Friday, December 17, 2010

Sara's Workshop

I don't know how the elves at the North Pole are doing, but my workshop is in full swing! Thanks to Ana White from Knock-off Wood, I've created this for the special little girl in my life (who will be receiving a special doll this Christmas from her Nana).

Savannah's doll bed for her special Christmas gift, Julie (an American Girl doll).

I modified the plans a bit: I made the bed longer to accommodate an American Girl doll and instead of using 5 1x3s for the head and foot boards, I used 6 1x2s, so mine is more narrow like a regular full size bed, only doll sized. We worked on the quilt together and I sewed the pillow and pillowcase while my daughter's sweet little head was brimming with sugar plums. The quilt is her design and she approved the prototype. The fabric is leftover from a log cabin style quilt that I made for her. I couldn't resist sewing a mini European-style pillow sham for the bed.

The bed is a farmhouse style bed, the second one I've built. I painted it this afternoon in Divine White, a Sherwin-Williams Duration paint (ie, low-VOC). I wish I had a picture for you of her doll in the bed for size. For now, this is the best I can do. Since Julie has a rabbit in her stories, she will have a rabbit doll of her own to snuggle with in her new bed.

I can't wait to give this to my daughter on Christmas morning. She's going to be the happiest little girl in the house! Plus, I built the entire bed out of scrap lumber that I had lying around in my scrap bin in the garage, painted it with leftover paint, and used fabric scraps from my bin, so it cost me close to zero.

"Real" pillow and pillowcase. My daughter is in charge of all stuffing so she stuffed the pillow herself with her nimble little fingers.
What's going on in your workshop?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Winter jumper

Just because it's 18 degrees outside, doesn't mean that your daughter wants to stop wearing dresses. Using the tutorial for the Bubblegum Jumper at From An Igloo (if you haven't scooted over to this blog for great tutorials and ideas, click on it now!), I decided to make my daughter a winter dress.  I purchased fabric from where I was already buying fabric to make something for William's Christmas present, to be revealed soon enough. I used a rich purple corduroy fabric.

I hope you can see the rich colors and textures of this fabric.
Because I had to sew the dress in time for her piano recital, I didn't use the button hole design from the tutorial. Rather, I sewed the back straight up to the chest piece, which I lengthened to 4.5 inches, and used hook and loop closures, which are not permanent, unlike button holes, and can be adjusted as she grows. The dress is also double-hemmed, meaning that when she grows another few inches, I can let out the current hemline to reveal another hemline beneath it that is 2.5 inches longer.

The dress isn't perfect, I have to re-position one of the straps, but she looks really cute in it and it has great texture and warmth. She can wear it with a turtle neck and it will fit her again next year. Overall, a very simple dress pattern for any little girl needing a dress in a jiffy and adaptable to many different types of fabric. I might even make a doll-size one with the leftover fabric for Savannah's favorite new doll for Christmas.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fingerless mitts and pattern for toddlers

We girls aren't the only ones in need of fingerless mittens. Even toddler-sized boys deserve a pair so they can get into mischief with those agile fingers without totally freezing.

I decided to create a pair for my 18 month old toddler. They are knit with double-ribbing so they are stretchy and have a long enough cuff to help them stay on.

He actually likes to wear them so I must've done something right.

Here's the easy pattern:

Use a medium weight yarn, such as one that calls for size 7 or 8 needles, and a set of double-pointed size 5 or 6 needles.

Cast on 24 stitches.
Arrange 8 stitches on each needle and join in the round working in double ribbing.
Continue double ribbing pattern for 14 rows (or desired cuff length).
Begin knitting back and forth to leave an opening for the thumb continuing the double ribbing pattern. Knit 4 rows back and forth before rejoining and knitting in the round for 4 to 6 more rows.
Bind off and weave in loose ends.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

More socks for William

During the fall I like to spend as much time as possible outdoors; picking apples, walking down the road, and jumping in leaf piles. Well, I rake the leaves while the kids spend time flattening the leaf piles back out.

William in leaf pile bliss.
This is why one pair of cool weather socks is never enough. So using my favorite easy sock pattern, I knitted a second pair of socks for William, this time in Debbie Bliss cashmerino chocolate. If you've never tried sock knitting before, I highly recommend using this pattern as your introduction. It is simple and clear and produces excellent results each time (and did I mention free?!@#*). It's also very quick because it uses a thicker yarn than most sock patterns call for. I can often knit one child size sock while watching a Netflix movie after the kids are in bed and the second sock the following evening.

North Country Baby Socks in chocolate for my little guy to enjoy the cool weather. The yarn is a blend of merino wool, microfiber and cashmere.

Now there's more time for this:

in between changing out wet socks to dry and shaking the leaf particles and twiggy bits off.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Warm socks for William

I've always found it difficult to find really good warm socks for babies. During the winter months, if you keep your kids indoors, cotton socks are fine but we spend the winter ice skating, skiing, hiking in the woods and generally trudging through the snow for whatever needs to be done.

I was so happy to find the North Country socks pattern for free because it is so easy to knit and solves the winter sock problem. I knit this pair for William with Mode Dea yarn in a wool-bamboo blend. I love the yarn and will definitely use it again. It doesn't pill or fray like most wool yarns and is very soft, yet has the warmth you expect from wool.

I think William looks very European wearing his new socks with his brown sandal shoes. This winter he'll be wearing them with his boots so he can play with big sister in the snow and possibly to learn how to ice skate on the pond.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Northampton neckerchief

This afternoon between stacking wood in the barn and building a raised bed for my garlic crop, I managed to finish knitting my three-color purple scarf. The pattern is from New England Knits and is called the Northampton neckerchief.

I feel ho-hum about it but the pattern was relatively fun to knit. I think the lacey border is my favorite part. I didn't use the fingerweight yarn called for but a DK weight instead and because of that my scarf lacks drape but is really warm. I used three different Debbie Bliss Rialto purples and silver-lined gold beads.

I am actually looking forward to wearing it with my jacket for a little splash of color (my cold weather jackets are black and camel) but today was much too hot for that.

After calling it a "neck brace", I decided to try taking photos myself instead of asking my husband. Consequently, he's definitely not getting cinnamon buns tomorrow...

Monday, September 20, 2010

Irish hiking wristwarmers

Photos by Savannah.

As someone who grew up as a New Englander with more traditional, classic tastes, I just love cables and when I saw this pattern, I knew I had to knit it. The fact that the pattern is offered for free, was the icing on the cake. They are named the Irish Hiking Scarf Armwarmers, because there is a scarf and hat pattern that match, but I find they warm my wrists and hands better than my arms.

I used my new favorite yarn, Debbie Bliss Rialto DK. It is a machine washable, 100% merino wool yarn that is forgiving and has excellent stitch definition. The pattern calls for worsted weight yarn, but knowing how well most cables with ribbing stretch, I was pretty sure I could get away with a DK weight yarn and size 5 needles. This time I was right, it stretches nicely but holds its shape and isn't too bulky.

The camel color is more me and looks nice under my more traditional styled sweaters. I like them enough that I'm considering knitting a pair in black too. I'm finding them useful for the seasons in which the weather is changing, fall and spring when the mornings and evenings are cool but the days are warm. No more ice cold steering wheel, what's not to love?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

William's Toasty Topper

With a small amount of time here and there, I love a good quick knit. William has already outgrown the hat I knit for him last year so when I saw the Toasty Topper pattern by Alexis Riggs, I couldn't resist. I had been thinking of knitting something similar last year for him but wasn't sure how to connect the scarf to the hat. We have days here where the wind blows so cold and hard that any crevice exposed to the weather, usually wrists, ankles and necks, will get so chilled you have to return home.

This hat is the perfect solution to the wind chill/exposed to the weather parts problem since the scarf is attached to the hat and provides total coverage in the back of the neck.

William wore his outside today to play and eat the late raspberries that have come in better than the earlier crop. I knit it with Lion Brand Wool-ease, thick and quick. Admittedly, I didn't look at the pattern, but I followed the picture fairly closely, making my scarf slightly longer than the 24" called for in the pattern because rather than knit it in double ribbing, which is very stretchy, I opted for seed stitch for this one.

If I had to make the hat over again, I would make the scarf connect further around the hat band to better cover his ears. (You'll see that the original pattern does have this feature - I should've followed it!) I may add ear flaps that simply hang down for that purpose to improve this one.

Now Savannah wants one in raspberry or cilantro (William's is in Denim blue), and I can't wait to make her one!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

More fingerless mittens

Savannah wanted a pair of fingerless mittens like her Mommy's. I wanted to follow a different pattern for hers, to see what it's like to knit them from the cuff up.

I used some of the scrap yarn in my stash to knit these. The yarn is Debbie Bliss cashmerino aran in a color that was supposed to be light blue but to my eyes is purely grey. The pattern is Jazz Fingers by Misty Wade, available on Ravelry as a free download. The pattern was easy to follow and a quick knit but I prefer the thumb gusset for the adult pair that I knit for myself.

My husband doesn't get the point of fingerless mittens but fortunately, Savannah does. She uses them in the morning to collect eggs from the chicken coop and around the house in the morning when it's still chilly. I've also caught her wearing them while reading books on the sofa, which is the cutest of all, watching her when she's unaware.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Fingerless mittens

I've been trying out a bunch of different patterns for fingerless mittens and I've come across one pattern that I love. It's knit from the top down to the wrist, making it useful for anyone using up stash sock yarn because you can make the wrist cuff as long or short as you need to. The pattern also has a great thumb gusset.

Here's my first attempt, which I'm quite happy with. The yarn is Mirasol Chirapa from Peru, a hand dyed 100% merino wool, colorway Spearmint candy. My daughter Savannah picked it out for socks, it's not exactly my color, but it does remind me of the colors in Monet's garden.

This pattern is offered for free for anyone who wishes to attempt a pair with leftover sock yarn. Props to Jeanne for sharing the pattern with us.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Car seat strap wrap

My little guy likes to fall asleep in the car from time to time and I always cringe when I see his soft little baby neck marred with the red line of his car seat strap. That can't be comfy! Using the quilt as you go method, I made a velcro wrap to cushion his head and neck from the straps of his car seat.

It's all made from bits of fabric scraps from Denyse Schmidt's Katie Jump Rope and some from Anna Maria Horner.  There are two layers of cotton batting quilted in the middle to make it cushy.

So far, so good, the little guy wakes up happy and mark-free from his car naps and appears more comfortable when napping now.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Market skirt

One skirt is never enough. There is a certain instant gratification that comes from sewing a skirt because it goes together so quickly and makes such a big colorful impact. It's hard to believe that a few strips of fabric like this:

Can so quickly turn into this:

I've been sitting on this Denyse Schmidt fabric for a long time. It's Katie Jump Rope from the Free Spirit line. When I found Dana's Market Skirt tutorial, I thought of this fabric right away. I love the greenness of it and the large pocket makes it perfect for wearing to the Farmer's Market or, in our case, to the chicken coop to collect eggs. It's hard to see, but I did some decorative stitching on the pocket in a green thread that matches the fabric. I also sewed across the 1" waist band in the front and back vertically. Even though I use the non-roll elastic for waist bands, I find it occasionally does roll, which is really annoying to the person wearing the garment and hard for the mama to fix. By stitching across the back, or back and front, of the waist band in a matching thread color, the elastic never rolls, bends in half or moves around, and it's still just as stretchy.

Here's my little sweetheart, happily modeling her new market skirt in spring green. I wish she could have modeled outdoors but we had rain for the first time in three weeks today! From now on, I must add pockets to more clothing. This afternoon she brought back two chicken eggs in her pocket and discovered it was even big enough to hold her stuffed snake, Somo. Pockets, gotta love em.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Pirate princess

When I saw Michael Miller's Goth Baby fabric, I knew I had to grab some of it for my pirate-loving daughter. Sweet ballet pink and skull and crossbones? The combination pretty much sums up my sensitive and kind but tough as nails and somewhat sassy little girl.

I used Dana's tutorial at MADE for a market skirt but lengthened it 3" for my almost six-year-old. (Hop over to her website if you're looking for some great patterns and tutorials.) For my version of the skirt, I added some ric rac, which I rarely use, but I couldn't resist the sweet simplicity of pairing pink ric rac with the black and white skull and crossbones. I really like that the shape and design of this skirt look so classic but the fabric is so subtly sassy and modern.

I embellished the T-shirt with a little skull and crossbones, framed in pink ric rac. She can wear the T-shirt with her black capri leggings or as a pajama top as well. And lucky me, I still have enough fabric left over to make some pajama pants or shorts and a bandanna for my little pirate princess.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Reading nook

With the great spring weather, I've been spending most of my spare time outdoors. The garden and grounds have needed lots of work around here and we've been planting raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and blackberries like crazy. Fortunately, the spring also brought a new surge of energy for me. There was a corner of my house that has been filled with stacked boxes and picture frames since we moved in. It was a little-used area but also an eyesore where dust bunnies liked to hang out. Finally I transformed it into a peaceful and useful nook, with a little help in the babysitting department from my mother who is visiting.

This is the landing at the top of our stairs facing north northeast. I painted the wall in an accent color, and ended up custom mixing my paint to make it the right shade. Two coats later, it seemed just right. The farmhouse bench I built using plans from Knock-off Wood except mine is a smaller size to fit the landing or hallway. The curtain valance and pillow I created from a yard of this rich tapestry-like fabric that I had custom-ordered last year from Joann's for the downstairs bathroom. When I decided on a different fabric altogether for the downstairs bathroom, it left this lovely fabric folded and unloved in a plastic bag until now. Fortunately, it brings out the golds and reds in my oriental rug and gives the accent wall a golden rather than brown look. The fabric is so thick it didn't need to be lined and the valance is a simple rod pocket curtain without a ruffled header.

I finally got a pile of picture frames off the floor and on the wall. Some of them needed a pretty good dusting... A few are new frames all mixed and matched in white and gold awaiting pictures of future family events. The rug is a wool Chobi from Pakistan, meaning "like wood" in Farsi because of the dark earthen and woodsy colors typical of the style. Chobi rugs are among my favorite of the new oriental rug styles. They've only been imported into the US for about 15 years.

Here's the before picture, except beside those boxes jammed in the corner under the window, you have to also imagine a pile of framed pictures and artwork all stacked up and covered in dust. From cold chaos to warm calm. Ahhh. Next I tackle the office.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Summer dress

Lately my pirate-obsessed, karate loving, tree-climbing daughter has had a dress fetish. She decided to design a dress she liked based on this one hour sundress pattern. She helped select the fabric, the length of the dress, and where she wanted the ruffles.

I was surprised she wanted a dress so long but it's quite cute on her. She wore it today to play at the park with some capri leggings underneath and it held up without hindering her on the swings, slide or climbing wall. I will have to take in the shoulder straps though by about an inch on either side.

I guess the flowers on her dress aren't enough so she had to wear her flower lei as well. From an igloo also has this dress pattern that I hope to make for her sometime this year but without the buttons going down the back. I love the versatility of jumpers. I might make this jumper in corduroy so it can be a fall or winter dress with a turtle neck.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Hammock pillow

I recently purchased and installed a hammock. Really, what took me so long? This is a simple but important addition to our outdoor landscape and we'll enjoy many hours relaxing together in the hammock this spring and summer. I thought our hammock was missing something though, so I decided to make a pillow for it. The least expensive found online was about $40 but I could purchase a yard of all weather fabric for $13. When sewing for outdoor furniture, it's really important to choose one of the weather resistant fabrics. The fabric I chose is from Waverly's outdoor collection and many users before me had rated it very highly, saying that the fabric had withstood 1-2 years of being left outdoors without fading or mildewing. This was important to me because I'm not the type of person to run outdoors because it's about to rain to grab the hammock pillow...

The pillow is 16 x 32 and filled with polyester fiberfill, which I had lots of help stuffing into the pillow from the two rascals above! I made a small velcro strap for the back of the pillow to keep it on the hammock when there's wind.

My quality control department (see above) approved the pillow before it was put into use. With the small amount of leftover fabric, I made a lined bag that velcros onto the side of the hammock. We quickly discovered this can be useful to hold the contents of your pocket, sunglasses, a pacifier, or your empty popsicle stick...

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Kai Sweater for William

My neighbor gave me a copy of Louisa Harding's book Natural Knits for Babies and Moms and I fell in love with this sweet cabled baby sweater. I didn't have time to make it during the winter for my little guy so I'm knitting him a spring/summer weight sweater instead in Debbie Bliss cashmerino aran yarn. I chose this color because it is an exact match to his sweet baby blue eyes.

The sweater turned out well, even if it did take me more than a month to seam the pieces together!
 But don't take my word for it, the little guy is in love with his new sweater too. The second I finished it he crawled over and snatched it up and wouldn't let go for pictures.

He wore his sweater this morning until the sun came out and made the day too warm for a sweater.

See how it perfectly matches his eyes? How sweet. I'm glad I knit it a little looser because the neck fits over his head very easily.

This will be my last knitted project for a while. It's time for me to get back to my sewing machine, which must be feeling left out at this point! Unless of course, I make Savannah a summer bolero to wear over her dresses and tank tops...