Thursday, March 29, 2007

new socks


These have been dragged hither and yon for months as my in the car/waiting room project. They are simple top-down socks, 60 stitches on US size 2 needles. Each sock is made from one skein of KnitPicks Sock Garden in the Zinnia colorway.

As you can see, it is a lovely day. Time to get Daughter up from her nap and play outside.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

get a drink & a snack...we've got a lot to talk about

First up: big balls

Of YARN. Sheesh. Quit being pervy! This is a family-friendly blog!

Check these out! I made them! Ok, that is a partial lie. The yarn came pre-made, but I dyed them myself. Now, I do not claim to be Scout, but I am proud of these nonetheless. They are actually 2 different shades, though that's a bit hard to discern in the photo. I tried and tried to get an accurate picture, but even with some tweaking it was really hard. Anyway, I split a skein of Lion Fisherman Wool in half (by eyeballing, so I am pretty amazed that they came out to be almost exactly the same), then dyed the first half with a bunch of black cherry kool aid a few weeks ago. The resulting color was putrid, to say the least, so I let it sit in my laundry room until Hubs started asking questions.

On Saturday night (while Hubs was out), I hauled out my giant stockpot (which I have never, in 10 years, used for stock...and never intend to), filled it with hot tap water, set it on the stove to heat, and then mixed in an entire packet of Rit dye in Scarlet. I put in both halves of the skein of wool, stirred, and let it cook away for 30 minutes. The twice-dyed yarn is on the right as you look at the photo above. It came out a lovely deep crimson. The yarn dyed only once came out more of a cherry shade, so I'm glad I followed the advice on the dye box and used 2X the amount (of dye) recommended or the yarn would have come out too light.

Some thoughts:

I did not stir constantly as the package recommends. Then again, nowhere on the package or Rit website do they even mention using their product to dye yarn, so I'm all about breaking the rules. Also, I was petrified of splashing scarlet dye all over my almond stovetop. Which I did anyway, so thank goodness for Clorox bleach spray.

If you want to do this, go for it, but remember that dye is dangerously permanent. My utility sink is super duper stained from draining and rinsing the yarn. WEAR GLOVES. BE CAREFUL. DO NOT SPLASH. I did this after my daughter was asleep in bed because I definitely did not want to be carrying a huge pot of hot scarlet dye while she nipped at my ankles.

Finally, I am HOOKED on this now. I want to buy a shipping container of Lion Fisherman Wool and several cases of Rit and experiment till the cows come home. I may just start creating my own worsted weight wool colors for future projects. The Rit website has a humongous chart of color blending ideas. Awesome.

More wardrobe enhancement for the kid

This is the Knitting Pure & Simple cardigan in the 18 month size. It's plenty big for my petite girl. I still need to weave in a few ends and sew on the buttons, but for blogging purposes I am considering it complete. My blog...I make the rules, right? Right.

The yarn used for this sweater was Bernat Denim Style, almost 3 skeins. Needles used were US sizes 7 and 8. The pattern calls for sizes 6 and 8, but I don't like tight ribbing. I also made this a tad longer than called for, so it will be a bit more jacket-like.

I couldn't resist making another sweet dress for Daughter, even though she has plenty of summer clothes already. This is McCall's Easy Stitch 'N Save #M5370 in size 2. The fabric is by Nancy Halvorsen, my favorite designer, from her Winsome collection. I knew when I saw this collection online that I would end up buying at least a little of it, and serindipitously a coupon for my local quilt shop arrived soon after. For 40% off, this was an affordable project. Unfortunately, it is totally HUGE and will not fit Daughter anytime soon. Poop. I should have made the size 1. Now I'm worried about all the other size 2 outfits I made her already. Sigh. Here's hoping she has a growth spurt between now and, say, June.

In which I complain a lot

During a recent trip to Joann Fabrics to buy interfacing, I got the crazy idea to sew for myself again. Probably a bad decision.

This is Butterick 6016, I don't remember which view. "But Kate," you are thinking, "this looks like a shapeless sack!" Yes, dear reader, it does. Why? BECAUSE IT IS A SHAPELESS SACK.

The front darts are ok, but only because I moved them down (who are commercial patterns written for? Whose boobs are really THAT high? Mine weren't, even pre-motherhood!) but there is no shaping at all for the rest of the body. Which is such a scam, because on the pattern cover the dress totally looks like it has shape. I called my mom to complain about this and luckily she is both patient and wise - she suggested trying a couple of darts in the back. Ah. Yes. A good idea, as the dress fits, it just makes me look very, very odd.

So, any tips on putting darts into an already-finished dress?

And look! Because I am a glutton for punishment, I'm going to try making this skirt! Me+Zippers=much cursing and gnashing of teeth, generally speaking, but I'm going to try it anyway. The fabric should be relatively forgiving (just a black calico with tiny white pindots). At least my sure-to-be-funky stitching won't show too well against the black. If, by some chance, it works out, I will wear it for Easter with a bright sweater.

And finally, something that seems to be going well!

Seriously, I think it is safe to say that I am really more of a knitter than a seamstress. Knitting is more forgiving, and I need that in my life. I have also recently decided to start knitting more things for myself rather than just making stuff for Daughter all the time.

I bought 6 skeins of blueberry Cotton Ease 2 years ago, right after Daughter was born. Joann Fabrics was unloading their supply of this discontinued yarn (but they've brought it back! Huzzah! No more funky bright colors, though...), so I got the last 6 skeins they had of this colorway for $1.50 per skein. Awwwwww yeeeeaaaaaahhhhh. I loves me a bargain!

I had intended to make Sitcom Chic, but dumped that idea when I got pregnant again and knew I'd be unable to wear it for a long while. After my finishing frenzy over the past few months, I started digging for a fun, simple project to use up stash yarn, and this popped out at me. So what you see above is the body of Sitcom Chic (the fronts are tucked under the's knit in one piece from the bottom up), as well as the yarn to finish it. I think it's long enough now (it's a sort-of cropped style), so I'll be starting the sleeves tonight.

So that's what I've been up to. Well, that and playing outside, but I've discovered that I can set Daughter up with her chalks and her outside toys and actually get a smidge of simple knitting done while sitting in a lawn chair and keeping an eye on her. Sah-weet!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

a better 300th post...playin' outside

photo removed....sorry!

Favorite little tree

Communing with nature

photo removed...sorry!

"Drawin' chalks"

photo removed...sorry!

Wheelbarrow rides

Kickin' a ball

Thursday, March 22, 2007

a post about nothing much, really

Wow, I totally didn't mean to maintain radio silence for a whole week. Has it really been a week? Where on earth did that time go?

Well, we've been doing a lot of this. Spring is kicking and clawing its way forth, and it is finally warm(ish) enough to play outside. Until today our yard has still been covered with a light layer of crunchy, dirty snow, which was ok with Daughter. She llllllllloved it.

The poor child has been cooped up in our boring little house all winter, and has reached an age where if she is not occupied she becomes destructive. So we go outside a lot, where she cannot break anything. The detritus of our ice dams can be seen above. Yes, I moved the sharp piece of broken plastic right after this photo was taken. She didn't care about that, anyway. She just wanted to splash in the ooky puddle.

This is the best we can do so far. Itty bitty lilac buds (I think). Those of you who live in nice climates where it is already warm and things are blooming...count your blessings. It's still cold and rainy here, and will be for some time. Bleh.

I've been surveying the house and yard during my rock-and-stick-gathering sessions with Daughter. I swear, I feel like a prairie homesteader when I look at the damage and all the repairs that need to be made. Winter was not kind to our little dwelling this year. Repairs will begin soon, at considerable cost for young, single-income folks like us. And the grass! Oh, the grass. Where it's not just totally gone it''s...traumatized. There's hardly any green to be found out there. The blades are actually bleached out to a whitish shade and the whole mess just looks sad.

We also have lots of mole-holes to trip over.

Le sigh. There are so many things I want to make and do! I'm working feverishly, milking every naptime for all it's worth, just trying to create, create, create before we become shackled to the endless yardwork of spring/summer/fall. Sometimes I think I'd love to go back to renting. Homeownership is for the birds. Thpppppt.

But then Daughter gets out there and runs around our scrabbly yard, and I guess it's worth it in the end.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

this 'n that

This will be brief, because it's flipping gorgeous outside and I want to get out and enjoy it. As soon as Daughter is up from her nap we are so outta here.

First up, a skirt for the sewing seeds project. This skirt will eventually be going to Africa for a little girl who needs it. I really like to participate in projects like this because I have the ability and the supplies, both of which are typically used for pleasure only. I mean, quite frankly, I could just go to Target and buy Daughter a season's worth of clothing, but I like to create much of her wardrobe because it's fun. Some folks don't have the option of driving down to the local superstore to buy whatever they want/need. Some don't even have the option of sewing. It is the least we can do as the most privileged country on the planet.

I don't know what pattern this is because I had to borrow it - my Joann Fabrics was sold out when I tried to go buy a copy. But this tiered-style skirt is everywhere this season, so you could find one from any of the major pattern companies. I believe this was from Simplicity. I made a size 5. The fabric is a nice quilt-shop quality 100% cotton calico that I've had sitting around here for ages. I'm so glad I was able to use it for something worthwhile. The gathers almost killed me, but boy, the final result is adorable.

On the homefront, I have been doing some utilitarian knitting. Daughter is growing like a weed and needs a cardigan to wear for spring. I wanted a cotton blend but I can't find Lion Brand's reissued Cotton Ease in my local stores. Anyone know if the big stores will be selling it? I tried Joann's, AC Moore, and Michaels. Nothing. So I went with Bernat Denim Style (30% cotton/70% acrylic) in the natural colorway. It's a nice heavy worsted and knits up soft and purdy. I'm using the Knitting Pure and Simple infant cardigan pattern in the 18-month size because it's still plenty big around for Daughter. I'm just lengthening the body and sleeves. I think I'll put a hood on it too, both because it's cute and because Spring can be chilly.

The only problem I'm having is that this yarn 'fuzzes' and little bits get all over my clothes, up my nose, and in my eyes. I hope that problem goes away after washing and drying.

And now, just for pure eye candy goodness...tastycakes! Of yarn, that is...

Mom wanted to order some yarn from Knitpicks but needed to get to $45 to avoid paying shipping (sheesh, remember when you only had to order $30 to get free shipping?). So I graciously volunteered to buy some stuff. People, I am selfless. The things I will do to help others! It boggles the mind!

This is 3 skeins of Sock Memories in the Yukon colorway to make socks for Hubs' birthday (in July). I figure if I start now I can throw them aside occasionally when I get bored knitting ten miles of stockinette for his size 12 feet. So, see, that wasn't such a selfish order.

But it is also 2 skeins of Sock Memories in the Geranium colorway. All for moi. Oh, come on, I have to do something for myself sometimes. Anyway, I needed to be cheered because my house is crumbling and we will be forking over mucho dinero to fix it very soon. And what is more cheerful than spring-like weather and red/hot pink/orange/chartreuse yarn?

Speaking of which...I'm heading outside. Catch ya' later.

Monday, March 12, 2007

get out!

I have seen this commercial several times and I really like it. But I did not know until I found this link on another blog that the actress is Clare Danes. She looks really different in the ad and I have to say, it is the best thing I've seen her do. It's a great commercial!

Gap Ad

Thursday, March 08, 2007

wardrobe update

When I was away from the blog for about a week I did a lot of sewing. I couldn't resist this cute flannel at Joann Fabrics, so I grabbed some to make a quick pair of pants for Daughter.

I used my usual pattern (New Look "easy" #6175) but lengthened it by about 3 inches. Daughter is tall and skinny, so she can still wear the larger baby sizes of some patterns if I lengthen the legs. These should hopefully also fit in the fall.

More sundresses. Surprise, it's New Look Kids #6578. This time in size 2 but size 4 length.

This is my favorite of the fabrics I bought for sundresses. You can see tiny dots on the background if you look closely - they're like clear sequins right in the fabric and they sparkle when they catch the light. Adorable.

It's so easy it's Simplicity #4142 tank and shorts, size 2. The fabrics are cotton and cotton/poly blend. Easy care for summer. I know all this stuff looks crazy wrinkled, and I swear I press as I sew. Somehow everything always looks mushed up when I take photos. I promise I'll iron it all before she wears it out of the house.

I'm taking a wee break from sewing - I sew in the dining room and after awhile I just can't stand seeing the mess, so I pack everything up and stop for short periods of time. I'll get back to it after Daughter's birthday when I can assess what she still needs for summer. My mom and sisters tend to buy really cute clothes so we'll wait and see.

In other news, the sun has been shining like mad for 3 days. The way this affects my mood is ridiculous. I just feel SO much better when the sun is out. Now all I need is for temps to rise above the 30s so we can actually get outside and experience fresh air. YAY SPRING! Also, I am psyched for DST to start earlier this year. It's so nice to eat dinner with some light left in the sky, don't you agree?

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

and speaking of irony...

This is my daughter, holding the tassel I got when I graduated with a master's degree in education 5 years ago:

And here she is using it as the world's tiniest mop:


don'tcha think?

Your 1996 Theme Song Is: Ironic by Alanis Morisette

It's like rain on your wedding day

It's a free ride when you've already paid

It's the good advice that you just didn't take

Who would've thought ... it figures

What's Your 1996 Theme Song?

Bwaaaaa! This cracked me up. I don't really even like Alanis Morisette. And why 1996? I don't know. Go check this out and tell me - what's your song?

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


Well, my own-horn-tootingness came back and bit me in the butt. My Firth sweater is finished, but the last steps took me a looooooooooooooooong time and tried my patience.

Here is the info:
Pattern: Firth from A Season's Tale, women's size large
Yarn: Paton's Classic Merino in dark grey mix, black, deep red, natural mix, and leaf green
Needles: US 7, 8, and 9

Modifications: I knitted the body of this sweater several inches longer than the directions called for, and it could be longer still. When I tried it on Hubs said, "it's nice, but if it were me I would have made it a little longer." Seriously - the models must have been really short or the book has a typo or something. It hits me around hip-level and though I'm a bit over 5'7" I have a short torso. So I don't know what's up with the pattern. Moral of the story: If I make it again, I will knit more rows for the body, and just a few more for the sleeves as well.

Other than that I knit it to the pattern specs. Well, I eliminated one of the colors in the fairisle section, ending up with 4 instead of 5.

Seaming this thing was a pain. As I mentioned before, it was my first raglan style sweater knit in pieces. It would have been easy without the colorwork, but seaming that part almost killed me. It took me 3 nights. Then there was the weaving of the ends, and putting in the zipper (another 2 nights). I didn't do a great job with the zipper. It's acceptable, but again the colorwork makes all mistakes look really, really bad. There's a point where the pattern on the front is off by what looks like a full row - but I am leaving it for now. If I don't zip it all the way up you can't see the problem anyway. It's good enough, and dudes, I SO don't want to redo it. If it bothers me in the future, or if I find I'm not wearing it because of the zipper, I will fix it.

So this was supposed to be a stash-busting project, and somehow that went awry.

Because I had to buy a few skeins for Firth's colorwork, I ended up with this lovely collection (all Paton's Classic Merino). I am thinking a small afghan or maybe a color block or striped sweater for Daughter. Don't know...for now I'm letting it sit in this basket because it looks pretty.

Well, even though it's March it is only 3 degrees outside. That's 3. THREE DEGREES. And with the wind chill it apparently feels like -10. My house was 60 degrees inside when we woke up this morning, and it's still chilly. My fingers are cold. If Spring doesn't arrive soon I'm going to lose my mind.

We had terrible ice dams on our roof in 2 places (very old house, very poor insulation) resulting in bad leakage into our bathroom. We will be replacing at least one wall and the ceiling. One of the ice dams started to melt last week when it warmed up and rained, causing it to let go and rip off the gutter and flashing on one side of the house. Conveniently, it was over the driveway, where Hubs' car was parked. The ice hit the bumper - luckily only the bumper - and completely dented it. We have a white plastic picket fence that cuts across our driveway (a vestige of the former owners) and one section is now completely smashed into bits. It was quite a spectacular show when this thing let go and came smashing down. It's too cold to go out there and do much fixing right now, so when I pull into or out of my driveway I just feel terrible. Our house looks like total white trashville. And it's going to cost a lot to fix, I expect. We are praying our homeowner's insurance will help.

That sound you hear? It's me, sighing. Over and over. It's hard to be in a good mood when your house is crumbling around you. Beh. I really hope Spring comes soon.