Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Summer Sweater KAL Works in Progress

Let me just say, first of all, that I am in denial that it is already September.  Summer has flown by at break neck speed it seems.  This time next week I'll be getting the boys lunches packed up, making sure their back packs are ready and mentally preparing myself for the first day of school.  It's going to be an especially hard one this year given my last baby will be off to kindergarten.  What am I going to do without my littlest side kick with me?  I'm going to really miss his non-stop chatter and stories.  (He tells the best, most involved stories ever!)  It's going to be an adjustment for sure and I'm pretty sure there will be some tears involved - mine, likely, not his.

So instead of focusing on that, I will, instead, focus on knitting.  Not only does summer holidays come to an end next week, but so does the Very Shannon annual summer sweater knitting KAL.  I always enjoy Shannon's knit alongs.  There's lots of chit chat in the thread on Ravelry, oodles of motivation and inspiration and it's just down right fun.

This year I was really eager for the KAL to start because I was planning on knitting Shannon's pattern Antrorse.  I'd purchased my wool with my birthday money and was chomping at the bit to get going on it.  I dove into knitting pretty much as soon as the KAL started, although I had some issues with getting gauge to start with - only because I was being really daft and kept going down needle sizes instead of up when I was knitting my swatch.  I was getting desperate and thinking there was something really off on the pattern when I'd gone down to about a 4mm needle (using bulky yarn none the less) and still couldn't get gauge.  I even posted about it in thread.  And then felt really, really silly, when I suddenly realized what I was doing wrong about half an hour after posting.  D'oh! There are days I should just put down the needles and back away slowly.  Ha ha!

Anyways, once that issue was out of the way it was smooth sailing.  I really love the Cascade Eco+ I'm using.  It's so soft and cozy but feels light.  Winding those gigantic skeins is a bit of a beast though.  Turns out my ball winder outright refuses to wind the whole 478 yards, quitter that it is.

Really?  That's as far as you'll go??? Slacker!
I was doing really great with the knitting and it was really coming along, but then it got really hot and muggy and I just could not face having all that bulky wool sitting on my already too warm lap.  So, what's a girl to do but cast on a different project?

Deck knitting Antrorse and drinking a wine cooler
(non-alcoholic of course, because alcohol and knitting don't mix!)
My second project is an Andi Satterlund design (Of course it is!  I can't resist her patterns!) I'm working on one of her newest patterns, Sunshower, and it's so pretty.  I had really hoped to finish it last week for my girls' night out with my sisters and cousins, but alas.  No go.  I made a pretty epic mistake in my pattern that required me ripping everything out from the start of the second pattern chart at the bottom of the sweater all the way to the beginning of the left front.  Oh how that hurt.  But on the bright side I learned my lesson.  You see, I got a bit cocky with my "reading" of my lace and started thinking I was off a bit on my stitches.  Things had been looking a bit wonky for awhile, but I put that down to it being just because all those stitches were squished on my needles.  But then I started fudging rows here and there because things weren't lining up the way I assumed they were supposed to be lining up.  Of course all that fudging led to a wrong stitch count and so my new pattern chart wasn't working out.  At that point I was advised (by (BF)G none the less) to rip it out and start again. Oh how smug he is that he was right about my knitting.  Ha ha!  Long story short, I am really glad I listened to him and ripped it out, because I would've been really disappointed in the end result otherwise. I quickly realized I'd been totally reading the knitting wrong, stuck to the chart, used stitch markers with wild abandon to make sure I didn't get off track with the increases and got it done.

After all that crazy push though to try and get it done, not only did I not finish in time for girls' night out, I ended up with really sore wrists and had to take a week off of knitting to let them rest.  I'm back at it though and have just finished up the button band tonight.  Tomorrow I'll launch myself onto sleeve island.  My plan of attack is my usual one.  I'll do the short row sleeve caps individually and then put both sleeves on the needles and do them two at a time.  No second sleeve syndrome for me.  No siree!

Body is done!  Sunshower just needs some sleeves!
After I finish up Sunshower, I'm going to jump back into finishing up Antrorse.  I'm so close!  Just one more pattern repeat on the body, then the garter stitch band at the bottom, then sleeves.  I'm hoping I can get both done by then end of the KAL, but that might be a wee bit ambitious.  We'll see!

So that's what's up for me in the knitterly side of life.  I've been sewing a bit here and there too - a few new projects and techniques under the belt, but I'll save those for another day.  In the rest of life, it's been a whirlwind of gardening, canning, harvesting garden veggies, (beware of zucchini and cucumbers... if you turn your back on them they multiply quickly!  At least I think they must!), visiting, and spending lots of time with the two littlest. I've even managed to have not one, but two visits with N and his girlfriend in the span of a week (He even cooked me lunch on one of those visits - having a chef for a son has it's perks!) and then G and her boyfriend were out too this past weekend.  Now all I need to do is pin the elusive J down for a visit and I'll have it made!

Splish splash!  These two little guys and I have had a fun summer!
I guess that's about it for me tonight.  (BF)G just came into the kitchen shaking his head at me likely for being a night owl again.  (I stay up way too late, then am always so darn tired during the day.  Go figure. He thinks I'm nuts.  He's probably right in that assessment!  LOL) I should probably hop to it and get the things done that I need to do before I head off to bed for the night.

So I'll bid you adieu and hope you all have had a great summer in whatever way you've spent it!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Another Day, Another Dress

Living where I do on the prairies, where my legs do not see the light of day all winter long (or rarely do anyways), come summer I love spending my days living in skirts and dresses.  That's not to say I don't appreciate a nice pair of shorts or capris because they definitely do have their benefits.  Gardening and yard work in a dress, while do-able, is not always the most ladylike and who wants to get mud and grass stains on their pretty frock?  Not me! Strong prairie winds are also often not a friend to dresses either - some day I will sew weights into the hems of my dresses and there'll be no stopping me.  There is just something about a pretty skirt or dress that makes me feel good.

So to that end, and the fact that we are still in the Sundress Sew-A-Long time frame, I sewed up another dress.  It's the tried and true Sis Boom/Scientific Seamstress Jamie Dress.  This is my third one, and although I've not sewn it in a few years, I still really enjoyed the pattern.   The only change I made to the pattern was to add pockets and a half circle skirt.

I am, apparently, all about the circle skirts this year!  I love how flattering and flowy a circle skirt is!  I've made four new dresses this summer so far and three of them have half circle skirts. The only reason the lone gathered skirt dress didn't get the same treatment was due to a lack of fabric otherwise it too would have been a circle skirt.

There's not much to say about this pattern that I haven't already said when I last made the Jamie dress.  It's a great pattern that sews up quickly.   By the way, you can get this and all the other Sis Boom patterns in their new Etsy shop - and if you use the code WELCOME you can get 50% off right now!!!

My fabric is the cotton sateen from Gertie's collection, available through JoAnn's although I see it's currently out of stock online.  If you happen to have a JoAnn's nearby that you can shop at in person, I highly recommend this fabric.  It's smooth and has a bit of a sheen to it - feeling almost like a rayon, but without the scary washing hazards rayon can possess.  It sewed up like a dream!

Now I'm off outside to enjoy the sunshine and maybe do some knitting while the little guys play in their pool!  See you next time!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Outfit Along and Sundress Sew-a-Long

I'm pretty excited to say I'm finished my 2015 Untangling Knots Outfit Along!!  As an added bonus my dress component fits right in nicely with the Sundress Sew-A-Long hosted by Heather of Handmade by Heather B!

I got Little Man to take some photos for me this morning.  Between the mosquitoes and the heat they're not the greatest to show the outfit maybe, but to be fair, it is 28C / feels like 36C with the humidity and there's a heat warning in effect today.  Great day to pick to take photos of a BLACK sweater, wouldn't you say?  By the time we got a few shots I was pretty much eaten alive and wilting from the heat, so I decided it was good enough and we fled back into the house for a cool glass of lemonade.   Apparently there are limits to what I will endure for the sake of my project pages and blog.  LOL.

As you may recall from my earlier post at the beginning of the month I was taking part in the 2015 Outfit Along hosted by designer Andi Satterlund of Untangling Knots and Lauren of lladybird.com.

The great thing about the outfit along is that while there is an official cardigan and dress pattern, you don't have to use them to participate.  The goal being to end up with an outfit you love and will wear, you're free to choose any combination of patterns.  One of the participants is doing a sweater and a pair of jeans, so it really is whatever you want so long as it makes a complete outfit that has a sewn and a knit component.  So I chose to do the official cardigan pattern, which is Vianne, but chose Violette Field Thread's Ginger Dress instead of the official McCall's pattern.

The sweater went together well, although very slowly (only because I seemed to lose all knitting mojo).  I did enjoy the pattern when I was knitting it though.  The mesh panel in the back and the lace kept it interesting.  I did my usual mods for Andi's patterns and did fewer decreases in the body, so that while it's still fitted there's not quite as much negative ease across my midsection. Other than that I knit the pattern as written.  I really enjoy Andi's patterns (evidenced by the fact that this is my fifth cardigan pattern I've knit of hers! I've also knit Miette, Hetty, Myrna and Marion) and this was no exception.

The Ginger Dress was the first pattern I've ever sewn from Violette Field Threads.  It was fairly straight forward and the sizing pretty good for the most part - I did have to make some adjustments, but that's not unusual.  I did make a few changes besides the ones for fit.  I swapped out the centre back exposed zipper for a side seam zipper, so as not to be dependent on anyone zipping up my dress for me.  (How does the rest of the world manage with back zippers?!?)  I also swapped out the halter straps in favour of shoulder straps.  I felt that the dress would be more comfortable that way without the constant need for adjusting and tugging at straps, or tying it so tight I gave myself a sore neck.  The third modification was to add a bit of elastic along the top of the back bodice.  I do wish I'd modified the pockets.  The pockets sewn as drafted are seriously tiny.  Too bad I didn't notice their petite size before finishing the dress.  I much prefer large, fit everything but the kitchen sink, pockets. Oh well.  C'est la vie.  I'm not about to start undoing seams at this point!!

Wrapping up, once again this year the Outfit Along was a really great experience.  I've got another outfit that I think will get lots of wear and I had lots of fun along the way.

I'm not 100% sure what my next project will be.  The knitting mojo is still lagging although I've been working on a pair of socks and I picked up some gorgeous yarn (thank you Mom for the birthday money that I used to purchase it with!) to knit an Antrorse in the upcoming Summer Sweater Knit Along in the Very Shannon group on Ravelry.

I've got quite a few sewing projects lined up that I want to get done so I'll probably try to focus on those for the next while, probably starting with a Sis Boom Jamie Dress using my Gertie Tropical sateen that I ordered from JoAnn's earlier this summer.  It'll be another pattern that fits perfectly into Heather's Sundress Sew-A-Long.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Catching Up and a Birthday Party

I can't believe we are more than three weeks into July already!  The summer is flying by at break neck speed.  So much has been going on since I last posted here.  I'm still working on my outfit along and I've done a few other small sewing projects, but there's not been a lot of time for craftiness

(BF)G was on vacation from work for two weeks and we jammed packed them full of things to do.  Every thing from camping and a first time fishing for the little boys to berry picking, to museums, to park visits to lots of playing in the little pool we bought to replace the baby paddling pool.  It was busy, but loads of fun!  We even had a birthday in there! Well two, of course, since Little Man and I share a birthday, but his is more interesting than mine, given that he is six and I'm in my forties.

The boys helped make the lightsaber party invitations
for Little Man's friends
Little Man is crazy about Star Wars.  He's talked about having a Star Wars party pretty much since the day after his Superhero party last year.  He was also super excited that he got to have a "school friend" party as well as a family party this year.   We actually had the school friend party in June before school let out for the holidays so more of his friends would be around to attend.

Now let me warn you, dear readers, that you should, under no circumstances, ever let your child look at Pinterest over your shoulder as you peruse it for ideas for a birthday party.

If you do not heed this warning, you will likely find yourself up to your elbows in papier mache, angsting over just how the heck you're going to make dipped pretzel sticks look like light sabers when you can't find pretzel sticks in any store, agonizing over whether or not your Chewbacca cupcakes looks like Chewie or a friendly little beaver, and painstakingly cutting out and sewing eleventy-billion little pieces of felt to make little freezie holders that look like light saber handles.  Do not say that I did not warn you!!!

It was a bit mad, but all in all Little Man's assessment was that both his friend party and family party were "AWESOME!!!!!!!!", so definitely worth the effort and insanity.  But I'll stop nattering on here and just leave you with some pictures of the two events!

The Annual Birthday Crown!

There was also a  freezer stencilled Birthday Shirt this year!

My interpretation of the Death Star in Piñata form.
(I've never made a piñata before... OH MY WORD.
They are a whole lot of effort to just get smashed up.)

Eleventy-Billion pieces of felt...

All combined to make almost two dozen of these freezie holders!
The kids played a balloon game with pool noodle lightsabers
that (BF)G made by decorating them with duct tape and electrical tape
Marshmallow tie fighter oreos, dipped breadstick lightsabers and Storm Trooper
and lightsaber cupcakes for the friend party
And cupcakes for the family party!
Darth Vaders, Chewbaccas (seriously what happened there?), Yodas,
Luke Skywalkers , Leias and Storm Troopers OH MY!

Friday, July 03, 2015

2015 Outfit Along in Progress

We're at the halfway mark of the 2015 Untangling Knots Outfit Along and I thought I'd post a bit of an update on how things are progressing for me.

Yarn and fabric choices!
Slower than molasses in January would be one way of summing it up.  I feel like I'm usually a whole lot quicker with knitting Andi's cardigan patterns, but to be honest, I've just not had much energy or time for knitting.  By the time the boys have gone to sleep for the night after a rousing round of jumping in and out of bed six billion times each, I've found that I'm scrambling around doing everything I need to get done and by the time that's taken care of I'm at the point of sitting and staring at the wall rather than relaxing and knitting.  But I am chugging along, slowly but surely.  Yesterday I took the boys to the splash park and was able to work on it while they played.  I was making some good progress on the sleeve cap, but I like to do sleeves two at a time once I'm past the cap (that way I know they are going to end up the same length and all decreases occur at the same spot), and once I finished the cap on the sleeve I was working on I realized I'd forgotten to bring a second ball of yarn to start the second sleeve cap.

Splash park knitting - making slow progress!
I think I am going to love my outfit once it's done, which is keeping me plugging away bit by bit.  I chose to do the "official" knit pattern, Vianne, which like a lot of Andi's patterns, is a sweet, retro vibe cardigan with lace detail on the front and a mesh panel and more lace on the back.  I'm not in love with the yarn I'm using, but it was in my stash, so it'll do.  I was having a bit of a hard time justifying yarn and then fabric for a dress all in one fell swoop so, black Sirdar Silky DK it is.

My pattern choices!
For my sewn component I've chosen to do Violette Field Thread's Ginger Dress, which is another pattern from the Women's Bundle Up Sale I snagged back in May.  I scoured all locally available fabric sources as well as a few online Canadian shops in search of the perfect black with red cherry print fabric.  I'm not sure how I got fixated on the idea, but I did and there it stuck.  I knew nothing else was going to do once I had the vision in my head.  Unfortunately my search was in vain. One shop in Alberta did carry a cute cherry print, and the price per metre wasn't bad, but then shipping killed it.  Why Canada Post?  WHY?!?!?!  So then I started perusing online shops from the US.  I found the perfect print on JoAnn's website and then bid my time until I could use a 60% off coupon.  I was able to buy four metres for less than I could 3.5m here even with shipping and exchange factored in so  was pretty happy about that! (of course now I'm frighteningly addicted to JoAnn's and their coupons... my second order - Gertie's tropical sateen - just arrived in the post today.    I'm justifying that one, by the fact it was on sale for 60% off and then JoAnn's kindly had sent me a 20% off coupon for creating an account for my first order. I'm so easily persuaded...)

Anyways.  I'm getting off track here.

I've not done anything but the muslin of the bodice for my Ginger Dress, but I'm hoping after the weekend to find some time to get it done. (it's birthday weekend here - both Little Man and I - and Little Man's "family" party is on Saturday so no hope of sewing a new dress before then with cakes to bake, a house to clean and a birthday crown to make yet).  I think it's going to be a fairly easy sew which shouldn't take a lot of time once I get going on it.  

So that's what's been happening with my 2015 OAL so far!  Hopefully in the next week or so I'll be back to show you a final outfit. 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Shorts on the Line 2015

I had all sorts of plans for Imaginegnats Shorts on the Line this month.  The first one being that I was actually going to participate.  I need new shorts so it seemed like a perfect idea to sew them all during the month of June.   I was going to try out a few different patterns I have - Winter Wear's Real Deal Jeans, a short version of Closet Case Files' Ginger, the Purl Bee's City Gym Shorts.  Oh the ideas I had...

What ended up reality is that today, a mere two days before the end of the month, I finished up my first (and likely to be only) pair of shorts for Shorts on the Line 2015.  And it's not even a new pattern.  Or even a new twist on a pattern.  I made another denim pair of Filles A Maman Clemence Shorts.  Ok.  There is a slight difference.  I used gold jeans topstitching thread and did the rectangular front flap detail instead of blue topstitching and a scallop.  Ooooh Boy! I know!  I'm livin' on the edge!

They went together well this time, since I wasn't trying to confuse the heck out of myself on the lapped zipper.  I also went ahead and immediately did an elastic reinforcement of the back waistband.    I even added jeans buttons on the flap just for kicks (and only broke one in the process of hammering them in!) What didn't go well was that I somehow broke more than six needles - I stopped counting -in top stitching and finishing the damn things.  WHY?!?!?!  It's not as though I was using "The Goodtime Gal" Singer (sometimes also known as the #@*%$ Singer).  I was using my new to me 40-something year old work horse Pfaff that can normally sew through about six layers of denim like butter.  So, so frustrating.  I likely should have just stopped and given up, but you know.  Shorts on the Line only goes until June 30th.  I had a deadline.  (and I'm just crazy like that)

Anyways, so at least I got one teeny tiny goal accomplished - well two I guess if you count the fact I actually participated and finished one pair of shorts.  I've been pretty much living in my first pair of Clemence since I added the stabilizing elastic to the waistband, so it'll be nice to have a second pair of go to shorts in my wardrobe.  I'd say that I'd make the other shorts I had planned to do soon, but I don't know if it'll actually happen without the motivation of the sew along.  I've got so many other projects to do that they may just slip on by into the wayside for the time being.  I've got to get cracking on a bunch of sewing and alterations to do for G on her highland dance costumes before she heads east to ScotDance Canada Championship Series and Canadian Championships in a little over a week and then of course there's my Outfit Along cardi and dress to do as well as a test sew I'm working on.  In between all that of course there's things like gardening, yard work and well, the rest of life to get done.  Busy, busy times.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Still Lovin' My Dress

Actually, I think I may love my second version of my Love Your Dress Modcloth knock off more than my first one!  I made the first one when the Scientific Seamstress Lab Group on Facebook hosted the "Just for Me January" challenge this winter.  The fourth week was called "Knock it Off" and we were to create a knock off outfit at least partially using a Sis Boom/Scientific Seamstress pattern.

I really fell in love with the Modcloth dress, but really could never have justified the price for basically a t-shirt dress.  Especially when you factor in the exchange and shipping. So I mashed up a Simplicity pattern that I'd used for a prior Modcloth knock off dress a few years ago and Sis Boom's Jamie dress.  I adore my "Love My Dress" - it's one of those comfy like pj outfits that I can throw on and feel great in.

Shortly after making my dress I started coveting the cherry blossom cotton jersey on the Girl Charlee site.  I kept envisioning it as a perfect fabric for another Love My Dress and finally a few weeks ago I succumbed to it's siren call and ordered a couple of yards.  I fixed up the few fit issues I had with my first one, tweaking the back neckline, the armscye and the waistband and I LA LA LOVE the result!

I also am pretty tickled with the wavy orange plaid I chose for the neckline facing, armhole bias and hem facing  Ok. I didn't actually have a hem facing in mind when I bought the cotton but apparently cutting a rectangle is beyond my capabilities for some reason and I ended up cutting one side of my skirt a whole freaking 1 3/4" shorter than the other.  Once I evened it out the length was exactly the way I wanted it, with no room for a hem.  Granted I could have left the hem raw given it's a knit, but, GAH, raw edges! YIKES!!!!! I can't handle a raw edge.  They make me a bit crazy.  So, hem facing it is.  With an added bonus it gives a wee bit of weight to the skirt and maybe the next time a gust of wind comes out of nowhere while I'm buckling Baby Boy into his seat in the truck I won't flash the entire town.  (apologies to whoever had to witness that unfortunate wardrobe malfunction last week...)

I'm squeaking this one in just under the wire for a final entry into the Dress Up Party that Sara is hosting over at Sew Sweetness.  I had hoped to get a few more entries in, but as per usual the minute I decide to take part in any sort of sew along or challenge like this I suddenly have no time to actually sew.  (Hello, Kids Clothing Week Challenge. I'm looking at you!).  I did get four entries in between my Jenny Dress, my Gathered Raglan Tee, my Clemence Shorts (which by the way I fixed and they fit like a dream now! Whoot!!!) and now my Love my Dress.  So I think I did pretty well after all.

Next up is finishing up work on a test sew, then charging full steam ahead into the Outfit Along, which I'm really lagging behind in this year having barely made a dent in my knitting and a just finally deciding on a dress.  First things first though, I've got a billion little things to get done before the weekend for Little Man's school friend birthday party.

If you don't hear from me for a while, maybe send someone out to check on me.  I might be buried under paste and newspaper trying to finish up a piñata for the party.  I've never made one before and I think I now know why...