Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Knitting in Review

YAY for the 2013 Knitting Review! I shared my fiber goals for 2013 WAAAY back in January, and
thought I'd share my 2013 Knitting Goal successes (and failures) today. Before we get started, I wanted to note that having goals in place has really helped me to reach a little farther each year, even though I don't always officially check off each goal. I'm totally okay with missing a goal for pretty much any reason but laziness. A little progress forward is better than no progress in my book!

Below I've listed my original January goals are in black, and my December comments are in blue.

1. Finish 15 Knits this year. I'm trying to be a bit conservative here. I knit a lot of baby and kid things- between my own children and the niece/nephew total expanding from 6 to at least 9 this year that is about half of my knitting. I'm making a serious point of knitting for myself this year too, though. I was pregnant or postpartum all of 2012, so I didn't knit garments considering my wonky body shape(s) for the year.

According to Ravelry, where I mostly get all of my projects entered, I finished 16 knits this year. I totally thought I'd fail this goal when I checked on my goal list in late November, but those 3 last minute Christmas hats brought me right up to the edge. I have a few more things on the needles at the moment that could potentially be cast off by tonight, but I'm going to go ahead and call this year's total at 15. I'll apologize in advance for a stretch of time in March-May that I apparently didn't photograph finished things because there are no photos on Ravelry, but I'll try to remedy that issue soon.

The 2013 Finished Knits are: 

Annis finished 1/3
Newborn Vertebrae finished 2/7

Another Vertebrae (12 mo.) finished 3/12
Little Scapulae finished 3/16
Looped Loop finished 5/15
Yearly Socks finished 6/11
Gradient Gray (Boneyard Shawl) finished 6/27
A Little Hat finished 8/14
2013 Grey/Coral Socks finished 9/8
Little Mitts finished 11/1
Wurm finished 12/4
Grey Hat finished 12/7
Lacy Julian the 4th finished 12/8
Worsted Weight Socks finished 12/20

I'm heading into 2014 with 4 knits on the needles- 1 sweater for my 8yo son, 2 pairs of socks and 1 pair of mittens that just needs thumbs to be finished. 

2. Make at least 2 cardigans for myself. The cardigan queue is ridiculously long, I would wear them constantly... just need to get at it. (I cast on the Rocky Coast Cardigan in my annual post-Christmas bout of start-itis)

I did not finish this goal, but I did make it half way with one knit cardigan for myself- the Shapely Boyfriend Cardigan. It DID take me all year to do it (hance not beginning a second cardigan) because of my stubbornness about sleeves. It truly wasn't the pattern's fault and in fact, if I had just converted to magic loop instead of sticking with the weird relationship I have with DPNs the whole thing would have been over much much sooner. Lesson learned. Maybe.

3. Refuse to feel guilty when I hardly knit for several weeks in the spring and fall. All my time and energy goes into the garden and canning at those times, so I just need to go with it. I'm still producing quite a bit, just not things to wear.

Yep... I totally did this this year, and I'm so happy for the change! Garden season was garden season and when I knit sparingly I felt pretty good about it. In fact, Tour de Fleece happening in July was *awesome* timing for my fiber needs. I spent much of June at baseball with my boys, out in the garden and at the pool, and the Tour pulled me back into fiber things at the perfect time.

4. Make the annual pair of socks. I've come to terms with the fact that I probably won't ever be the knitter that churns out a pair a month. And that's okay. I'll settle for my 1-2 pairs per year.

I made 3 pair this year, and I have 2 more on the needles! So let's talk about this change a bit- I kept looking at socks with a pattern and felt like I really needed to make those socks to be a sock knitter. And then I came to a realization that I just wanted to knit socks. I used Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's sock recipe from one of her books and I went for it, just making plain socks. Liberating! I made 2 with her recipe and a pair of worsted weight socks this past month following Susan B. Anderson's pattern and voila! 3 pairs of socks added to my knitwear.

5. Experiment with some alternate knitting styles. I'm really interested in Irish Cottage Knitting, most especially since it's still a right hand guided style. Left hand just isn't an option for me- I'm a violinist by profession and adding any more repetitive motion in that arm would just lead to injury I can't afford to sustain.

I shared yesterday about some of the pain issues I'm having lately, and how my exploration into "alternative" knitting styles is deepening as I search for a way to continue knitting without causing further damage to my left arm. Some of this will depend on the findings of my doctors I'm sure, but for now knitting is a slow an sometimes no-go project.

6. Keep adding to my cast-on/bind-off repertoire. I mentioned in my last post that I learned a few new things as called for in patterns this year, but I want to continue to learn more in this area.

This is an ever growing area for me- I have a few reference books now that are helping me expand my knowledge base, and I've enjoyed learning some new methods this year!

7. Take a few knitting/fiber classes. I'm planning to take a spinning class at a yarn shop a little ways from here and I'm checking out a few Craftsy classes as possibilities too.

I've actually had the opportunity to take 4 classes this year- they added up more quickly than I thought they might!

I took a beginning spinning class back in February where I learned how to spin with a drop spindle and at a wheel. I went home with a spindle to practice, practice, practice. In November my husband surprised me with a sample spinning class and a wheel of my own!

From Craftsy I also took Sizing Knitwear Patterns and How to Say it: Pattern Writing for Knitters. I enjoyed both classes and learned a lot. I'm mostly interested in pattern sizing for my own information- I find I need to do a lot of math to get a good fit more myself out of a custom pattern since I have a longer torso and longer arms, and because of shaping sometimes it is not as simple as "knit it longer".

I think it has been a pretty successful knit year this year. I'm working on 2014's goals at the moment, and will be able to share those soon!

Monday, December 30, 2013


{It's tradition now to start a "selfish" project on Christmas day after all the Christmas knits are complete. 2013= socks

Christmas time is always a paradox around here- fast paced and crazy just as often as it is slow and quiet. We finished most all of the out-and-about celebrating before the actual holiday, and this year I even had everything wrapped and ready to go before Christmas Eve. Blessings on the online shops who kept me a little more sane this year and helped me in being prepared well before Christmas day. Brian was the only one to go hat-less at Christmas, but I'll remedy that soon.

We took last week off of school, of course, but we are back to business today. We missed some of our hours earlier in the month for doctor and dentist, so we're using this week to catch up a bit. I've already got a bit of a curriculum bug going for next year, so some of my free time lately is going to looking at curriculum possibilities for 2014-2015. It's not even 2014 yet, and there goes my brain, thinking ahead to next year.

I'm hoping to get back to a more regular posting schedule here, but truthfully there has been very little to share. I'm not able to knit much lately due to issues with my left arm and shoulder so there's been nothing to post. After some less than satisfactory test results with my primary doctor I've been referred on to two specialists- January is essentially going to be spent in waiting rooms it seems. I'd love to say it will just be more knitting time, but I will have to wait and see if my body will cooperate on any given day. I was able to do a few inches on a sock over the past few days, but I never know if I'll wake up the next day unable to grip. Even typing is a chore as I mostly type 1 handed these days.

I'm needing to save my left hand mobility for work (since a violinist/pianist is pretty useless without her left hand), so I'm investigating some different knitting styles to see if I can make a change that will help for the long run. I currently knit english style- switching to continental is out of the question as it would rely even more on the left hand. Portuguese knitting looks promising, but there is still a lot of left handed involvement. If anyone wants to suggest a style you know of where the left hand is essentially stationary please let me know. I'm willing to try anything no matter how obscure!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Yarn Along: Christmas Hats Edition

{Yarn Along with Ginny today}

I mentioned last time that my craftiness for this holiday is a little limited by time and work so I had to pair down my "maybe" list accordingly.

I finished the last of the kids' hats over the weekend, and I'm pleased with all of them. I tried them on each kiddo and then told them that they were invisible hats and they would totally forget about them between now and Christmas- which means they ask me EVERY DAY when they can wear their new hats. Then I have the honor of playing along and saying, "What hats? I have no idea what you're talking about."

This is the Wurm hat I had begun last week. It's a bit stretched out after a wash, but it will bounce back quickly, especially being worn by one particularly busy boy of mine.

This it the Lacy Julian Hat that I've knit 4 or 5 times now. I love that it goes so quickly. I knit this for Ellie from start to finish on Sunday afternoon, even with an extra repeat of the lace pattern.

This is a little hat I improvise for Ender. That's the great thing about hats- they are so easy to just cast on and go! I added my notes on ravelry.

I'm still reading Ann Voskamp's The Greatest Gift, savoring a bit each day through this season.

What are you knitting and reading this week?

Monday, December 9, 2013

Quick Question

A quick question for my yarn-y friends...

What on earth do you do with all your partial skeins after finishing a project?

A few {admittedly weird} things you should know before answering:

1. I have a serious aversion to partial skeins. I can't bear the fact that perfectly good yarn is sitting there unused.

2. I knit in a lot of different weights, so I've got leftovers for pretty much every weight but bulky. If I had mostly one weight I think I'd be okay with figuring something out. Maybe.

3. Yardage has been known to be the deciding factor on whether or not I will knit a project, and not in the usual way. Let's say a project calls for 3 skeins of yarn but I'm only going to use a third of that last skein I'm unlikely to knit that particular project.

4. I am unlikely to knit a project that is seriously long-term. Knitting squares out of leftovers and then sewing them into a blanket after 5 years of acquiring squares will probably make me crazy. Maybe that's crazier than I already am.

After knowing those few little things it probably goes without saying that I really love projects that allow me to get down to the last scraps of yarn. Anything else feels like a waste.

So... what do you do with your partial skeins?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

21 Days

{Yarning Along with Ginny today. Will you join us?}

Maybe you didn't need a reminder, but there are 21 days until Christmas.

I'm ready with everything but handmades. I didn't promise the boys sweaters for Christmas (even though I did plan for them to be Christmas gifts), but I did promise them in time to actually wear through this winter. Ender's sweater is taking shape- 2 long black sleeves and about 4 inches of body. Ezra's has yet to be cast on. Maybe they will be finished by mid-January while we have plenty of cold days left in the season?

I had to put them aside temporarily in favor of Christmas knits. I'm aiming for a knit hat for each kid, and a new sewn stocking for each of us. There are also Ezra's mittens on the needles, and Ender asked for another pair as well out of the fiber he picked out that I finished over this past weekend. Right now it is Ezra's hat on the needles: Wurm by Katharina Nopp. I've seen this hat just about everywhere amongst knitters online and it is such an Ezra hat. I hope he likes it as much as I think he will.

I'm using magic loop for this hat. I haven't been a fan of this particular technique in the past, but it's growing on me for hat knitting. We'll see if I like it as much by the end of the project. I cast on on Sunday so it's going fast enough with as little knitting time as I've had in the past 48 hours, but it does continue to grow and hopefully I'll be one hat down by the end of the week, 2 more to go.

Now to decide on a hat pattern for the baby and another for the big brother. Suggestions welcome.

Ann Voskamp's The Greatest Gift has been such a lovely addition to my advent preparations. In the past I've focused so much on Advent readings and activities for the kids that I haven't had something to read myself and this has been great. Fairly short readings that fit in even on the busiest days and, of course, Ann Voskamp's inspiring writing. The boys and I are also reading Jotham's Journey by Arnold Ytreeide this Advent season.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Spin It Up

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday if you were in the States for Thanksgiving last week. It was nice to see family and catch up with friends.

I totally thought I'd get a knitting post in before the holiday last week, at least in time for the weekly Yarn Along, but it just didn't happen between work and holiday prep. To be honest, I haven't been knitting more than a little bit at the end of the evening. It's Lola's fault really. All my dedicated creative time has been going to her, and now I have a little bit of yarn to show for it:

The blue is a mystery wool that I received in class 2 weeks ago when I first got my wheel. It was good practice and while it's not as even as I'd like, I definitely got better as I went. I ended up with about 150 yards of this one in a mostly fingering weight 2-ply. No knitting plans for it yet, but I'm happy with how it turned out for my first yarn that wasn't just trying to figure out how the wheel worked.

The fire-y colored fiber is 4 oz. of Polwarth from Nerd Girl Yarns, colorway: Firebender. Ender picked it out at Maker's Faire back in June and requested mittens, which I think I can manage after spinning this up. It was really easy to spin. The blue wasn't difficult by any means, but this Polwarth seemed to just *want* to be more even, and it was a lot easier to make it so. This yarn is also a 2-ply and I got about 170 yards. This one was also interesting to spin due to how the colors worked together. I wasn't sure if I was going to get longer stretches of color some of the time or if the plying would blend the colors so much that there would be no discernible change. I'm excited to see how it knits up.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Yarn Along: Sweater Edition

{Yarn Along with Ginny today, sharing current knits and reads. Will you join us?}

I finished the Shapely Boyfriend Cardigan! I could practically shout it from the rooftops. I started that Cardigan back in January (!!!) and it is finally complete after a few time-outs and slogging through those sleeves. The button band was done in no time and I ran out and bought buttons for it last week. Now- to put the buttons on, weave in ends and get it blocked so that I can actually wear it... The pattern itself is wonderful and fine- it was my own short-comings (mostly impatience with sleeves) that made this project take 10 months for no good reason.

I also cast on for Ender's Soledad Sweater this week. He is very excited and keeps checking to be sure I am primarily working on his sweater. It starts with the sleeves (getting the hard-for-me part out of the way) so I am carrying sleeve #1 with me everywhere to get the inches on there quickly. 'm knitting the sleeves with magic loop instead of DPNs for the first time, and while I'm still getting used to it, I'm thinking magic loop may be the way to go on sleeves for me for now on. I love my DPNs, but for sleeves it just... well, I need something magical to help me through them.

I have a super crazy goal to get his sweater as far as possible by November 30 (the crazy part is hoping that it is mostly done by then) so that I can cast on for Ezra's Soledad December 1 and have them both completely finished by Christmas. I haven't promised them as Christmas sweaters, but I'm secretly hoping for that.

In reading, the boys and I just finished listening to The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. They really enjoyed it, so much that we are listening to it again. I'm still working slowly through Emma by Jane Austen on the kindle, but mostly because my reading time has all but disappeared lately due to extra stuff in our schedule. It will all clear up by the end of the month and then I'll be able to catch up on things again.

I'm also working through Maggie Casey's Start Spinning again, this time as a new wheel spinner. Did you hear the news? Lola joined our family over the weekend, so creative time is being poured into her as I learn how to use her.

Monday, November 18, 2013

A Little Story

I originally planned to tell you a little tale of my recent finishing kick amongst projects in my knitting basket, but another little story happened that has to come first- a distraction, if you will.

Early Saturday morning I woke up to my husband telling me I needed to get up and get ready to go. Now, we had no plans for this particular Saturday, which doesn't happen often around here, so I was very confused. Plus it was very early. Way too early to get up on a Saturday with no plans. He went on to tell me how he had arranged for me to go to a spinning class and spend a bit on fiber, but I needed to get moving because it's about an hour drive to the nearest shop that teaches spinning. I was still a little confused, but happy and I got in the shower while he told me exactly what was going on. He had a list ready of what I needed to bring to class, had already packed what he knew to pack, and had even put the shop address into the GPS for me.

So I got in the car and drove and spent the entire time excited to get some more time spinning on the Lendrum in a class since I won't be able to buy a wheel for awhile. I thought through fiber and what I have in my minuscule stash at home so that I could look at some different fibers this time.

I signed in for class and got a little bit more information about exactly what the class was. It was a sampling class, a "step 2" for new spinners. They assumed you'd spun for a little while and needed a few basic questions answered, but then we would be given time to try out a few different fibers and also to work on short draw, long draw, and spinning from the fold.

I told the instructor that I've been spinning on a drop spindle for the last 9 months and that the class was a surprise and I wasn't sure I would be able to attempt different techniques during class since I haven't spun on a wheel since last February. She was very kind and smiled and said, "I'm sure you're hands will only take a few minutes to adjust to the wheel versus the drop spindle." I told her I wanted to be sure to sit at a Lendrum since it's the wheel I'm planning to buy in the future, and she assured me that could be arranged.

And then we went to the classroom, where a Lendrum sat in front of the first chair, with a red ribbon and a name tag made out to me.

My husband is known for sneaky fiber-related gifts, and he did it again- I was so very surprised. We had talked quite recently about being able to get the wheel in May or June, just in time for my birthday and another round of Tour de Fleece, so I was not at all expecting a wheel for Christmas... especially in November.

Her name is Lola, to join a long line of geeky references- it's just the way we name things around here. I spun on her in class all morning Saturday, and my boys were all gracious enough to allow me to spin on her during family movie night on Saturday. I spun a little more yesterday afternoon during Ellie's nap, and my... she is so wonderful. The singles I've spun so far are not super consistent, but better than I thought they would be. I'm sticking with short draw at the moment, but I'm going to make sure to practice some long draw in the near future.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

FO: Ellie's Stripey Cardigan

Pattern: my own improvisation

Yarn: BerrocoVintage Worsted

Needles: US Size 7

For: my 18 month old daughter

Cast On to Cast Off: I don't really wanna say since it makes it sound like such a LONG project- it has about 20 hours in it because of the re-thinking and ripping back as I improvised. I started it in June and finished it this past weekend.

Notes: I did a few decreases just past the elbow since Ellie doesn't like wider swinging sleeves and I really like how they turned out. I settled on seed stitch for the button band, sleeve cuffs and bottom edge after going through various ribbings. You can look at my Ravelry notes for details on some of the things I did.

Things I Learned: Even though this project took awhile time wise, I'm really glad I jumped in and tried going without a pattern. Yes, a pattern makes it so much easier since the decisions are all made for you with a known outcome and (most importantly) the math is all there! But, I learned a lot in the process and it helped connect some concepts about construction in my head.

Overall: A good project made even better by the fact that Ellie really likes to wear this cardigan. Now if only I could get a picture of her wearing it that isn't a blur of motion.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


I'm so loving seeing the kids together these days. While the boys were reading their current chapter books on the couch last Friday Ellie climbed up with them to "read" a Star Wars chapter book upside down and I had the three of them in a row on the couch in the family room all looking deep in thought while thinking about very different things.

Ellie runs after them to "tickle" and they all giggle and the boys indulge her even though her tickles often include unintentional pinching and scratching.

The boys regularly load Ellie into a laundry basket and stuff blankets and pillows around her before taking her for rides- sliding the basket along the carpet in short bursts. She laughs and they laugh and they add stuffed animals to the basket.

For as much growing up as Ellie has done in the last 18 months, it is Ender who has changed the most. He didn't want a sister- in fact he wasn't a fan of adding another child to our family. He likes status quo and adding another kid threw his world for a loop- but for the better. He's learning to take care of someone who cannot take care of herself, he now understands that her cry means she needs a response of some sort, and I think he enjoys the detective work sometimes involved in discerning what a non-talking toddler needs. He thinks she is incredibly funny (she is) and he has learned that including her in the "big kid" games can make for a hilarious time.

I'm so thankful for the time they have growing up together.

Monday, November 4, 2013

FO: Little Mitts

{Ravelry notes}

I love thumbless mittens for toddlers, but these little mittens have a funny way of deceiving me- I know I can knit them up quickly because they are small and don't have that thumb to mess with, but that somehow translates into me only putting on a few stitches here and there because it's "not a big project". But now that it's cold the mittens need to be done, so this weekend I made sure that happened.

Ellie likes them, but hasn't learned to keep them on quite yet. When I first put them on her she wiggled her fingers as if the mitten was a puppet and then took them off and said "toes?" and tried to put a mitten on her foot like a sock. The boys got a good laugh out of that one. 

I'm planning to knit her another pair or two in worsted weight since my boys frequently lost mittens at this age- I don't want to be caught without backups now that winter is well on its way.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Hello, November

It's autumn for real now, and I've had no problem packing up the sewing machine and moving happily back to knitting during all of my creative time. I finished one little mitt last night after the holiday festivities were over and kids in bed for the night.- only 3 more to go until the kids are fully mittened for this year. Then on to hat finishing, then sweater finishing...

It's safe to say that the finishing mood I rely on 3 or 4 times a year has arrived to save me from my piles of unfinished projects. I have Christmas gifts to knit, with only one of them begun but I can't in good conscience (and lack of spare needles) cast on anything else until I get some things OFF the needles.

Current In Progress:

Ellie's mittens (1 of 2 complete)
Ellie's striped cardi (a tiny bit of sleeve and the button band to go- so close!)
The Shapely Boyfriend sweater (down to just a little more sleeve and the button band!)
Exploding Socks
A hat for Halos of Hope

Must get moving on:

Ezra's mittens
Ezra's Winter Hat
Ender's Winter Hat
Ellie's Winter Hat
Ender's Christmas Sweater
Ezra's Christmas Sweater
Ellie's Christmas Knit (still deciding on a pattern.

I need to work a bit out of order- I can't just knit through the current "in progress" things because all the mittens must be done first (because COLD) and then I need to finish Ellie's cardi and then the hats and then at least get cast on for the boys' sweaters within the next two weeks if I'm going to have a real chance at finishing them before Christmas. There are cables you see, and I'm not the fastest at that particular technique quite yet since I don't cable often.

No longer in progress is the Cerus scarf- I pulled out the 5 rows I had knit (about 1500 stitches *sob*), but it was worth it because I started it without thinking about the fact that it would roll without a little garter or ribbing or something and that would make me unhappy later I think. Plus by taking that off the needles its on I now have free the cable I need to be able to do the button band on my Shapely Boyfriend Cardi. That took the sting our of the rip back. Now I can finally get that button band going.

I think the real solution here is that I need an additional set of cables and perhaps even another set of interchangeables... but not for awhile. Not until after I manage to save up for and acquire a spinning wheel. :)

Thursday, October 31, 2013

KCW Wrap Up

kid's clothes week

I ended up with 2 dresses and a skirt for Ellie this week in about 8 hours of sewing. I know my newbie-ness is showing since I know a lot of people participating in KCW finished much more this week, but that's okay. We all start somewhere, right? I'm happy with my progress and Ellie has a few more things to wear in the coming months. The light colored polka dot dress above is Simplicity 5695, View A. I shortened the last ruffle since Ellie is on the more petite side, and even so this dress won't fit her for a bit- but it's a great spring dress, so that works out.

I shared this dress last week. I used this tutorial with some slight changes for the top. I've made 4 of these tops now and if they still fit through spring I'll probably cut the sleeves shorter.

I finally got the girl to let me get a picture! I promise she wears everything I make, she's just not doing well with the camera lately. I didn't plan to make this skirt before KCW but I had seen the tutorial for it and planned to make it when she was older. But then I saw this navy fabric and the little polka dots seemed to call out for a circle skirt. I know, I know- it's just furthering the polka dot issue I have.

I think part of leveling up to be "intermediate" level at something has to do with knowing how to fix many of your mistakes in the easiest way possible, and I'm definitely not there yet with my sewing. I had to go back and fix on a few things and that ate up some of that time. In fact on Wednesday I ended up setting one project aside because I just couldn't deal with the problem at hand that late at night. I have learned not to work on knitting problems too late in the evening because it often makes it worse- and I figure the same probably goes for sewing since I still have to think pretty hard (and often google) how to fix or change something.

What next? Well, honestly the sewing machine is probably going to be put away for a bit. I need to get fall hats and mittens knit up since fall weather is truly here, and I really need to get to work on organizing the area that I use for sewing. I'm really supposed to be sewing in the spare bedroom, but the closet doesn't really work for storage as it is currently set up (not really sure how it possibly stored anything, to be honest) so I need to take some time to pull that out and get organized toward future endeavors. I did start pinning a few things to sew for myself, but for now it's back to knitting.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


{Knitting Along with Ginny, unless she has her sweet baby today- 
and then I'm just sharing my latest knitting and reading. Will you join?}

I knit all of these pieces last year, but they were tucked away waiting for these days when I need a little something around my neck to keep the chill away. I pulled everything out over the weekend to re-block.

Ignore the scattered debris in the background, would ya? I let the toddler run free during this particular blocking session- as long as she wasn't eating crayons or destroying property I was okay with whatever she wanted to do for the 20 minutes I spent blocking. Sometimes a mama *really* needs to block a shawl so that a sort of sour weekend doesn't devolve into despair. Yes. I said it. Blocking a shawl totally restores your perspective on life.

I sort of forget the magic that blocking works on lace until I block (or re-block) a finished piece. One minute it's a blob of yarn that looks fine if you sort of stretch it out with your hands and look at it with your head tilted, and the next minute it's wet and growing and you can really see the pattern that you put all your time and energy and muttered curses into. And love too, of course. It's really just like raising children.

This red was really hard to capture. The background fabric is jet black so you have an idea of how difficult it was to be accurate. It's actually a very rich variegated red sock weight that I really really love.

Blocking with an 18-month-old around is an adventure. She finds t-pins to be a delight. And shockingly, she doesn't poke herself. I never would have let the boys hold a pin at this age, but she's the third child and I might have finally relaxed a bit. What a blessing- to me and to my kids.

I'm reading Emma (Jane Austen!) and the boys and I finished up Farmer Boy yesterday. We have had so many great discussions over this book- I'm a little sad to see it go, though tomorrow we will start Jungle Book. I listened to a wonderful audio recording called Nurturing Competent Communicators from Andrew Pudewa (recommended by the wonderful Sarah at Amongst Lovely Things) and goodness- it certainly put my brain back on track about reading out loud to our boys! It's so easy to think that they don't need us to read to them anymore because they can read to themselves now, and that is simply not the case. We need to keep reading aloud, listening to books on CD, discussing and writing. I especially appreciated the connection he made to the method behind Suzuki violin study, as I am a Suzuki violin teacher myself (and a student since the age of 4). I'm looking forward to listening to more of his recordings.

For those of you waiting for my KCW results, I will get them posted tomorrow. My husband hurt his back over the weekend (he will be fine, but back to physical therapy) and working through that and the accompanying appointments changed everything around. Back to regular posts today, and KCW post tomorrow.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

KCW Days 1 - 3

kid's clothes week

I've been able to get in a total of 5 hours so far this week- I worried about finding time on Tuesday and Wednesday, but one late night and an unexpected change in my work schedule gave me the time I would have missed. 

I have 1 little dress and a pair of sleeves to share with you today:

I've made 4 of these little tunic tops now and the fact that they've been so easy is what has gotten me to sew so much more lately. My last few sewing adventures had been a big bust and I had a hard time getting motivated to get back to my machine. But after these and some pajama pants for my boys, I'm back to sewing with a bit of confidence.

These are the beginnings of Simplicity 5695, view A. I'm making these in the 2T size, so they may be a little big on Ellie this fall, but should fit her a few months from now in late winter/early spring. I'm planning to also make view C in a coordinating fabric to this one depending on how it turns out.

I finished another little tunic dress like the one above last night, but haven't had time for photos yet. I'll add that in 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Yarn Along

{Yarn Along with Ginny. Will You join us?}

After an overflowing week, it's been hard to remember when exactly I knit. But I know I did- I have the inches on my Exploding Socks to prove it. I'm done with the foot of #1 and a few rows into the patterning on sock #2. And I know for sure that I did the toe of sock #2 incorrectly and had to rip it back and do it again so those hours have to be somewhere...

Most of my creative time has been going into sewing this week for KCW. I've finished 2 little dresses and started the sleeves on another, but now I need to get pictures of Ellie in them, which is proving quite tricky these days as she is faster and knows what the camera is for. 

In my reading, I finished Wuthering Heights and moved on to Emma by Jane Austen, reading on the kindle. I'm not reading a ton these days unfortunately- by the time I get to bed these days I'm going right to sleep. Allergies have been doing such a number on me this season. Much of my reading lately is with the boys- we picked up a recording of The Jungle Book at the library (read by Jim Weiss!) and as soon as we finish the last CD of Farmer Boy we'll be moving on to Jungle Book.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Ready Go!

kid's clothes week

Are you participating? 

I made my list last week and spent some time over the weekend getting ready for all the sewing in the next 7 days. Tuesday and Wednesday are going to be a bit of a challenge to find the time to sew around kids and work, but hopefully I'll find a solution. I'm hoping for 4-6 finished items by this time next week, and then a bit of a hiatus from sewing so that I can really dig into fall knitting (which is begun, but not making very quick progress).

I fear a polka dot problem has sprung up. I didn't realize that I was buying so many polka dots until they were all stacked together, and I know the three pictured here don't seem to constitute a problem, but there are at least three more polka dot prints not pictured here. The fabric on the left is for another long sleeve dress, the grey with white polka dots for a skirt, and the lighter prints are for short sleeve dresses that we can layer and carry into spring. 

I have some unpictured cartoon prints for boy pajama pants and some linen for some pants with a flat front for the boys. They have enough jeans now after a quick weekend shopping trip, but still lacking on the "nice" but comfortable pants front.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Planning for KCW

Kids Clothes Week is coming up on Monday and I'm planning to sew along. I originally thought I'd come here to write and tell you about needing to buy fabric since my fabric stash is significantly smaller than my yarn stash, but then I actually went into my fabric stash and saw the madness.

I haven't sewn more than a small repair here and there over the last 2 years until this recent run at the machine. And yet, there's all that fabric. I could hardly believe it when I laid it all out on the guest bed to sort. And now I need to store it in some way better than the stack of weird plastic totes that still line the wall since we moved in almost 2 years ago.

And best of all, I found a few projects I cut out at least 2 years ago that no longer fit my tall boys. I swear they have each grown at least a foot in the past two years. I think I can rescue both pair- the one that would have been Ezra's will go on to be Ellie's and I'm going to get creative with a second fabric so that Ender can still wear his since I cut them so long over 2 years ago. I'm not sure why I originally cut them to be so long, but I did and now I'm truly grateful for the cutting oversight.

All that to say that I'm working on a plan for KCW that is slightly different than I originally thought it would be, but still good. I'm over-planning by a long ways, but I'd rather have more to do than less and not run out when there is good sewing time ahead of me.

The priorities:

1. Nice-looking but comfortable pants for the boys. I have two pieces of linen from who knows when that look like they are big enough to get at least 1 pair of pants for each of them.

2. 1 more pair of pajama pants for each of the boys. Since I let them pick pajama fabric we will have a pair of Toy Story pants and also some cartoon dog pajamas.

3. Finish the last 2 long sleeve dresses for Ellie.


1. I cut pieces to make an Olivia top before we left on our trip, so I'm planning to make that one as well if I can figure out the button hole thing. I did button holes on my machine once or twice a few years ago and my memory is foggy. I'll try to mess around with that this weekend before the KCW challenge begins.

2. I have 2 more pair of leggings cut for Ellie that just need sewn up.

Now to figure out what to do with other fabrics in the stash. I've given up on trying to figure out how it all got there.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Little Beginnings

{Won't you join in the Yarn Along with Ginny this week?}

It's been a casting on sort of week since we got home on Sunday. It was warm enough here when we left on our vacation, but now that we're home again it is definitely on its way to truly being autumn. I haven't had to turn on the heat just yet, but the cooler evenings and mornings definitely inspired the casting on of a few fall/winter knits.

The rainbow-y colored ribbing is going to become thumbless mittens for Ellie and also a pair of mittens for Ezra. He picked out this yarn when we visited the Nerd Girl Yarns booth at Maker's Faire back in June and specifically asked them to be made into mittens. The colorway is Fantastical Fastener on a fingering weight- which means I'm knitting mittens on US 2 DPNs.

The white is the beginnings of my first hat for Halos of Hope. The Knitmore Girls are taking part in a friendly competition between podcasters to bring as many hats as possible to Stitches West to benefit Halos of Hope. And as if the contest itself weren't enough, they are offering prizes to people who participate, including some of Jasmin's own handspun. I'm starting now, and aiming to knit as many hats as I can between now and the middle of February.

I'm still reading Wuthering Heights, but failing to see the attraction. I think I would have loved it if I had read it at 16, but now as a married mother of three who rather enjoys a drama-less existence, I'm not such a fan of the drama for silly reasons. The language does make me want to read Austen next though- maybe Emma or Mansfield Park? I have a few things waiting at the library too when I get a chance to pick them up.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Run Away

We ran off for a little holiday again last week. I meant to put a quick post up on Saturday mentioning this long planned trip, but I was too busy out on the actual trip!

We went to Disney World for 9 days and this time around took my parents. It was such a blessing to have them along. We generally did the mornings all together, then split off for the afternoon: the boys and Brian went to ride all the crazy rides, my parents went off wherever they wanted to look around, and Ellie and I went back to the hotel for a nap. The nap was supposed to just be for her, but I ended up "resting" too on several of the days. I had originally thought I might get to knit during those hours, but I was too wiped out.

Each day we would meet back up in the late afternoon/early evening for dinner and sometimes a few more things in the parks. Brian and I took turns taking Ellie back to the hotel for bedtime and going to bed early ourselves.

While I'd love to come back into this space with all sorts of finished knits, it's even better to come back into this space saying we had a week full of family time, fun adventures AND a brand new 8-year-old.

Friday, October 4, 2013

More Little Things

Ellie is still in whirling dervish mode when the camera comes out, but I wanted to share a few more sewing things with you today even though I didn't get anything with her actually in the clothes.

I made two "wearable" muslins to test out a new-to-me waistband and also to see just how much ruffling I wanted before cutting into my real fabric. For the waistband, basically you cut it in two pieces- half the child's waist measurement on the front panel and half the measurement + about 3 inches on the back panel. The back panel has elastic sewn into it and that's where the stretch for the skirt comes from, but it allows the front panel to stay flat. I really like the look of this type of waistband.

On the first muslin I liked the waist band a lot, and it fits her perfectly right now, which means it may not last for long at the rate she's growing.

The second one is a fuller skirt, same waistband. At first gathering the fabric seemed really time consuming, but the effect is so nice it's worth the extra time.

And after trying a few different things, I cut the real material and made: 

It's amazing to me how just a little bit of ribbon and lace can change the whole look of a skirt. As I'm looking at sewing patterns and tutorials (and collecting them on a pinterest board) I'm learning to see the possibilities from the most basic of patterns.

I used the diaper cover pattern from the danamadeit.com tutorial as usual. I've made several of these now and they are so easy to just sit down, cut out a bunch and stitch them up, particularly with a serger. Ellie has a stack and they're going to last her for quite awhile.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Yarn Along

{Wednesday Yarn Along with Ginny. Won't you join in?}

The sewing craziness around here is almost done. A few more little things to share in this space and to finish at the machine and then I'm done sewing for the season.

I started Ellie's little Stripey Cardigan back in June, and as I've had to make design decisions about it I kept putting it down in favor of things where I could just. keep. knitting. I found this fabric while hunting down other material and immediately thought of the little cardigan and how perfectly it matched! I grabbed both fabrics and plan a little dress out of each, and maybe a skirt too if I have enough left over.

I started back to work on the cardigan after finding that fabric. I just did a bit of decreasing at the bottom of that sleeve so it won't be quite so wide and then I'm going to put a few stripes at the bottom before finishing it up and moving on to the other sleeve. I did decide that I'm probably going to go back to the bottom of the body and try seed stitch instead of the 1x1 ribbing and see if I like that better for the finished edge. If not, I'll do the 1x1 ribbing again, but not so much of it. It's not looking delicate enough to me as it stands now.

I started reading Wuthering Heights on the kindle and I'm about 1/3 of the way through. I've never read it before, and it always takes my brain about a paragraph to reset to the writing style and more complex sentence structure. The boys and I are still listening to Farmer Boy together.

What are you reading and making this week?

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