Sunday, April 26, 2015

Re-Visiting My Childhood With New Socks

When I was a small child we used to get hand me down clothes from our cousins out west.  I remember one particular time the hand me downs included some crazy hot pink and bright purple socks.  Oh how I adored those socks.  Pink and purple!!!!! What's not too love?

I'm pretty sure my older sister did not love them.  I'm pretty sure they were a bit of a horror to her imppecable eye for fashion and aesthetics.  I'm pretty sure she likely still questions both my fashion sense and my ability to distinguish colours because my very favourite outfit at the time was my red Royal Stewart kilt paired with either my pink or purple socks.  Of course she may have been on to something because my very favourite outfit in high school was a rather questionable combination of a shaker knit sweater, a fully gathered skirt with cabbage roses on it, grey wool socks and desert boots.

Not really sure what I was thinking on either occasion.  But whatever.  All that is in the past.  I like to think that I look somewhat more put together when I leave the house these days.  All that being said, I am pretty sure I actually squealed in delight a few months ago when I received a little surprise in the post from my friend, Sally and Plymouth Yarn's Neon Now in super bright pink and purple greeted me when I opened the envelope.  Squee!  It's like the best of my little kid socks all rolled into one fabulous ball of yarn!!!

I wanted a pattern that would be simple, yet not mind-numbingly boring to knit and would highlight the fun colours of the yarn rather than obscure them with fussy patterning.  What I chose was Anne Campbell's Show Off Stranded Socks.  My socks took me a month to knit only because I was busy with a test pair of socks that I'll show you when the pattern is released.  They're actually a really quick knit great for working on when you don't want to have to pay too much attention to what you're doing.  It's a four row pattern repeat that has two of the rows as stockinette.  Easy peasy!  The gusset method was yet another new technique for me, but nothing daunting about it.

I was ever so proud of my matching skills for my socks.  See how well everything lines up?  But while I was busily patting myself on the back I decided during the knitting of sock number two that I should really rip back sock one and do it a few rows longer because it really was on the verge of being annoyingly small on me.  No problem though.  Not with my matching prowess.  Except, well, something went amiss and now the tippity top of my toe (try saying that five times over quickly!) does NOT match.   Agggghhhhhh.  But, well, frankly I really don't care that it's off.  Well, actually I do, but not enough to rip out and try to rematch.  I could see that going absolutely no where fast.

So.  There you go!  Bright, fun, pink and purple socks that I can re-visit my childhood with.  It's not feeling like wooly sock weather right this moment with the sunshine and warm temperature, but come next winter, these are going to be a whole lot of fun on a dreary cold day!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Dynamic Duo Get New Suits

Every little superhero needs a new suit eventually, so one of the things on my to do list was make a set.  Our preschool has a "Superhero Day" each spring, and last year when Little Man had his, I made a Green Lantern outfit.  I couldn't leave baby boy out of the fun, so he got a Flash outfit.  They loved their outfits and they are still in regular rotation as their alter ego pjs to this day.

Green Lantern and The Flash  - 2014
Earlier in the spring, Baby Boy started thinking about Superhero Day and wanted a new outfit to wear.  Batman and Robin were chosen, which I thought quite apt for our little dynamic duo.  Of course thinking that last year's superhero day was at the end of May and this year's would likely be the same I procrastinated heartily... and then I got the calendar for April and oh dear me.  Superhero Day was on the 16th.  By the time I gathered fabric (Hello, Walmart men's t-shirts!) and made a plan (and procrastinated some more) I left myself with about four days to come up with the new outfits.  WHY do I do that?  WHY?  All's well that end's well, but I was pushing it just a bit I felt.

I used a mash up of a couple different patterns to make this year's superhero outfits. Batman encorporated : See Kate Sew's Surfer Slacks, Kwik Sew 2092 (out of print but apparently still available through places such as Ebay) as well as my self designed freezer stencil appliqué.  Robin's used : Kwik Sew 2092 and vintage Simplicity 6427 (my go to pj pattern for Little Man - I'm so excited that Baby Boy is about ready to grow into it!) and of course a self drafted appliqué.  The utility belts were also self drafted with bellows style pockets.  Masks were adapted from the felt mask templates I used for Little Man's party favours last summer. I never did get capes made, but luckily enough their little capes I made a couple years ago still fit and were happily traded around to suit their outfits.

Despite the rush I really did have fun making them and every minute spent at my sewing machine over those few days was time well spent to see those happy little faces!




I also made them some much needed pj's a few weeks ago and had worried that I'd left it a little late in the season to make winter sets for them, but alas, Mother Nature keeps teasing us with spring and then slamming us once again with winter (Case in point :  Saturday was a glorious +22C.  Today it is below freezing, the ground is covered in snow and I played a rousing game of "let's try to keep the truck on the highway" this morning as I navigated the ridiculously icy roads)  So - once again a mash up of patterns - this time Fishstick Design's Pajama Party, Charlie Tee and once again the old tried and true Kwik Sew 2092.  It's about time I sewed these up.  When I bought the fabric it was to match their little Waldorf style gnome babies I made them... about two years ago.



 Last but not least I made them some super fun pillow cases on Sunday when I needed a wee break from my current test project.  Using a really simple and rather ingenious method that I found online they took me about half an hour to whip up (well - as long as we don't count the time it took me ripping out my inside out french seams - some days...) and the boys love them!  Baby Boy had picked out the Transformers fabric on a previous trip to the fabric store - I think I mentioned in my fabric post how the fabric was CRAZY expensive even at half off, so I only got a smidge of it (luckily the lady cutting it was on the generous side of cutting so I ended up with just enough) - and then both boys picked out the solid and contrast to go with it.  I think I'll definitely make them a few more (less expensive) pillow cases in the future!



So, as you can see, I've been slowly working through the list I made - although not necessarily in order.  Since we've had some inclement weather over the last few days my sewing room, which is also currently a playroom is a bit of a disaster with the boys spending more time down there instead of outside, so I think my next mission today is to clean that up a bit and then get back to working through the next few items on the list starting with my stitch ripper and I having a hot date while I do some fitting type mods to the test project.  (Note to self - fit first, do the finishing last)

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Super Secret Sock Swap

What seems like ages ago a few of the moms in my "Octo-Mama's" group (we all met when we were expecting our October 2010 babies) on Rav decided we should do a sock swap.  We also decided to wait until the new year because we were all busy with holiday crafting madness and prep.  We got our swap partners assigned on Valentine's day and the socks were due to be mailed by April 14th.

My assignment wasn't really super secret given I was knitting for my friend Kim, who was actually hosting the swap, but I still kept all the details of the socks and the extra goodies secret.  I had such a hard time narrowing down what pattern to choose and what yarn to use.  Sometimes I am all but paralyzed by indecision.  It took me until the beginning of March to narrow it down and then only took me 13 days to knit my socks.  Unfortunately it took me forever and a day to decide on the extra goodies too.  (Indecision strikes again!) But I did finally decide, got to work and had them ready to go.  But then there was the mailing of them.  I'm not sure what it is that becomes so difficult about actually taking something to the post office and mailing it.  Possibly it's the fact that so often Canada Post is the bane of my existence with it's exorbitant rates and all the frustration that goes along with it.  I will never comprehend how it is that I can mail something out of country for less $$ than I can to mail it two provinces away.  HOW?!?!?!  It makes no blooming sense.  Anyways.  End of rant.

I finally willed myself to go to the post office on the 13th and amazingly enough (seriously - it's got to be some sort of postal miracle) my parcel arrived in Kim's mail box two short days later! I've had letters going down the block take longer to arrive!

So!  I know you're all dying to know what I settled on making.  I chose The Sky is the Limit by DXM patterns.  It's got a really interesting way of accommodating the gusset - the gusset (can it still be called that?!?) is achieved by increasing stitches along the top of the ankle and foot.  It also sports a short row heel that I'm really starting to get in the groove of knitting after making... oops! I almost spilled the beans about another super secret knitting project. Ahem... move along, nothing to see here.


Anyways - I loved the construction of The Sky is the Limit.  It was also easily customizable to Kim's size since the balance of the foot is just stockinette - the patterning being all in the leg and top of the foot near the heel, which was a bonus.  I used the unfortunately now discontinued Schaefer Anne yarn, that is a wonderful blend of merino/mohair/nylon and came in a huge 560 yd. skein.  It's the first time I have tried it and now wish I'd got more when it was still available.

For the crafted extra goodies I made a reversible sock WIP bag using the tutorial from Very Shannon (the reverse side is the rather quirky Knitmare on Elmstreet fabric by Michael Miller that I surprisingly had found last summer at my local Fabricland in the city).  I also made a notepad holder using the LBG Studio tutorial that I've used before and a set of stitch markers.



I was thoroughly spoiled by my partner, Christine (another fellow Canadian Octo-mama).  She knit me a gorgeous pair of socks that the pictures just can not do justice for.  The yarn she used is String Theory's Caper Sock which is a glorious merino/cashmere/nylon blend.  Is it wrong to want to pet my socks?  They're so soft and squishy.  She also included tea and chocolate in my goodies (as well as a lavender sachet to hang in my closet).  Christine knows me well.  Aren't these socks gorgeous?



The swaps in our group always run like a well oiled machine and are great - I've never regretted signing up for one (and there's been lots of them over the five or so years we've "known" each other.) I think there's only been one that I haven't participated in and that was because I had really dodgy internet access at the time.  The sock swap didn't disappoint!  It was lots of fun and thoroughly enjoyable!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Fabric Madness

I went fabric shopping yesterday and I went fabric shopping two weeks ago and somehow it has led to madness.  Especially given my sewing machine, which was an unfortunate Walmart Singer purchase about six or seven years ago, has been having fits lately and refusing to behave properly leading to much frustration, anxiety and foul language.

Some of the new fabric, washed folded and waiting to be pressed
Two weeks ago was for specific fabric for two test projects and denim for a pair of Ginger Jeans - why?!?  I know that the Goodtime Gal Singer won't handle denim - what delusion was I living under when I decided I could make myself jeans?!?!  Then yesterday was simply for 1.2 m of cotton to go with the .4 m of stupidly expensive Transformers print cotton that mysteriously ended up in my basket the last time.  (I say mysteriously, but Baby Boy was shopping with me, so there's not really a whole lot of mystery to it...) I decided to make pillow cases for the little boys with the print, but I refuse to spend over $20 to make a single pillow case. That's just crazy talk, thus the 1.2 m needed yesterday to pair with the print.  Of course one thing led to another...

Yup.  This is me.

I got the fabric I was after.  The boys picked out the colours they wanted.  But they were so very, very well behaved in the fabric store, which is very, very hard for two little boys to be, that when they asked if we could buy new fabric for summer pjs I said sure, and let them pick whatever they wanted.

Beautiful princess dress fabric
As we were wandering the store to pick out the pj fabric, Little Man came across a floral print he really wanted me to buy for myself.  I put it back on the table and we continued our hunt for his fabric, but he kept gravitating back towards the floral. Finally he pulled out the big guns.  "Mommy.  You should really buy this to make a pretty dress for yourself.  You will look like a beautiful princess in it."  SOLD.  How could anyone refuse that?

Then they both picked out their pj fabric, some fabric for a new handbag (I'm planning on Swoon Pattern's Blanche Barrel Bag) for me for spring and some cotton lawn for a spring top also for me.  See? Pure unadulterated madness.

So I need a list, and it needs to be prioritized. Because not pictured here are the test projects, the denim and the fabric for costumes/pjs promised for Superhero day at Baby Boy's preschool. (fair is fair and I made special ones for Little Man's Superhero Day last year so you know how it goes...). So onwards and upwards.  Let's get a handle on this fabric madness.  Maybe this list will keep me motivated, accountable and most of all ON TRACK.

1) Finish test project one Done!
2) Superhero costume/pj x2 (Batman and Robin.  By Wednesday.  Ack!!!!!) Done!
3) Finish test project two
4) Crayon roll promised to good friend's little ones
5) Pillow cases x2 Done!
6) Spring top one
7) Summer pjs x2
8) Blanche Barrel Bag
9) Summer Dress for me - can't decide what to do with my bright yellow floral... another Rebecca Shift, a Jamie with a 1/2 circle skirt, an Jenny with a 1/2 circle skirt or a Carolina Mae.  Maybe I'll just let the boys pick out the pattern too.

Oh and because I'm nothing if not crazy when it comes to crafting I'm also in the process of knitting a pair of socks for a test pattern and another pair of socks just because.

If you're looking for me, I'll likely be in the corner buried under stacks of fabric and tangled in sock yarn...

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Jocole's Yoga Skirt... Finally

Under the realm of ridiculous, it has taken me almost a year to actually make this skirt.  Well, actually, not exactly...  I bought the yoga skirt pattern about year ago, I ordered the fabric from Girl Charlee about a year ago, I printed off and assembled the one (yes, one) pattern piece a year ago, and then I finally cut out and sewed the skirt last summer.  All that was needed as of about eight months ago was a waistband, which if I'd done the one for the pattern right there and then it would have taken me all of five minutes.  I have no idea why I didn't do it and furthermore why I waited so long.  As it is I have had the waistband done for a couple of weeks now, and all that was needed was to iron the skirt, take some photos and call it done.  What is it about this skirt?  Of course there is the obvious, it's been winter so who needs to hurry up and finish a spring skirt when the snow is falling, but other than that? There's really no reason it's taken me until now to finally get it done.

This, my friends, is the kind of pattern you can whip up in half an hour or less probably. Pre-shrinking your fabric definitely takes longer than cutting out and sewing this baby.  It's four seams (if you're doing the chevron like I did) or two if you're doing a solid colour and a waistband.  That's it. That's all.  Easy peasy.

Nice, neat and narrow.  Borrowing the Jade Skirt waistband.
The pattern calls for a yoga waistband (probably obvious given it's name is the Yoga Skirt), but as I've discovered through trial and error, while I like the idea of yoga waistbands, yoga waistbands do not like me. I either have to sew them so tight it's like a corset (Ick, ick, ick.  I hate tight waistbands) or they slip and slide down and I end up constantly hiking up my clothes, which is neither comfortable or ladylike.  I had an epiphany with this one after sewing Paprika Pattern's Jade skirt for G.  I really liked the shape of the waistband - it's curved, like the body I possess, not a straight rectangle, so I figured it would fit better right off the hop.  I am happy to say that I was correct in that assessment.  I still added elastic to the waistband for a sense of security since I was using a lighter weight knit, but it's comfy, the fit is great and I feel like I am safe to chase after dogs, or push little boys on swings without having to worry about my skirt slipping south.  Also the narrower waistband of the Jade Skirt leaves a lot less bulk than the straight rectangular folded over yoga bands do.  Who wants bulk at their waistline? Not me, thanks!  Not after the amount of Easter goodies I've consumed as of late, anyways!


I finally got it ironed, put it on and got (BF)G to snap a few photos for me while our Easter supper was cooking this afternoon.  It's freezing outside (literally and with a windchill none the less).  Five minutes before I ran in the house to change into my spring outfit I was actually wearing my parka, toque and mittens.  As soon as the photos were done I was back into jeans and winter wear again.  Brrrrrr.  Oh the sacrifices I make.  LOL


I can see adding more yoga skirts to my wardrobe for spring and summer.  I really like the ease and comfort of them.  Hopefully though my next ones will be done in a timely manner instead of the ridiculous long term plan I used for this particular one.


I have another skirt that I started early in the fall - the Miette skirt from Tilly and the Buttons that I finished up too the other day, but I need to do some major repair work to it.  I tried it on yesterday and noticed it was hanging really funny, which seemed sort of odd since I haven't seen any other Miettes in the blogosphere hanging the way mine was.  After close and painful inspection of it I realized what the problem was.  I don't know what I was up to the day I cut it out in the fall, nor the day a few weeks ago when I finally hemmed it and put the waistband on (yes... another waistband delay) but the hem is a good 3/4" out on one side compared to the other.  I'm really hoping I can selvedge it and still have it wearable.  I was going for a similar length to my yoga skirt, but I'm worried it's going to end up much shorter when all is said and done.  Wish me luck!  I'll either be back next with a new skirt or a sad tale of woe...

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Ruisseau Joubert

This past Christmas my big kids gave me an awesome gift.  They all pitched in together, which is a gift in itself if you ask me as a parent - it's always nice to see the close bonds they've re-developed together as adults... it had gone very typically missing for awhile throughout their teen years. I'm glad to see it back! And together they chose thoughtful gifts that were so meaningful and perfect for me.

G and B made me a huge pan of candy cane fudge.  So very decadent and delicious - I may or may not have hidden the pan in the back of the fridge away from little hands and nibbled it mostly in secret so I didn't have to share often.  N and A picked out teas and a mug. (I wholeheartedly recommend the Earl's Garden - I'm just finishing the last sip of it as I type - and Read My Lips from David's Tea by the way! It's so good and even more impressive given it was picked out by two non-tea drinkers!)  J and M picked out yarn.  

They had me laughing as they told me the story of how they picked out the yarn.  J of course, with his story telling abilities, told it much better, but the lengths they went to for that yarn was so touching.  They went into Wolesley Wool and were immediately overwhelmed. So when the clerk asked if they needed help they, of course, said yes. She started asking all sorts of questions: “what does she like to knit?” - “Everything” / “What colour is her favourite?” - “All of them” etc. Finally they got the clerk to look here on the blog and Ravelry trying to get some hints. J was unimpressed with me. He said, “Mom. You list all sorts of yarns you use, and you say this one is good for this reason or that is good for that reason, but you don’t give any hints of what yarns you’d LIKE!!!!” Ha ha! I guess I’m just a big ol’ enigma!

Look at those glorious fall colours!
Anyways, the yarn they chose was the very gorgeous Sweet Georgia Tough Love in the Maple colour way.  The crazy thing was, that as I wound my first skein of the Sweet Georgia it hit me.  This is exactly the yarn I envisioned dying myself all fall long, except hadn't because I was pretty sure that by the time I was done dying it, it would look a whole lot like mud and not a whole lot like the gorgeous colours of the trees along the Ruisseau Joubert I cross every day taking Little Man to kindergarten.  Long after every other leaf in the vicinity had blown off the trees (about 30 seconds after turning colour), the trees along the creek stayed full of leaves in an explosion of colour.  Reds and oranges, yellows, browns and greens.  Every day I saw those breath taking colours and every day thought, "I need a yarn that looks like that."  I couldn't believe that the very yarn I had dreamt of possessing for months was right there on my swift and had been chosen without any idea how truly perfect it was for me.  Of course I had to name my shawl after the creek given the colour of the yarn!

The Maple was far too pretty to hide in my shoes as socks, plus they'd given me two skeins of it, so I had plenty to do a much bigger project.  I wanted something fairly simple that would highlight the yarn, so chose Laura Aylor's Sunstruck.  Squishy bias knit garter stitch and an asymetrical line seemed perfect.  I chose to do mine in just two colours and I was really happy I did.  For my second colour I chose Berocco's Ultra Alpaca Fine in the Pea Soup Mix colour way.   I really enjoyed knitting the shawl and the short rows were addictive - which still seems odd to say given I used to avoid anything requiring short rows as one would avoid the plague - but they are actually very easy to do and watching the shape of the wedges emerge was fun.  

Starting the border stitches

My shawl was too long and too big for the blocking  
mats I had so I layered up quilts on the spare room bed
My shawl itself was completed in a fairly short time, but I was a bit daunted by the edging.  The top one required picking up about 375 stitches and the thought of that had me stalled out until last weekend.  In reality, I picked up the stitches one evening before bed then when I finally started actually knitting the border I did it in small snippets of knitting time over the course of two days.  I don't know why I waited so long.  Like most things it was much easier than I was imagining.  

Then it took me several more days before I blocked it.  Again,  I'm not sure why.  I ended up just spritzing the corners and edges lightly with water to block it as it certainly didn't require anything more than that.  I had dispensed with such frivolities as gauge swatches given I had lots of yarn and wasn't worried about fit and so had already ended up with bit a larger shawl than the pattern called for, which I'm absolutely fine with it, subscribing to the theory that with a shawl (and my broad shoulders) bigger is almost always better.  The more snuggly warmth and all.  However, I really did not want to aggressively block it into ridiculous proportions so I was pretty cautious.

LA LA LOVING my new shawl -
it's like a warm hug from my kids when I wear it!
This makes my fifth Laura Aylor pattern in the last six months.  I did Skerwink as a test knit, then Haycove, also as a test knit, then there was (BF)G's Fox Point then of course my beach in winter I just finished and now Sunstruck. I wonder which one of hers I should cast on next? I keep gravitating towards Paper Birch, but then I also want to do Serra, but then there's Brier Island and Cinnamon Toast as well and Sirocco would be perfect for spring... all of which are in my pattern library so I can't even narrow it down that way.  Want to help me decide?  Which one would you choose?






Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A New Sweater for Me?

A new sweater for me? Yes, please!! Especially if it's another design from Laura Aylor! I know there are certain designers I keep raving about, but I promise you, they are most deserving of all the attention I give them and Laura is no exception!

I've knit this latest sweater as part of her "In Winter" knit along in her Ravelry group.  She has a series of three In Winter patterns we could choose from and while the Woods in the Winter shawl really tempted me, I decided I would make my next choice Beach in the Winter instead since I am still in the midst of knitting my Sunstruck shawl right now.

I'm so glad I chose the sweater.  I absolutely love how it's turned out.  I worked really hard on this one to get exactly what I wanted, even though it meant ripping out sections more than once.  I modified it slightly by not adding any hip increases (thanks to Laura for figuring out my numbers for that mod within minutes so I didn't lose any knitting time!), lengthening the body (as to eliminate any risk of too short a midriff in the front - no need to be showing off my belly thanks very much!) and also shortening the amount of the short rows to have a much less pronounced hi-low hemline.  While I like the look of a hi-low on many people, I do NOT like the look of it on me.  It's a bit horrifying actually for whatever reason.  I had initially knit it as written for the short rows, tried it on, shuddered at the result in the mirror, but waited for confirmation from (BF)G before ripping it out.  His assessment was to stop knitting right there and then.  It was the perfect length in the back.  Unfortunately I still needed the almost three inches of the bottom section to get the front to length.  Another quick consultation with Laura in her Ravelry group - she's so awesome about helping figure things out - and back I went.  It worked out really well I think!

My other modification, if you can call it that, was to do a contrast for the cuffs and bottom band of the sweater.  I had seen a test project on Ravelry that used the contrasts and couldn't stop thinking about it so I decided to give it a try just to see if I liked the end result.  I was fully prepared to rip back again and knit it with the main colour if necessary. (Look at that! Fully prepared and rip back all in one sentence.  I'm such a grown up knitter now, wouldn't you say?)  I LOVE the orange! Love, love, love it!  My only decision I need to make is whether or not I want to reknit the collar in orange too.  I'm pretty sure I have enough of the Berroco Vintage that I used left to do it.  But I just can't decide.

I've not actually blocked my sweater yet.  Heck, if you look closely enough you might even notice I've not even woven in the ends yet. I'm not sure why.  I did wear my sweater for quite some time after getting the boys to assist with the photos - until I got way too hot.  It was a warm day and the sun was streaming in through windows.  Not quite the day for a worsted weight wool sweater!
This sweater is going to be perfect for the early spring weather we're having lately I think! It's a bit chilly today, but I actually wore my Hay Cove cardi all weekend. No coat necessary! Whooot!  Spring has sprung! (and I really, really hope I didn't just jinx it or I'll have a whole lot of people annoyed with me.  Stay away winter, stay away!!!!) I think it'll be great to have a good pullover to wear out and about in the fresh spring air when it's too chilly for a light jacket but way too warm for a parka!

And now that I mention it, I think it high time I go weave in those ends and give my sweater a bath!