Monday, December 03, 2007


As with all good things, once I declared the end of the blog I immediately missed it and backpedaled in my mind. I've been thinking about it all week and here is the problem with ending a blog: that's a LOT of your life to just delete. It isn't like a paper journal where you can just shelve it and let it gather dust until you want to read or use it again.

I just got tired of taking and editing photos of my stuff (started to feel more like work than fun) and for whatever reason I was feeling very, very awkward about the content dealing with my pregnancy and loss. Every time I thought about it I felt very naked, indeed.

But jeez, when I think of deleting it all, I feel sad! I guess I want to be a part of this community more than I realized. Plus, every single day of the past week I've found myself doing/making something and composing a post in my mind to go along with it. I have quilt blocks and ornaments and cookies and a decorated tree to share...and I guess I forgot that since I don't do a ton of socializing in 'real life' the internet is where I go to share this stuff with my friends.

So is it ok if, rather than ending it now, I just declare an extended break, say until the new year? I'll take this month to rejuvenate myself and figure out what I want to do. Maybe I can learn some web design stuff so I can make this page look more interesting - for me and for you. Perhaps I can finally search out a good place in my house to take natural light photos of my projects, rather than just throwing them on my dining room table and then trying to adjust the lighting in my very elementary photo-editing program.

I guess what I'm saying is, rather than ditching the blog, I'd like a chance to make it better instead. Yes? No?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


I think the time has come to put the blog out to pasture.

I realized after Thanksgiving weekend that all I think to do here is complain - case in point, our Thanksgiving weekend was kind of a miserable experience and it's all I could think of to write about on Sunday, yesterday, and today. And who wants to visit a blog that's just a bunch of whining about stuff? No thanks.

This blog and the internet community have been a great thing in my life for the past 2 years. All of the kind words and thoughts you all shared when my life was capsizing helped right the ship and send me on my way...more than once, I might add.

I know there are a couple of you who will say, "no! don't go!" and to you I say thanks, I am completely flattered. But you know who you are and we have a relationship outside this forum, which I intend to keep up. I will visit your blogs for as long as you care to write them, and I will email and IM as per usual. There are some who will say, "I understand, do what you need to" and to you I say thanks, also, for getting it. And anyone else will say, "who cares?" and delete me from their blogrolls. That's fine, too.

I'm sorry if this seems sudden, but it is not sudden for me. I've been thinking it through for awhile now, and it's just not working for me anymore.

Thank you for hanging with me through 382 posts! I may come back under another name at another time. We'll see what feels right. I'll leave this up for a bit before I zap it out of existence, leaving it in the google cache forever.

Monday, November 19, 2007


Just popping in to report that housing construction continues apace:

Five houses are completed for my new bedquilt. This pattern is fun and highly challenging until you figure out the proper way to place all the roof pieces. Or maybe I'm just dumb. But I finally got the hang of marking and pinning properly, and now one of these houses is my reward during naptime if all my chores get done. I'm just using whatever stash calicoes float my boat, with a background of 200-count muslin in ivory.

And this is most of one sleeve of Daughter's next sweater. Anyone recognize the pattern? Hint: it's a Starmore design. I love it and I've only made one big screw-up on it so far - last night I unraveled about 17 rows of one cable to correct a twist that was going the wrong way. Why can you never spot those mistakes until you've knit on for several inches?!? Anyway, you can see toward the top left in the photo where the stitches look lumpy and sloppy. I'm hoping that will work itself flat in the blocking and wearing of the sweater.

This sweater, along with some socks, mittens, and hats for my little family, will be accompanying me on a long, long drive for the holiday. I just dragged a suitcase down from storage and it's aired out now, so time to start packing for the 3 of us.

Many Thanksgiving blessings to you and yours. If you are traveling, be safe. If you see a red minivan hauling down I-90 West towards Illinois with a crazed knitter in the passenger seat, wave to me!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

a sweater and a schoolhouse

Hey! I missed my two-year blogiversary at the beginning of the month. Oh well, that shows you how much I'm into blogging these days. Bleh. I'm turning into one of those people who irk me...the once-a-week posters. Yikes!

Thing is, not too much has been going on. Daughter is at an age where she can do so much, but she wants me with her. She has so few playmates that I have to fill in and color/play blocks/eat pretend food/etc. and that barely leaves me time to cook and clean and do a few things for myself. Also, I really don't want to talk much about Daughter anymore, because she is getting older and deserves privacy. I personally don't agree with sharing every aspect of a child's life on the world wide web. I mean, think about that. I don't really want anyone with a computer and an internet connection reading about my child and her bowel habits and whatnot. Though I will brag for a moment that Daughter can write most of the alphabet. And no, we did not make her start writing letters, she tried on her own and then asked us to show her. Good heavens, I love that child. I'm so glad she loves to learn new things!

And I could tell you how I almost had a throwdown with one of the moms at Daughter's playgroup this morning over the appropriateness of video games for toddlers (her: they're cool! me: you're high!) but you don't need to read me being all opinionated yet again.

Moving on, I have been making some stuff:

Sweater for Daughter. Because I still haven't found a good worsted-weight cardigan pattern that has lots of cables in a 2-3 year size, I was forced to semi-design one.

This is the Knitting Pure and Simple neckdown cardigan in a 2-4 year size. I modified the heck out of it, though. First, I knit it down a needle size. I can't do worsted weight on size 9 looks like crap. This is using size 8 needles and I am happy.

Next, I chose 3 cables from a book o' knitting patterns. The front, seen above, sports a simple 6-row cable twist going in opposite directions.

The back is kind of yucky. I asked Hubs to choose a cable and he chose this. It's ok, but I miscalculated its width and ended up with it sort of kissing the rest of the sweater body. It would look a lot better if there were stitches separating it from the body. Woops. That's why I tried this little experiment using Wool-Ease I got on clearance for $1.19 a skein.

I chose a third cable to go down the middle of the sleeve. I like this - it reminds me of pretzels. Mmmm.....pretzels. I shoved my sleeve press inside so the cables would open up for the photo, which is why it looks funky at the bottom.

The other mod I tend to do with these KP&S patterns is to change the ribbing to seed stitch. I just like the look and I prefer the edgings hang straight rather than pull in.

Now I have only 2 projects on needles. WEIRD. There's a shawl and a pair of socks. Everything else has been finished or ripped. I've finally reached a place in my knitting where I give myself permission to rip something if it's boring me to tears. I used to try forcing myself to finish stuff that I was hating, and it made me unhappy. Life's too short. Knitting is supposed to be fun.

In the vacuum left by the lack of knitting projects, I've rediscovered my yen for piecing quilts. We desperately need a new bedcover of some sort. Right now we are sleeping under a $25 clearance WalMart comforter that I picked up in an emergency 2 years ago, after our much nicer comforter was stolen from the laundromat. (That was annoying, though I quickly decided that someone wouldn't likely steal a comforter for fun - whoever took it must have needed a warm blanket.) Anyway, it's ugly and plain and some of the stitching has started popping out from use and repeated washings. So I'm going to try to make a new quilt. I say I'll try because I'm awfully good at starting things with good intentions. Finishing, though...not my forte. But I will try, and the pattern I want to do is this one:

I desperately love schoolhouse quilts. This is such a classic block, made all old-school with templates and everything. I can't believe how many of these were made in the old days, because the bias seams are enough to make you nuts, but I made this block today in about an hour (by machine) and it's not too bad if you take your time.

The quilt I want to make has lots of schoolhouses and they are interspersed with birds made from the drunkard's path pattern. Those almost have to be pieced by hand because of the curved seams, which might make good TV-watching work. I'll try one and see how it goes...if it's terrible I'll eliminate the birds and just make the schools. If I can get the whole top done I hope to have it professionally machine quilted. That's expensive, but I have a friend who does it and I'm hoping she'll give me a discount!

We're going away for Thanksgiving this year. Crazy! We never go anywhere! But little sis is hosting, so away we will go. I don't know how much I'll be around between now and then...I might use this as a break to get over my blogging ennui. I'll see how it goes.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


Hello, hello...I'm here, just not very interested in blogging these days. Also, I'm in the beginning stages of caffeine weaning, which sucks out loud and leaves me with very low energy. It's all I can do to shower, do laundry, and prepare meals just now. I love you, coffee. I'll miss you. Mwah!

In the burst of late-night energy I experience 'round about 9:30 pm, I've been working on some winter necessities:

Clockwise from upper left:

Basic hat for Daughter in wool-ease...some sort of heathered rose colorway.

Cable hat with tassels for moi, knitted using Lion Brand Fisherman Wool that I dyed myself using Rit. The pattern is from Inspired Cable Knits, and I'm happy to report it was a well-written pattern and easy to execute. Can't wait to try more from this gorgeous book.

Mittens for Daughter knit from some leftover Baby Ull in a pretty purple. I used a vintage pattern and they came out cute, but a bit snug due to my super-tight knitting. Whoops. Oh well, they fit for now.

And one of my favorite projects of all time - wee knee socks of my own design (if you can really call it a design), knitted from Naturespun Fingering in the ash colorway. These were knitted on size 1 needles at a gauge of 10 stitches/inch. I did a bunch of measuring and hoped for the best, and these fit Daughter's little legs and feet perfectly. I'm quite pleased with how they came out!

I've also done some sewing. First up, I finally used up these dang yo-yos that I started making in, like, 2003:

Last year I intended to make a garland from these for Christmas, but I ran out of time. They went back into their box until a few weeks ago when I got a wild hair to finish stuff (again). Turns out I had 107 of these babies, so I put 100 of them together in a 10X10 mat for my dining room table. It makes me happy. Daughter is using the remaining 7 as "cookies" in her play. So it was a win-win.

And for today's final f.o., I finished this little quilt last night:

This is my own "design" in that I didn't follow anyone else's written instructions. Just a basic grid-o-squares. The squares are 2" finished size, and the whole thing is roughly 30" X 30". I intended this as a decorative covering on the wall where our ugly gray circuit panel is in the hallway off the family room. Unfortunately I mis-measured and that section of wall is just about exactly 30", so I'm not sure it will work out. Too bad, I guess I'll just have to make another wee quilt!

And speaking of quilts, I just checked out a slew of great quilting books from the library - books I've never seen before, filled with classic quilt designs. I've already picked out around 15-20 that I have to make right now. Yeah, right. Let's see if I can make one. Heck, let's see if I can finish a few more languishing projects, eh?

Monday, October 29, 2007

thank you

Thank you all so, so much for your kind words of understanding and encouragement.

I've discussed it thoroughly with Hubs, and it looks like we will wait another month know...go for it. Yes, there is a chance it will take more than one cycle, but history sort of says otherwise, so I don't think we want to start actively trying right now. I understand those of you who said I have a right to be selfish and do whatever I feel is right for my family, and believe me, I gave that more than a little consideration. The thing is, other than my husband and daughter, my two younger sisters mean more to me than anyone. I just can't, in good conscience, risk ruining my sister's big day. Nor do I want to miss it because I'm in the hospital. She's the middle child, folks. The poor girl never seems to get the spotlight, and she surely deserves all eyes on her for her wedding day.

This is so draining. Thank you for being my sounding board. More to come, I'm sure.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

woe is me

I've been struggling with the decision about whether or not to discuss pregnancy issues on the blog. I'm pretty sure - like 99.9% sure - that I am NOT in fact pregnant right now, so this is not me trying to be coy. I'm just not sure how much to say or not say. Should I just go about my life and announce it when I'm about to give birth? Should I drag you all through the sludge from conception through morning sickness and boob pain and misery on up to the big day? Does anyone besides me even care? (That is a joke, of course - I know some of you care very much, and I appreciate that.)

I guess I'm going to talk about it a little right now, because the thing bothering me today is not something my husband will really 'get.'

I have finally reached a point in my feelings about carrying another child where excitement has conquered abject terror. We've set things in motion, which for now just means I'm no longer ingesting artificial hormones at the same time every day. We've waited the required month for my cycle to 'reset' itself (I am expecting my, uh, 'monthly visitor' any day now), and dudes, I'm ready to go. Let's do this thing! Yeah! Babytime!

The problem is, if we go for it now, according to the online due date calculator I consulted, I would be having a baby on or about August 2, 2008.

The exact same day my sister has chosen for her wedding.

I realize waiting another month is not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but it has me feeling pretty dejected right now. If we wait until December, I would be 8 months pregnant at the wedding, which I really don't mind. But it would mean an extra month of being pregnant at the hottest time of year in Buffalo. A bit annoying. And my children will be one more month apart in age. And it would likely affect the school year calendar cutoff date. DON'T roll your eyes! These are things I think about! If anything remotely positive came out of losing our child last year, it was the opportunity to PLAN the next one. And now my plan feels foiled.

This is probably just my hormones talking.

I don't know.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

FO: twirly dress v2.0

I made another Sew Baby Twirly Dress for Daughter, and this one came out awesome:

I had way less trouble with this second version. I was waffling on this pattern after my first attempt, but now I am fully in love with it. This is another size 2, with a 6-gore skirt. The fabric is 100% polyester knit, billed as 'bathrobe fabric' on the bolt. It is SO soft and velour-like that I broke my own rule about dressing my kid in natural fibers. And frankly, the poly behaved a lot better than the 100% cotton I used last time. My twin needle worked way better also. This has been washed and worn several times and is holding up incredibly well. I see many more of these dresses in Daughter's future!

And now, a question for the knitters: can anyone point me in the direction of a pattern for a worsted-weight cable-knit cardigan for toddlers? I'm looking for size 2-4 range (I will make it a bit big if necessary so Daughter can wear it a long time). Alice Starmore has some nice cable-knit pullovers, and I actually have one set to go, but I'd like a nice, heavy cardigan for Daughter to wear this fall and winter. All I can find are patterns for dk/sport or lighter, or enormous sizes that Daughter won't wear till she's in 4th grade. Help! Anyone?

If I can't find one I will be forced to take the Knitting Pure and Simple cardigan pattern and re-design it full of cables, which I am NOT good at, and it won't be fun. :(

Monday, October 22, 2007

prepping for the baby boom

I have been shopping here and there, picking up the last of Daughter's winter necessities. Today was boots, because even though it is a very unseasonable and record-breaking 76 degrees outside, this is Buffalo and it could snow any minute. Last year I bought her boots at WalMart because they were actually some of the nicer boots I saw for the money I was willing to pay. We went back today and we got exactly the same ones, but of course in a bigger size and this time we got pink instead of purple. Awesome, done with that chore!

Anyway, I always peruse the craft section at WalMart because there are hidden treasures to be found. Today it was super clearance baby yarn.

What we got today is on the right. Eight skeins of cream "Bernat Baby" and one skein of baby blue (that was all they had). These were marked $1.50, but I have learned to check that with one of those self-scanner things. Guess what? They were really $1.00 each. A BUCK! I think this yarn is what used to be called "Bernat Lollipop" and it must not be selling or something, because WalMart is unloading their stock. So I grabbed all the cream ones because cream is unisex and I have eleventy-billion vintage baby patterns that call for fingering weight yarn. Yes, it is 100% acrylic, but let me tell you my feelings on baby knits: first of all, acrylic can go in the washer and dryer and it comes out just fine. Secondly, I have been a new mom, and I have experienced the "holy crap, where did I leave [insert lost object here]" phenomenon, and how much worse would you feel losing a baby knit that cost $50 to make than one costing $8 or so? And finally, acrylic is actually really, really soft and nice against baby skin. So I use it.

On the left in the above photo is another clearance score, this time from Joann Fabrics. I was meandering around there during some very precious and rare free time (mom had Daughter, thank you mom!), and saw a huge bin of "Sensations Bellezza Collection Tesoro" yarn marked $1.57 per ball. This stuff is worsted weight 100% wool and buttery soft. It originally sold for $5 per ball and I would use my coupons to buy one or two balls at a time to make baby hats for Daughter. It is some of the softest yarn I have ever experienced, and a well-kept secret as I never really see anyone blogging about projects knitted with it. I scooped up every off-white ball I could find and came away with 11. I giggle with glee when I think of this yarn - enough for a large, heavily cabled sweater for Daughter - stashed in my craft cupboard.

Why all these baby yarn purchases? Check this out:

My hairdresser, who is the daughter of my former boss at the sewing store, is getting married in February and whoops! She just discovered she is pregnant. Of course I must make her something.

Hubs' close friend from high school is planning to marry his longtime girlfriend sometime next Spring, and the girlfriend told me last night that she hopes to have a baby by Christmas '08.

Hubs' brother, who just got married 2 weeks ago, just informed us that they will be trying to get pregnant within a year.

My sister just got engaged on Saturday, will be getting married next Summer, and as she is 29 and her fiance is 36, they will not be waiting terribly long to start their family.

And finally, Hubs and I are - gulp - trying again. For us, that typically means 'quit using birth control and ponder for half a second having another baby...WHAM! Pregnant!' So stay tuned on that one, friends.

So yeah, a veritable baby boom over the next few years! And if I do conceive, I am anticipating morning sickness (aka all-day sickness), so that cuts out several months of quality knitting time. And once another baby comes, there goes the rest of my time, like, forever and ever. So I better bust a move on these baby knits while I can!

Friday, October 19, 2007


I am having one of "those" weeks. Just lots of stuff happening around me but none of it directly concerning me, so it's like I'm standing still in the middle of a maelstrom.

I have complained here about my in-laws, which I probably should not but come on, a girl's gotta vent. Well, my father-in-law suffered a small stroke on Monday (he seems ok though) and has pneumonia which has led to sepsis. Hubs has been doing his best all week to shuttle his mom back and forth to the hospital (she does not drive much more than 3-4 miles from her home in any direction) while still going to work and trying to spend time with me and Daughter. They make it difficult. Wednesday night his mother started a fight on the way home that led to her screaming and swearing at him and now we're not speaking to them...again. It is all so stupid. We have no idea if his dad is even still in the hospital or what. They are 60 and 55 and just about unable to care for themselves anymore. What are we to do?!?

Daughter and I have been butting heads all week. It's getting old.

I feel terribly unmotivated today. It's dark. It's dreary. I've been halfheartedly scrounging around for a fall scented candle to light to cheer me up, but I can't find one. I'd go to the craft store and procure one, but getting my kid to go potty, put her shoes on, and get out to the car is way hard these days.

I barely feel like moving from the couch. Bleeeeeeeehhhh.

Hopefully I will rejuvenate this weekend and be back with something fun on Monday.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


The setting: I am eating cereal at the kitchen table. Daughter is meandering around the kitchen, making demands.

Daughter: Mommy! I want to watch Dragon Tales! Put it on!

Me: Sweetie, I am finishing my cereal. I will put the TV on when I am done with my breakfast.

D: Mommy! Dragon Tales! PLEASE!

M: Honey, it's not even time for Dragon Tales yet. Please let me finish my cereal now.

D: WAAAAAAAH! Dragon Tales right now mumble cry mumble cry...

M: Honey, it's just not time yet. A few more minutes. Please stop crying now.

D (walking away toward family room): oKAY Mommy.


D: WhatEVER.

Monday, October 15, 2007

monday monday

Ok, I took out the controversial parts of my post from last week. It was starting to turn into a discussion of what should or should not be worn to church and that was totally not my point at all, so I removed those things. Those who read it know what I said, those who come to it later won't understand the comments already in place but I don't care...I'm not interested in igniting a firestorm of religious issues on my little craft blog!

This was a totally stressful weekend - but in a good way. My two younger sisters came to town to attend a dinner in honor of my dad, and one brought her mucho serious boyfriend with her. Now, in my younger days I bought such a parade of losers through my parents' door it's not even funny. When I brought Hubs home for the first time it wasn't any big deal...just another dude to meet. (Luckily he turned out to be a winner!) But my sister has never once brought anyone home. She was never the type to waste her time, so she has waited pretty patiently to meet a great guy, and it seems she finally has. This was stressful for them, I'm sure, but for us also, because we wanted to make a good impression on him and make him feel welcome in our family, since it looks like things are heading in that direction. My little sis! Probably gettin' hitched! Yikes! I can't take it!

Then last night was Hubs' company award banquet and dinner. I can't say too much about what he does because it would easily give away the company he works for, but suffice it to say many, many young people work for the organization - teens and early 20s make up a large chunk of the employee base - so it was an interesting evening of being one of the "old" people in the room. This is the first one I've attended in the 4 years Hubs has worked for the company, and wouldn't you know it, this is the one all the other department wives skipped. So it was all these guys from the IT department and me. Mmmmmmkay! Fun! Luckily I have at least briefly met all these guys before so I was able to chat with them, and they were all very nice to lay off the work talk and include me in the conversation.

Exhausting, though! Long weekend. Lots going on.

Because the banquet went so late last night we left Daughter with my parents, so I have today to do whatever I want. I slept in till 11:00 (!!!) and now it's just so quiet. I think I'll take myself out for coffee and perhaps browse the craft stores. I haven't had a whole day off since Daughter was born. This is gonna be nice!

Friday, October 12, 2007

a finished garment

Dress coat, Simplicity 4712, size 2.

Melton 100% wool, coat-weight, from

4 gold anchor buttons, from Joann Fabrics. Black velvet ribbon trim (found at AC Moore) on the pockets and sleeves.

Collar could still use some attitude adjustment from my steam iron. Tag says 'handmade by Katherine.'

I am very pleased with this little coat. Daughter looks darling in it, and I plan to knit up black mittens and a little black hat to go with it. The pattern includes a beret, and I have enough wool, but I really want something to cover her ears, and I fear the wool would be itchy on her forehead.

The only real problem is that I made the 2 because these patterns always come out so huge, and it just fits. I don't know if she will get a whole winter's worth of use out of it. Should have made the size 3, darn it. I'll make a note on the pattern so that next winter, when I go to make a bigger one, I will make the 4.

Wool is really easy to sew, but really challenging to cut and the seam allowances are super bulky. Nothing insurmountable, but with that pleat in the back plus the collar I had 6 layers going on by the time I stitched the facing down. Yikes! I had to really wrestle the facings into place and stitch them firmly to the seam allowances on the inside to keep them from rolling out. But I highly recommend the pattern. Very well written and very easy construction.

There's more, more, more...but I have to go clean my house. We have a black-tie thingy tomorrow night honoring my dad and my aunt is coming to stay with Daughter. Therefore I must scrub my house to avoid potential embarrassment. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


It is chilly today, hurrah! I can't believe I am saying that, but the extended heat and humidity through the beginning of October were totally wearing me down. Plus, cold weather means warm clothes which means Daughter can finally start wearing all of the fall and winter garments I've been making for her.

Last night I actually spent time in front of her closet, planning what cute thing she could wear to playgroup today. I know, that's so lame. But she is small and still suggestible (most of the time) and darn it, I'm going to dress her in sweet girl outfits until she won't let me anymore.

Today she wore her Thanksgiving jumper from last year. You can see it here. Notice how it's below her knees in that picture? *Sigh.* Now it barely covers her bottom. She also wore Secret Garden, which finally fits her 1.5 years after I finished it. Combined with pigtails and cute brown/ivory herringbone tights, the outfit was really cute. She got lots of compliments from the teacher and the moms in our playgroup, and then someone asked me where the sweater came from. I said that I knit it, and people, believe me, I am the most self-deprecating person you'll meet (in real life...I know I sometimes brag here but that's different, you know?). So I definitely didn't say it in a braggy way, but it's a small classroom and most of the moms heard the conversation.

A few minutes later, the teacher asked about the jumper. Specifically, she asked, "is that from this year?" And internally I did some serious cabbage-patching because YEE-HAW! My goal in life is to make clothes that look OTR, and she thought it was from one of the baby store fall collections! However, externally I just smiled and answered that I made the dress. Demurely, I assure you.

And here we come to the point of this post, which is the offense I take at some peoples' reactions to handmade stuff. Specifically, to handmade stuff that's made relatively well. I work really, really hard to make nice things for Daughter, and I am very, very flattered when someone compliments me on them. I never, never, never tell anyone that I made something unless they ask where it came from, and I always downplay it. That's because it's my hobby, and I do it for fun, not for compliments.

The thing is, one of the moms, when I said I made the dress too, made that noise people make that sounds sort of disgusted, sort of annoyed, sort of mean. That phlegmy, throaty "ech." Then she launched into a diatribe about her sister-in-law and how "Martha" she is because she can make anything and she's "so crafty."

Why do people do this?

I'll tell you what, one reason I like the internet/blog craft community is because of the unwavering support all of us give one another in our undertakings. No one in this arena says "ech" when they see someone's creation. I got thinking seriously about this after reading Jane's post today regarding reactions to her book about the domestic arts. They are arts, and just because you don't necessarily participate in all of them doesn't mean you have to react badly to people who do. So you buy all your kid's clothes at Gymboree, or Old Navy, or the Gap, or Target. So your hobby is baking, or reading, or gardening and not knitting or sewing. Doesn't mean my hobby is any less meaningful.

I don't know, it just bugs me.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

a gal's gotta accessorize

On a scale of 1 to 10, how sick is it that when I spied these knee socks on the rack, I immediately started planning homemade dresses and sweaters to go with them for Daughter?


WalMart, believe it or not. $1.97 for two pair. We got a two-pack of plain white cable knit ones too, but they are already in the washing machine for immediate wear. Sa-weet!

(They also have some very nice knee and over-the-knee socks for mamas...I got some of those too!)

Monday, October 08, 2007

she's ready for her spa day

Well, today should be the last of the freakishly hot fall weather. It was in the 80s today but should be only 40s-50s by the weekend. Huzzah! I'm looking forward to it, but be forewarned...I'll be here complaining about the cold soon enough. Bah!

I stitched through the sweat today to produce the second of four garments I've got cut out for Daughter (but didn't get a photo of it yet). The weekend wasn't as productive as I'd hoped due to a combination of heat/humidity, headcold, and general outside work to prep the house and yard for the coming seasons, so I only got one thing sewn up:

Daughter now has a bathrobe! This is a very old Simplicity pattern that I got from Karen, who is so amazingly awesome at finding vintage stuff I swear I am going to make her my personal shopper. (What do you think, Karen? You keep me supplied with amazing sewing/knitting stuff, and I will keep you in handmade socks. Deal?)

I ordered this double-sided minky fabric last month from, and people, I am asking you right now to please, please strike me down if I ever so much as suggest that I will make another garment using this stuff. It is brutal to work with. I am used to nice, smooth wovens and I think I will stick with them in the future. The minky makes a lovely finished garment, but I would be extremely embarrassed if anyone actually overheard all the swears I muttered while working with it. Perhaps if it wasn't double-sided it would have been easier.

Anyway, the collar came out kind of funky - it is supposed to lay flat - and the bulkiness of the minky was very challenging. But overall I am pleased, and Daughter is over the moon. She now has a robe to wear after her "nice, warm tubby" just like Mommy. In fact, it's 80 degrees and she won't take the silly thing off!

I have one tip for working with this stuff. I had to make 3 buttonholes and was stymied by that. How do you mark on double-sided minky?!? Well, I mostly winged it on the sleeve darts, but I needed the buttonholes to be correct. So I drew them correctly spaced on some tissue stabilizer stuff I have (no label so I don't know exactly what it is), then pinned the stabilizer to the robe placket. I was able to stitch the buttonholes through the tissue and then tear it away and voila! Perfect buttonholes. I repeated that with the 3 buttons and stitched them down by machine too. That was the easiest part of the project by far!

So that's done, and there's a dress to show when I get around to taking a photo of it. Actually, it's in the "needs hand-finishing" pile awaiting a hook & eye closure and it needs the facings tacked down, so hopefully I'll get to that soon. Then it's on to the wool dress coat with velvet ribbon trim...ooh la la! Can't wait!

Friday, October 05, 2007


Ugh. I am sick. I have a headcold, which would be swell if the weather was cool and rainy, as it should be on October 5. When I said I wasn't ready for autumn, I didn't mean it should be record-breakingly hot well into October (92 degrees today! 92!). Enough already, I want tea and chicken soup, not shorts and sweat.

I'm hoping to clear the sewing queue this weekend...I cut out a twirly dress, a minky robe, and a wool coat for Daughter today, and I have a corduroy dress cut and ready to stitch as well. So my hands are shot and my Ginghers are smokin', but everything I've had planned to sew for fall is ready and waiting. Just have to slam some DayQuil and rev up my Bernina. And try not to drip snots on everything. Ew!

Have a good weekend, all. Hopefully I'll be here on Monday with a clear head and some finished garments to share.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

strip-piecing one-oh-one

I was asked for a little tutorial on strip piecing for quilts. Here's a really quick 'n dirty look at this efficient and fun process, using 2.5" strips (though you can use any measurement you like):

You need fat quarters, scraps, or even full cuts of fabric. I'm using fat quarters because I have a million of them and it's easier to show the steps with large, even pieces. I highly recommend using 100% cotton (though I know lots of people like to do "mixed media" types of quilts with linen and stuff...that's ok too). I am also working with only 2 fabrics, but you can use as many as you have. You also need a pressing surface, a hot iron (steam or not, doesn't matter), a rotary cutter, a large acrylic ruler, and a cutting mat. Also, of course, a sewing machine!

Iron your chosen fabrics and place them as straight as possible on your cutting surface. I have 2 fat quarters stacked here, but I find I can comfortably and accurately cut 4 to 6 layers at a time. Experiment to see what you're comfortable with.

Line the ruler up with the grid lines on the mat and carefully cut off the edges of the fabric. There are different schools of thought on using the cutting mat for this purpose - I am in the camp that says go ahead and use it for squaring up fabric.

Line up the ruler using the grid as a guide to make a straight cut. Carefully cut the raw edges off. Then spin the board around rather than moving the fabric so you don't distort the nice clean cut you've just made.

Line up the cut edge of the fabric with the 2.5" mark on the ruler.

When using a large ruler like this, carefully spread your fingers out to stabilize the ruler. I've seen some really horrific injuries due to slippage when rotary cutting. BE CAREFUL! Don't try to rotary cut when your kids are anywhere nearby.

Carefully cut a 2.5" strip.

Continue cutting your fat quarters or scraps into 2.5" strips, moving strips out of the way as they are cut, and lining the ruler up with the freshly cut edge each time.

This is a Bernina 1/4" foot. If you have one, use it! Many sewing machine shops stock generic 1/4" feet if you want to invest in one - you just need to know if your machine is straight or slant shank. If you don't have one and don't want to buy one, use a piece of masking or painter's tape to mark an exact 1/4" from the needle. In quilting it's really important to be exact with your seams.

Stitch two strips, right sides together, using a precise 1/4" seam allowance. Pin if you feel more comfortable doing so.

Lay the strip set on your ironing surface.

Gently press to set the stitches.

Open the strip set, with the seam allowance toward the dark fabric (the green).

Press very gently. Press is the key word, do not iron like you are trying to take the wrinkles out of your husband's khakis right before you have to leave for church on Sunday morning. That would distort the strip set.

Carefully lay your pressed strip set on the cutting mat.

Line up the markings on the ruler with the edge of the top strip (in my example that happens to be at the 16.5" line but it doesn't matter which mark you choose).

Slice off the raw edge junk and toss it.

Spin your cutting board around, and line up the ruler with the 2.5" mark at the cut edge of the strip set. Here you have the added plus of being able to line up the ruler markings with the seam you've already sewn...that's what I'm trying to show with my finger.

Slice as many 2.5" segments as you can get out of the set. Again, steady the ruler with your hand and cut very carefully.

This is two of the above segments placed as they will be sewn.

Here is the same thing from the back. See why you press to the dark? Now the seams will "lock" into each other.

Two segments placed right sides together. Note the awesome interlocking seams. Whoever invented this method was a genius. Stitch, pinning if you like, using a precise 1/4" seam.

Here is the finished four-patch fresh from the machine.

Gently press to set the stitches.

Open the four-patch and press the seam to one side.

Gently press from the right side.


You can make a ton of these in any fabrics you like, just always press to the darker fabric. To join more units together, be sure to line them up so the seams nestle into each other and you'll get nice matching points at the corners of the squares every time.

I did a four-patch for speed purposes today, but to make a nine-patch or larger, make your strip sets larger. For example, to make a nine-patch, do two strip sets: in my case green/yellow/green, and yellow/green/yellow. Always press to the green, and slice the same way to make 2.5" chunks. Then just line them up with nestled seams. I'm not sure if that's clear - in the next few days I can try to get a nine-patch example up here. Beginning quilting books can be found in abundance at my local library, and I bet that's the case nationwide. Check out a book of basics for more info on strip-piecing! It's definitely addictive!

Monday, October 01, 2007

back to normal

Well, it sure feels like the day after Christmas around here. Biiiiiiiiiiiiig weekend...big letdown once it's over.

Everything went as well as it could have. There were a few mishaps (apparently the mother of the bride burned a hole in the veil while attempting to steam it...right before the photographer showed up), but it all came off just fine in the end. The bride was so beautiful she didn't even look real...she was radiant. Handsome groom, adorable ringbearer and flower girl, the works. My reading went great and I actually got lots of compliments, so that was nice for my ego.

The bride walked down the aisle to "Looking Through the Eyes of Love" sung and played on guitar by the church cantor. He had a beautiful tenor and just recalling it makes me tear up. So light and lovely for a sunny, warm wedding day.

Here are the 4 "siblings" - sorry for the blurred faces but it is out of respect for my hubby, his bro, and the bride. Also, I am paranoid about internet weirdos. Obviously, hubby is the tall one on the left, then me, the freaking gorgeous bride, and my bro-in-law. Looks like the bride and I have the same taste in jewelry. Pearls are always classic and pretty, don't you think?

And check out this incredible cake:

It has a fountain in it! How cool is that?!? Each of those layers is covered in fondant, and all those concentric circles are made of different shades of fondant. Wild!

So it was good. We are tired. Just laying around here today munching junk food and drinking coffee, and doing major laundry. It's amazing how much laundry and mess there is after 3 days of hardly even being home.

Thursday, September 27, 2007


Oh duuuuuuuuuudes. I am going to be so happy when this weekend is over. I mean, I'm looking forward to a dress-up night out with my hubby, but the lead-in to that is rough.

I have been tapped to do the first reading (Catholic wedding mass) at the very last minute. Despite the fact that I was a teacher, the only thing that terrifies me more than bugs/spiders is public speaking. I said I would do it because I love these people, but now I have to navigate a pew, a marble floor, and several steps in total silence, wearing some very high-heeled shoes. As of this writing, I don't even know what, exactly, I will be reading. Super!

My poor sis-in-law-to-be (M) is stressed to the max. The latest possible problem is that they aren't sure they both have the correct documentation to obtain a NY marriage license. I was able to look up this info in 15 seconds on the web...not sure why they couldn't figure that part out before flying the 3000 miles to bflo.

Also, my meddling mother-in-law (soon to be HER meddling mother-in-law, too...hahahahaha!) is, well, meddling. She and my father-in-law are paying for half of this affair - pretty much all but the reception itself, which M's parents are paying for. So M has planned it out with her parents, though she has entertained input from the in-laws. My personal belief is that it is HER party (and the groom's, of course), so she is entitled to plan it however she wants. My m-i-l seems to believe differently.

Three days ago she called M to tell her she'd purchased an arbor at a craft store. M asked her to please return it. My m-i-l sputtered and stammered that it was for the reception, but M stood her ground and said no, she didn't want it. Which led to my m-i-l calling the groom, crying and having a fit. Then, when M was at the reception place going over the seating with the banquet manager, she found out my m-i-l had just phoned to order twinkle lights for the reception. But she didn't check with M or anyone else first. Well, M doesn't want an arbor, and she doesn't want dang twinkle lights either! Luckily she was able to determine, with the banquet manager, that they lights hadn't yet been paid for, so she nixed that.

Then she had the unenviable job of calling my m-i-l and telling her to please stop trying to make changes FIVE DAYS before the wedding.

This is why she calls me from up on the ledge. And I cackle wildly to myself, and then try to calm her down. This is just my - no, our - m-i-l's way. I mean, when Hubs and I got married, she was still adding guests to her list after the RSVP date had passed. Oh yes. It was rad.

And today my hair dryer died, so I look like a drowned rat. I'm NOT one of those gals who can rock the air-dried look. I have to go out and get another one toot sweet. But it's a catch-22 because I don't want to leave the house with un-blow-dried hair. Gah!

Tonight is the bachelor party and the bachelorette party. Hubs will be hopping in the limo to go see the Canadian ballet with the dudes, but I am sitting this one out. First of all, my hair looks like crap today, how can I go out? Second, the only person I would know at the party is M. Third, we don't want to leave Daughter 3 nights in a row, which I explained to M and she understood. What sucks about this is that Hubs will get home at 4 a.m., so I will have to get Daughter up at her regular time in the morning and somehow hustle her out of the house so she can't go in and jump on his head. Otherwise he will not get enough sleep and will then be miserable for the rehearsal in the evening.

I'm sure some of you read this and think, "what is her problem, this isn't HER wedding! What a loser!" But it's the biggest thing going on in the family right now (well, except for a few really nasty divorces, but we aren't going there), and also the first time we've had to navigate a full weekend of activities with a child in tow. Additionally, it's the first time I've dressed up for a fancy event with my husband since Daughter was born. So it has kind of taken over my thoughts.

Ok, I'm out for the weekend. Back next week, possibly with photos, definitely with normal old knitting and sewing.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

i have a headache THIS big...

My job this week seems to be "talking the bride down off a ledge."

Posting may be sparse until after my bro-in-law and his true love are wed.

Friday, September 21, 2007

pretty in (pepto) pink

There is an elusive pattern out there that I keep searching for...the simple, full-skirted, long-sleeved, simple, comfy (and did I mention simple?) playdress for Daughter. I've found the knit version in the Sewbaby Twirly Dress, but I've also been seeking a woven version. I search the commercial pattern company websites often, and always in vain.

If I were less lazy, I would take all the elements of all the patterns I like and draft the perfect dress. But I just don't have the patience. I think ideally it would look just like the dress below, but perhaps with a zipper up the back instead of eighty-seven thousand buttons. Ok, there are just 8 (the pattern calls for 9 but I only had 8 pink ones), but criminy, that's still a lot of sewing buttonholes and stitching buttons.

Here's my latest. It's a newly released pattern - New Look 6745. It's good, people. Well written, clear directions, nice finishing. I liked it a lot, and usually I find stuff to complain about so that's saying something! I made a size 1, which fits Daughter almost perfectly. Believe it or not at 2.5 years old the size 1 still gaps a bit around the neckline/bodice area. But it is certainly wearable, much better than a size 2, and she will wear it all winter before it is outgrown. The fabric is flannel from Joann Fabrics.

I did make some mods.

If you look at the pattern cover, you'll notice there's no plain long-sleeved dress with plain gathered skirt. There are variations on that theme, but I had to cobble together pieces from different views to get exactly what I wanted. The bodice is the same for all views, so no change there. The sleeves are view D, but lengthened because the pattern calls for a separate band to be sewn onto the sleeve base as a decorative element. The skirt I used is from view B. I do plan to make some more of these as shown on the pattern - I have several coordinating fabrics in my stash so I can do the sectioned skirts and sleeve bands - but I wanted a single fabric for this dress.

Also, I neglected to buy matching bias tape, which you need for the neckline (no facings, huzzah!), so I cut my own bias strip from the leftover fabric. Worked great, and I'm thinking I might do this on all the versions I make of this pattern. That way it's always a guaranteed match.

Oh, and here are a few good tricks that you may or may not know about:

Tracing the pattern onto Pattern Ease is my least favorite part of sewing. For a dress like this where the skirt pieces are just giant rectangles, rather than tracing them, you can just fold the tissue pattern piece carefully and press it on the line indicating your chosen size. Pin it down to the fabric and cut very carefully so as not to slice into the folded pattern piece. Then you can just unfold the edges and put it away for next time and all sizes are still intact!

And finally, I stitched the buttons down using my machine. Here's a view of the back:

I used the buttonhole guide included with the pattern to place the buttonholes, and then again to mark the button placement. Once I knew where the buttons had to go, I set each button in place and used a very fine micron pen to mark the placket through the holes in the actual button. Then I measured the distance between the holes, set my machine's stitch width to that number (4.5 mm in this case), and set the stitch length to zero. That part is important because I didn't want the fabric to feed at all. I carefully lined up the button beneath the needle, over the two pen dots I'd made on the placket. I started the stitches by turning the handwheel (so I could be sure I wouldn't hit the button), and then hit the foot pedal for several stitches. I pulled all the threads through to the back and clipped them, and voila, 8 super-secure buttons. I can never get them secure enough by hand, so this is my new method for sewing down shank-free buttons. Try it! Just be careful not to slam your needle into the button.

Overall I give this pattern an A+. Daughter is wearing it right now at her insistence, even though it is a very unseasonable 80 degrees today. Look for more of these in the future! Right after I get the bathrobe done. And the winter coat. Oh, and another knit dress, and some corduroys that are cut and half-finished. And another corduroy dress that's cut and waiting patiently for assembly. Good heavens, somebody stop me.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

playgroup redux

Remember back in the spring when I signed Daughter up for a local playgroup? And I hated it? Remember?

Well, it's the best thing going around here right now, so I signed her up again. They changed the age parameters (it is now 18 months - 2+), so I thought what the heck, for $4 per session we'll give it another go.

It's better this time. 10 kids, mostly girls, which excites me since Daughter was the only girl last time. Also, the age spread is such that Daughter falls pretty much right in the middle. All are at least 2, from what I could figure out today, but no one is right on the cusp of 3 like last time. The only trouble with that is I keep smelling poop and thinking it's my kid (we are potty-training and she has not worn a daytime diaper in over a week...though it takes constant reminders from us to use the potty and NOT go in the training pants). Luckily, it was all other-kid-poop and Daughter even used the classroom mini-potty (heavens, I haven't seen one of those since I was in kindergarten) and got a sticker from the teacher.

And there is only one grandma this time, so I actually find myself feeling bad for her, because I know what it's like to be outnumbered...except last time it was something like 3 moms and 11 grandmas.

Also. Ahem. Lots of the moms are very, very, very pregnant. I had trouble with that, I can't lie. Every time I see a pregnant woman my stomach knots up, and I imagine I'll feel that way until we have another healthy child of our own. Not that I don't wish them well - I truly do. But it is hard for me.

Anyhoo, that's that. Hubs is coming home early today so I'd better get in gear and clean this place up.

Monday, September 17, 2007

twirly dress

On Friday I went a little crazy at Joann's - well, crazy for me, which isn't that bad. I had a few patterns in mind and went seeking some fabrics to make just a few more winter items for Daughter. While there, Daughter and I picked and chose several really cute things, and I just decided to buy them rather than agonize over spending the money. All it amounted to was 2 cuts of corduroy, one interlock knit, and a cut of flannel, along with notions, but I had also placed an order at for coat wool (dress coat for Daughter) and double sided minky (for her bathrobe).

Unfortunately my bro-in-law's wedding has us spending money like coked-up rock stars this month, so this will likely be the last of the fabric purchases for 2007 (*sob*). See, I do the finances for our family, so there's no one to stop me but me. And stop I must, or we'll have no cash for Christmas. Yikes.

Of course I washed and dried everything immediately and during naptime managed to cut out several items. First up, twirly dress:

This was my first real knit garment, and while it is far from perfect, I am fairly pleased with the result. I really dislike gathering, and gathering a knit is even more tedious than gathering a woven fabric, but I did it. There are some puckers and tucks but for a first effort, it's acceptable.

I will definitely make this pattern again. Each size is printed separately - NO tracing! - so Daughter can have these dresses till she's a size 6. Awesome! And the pattern is written for a knit bodice & sleeves and either a knit or woven skirt. The smaller sizes have 6 gores for the skirt, the larger sizes have 8, so you could do some really creative stuff with fabrics. I've had some great Laurel Burch Christmas fabrics stashed for a number of years now...I bought them to make something home-decor-ish, but they really aren't my decorating style. They might look great as skirt fabrics in this dress, though!

Another great thing about this pattern is that it runs true to size. I made the 2 and it fits my kid! A miracle!

My only real problem was with my twin needle. I guess you can buy a ball point twin needle, but I didn't see them at Joann's, so I got a regular one (for wovens) and it worked, but I got some skipped stitches which doesn't look too fab.

Oh well, overall it's totally wearable and I'm happy my first experiment with a knit garment wasn't a disaster!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

the first step is admitting you have a problem

I have reached a new level of sewing insanity. Last night I was lamenting the fact that there is nothing I really need to make for Daughter just now. Her growth has slowed down and most of what she wore last winter/spring still fits. Also, I seem to be in denial about her size, because I keep making size 2 garments even though the pattern chest measurements for size 2 are anywhere from 3-6 inches too big every time.

I can't just keep buying patterns like a freak, I need to use what I have. But most of what I've been accumulating starts with size 2. Aaaaarrrgh! And I must keep sewing because that is what I do to maintain sanity in my stay-home-mom world. Plus I like it.

Sooooo, there I was, tossing and turning until something like 3 a.m., going through my mental rolodex of fabrics and patterns (like I said, a new level of insanity) when it hit me - baby patterns! My poor kid is pretty puny for her age and I have a bunch of baby patterns that might still fit her! It was all I could do to stay in bed...I wanted to get up and start makin' stuff.

Sure enough, when I got up this morning and dug through my patterns with my cup of coffee, I found what I wanted.

This is New Look 6310, still available in stores as far as I know. I bought it when Daughter was a tiny infant because I wanted to make sleep buntings for her. For some reason I misread the envelope (I don't know, maybe because I was sleeping about 4 out of every 24 hours then?) and thought it was only for knits. It is not. But I tried making the bunting (view C) with a knit, and it was a total disaster. I cried, and then threw it out. Knowing what I do now, I would definitely make the bunting again but out of a stinking flannel next time. Duh.

What caught my eye this time was the little wrap top and pants. I love the look of pants with a band at the bottom for little kids, and set out to alter this pattern a bit for my tall, skinny girl. Easy peasy...just added 2 inches of length to the largest size. The waist measurement was plenty big (it's elastic waist anyway).

These photos don't do the pants justice...they are SO CUTE. Maybe I can get a shot outside in natural light tomorrow.


These are made from some cotton from Joann's that I had intended for the blouse in my last post, but I only got a yard, which wasn't enough for the blouse. Repurpose, repurpose! I actually think I made these a tad too long, which is fine because she can wear them all winter and there is some growing room. I want to make a few more pair out of some print corduroy. Cuteness!

Stay tuned...there is more cut out and waiting for free time. And I am knitting my hands into early arthritis to be sure. Can't stop making stuff!!!