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.