Monday, January 31, 2011

so much making

There's been a bit of recent sewing around here...the machine never really gets put away for long. I went to Joann's to get a few summer patterns for dresses and tops that I desperately need, and this awesome dinosaur fabric leapt into my cart:

So cute! I mean, really, how often do you find great fabric for little boys? These little dinosaur pants came together in about 20 minutes. I used the pajama pants pattern that I've made a million times before, with no outside seam, just an inner leg seam, crotch seam, hems, and waistband. So, so fast! And now that AJ is getting to be a big boy (2 and 1/2 already!) he is forming opinions about his clothing...but he loves these! So that's kind of awesome.

Here's a bit of a closeup of the fabric. It's from the juvenile prints section at Joann's, and is a nice lightweight twill-type fabric, 100% cotton and washes and dries beautifully. One word of caution: it was printed crookedly so I actually lined up the pattern piece with the print, rather than exactly on the grain. For simple little pull-on toddler pants it made no difference.

Oh, and these pants cost a whopping $3.50! I love it when sewing can actually be economical in this day and age!

But mostly there has been knitting. Please, it is like 5 degrees F here! I can't even bear to sit at the sewing machine, it is so chilly. We keep the heat down during the day to cut down on the dryness and the gas bill, so I tend to gravitate toward the couch and cover myself with afghans.

I showed the yarn for this sweater a few weeks ago. It was a bag of "mill-ends" from AC Moore. I always dig through that bin because there might be a treasure buried beneath all the yucky white acrylic!

I am reminded of why I don't work with variegated yarns. Look at this goofy sweater! Daughter says she will wear it, but frankly I wouldn't blame her if she didn't. The yarn is Paton's classic wool, and knit up into a warm, springy, soft cardigan. I used Elizabeth Zimmermann's "EPS" method, which I have come to adore because I need no pattern and can haul the project around anywhere without having to refer to anything. The buttons are jewel tone and I will have Daughter help me choose which to sew on.

Side note: gosh, Daughter is getting big. I totally underestimate her size because she is very slender, but this sweater seemed HUGE when I was knitting it and it just fits.

Moving's not like AJ needs another new sweater right now or anything, but I desperately need to keep busy and also use up some orphan skeins of yarn. So he's getting a Knitting Pure & Simple neck-down cardigan, in the 2-4 year size, made from this skein of Lion Fisherman's Wool.

I'm not loving it, but I'm not hating it either. Anyway, it's going fast and makes for excellent mindless knitting while I hunker down under seventeen blankets to watch movies at night.

Finally for today, a bit of stashbusting. We knitters tend to have a stash of yarn, and some of us (me) tend to buy without thinking at times. We see a clearance sticker and take temporary leave of our senses. Then we blog about it, lamenting the fact that we have so much yarn and need to make use of it. I'm as guilty of this as anyone, but this year truly needs to be a stashbusting year for me. We've had lots and lots of medical bills piling up because every year our health coverage gets worse and worse. So whereas my son used to have surgery and it hardly cost us anything, it's now climbing into the thousands. Yep, thousands. I have newfound empathy and deep pity for the uninsured these days...but that is another post.

So in light of that, I went diving to see what needs to be used. I found this:

One full skein plus dribs and drabs of Cotton-Ease in the looooooong discontinued blueberry colorway. I got these on clearance at Joann's when Daughter was a wee baby, for half off the clearance price if I recall correctly. I made myself a Sitcom Chic cardigan with this yarn, probably about 4 years ago? I can't even remember exactly when. And this is the remains.

There's probably just enough here to squeak out a toddler sweater for AJ. But I was not excited at the prospect of making another plain blue sweater with this yarn. I left it sitting on my dresser for two weeks, where it stared at me and made me feel guilty every time I went in my bedroom.

Then I saw a really cute little quarter-zip pullover at Target. Maybe you saw it too - it was royal blue with lime green striping in the cuffs and hem, and a little lime green robot on the chest. I waited and waited for it to be marked down, but by the time it was, AJ's size was gone.

But I was inspired.

I sacrificed $3 of my precious birthday gift card for Joann's to purchase this single skein of Cotton-Ease in lime. That gift card is supposed to go toward making myself summer clothes, but this seemed a worthy use too. Now the blueberry yarn will find a use after all these years, my son will have a new sweater, and I will feel quite satisfied with myself. Ha! Look at me rationalize.

So that's the crafty update from over here on the frozen tundra! What are you making during this deep freeze?

Monday, January 17, 2011

emergency mittens

A certain little girl keeps leaving her hats and mittens on the school bus.


So a certain mother keeps knitting up more.

Basic worsted weight mittens, made from Ann Budd's book (Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns). The yarn is Debbie Stoller - Full o' Sheep? I can't remember, and my toddler is obsessed with throwing things in the garbage so he took care of the yarn ball band as soon as I removed it from the skein.

These will be clipped firmly to her coat cuffs and hopefully not lost in the next few weeks. And hopefully the bus driver turned her others in to the school office. Ay-yi-yi.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

12 days in and another F.O.

Less than two weeks into the new year and I have two finished garments to show for it! Ok, granted one was started in 2010, and one is only a vest, but still!

I finished AJ's Milo vest this morning, weaving in the ends just before bathtime because I wanted to put it on him right away.

The entire time I was knitting I was convinced it would be too big. But I always misjudge the size of my own children. It ended up fitting perfectly.

Milo by Georgie Hallam (ravelry link)
One full skein and a little bit of another skein of Patons Classic Wool in "dark gray mix"
US 6 needles to more closely approximate the pattern gauge (pattern calls for DK weight yarn)
Size knitted: 3

Here you can see it's not as short and boxy as it looks hanging on its own. I like this little vest - it's nice and simple, and the neck-down construction is really pretty ingenious, with the cast-offs forming the straps and armholes at the same time. Pretty neat - I'll probably make more.

And a belated Christmas item...

This was under the tree for Daughter on Christmas morning. It's the jumper version of the pattern I used for her red corduroy Christmas dress (Simplicity 5830). I only had a 9" zipper (the pattern calls for 14") but I was trying to be thrifty and frugal so I just put in the 9" and crossed my fingers. It works just fine.

The fabric is denim I got at WalMart when they closed their fabric department last total this dress probably only cost about $3 or $4 to make. It's adorable on her, and goes with just about every shirt, sweater, and pair of tights she owns.

My son and I are still hacking and coughing...oh, the coughing! He's down for his nap and I'm about to follow suit. This is the second time this week that I'm giving myself permission to nap...feels quite decadent, I can tell you that. But I need it, my body is begging for the rest.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

dispatch from the TB ward

A picture is worth 1000 words, no?

This is about all I have, friends. Three-quarters of a Milo vest and some cold meds. We are sick and it's the pits. Daughter brought home a germ last week, and since AJ and I had been very slightly sick with a mild cold over Christmas, our poor weakened bodies jumped all over this one. Now Daughter is 99% better but the two of us are miserable.

It's a chest cold, too - the kind that makes people look uncomfortable and walk away from you in the supermarket. Niiiiiiice. And of course I'd decided to give myself a wee break from laundry and groceries late last week. So yesterday and today have found me digging out from under the enormous pile of dirty clothes and towels, and making a quick run to Target and the grocery store this morning. I hated taking AJ out in 25 degree weather when he is coughing up a lung, but we had to get his prophylactic antibiotic for surgery next week (that's right, he has 7 days to kick this germ). Actually I am hoping we have a bacterial infection and NOT a virus, because that means the antibiotic will do something good for him.

At least we have some food in the cupboards now and I don't have to leave the house for the next several days. PJs here I come. Maybe I can finish up this Milo vest and move along to something more cheery and colorful!

Friday, January 07, 2011

happy new year!

Hello! Happy new year! I guess I'm a little late with that, but what can I say? The days, they are so long, and yet time whizzes by faster and faster.

Let's get this out of the way first. BEST Christmas gift I received? Well, first let me say this: you know that question people ask about what person, living or dead, you'd want to have dinner with if you could?

My answer, no doubt about it, is Elizabeth Zimmermann. My sister went trolling around and found my wish list. She took a chance and ordered this for me. Woot! It's a colleciton of her original typed (!) newsletters with hand drawings and anecdotes, along with commentary by others. So, so good. I've been savoring it each evening before I go to sleep.

As far as Christmas crafting is concerned, I did get most of my goals accomplished. Daughter's knee socks were done a few days early so I gave them to her as one of her last advent gifts. And pretty much one day before Christmas (the 23rd, no kidding) I sat AJ down with play-doh and he happily mushed it around for TWO HOURS, so I was able to bang out 5 more little Barbie garments:

The final tally was 3 pairs of pants, 3 dresses, one skirt, and 4 tops (I am just now noticing one of the tops is missing here). Daughter was absolutely tickled and brought all of this along to Grandma's house later in the day. I was tickled because to me that's how you gauge Christmas gifts...if they come along to Grandma's you know they are liked!

I have one more item to photograph from Christmas but that will have to wait for another day.

On to 2011...

First official F.O. of the new year:

Tiny Tea Leaves cardigan for Daughter. This is the size 6 and it fits her perfectly. I used Caron Country yarn, which I don't particularly like because it splits like crazy and the plies tend to break easily, but I got it for $2.99/skein on clearance and I'm a sucker for clearance yarn. This sweater took almost 3 skeins, on a US 7 needle. The pattern was ok - I'm not racing to make it again, but it wasn't difficult to follow.

And because the most intellectually stimulating thing I do most days is load and unload the dishwasher, I need something really good to sink my teeth (and brain) into. That calls for cables!

This is the beginning of the back of a hooded cabled jacket for AJ. This is the most luxurious yarn I've ever bought - Rowan something-or-other, can't recall, will have to look for a ball band later. The pattern is FREE from here.

That's fun, but I can't work on it while I care for the children, so I also started another simple cardigan for Daughter:

I do so love mill-end yarn. This is some truly obnoxious Patons Classic Wool that I found in the mill-end bin at A.C. Moore sometime last autumn. I got a pound of the stuff for something like $5 or $6. Ridiculous. This feeds my need for mindless stockinette and you can't beat an all-wool sweater for that price! There will likely be enough here for a hat and/or mittens too. And it goes without saying, I think, that my almost-6-year-old simply adores these crazy colors. I have no pattern - just winging it with EZ's percentage system and a US 7 needle.

And because it is now the coldest, most miserable part of the year here in Western New York, I'm also whipping up a Milo vest for AJ. I don't have any DK yarn stashed so I'm trying this with worsted weight and a US 6 needle. It's ok if it comes out a bit large - it will fit over several layers and hopefully fit into next fall. And dark gray goes with everything (including the sky most days...bleh).

I don't really have many resolutions for the new year...they never seem to work out anyway, you know? But I do think this is to be the year of the stash for me. I've already given myself several mental hand-slaps when I think about purchasing yarn, fabric, or patterns. It is really time to push myself to use what I already have! It's not like that should be a hardship...there is quite a backlog of projects here waiting for my attention.

Here's hoping for a productive 2011!