Monday, January 29, 2018

Greetings from the Plague Ward: Project Potpourri

As I mentioned in my New Years Eve post, Taco has been bringing home every germ he encounters, and so we've endured wave after wave of colds, the vomiting virus, the dastardly plague and a cold yet again.  Miraculously, we had about 3 days when everyone was healthy at Christmas.

That said, I haven't been completely idle.  Knitting has continued apace and, although I pushed pause on the raspberry colored trench coat I am sewing so as not to make any major mistakes while I was not at my best - I made time here and there for a little bit of low pressure sewing.

I sewed 50 pussy hats - some pink and some purple - for my local resistance group to give to members for the Women's March. What fun it was to see people that I didn't know wearing the hats I'd sewn.

I also knit two hats which took as much time as sewing all 50.

I also knit a fun colorwork Star Wars hat for my nephew. This is The Force Awakens hat pattern by Mrs Luedeke.  

Right now, what I have in the works is a scarf from the Mattock Cowl pattern by Home Row Fiber Co. in Madeleine Tosh Vintage yarn in worsted weight. This scarf is meant to match a hat I knit last winter. The stitch definition is beautiful, and I'll be happy to finally have a scarf and hat that matches, instead of the hodgepodge of mismatched hats and scarfs I wear now.  It's been a goal for a few years.

I have one little sewing project to post from Christmas and one from before then, as well as the finished sheep sweater that I knit for Taco to post about. But I'll end here today saying that - finally - this weekend life returned to normal enough that I was able to get back to work on my trench coat. It felt really good to immerse myself in a project. 

There's still a lot to do, but it is coming along very well. Next up: setting in the sleeves, sewing on the belt carriers, deciding on buttons and buttonholes, and then lining/hemming. Also, I need to decide what I want to do with the lapels - to topstitch or not.  I've done two rows of top stitching on all the major seams. Decisions, decisions.

Now, fingers crossed and knocking on wood that no one gets sick for the immediate future.   

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Happy Ah-choo Year!

Hi, friends.

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday and best wishes for a bright 2018!

This is just a quick note to say we've apparently reached that point in parenthood where Taco brings home every germ he encounters. I've just managed to pry myself out of bed this morning after a run in with the Dastardly Plague.  It seems like we all just get better for a three day window before the next cold makes it's way thru our family. 

Cinnamon Star Bread for Christmas Breakfast.

Anyway, we did manage to have a lovely Christmas, which fell on a healthy day. It was the perfect Christmas morning - Taco played with his new trains while Phin and I read our new cookbooks and nibbled at madelines and coffee.

Perfect Christmas morning.

I hope to get back to blogging soon - I do have lots to show and tell. But for now, tea, knitting and extra doses of vitamin C are on the agenda.

I hope that you ring in a happy and healthy 2018!  Best wishes from my gang to yours!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Sock Knitting Ennui

Back in July I finished a pair of socks destined not to be worn until the weather turned cool again. Now that it has, I have to say that I am really pleased with these new socks, despite a few flaws.

They are knit up basically according to my Socks a la Clio recipe, which is a basic toe-up sock. However, I've made some new improvements. (Note to self: go back and update the recipe.)  The stitch pattern - a very simple knit and purl design - is borrowed from the Tennarisukka anklets I knit in 2015.  Now for the good stuff!

Since knitting the Fish Lips Kiss Heel back in March, I have entirely replaced my short row wrap and turn sitches (w&t) with the Sox Therapist's twin stitch (tsk and tsp - tutes on YouTube). I find these stitches better and easier in every way since they don't leave any little holes as short rows often do.

Next, you can see how I've shifted the position of the gusset increase stitches from their usual place where the instep and sole meet to the bottom of the foot.  I first tried this with my Wonder Woman socks and I think it will be a standard feature for me moving forward. It creates a heel that hugs the foot a bit better than the gussets running up the side of the foot. .

The yarn I used for these socks is Dream in Color's Smooshy sock yarn in the colorway "Into the Mystic." It is a 100% merino wool superwash yarn. I'm really not at all sold on 100% wool for socks. In my experience they pill and wear at a faster rate than the sock yarns I've used that incorporate nylon/polyamide into the mix. You can already see a few little puffs of yarn debris fluffing off of the soles in the pictures above. The upside is that the yarn is softer, which is nice to knit and wear. In the end, like everything, there is a tradeoff. 

So I've been enjoying my new socks now that it is cool enough for them. And I've been trying to knit more socks, but I am having this massive moment of sock knitting ennui. I've cast on and started knitting two different socks that I thought I was excited about, but soon turned listless. 

Started and stalled socks

The first is a fairly plain sock with a heart motif running up one side.

It looks cute in this view, but once I tried it on my foot, you can't see the hearts at all. They just disappear. It was very deflating. Why bother the extra work of knitting them in the first place? 

The next was meant to be a bright colored sock with contrast toe, heel and cuff. But I'm just not thoroughly sold on the color combination. So, I stalled on this sock, too.  

Socks are not large, but they are a big investment of time. If I don't love them at the toe, I'm certainly not going to feel like sticking with them to the cuff and then doing it all again. 

Neither of these sock fails are frogged yet, and so far there has not been another sock pattern that has captured my attention. So, I'm not sure what I want to do next with regard to socks. Any suggestions? 

In the interim, I'm working on this cute little sheep sweater for Taco. I'm delighted with how it is coming out, and I'm really enjoying knitting the colorwork. 

Sheepish Little Sweater by Melissa Kemmerer

With any luck, this will end up being Taco's holiday outfit. IF he wears it. (Big if. Toddlers.)

Anywaaaaay, what are you knitting? 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Toddler Pants Overload!

This is the story of how one missing pair of pants mushroomed into six newly sewn pants for Taco. 

This all started when the Monkey pants that I sewed for Taco in June mysteriously vanished. 

They got very dirty one day at the playground and so were set aside to be soaked before washing.  That is the last that anyone has seen of them. Truly. There have been search parties and rescue attempts, but to no avail. They have vanished. 

But since I had the pattern sorted out, I simply sewed up two more pairs. 

One in a safari print and one ninjas. Here is where the mushrooming began. You see, Taco refused to wear the safari pants.  They are a cotton jersey, but the fabric, which I bought on-line, is stiff. Thanks to somes suggestions from IG friends, I tried a few methods of softening them, but none really made them more appealing to their little owner.

One thing I have noticed since Taco moved from 24month to 2T sizing is that baby clothing is made with very soft fabrics; toddler clothing not so much, especially in bottoms. But Taco clearly prefers wearing soft fabrics. So, learning from these safari pants, I decided to sew more pants, but this time in oh-so-soft fabrics only.

This time I used exceedingly soft rayon jersey that I had bought to make pj's for myself. The fabric is so soft and cosy that these pants really fall halfway between pj and pant. Mostly they are worn for days when we are hanging around primarily at home.  Also, I got fancy with pockets, which I think help them look a bit less pj-like. 

Um, I confess: turning on Disney Jr was the only way to get Taco to be a compliant model. Sigh

That we had a shirt that matched perfectly was a happy coincidence.


While utterly adorable, these pants are also fairly lightweight. So, I started thinking about the chilly days when we are outside but still want soft pants. Simultaneously, I realized that Taco now fits the smallest size Mini Hudson pants. And I had leftover sweatshirt fabric from the two pairs of Men's Hudson Pants I had made for Phineas and which get worn regularly all winter.

Before I knew it, I was putting finishing touches on Mini Hudsons. I'm very pleased with them. The 2T fit is comparable to 2T fit in ready-to-wear garments, which generally fits Taco length-wise and are somewhat wide on him. I made the elastic a bit more snug so that they wouldn't slide down. Also, the drawstring helps.  

Mini Hudsons are exactly like the larger version. So, I hope they become a staple in Taco's wardrobe the way they have been one in Phin's.  

I've found that an I-phone is also an effective method of encouraging a toddler to be a somewhat compliant model.

And there you have it: one missing Monkey pants have been replaced with six new pants. And we are very serious about our pants...

Serious Taco face

And now, it's time to sew for myself!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Hat Knitting Spree

The last few months have found me knitting up a slew of quick and easy projects and somehow not blogging about any of them. Really none was quite worthy of it's own post, but together I think they are an interesting round up of hats.  

This all started with the Rainbow Sampler of Mighty Stitch yarn from Knit Picks that I used to knit Taco's rainbow sweater along with the addition of black yarn. 

I had loads of yarn left over which opened the door for all kinds of multi-colored knits. So, I knit...

One Roar, a Dinosaur Hat for Taco by Kate Oates, who has designed a ton of cute baby and child knitting patterns.

Naturally, I knit it in green and purple like Dragon the Hippo's dragon cape.


For Halloween, I knit this adorable Minion Hat by Maura Houston. It was meant to be part of Taco's costume, but he steadfastly continues to not want to wear a costume at all. Toddlers.

I knit one purple cat hat for my 12 year old nephew who wants to resist but hates the color pink. Sigh. The pattern I used is the KitKat Hat by Andre Sue Knits.

I was enjoying hat knitting so much that I ordered some Bulky Mighty Stitch and knit up this sweet little apple hat for Little Green Orchid's baby-to-be.

Bulky yarn projects knit up so quickly, and babies are always a cause to celebrate. The pattern is the Sweet Sprout hat by Tranquil Cottage Knits. You are meant to turn the brim up for a newborn and then flip it down for a toddler.  I decided not to add the periodic purl stitches in the pattern.

Ahhh. And there you go. Fun and easy hats for kiddos. A few thoughts:

For all of these hats I used the Old Norwegian - aka German Twisted - cast on. In my hands, it is as stretchy as 1x1 rib, which is what you want for a hat or any other knit garment that needs an edge that stretches as much as the body.

On the two hats that I knit for Taco, I had to go up a size. He has a completely average size head for his age and my gauge was fine, but the brims of the hats seemed snug. So, I wonder if toddler sizing really is for the 1-2 year olds and not 2-3 year olds.

My hat knitting is far from done. I've started a few projects - hats and more - where I am specifically working on my stranded colorwork technique. The Rainbow Sampler really has taken my knitting in a new, fun and somewhat unexpected direction. So, more - and more complicated - will follow.  Stay tuned. 

Thursday, November 9, 2017


Pajamas. Jammies. PJ's. Who doesn't like to be comfy and cosy for bed?

I've sewn plenty of pj's for Phin, but none for me aside from a robe, which I have worn non-stop since it was completed.  I've  spent many, many hours in pajamas during the first year or two of Taco's life - so many hours that by the end of this summer all of my pajamas were simultaneously showing signs of wear and tear. It was high time for some me-made jammies for myself.

I had bought several pairs of the same DKNY knit modal pajama bottoms post-partum because I found them so comfy in every way. They are hands down my favorites. So, I dismantled one of the more worn bottoms and carefully traced off a pattern, transferring all the important info to a paper pattern and then truing up the front and back. 

For the top, I used my trusty rusty True Bias Ogden Cami with a few modifications. I sized down since I was sewing this woven pattern in a knit fabric. I also eliminated the facings and instead used picot trim elastic to finish the neckline.

Test version

I sewed my first, test version of the pjs in a black modal jersey from my stash.  I didn't have quite enough fabric for the top, so I had to economize by shortening the cami by about two to three inches and adding a center seam on the back. I am giddy about how the neckline came out with the picot trim elastic.

For this first version of the bottoms, I didn't worry about making button holes and adding a drawstring. I just made a simple elastic waist. The fit and comfort was spot on.

Since my first set of pj's came out so well, I immediately made a second pair. This time I used a black and white striped rayon jersey that I picked up when Craftsy had a big fabric sale. The fabric is luxuriously soft.

Still smitten for the picot elastic, I decided to finish the striped tip with it too. It's a great finish for a knit top since it is decorative, functional and easy to sew.  Simply pin your picot trim to the neckline with the right sides facing. The elastic should be in the seam allowance and the picot part should be on the other side of the seam line. Sew along the seam line.

Trim back the seam allowance of the fabric. Then turn the elastic to the inside and press.  Finally, add a row of top stitching, making sure to catch the elastic. I used orange thread for fun because that's how I roll.

Voila! Neckline done. 

I added a few little details to this version like looped straps...

And I finished the waist with button holes and a drawstring.

I've been wearing these two pj sets non-stop since finishing them.  And I am so pleased with how comfy they are that I think it would be safe to say that it will be some time before I buy RTW pajamas again, if ever.

Also, this was the perfect project for the end of summer when I wasn't really ready to start sewing autumn projects, but also didn't want to keep on sewing summer clothes. I generally have a few weeks of not knowing what to sew when the seasons change; my mojo deserts me. But my happiness with this project makes me think I've hit on something. The next time I feel my mojo slipping into a between seasons rut, I will sew more pjs and the other projects - like bras and panties - that I never prioritize because I'm too busy trying to sew for the current season. 

I really do learn new things about myself all the time as a sewist.  That is half the fun. For today, though, the lesson is custom pj's are the best.