Monday, November 29, 2010

holiday makin': drive-by update

Daughter's first pair of mittens: done. She approved and wore them all weekend. Did I do some sort of weird different decrease on one of them? I don't think so...and yet one looks pointy.

Sweater for baby nephew: 85% complete (I made that percentage up). Just needs front and neck bands, underarm weaving, and buttons. Once it's done and washed it will be on its way.

Daughter's Christmas dress: done!

I am so, so happy with this dress. I want to make ten more.

Matchy Gymboree tights were acquired over the weekend. She is going to look so sweet.

(Yes, I need to press that underarm seam better. It was sewn straight and true, I promise.)


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

lost my mojo, got it back with gusto, am now freaking out

A few weeks ago I posted that I'd temporarily lost my knitting/sewing/crafting mojo, but felt it slowly returning. Well, shortly thereafter it came back with a BANG and now I'm swamped with projects I'd really, really love to get done in the next 30 days.

It's insanity. I will have to pare down. Here are a few things that are going pretty well so far:

AJ's holiday 2010 pants. Basic, pull-on pants in dark brown corduroy. Just a simple, size 2 pair of pants, made from a pajama pattern that I know will fit. Both of my kids are so tall and narrow - that's why the waist is so tiny, but he needs the room in the butt for his cloth diaper.

Daughter's Christmas 2010 dress. I wasn't going to bother because we're not really going anywhere significant for the holiday this year, but I like the kids to have something nice to wear, I like looking back at the holiday outfits I've made, and this will be a nice, warm, comfortable corduroy dress that she can wear for other occasions too.

The pattern is an old one: Simplicity 5830, out of production. But you can still find it on ebay and stuff. I highly, highly recommend this one. The pieces come together like a dream, it is not difficult at all, just slightly time-consuming because of the pleats in the front and back. My friend gave it to me years ago and I made two dresses just like this in size 2 for Daughter when she was wee. Some of the size 6 pieces were cut up or even missing (!) and I was able to actually re-draft them with some pattern ease and a little patience. I'm using the 6X sleeve and crossing my fingers it won't make that much difference. And still I am thrilled with how it is coming out. Maybe I can find some of those cute holiday tights with candy-canes or holly leaves? Super sweet!

Not as sweet is this jumper I made for Daughter to wear on Thanksgiving. What a shit-tay pattern this was!! I've decided that bias-tape bound armholes are the ultimate pattern-drafter copout. I much prefer either a facing that encompasses both neckline and armhole, or separate facings for the armholes. The bias tape never, ever looks nice to me. It's a Simplicity "It's So Easy" pattern, and frankly the reason it's so "easy" is because of this type of corner-cutting in the pattern. I really need to remember that and stop buying these sub-par patterns.

The camera accentuates all the problems horribly, and I promise it doesn't look so bad in real life and on her body, but the armholes do look lousy.

Oh well, the corduroy is adorable, it was on sale, and the jumper will look cute enough with a pink shirt and pink tights for the holiday.

And finally for today, some new mittens for Daughter. The last pair I made her turned out a bit small. (Holy moly, I am really misjudging her size lately and making things too little! I am thankful I made the red dress in a 6...I almost made a 5 because those things tend to run big but I believe the 6 will actually be almost perfect.)

Anyhoo, she has been leaving her outerwear on the bus lately (grrrr) but thankfully the busdrivers are really great about doing a sweep of the bus and have returned her hats and mittens. Still, she needs a few more pairs of mittens as backups. I let her choose a couple of yarns and this was her first pick. It's really more of a periwinkle in person. I'm using the basic mitten pattern from Ann Budd's Handy Book of Patterns in the second size, at 5 st to the inch.

I can make one per night while I watch the A-team and Magnum P.I. :)

On top of all that I now want to complete the following:
  • a red sweater for AJ to wear with the dark brown pants (may become a vest due to time constraints!)
  • a sweater for my nephew (6-9 month size) as the one I'd started turned out too small and had to be ripped
  • a 3-6 month size sweater for my cousin's brand new baby girl
  • knee socks for Daughter (one is 75% done)
  • socks for AJ (to put in his stocking)
  • hat for Hubs (per his request)
  • more mittens for Daughter
  • mittens for AJ (2 pair...but I would settle for 1!)
  • fingerless mitts for my sister
  • socks for Hubs (totally hopeless, it will never happen, but hey, I can dream)
  • the rest of the barbie wardrobe I've started
  • baby doll clothes for Daughter's 3 dollies
  • AJ's quilt (top 50% done...this will never happen either)
I broke down and asked people to get pajamas as gifts for my children - there is no way I can get them sewn up and the weather is turning quite cold now. And I harbor no illusions about that list. It is insane, I am aware of it. But at least it gives me a bit of a roadmap to work from.

And I've been trying so hard to balance housework/cooking/feeding children/nurturing others with finding time to do the activities that nurture me. It's been a real challenge lately. My mom has been utterly tied up caring for my dad after his recent knee replacement surgery, so I have no child care (don't know any teens in the neighborhood and can't afford a sitter anyway). My son is a whirlwind of activity and his stomach is a bottomless pit, so it's go-go-go from the time we get up in the morning until I collapse in a heap at night. And Daughter, when she was two, would hang around in the family room with me and I could knit peacefully, but not AJ. He is constantly climbing on me or the furniture or whatever, and there is no sitting down to relax when he is awake.

So, you know, my list is a silly pipe dream. I'll do my best.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

gift update

If you asked anyone who has ever known me to describe me in just a few words, I'd bet most people would put "impatient" in the top 5. It's probably my greatest fault...definitely my greatest hurdle in parenting. Which is why I guess I find it surprising that I have gravitated to hobbies that kind of take quite a bit of patience!

Sewing is usually pretty fast, but I don't like projects that drag on too long. If it can't be completed in a couple sittings, I probably won't finish it. It takes me YEARS to complete a quilt. Knitting is better because I can work on it successfully in short bursts and it's so portable and soothing...I find I don't knit just for the finished garment, but for the peace of the process.

Still, I get through my projects, eventually, and I typically enjoy the work. But now I think I've found the truest test of my patience.


Or rather, her clothes.

This little blouse is the first thing I chose to make from the patterns I showed in my last post. It doesn't look too complicated, but what you can't see very well are the teeny tiny darts in the front, nor the teeny tiny facing at the neckline (which I first sewed on freaking backwards, ripped out, and restitched). WOW. Wow. This is some fiddly sewing!

My work totally sucks on this one, so I may or may not give it to Daughter. I'm not sure I even want to waste the snaps to hold it shut!

I thought maybe pants would be easier, so I moved on to those. Do you see how small these pieces are? I feel like I need a miniature sewing machine to stitch these - I can't seem to figure out how best to fit them under the needle. And I desperately desire a Clover mini iron to press these wee garments.

I think I'm going to get better at this. There is a surprisingly frustrating learning curve at play, but I will get better. Then once I've crafted the garments, I really want to find Daughter a Barbie wardrobe trunk like we used to play with at my Grandma's house.

And hey, after the Barbie stuff, the baby doll clothes should be a piece of cake.

In other gifting news, I started these socks for myself, but now I'm thinking they would make a nice birthday gift for my mom next week. I've been working steadily along on them at night while riveted by the Retro TV channel. I can't stop watching 30 year-old episodes of The A-Team, Magnum P.I., and Rockford Files. Gosh, I need to get a life!

And finally today, the humble beginnings of a shawl-collared cardigan for my baby nephew:

This will go along with the knitted jingle balls I made early in the summer, and a few toys and books. My sis and her family won't be here for Christmas this year (boo, sad!) so I have to get done and get the baby's gifts in the mail by mid-December.

When Daughter gets off the bus I think we'll head out for tiny snaps and 1/8" elastic. She has two days off school, making a 4-day weekend, so I won't be able to sew the doll stuff during the day. I want to get my supplies in order so I can work at night...if I can rip myself away from Tom Selleck.

Monday, November 08, 2010

i must be nuts

lu·na·tic (ln-tk)
1. Suffering from lunacy; insane.
2. Of or for the insane.
3. Wildly or giddily foolish: a lunatic decision.
4. Characterized by lunacy or eccentricity.

Seriously. I must be a lunatic, thinking I will create a stunning doll wardrobe for Daughter sometime over the next...what, 7 weeks? Yeah, that's how long until Christmas, friends. 7 measly weeks.

(The patterns are all Simplicity; 7073, 5785, 3879, 2454, and 4707.)