshelf.

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I enjoyed my Dumpling Kitty crochet experience so much that I actually pulled some yarn out of the stash and started crocheting a blanket just for fun. I like the experience and process of crocheting, but I never really know what to make. So I figured I would just match some yarn to a pattern and then find someone to give it to when it’s done. This is Vickie Howell’s Chevy Baby Blanket, which is yet another free pattern. (I swear I usually pay for patterns.) The yarn is Lion Brand Heartland in Glacier Bay. This pattern is very easy for a crochet novice like me, and I feel like working on a larger project like this is really helping me work on getting a more even tension. I’ve been on the lookout for other crochet projects to take on when this is done, so who knows where this new interest in crochet might lead.