Lucky 13: Baby shower extravaganza

I figure yesterday’s post was pretty dry for much of my readership (well, at least my friends-and-family readers). So not to disappoint those who don’t care about my crafting plans but like it when I make cute things, here is a quick bonus post of the gifts I made for my friend Diana’s baby shower last weekend. I was going to include it on the end of last night’s post, but things just got way too long! Sorry for the photo quality (and quantity); I was working on these up until the last minute (really beyond the last minute, and I even enlisted my mother in the button sewing effort), so I just snapped a photo each before they went into the gift bag:

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This baby is due next month, so I figured I’d give something wintry for now and something summery for later. I tried to channel a little bit of a 30s/40s flavor with the prints, and I like the classic feeling the gifts evoked. Can’t wait to see them modeled by baby! My thoughts by project:

The bonnet is the Winter Baby Bonnet from Purl Soho, which is a free pattern on their blog. I got two of the kits, which now seem to be sold out, but you could definitely find the needed materials from other sources. It was a great pattern and I got to break out my walking foot for the first time. The stitch length was a little very short, but otherwise using it went without incident. Well done me! This was also my first time sewing with Liberty Tana lawn, and I loved it!

The booties are Saartje’s Booties, a pattern that has been in my queue on Ravelry for years. Weaving in all the ends was a little fiddly and I didn’t have a crochet hook available to make the button loops (I ended up braiding them), but I absolutely love them in the end! I used some Debbie Bliss Rialto 4 ply from my aforementioned stash and resisted going out and buying more yarn to have a contrast color (pats self on back). I love the simplicity of the garter stitch and black buttons, and the finished booties are so squooshy and delicious, perfect for little feet.

Finally, the dress. This is another Seashore Sundress from Oliver + S (see my last one here) in the 6-12 month size, and I don’t have much new to say about it, though construction was even smoother the second time around. The fabric for the dress and bloomers are from one of the Denyse Schmidt DS Quilts lines at Joann’s. The picture isn’t so great above, but the dress is in this great little flower print, and I have enough left over to make another baby dress. As you can see, I made no effort to match the plaid on the coordinating bloomers (which is printed on the bias but asymmetrical, argh!) because I thought it would be really hard, and it shows; oh well. As my Grandma Mary Jane said about sewing errors, you no one would notice from a galloping horse.

And there you have it. Knitting and sewing in one post! Next up, something for me!

A week late, 7 dollars short? Crafting goals for 2014

Never one to be early (or even on time) to the party, I’ve been working on  a new year post for the past week or so, revolving around five crafting goals for 2014. Then today on Coletterie, Sarai proposed an amazing project for the year, which I think fits in really nicely with almost all of my goals. And she explained point three (see below) so much more eloquently than I did. Plus there’s a graphic, which this post was sorely needing! So without further ado, I’ve decided to take part in…

The Wardrobe Architect

Seriously, a project that helps me sew (and knit) more clothes I’ll actually wear, put all my thinking about sewing into action, AND make me a more social sewist? I’m jumping in with both feet! Plus, I have a suspicion it will also tie in to one of my non-crafting goals, cleaning out my closet. A win-win, really.

If you want the long version, here’s the complete list of my goals for the year, for accountability’s sake.

1) Sew at least one piece of clothing for myself a month. This goal is inline with what I’ve done over my first few months of sewing, so I think it’s attainable, and leaves ongoing “crafting space,” as it were, for gifts and knitting. (And weaving. Did I mention I got this awesome loom for Christmas?) I’m not shooting for an RTW fast or all me-made wardrobe, here, but I’d like to keep making pieces I can wear proudly at more than a snail’s pace, and have at least some fodder for the blog. And I think this level of productivity would also give me the time to learn more about fitting as I go. (Blergh, just remembered my promised Anna FBA post. Working on it!)

2) Work through my knitting UFOs/stash. Guys. I have a confession to make.  I have a LOT of yarn. And a lot of projects I’ve started and not finished, to varying stages of doneness. I need to finish some of these projects, and I need to knit (or weave!) some of this yarn. This goal actually has a corollary, which is to in part achieve this by sewing myself a sweater. I’ve never completed an adult garment (well, I made a shrug once, but it was all lacy and fast), but I have the yarn and the skills; this is my year to finally find the patience to do it!

3) Focus on sewing/knitting for my personal style. I think that all of the garments I’ve made so far meet this goal, but some of the patterns and fabric I’ve been hoarding buying (see number 5 on this list) definitely don’t. Going forward, I am going to focus on looking for inspiration from current fashions I might actually want to buy, working with patterns I already have (because I have a lot) to make my own versions, and filling holes in my wardrobe. My Sewing Ideas pinboard on Pinterest gives you a flavor of what I’m thinking, and that flavor is Anthropologie. (If you’ve met me this is no shock.) Take a look!

4) Become a more social sewist. I follow a lot of sewing and knitting blogs, Pinterest pages, and Twitter/Instagram feeds, but I’m only just starting to use social media sites for my own projects and (believe it or not) actually get kind of shy about commenting on the blogs of others. I’ve even been nervous about joining sew-alongs, which is admittedly crazy. I think it’s just that I’ve never really met people online before, so it’s a new thing for me, but I really do want to be part of the online sewing community and build my blog readership. Gotta get over my cold feet! I’d also like to grow my offline crafting community. I have an erstwhile crafting circle drawn from my girlfriends, which I’d like to continue and maybe even shore up a little (you read it here first, ladies). Plus now that I’ve “gone public” with this blog at work, crafty ladies are coming out of the woodwork, and I think it would be great to tap into that, so plans are afoot. Also, are there ever sewing meet-ups in the Baltimore-DC area? I’m going to have to do some research on this one!

5) Less thinking/reading/buying, more doing. I don’t know about you, but I spend a LOT of time thinking about things to make, reading blogs, and (gulp) buying fabric, patterns, and other supplies. I’ve learned a ton and have come up with some great ideas (not that I’ve executed them yet), but it’s a LOT more time than I actually spend sewing or knitting. It’s also taking away from me maintaining this blog. I’m not crazy about this trend–crafting has taken over my life with little to show for it. (Except these awesome socks. If I hadn’t gone to Joann’s to waste more time yesterday, some one else would have these Be Mine Porcupine Valentine’s Day socks, and I’d be SOL.) If I want to meet any other goals for 2014, I need to get better with my crafty time management!

How about you? Are you thinking of joining in with Wardrobe Architect? Or, for the uncrafty among you, any recent awesome sock acquisitions?

It’s two, two, two knits in one (post)

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Oh hi, internet neighbor! Winter has arrived here in Baltimore with not one, not two, but THREE days of snowfall last week. Well, yesterday was a little more of a rain event, but there were maybe 30 minutes where actual snow was falling from the sky. Not going to lie, I’m pretty excited about it . So excited that I’ve completed two knitting projects for myself this past week. Here I am in both:

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These two projects are the Everdeen Beanie from Weekend Hats and the Rasta Cowl from the little book Malabrigo 3 I just picked up this week. Let’s start with the hat, shall we?

This hat is the cover project from the book (remember my craft library obsession?), and I actually started knitting it up about a year ago. It was put down after I messed up some basic math required to cut out a pattern repeat (needed because though I have a gigantic head, I am also a rather loose knitter). Somehow I ended up with 111 stitches but didn’t realize it, and I could tell the lace pattern wasn’t working out but didn’t think to count stitches, so the hat and I needed to take a break. I found it again a few weeks ago and figured out the mistake, and I’m very happy with the end result. Our prolonged hiatus has left me with no idea what yarn this is, though, which is a shame, because it’s great and I love the stitch definition.

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Excuse the resolution, another iPhone photo shoot (and thanks to my mother!). I just love this fan stitch, and it was easy to remember once I got into the rhythm. If you’re looking for more project info, find the deets on my Ravelry page here. Hats and lace knitting, how I love you; I already have a few more patterns picked out from the book that meet just those criteria!

Next, the neckwarmer. This project and I had a whirlwind romance. After spotting a floor model right as I walked in the door, I picked up the yarn and the book Wednesday at Woolworks and started knitting right when I got home. On size 17 needles, it was a very quick knit, and I was more or less done that night. There were some tense moments the next day when I went to finish the last few rows (seriously, I had like 3 inches left after binding off), but I actually didn’t find the buttonhole bind-off hard at all, despite suggestions to the contrary on Ravelry. Add some 2-for-1 buttons from my friend Joann, and it was done!

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I think this project is absolutely a perfect handmade gift, and it’s so quick to make up, you still have time to get one (or several!) up before Christmas. I could barely restrain myself from going out to get more of this yarn to start another this weekend. Interested parties can find out more details on the yarn, etc. on my Ravelry project page here.

And can we talk about this little Malabrigo 3 book? I tried to resist its charms (and spent many minutes committing the neckwarmer pattern to memory to save myself a little money), but then I started flipping through, and found a few more projects I would love to make, especially this sweater and this little baby hoodie. So into the “buy” pile it went!

And I leave you with a little photo collage (look who’s getting fancy!) of some of the…less serious moments from our photo sesh to show off the knits in all their glory. From left to right, sassing my mother’s lack of iPhone camera skills (ungrateful child that I am), hiding in the neckwarmer, and…let’s be honest, just being me. Enjoy!

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My favorite knits of yore

Phew, this blogging stuff is hard work! Not only do I have to make things, but I have to photograph AND write about them.  Sorry for the radio silence! I actually have been sewing, but it took me until this weekend to get some photos. (I also took a little sewing-related field trip, also yet to be blogged–stay tuned!) In the meantime, I started this post about some of my favorite knits, so I figured I’ll finish this one and save the sewing for blog-fodder later in the week. Patience!

These are almost exclusively baby knits, mostly because projects for babies are small, just like my attention span for any given project, and because in general when I’m knitting for a baby I have a deadline, unlike when I’m knitting for myself. My UFO collection is seriously impressive, but that’s another post for another time (or perhaps a crafty resolution?). Anyway, without further ado, here are some of my favorite knitted makes ever:

Benji’s cabled sweater

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This was a great project I made up in some Debbie Bliss Aran weight Cashmerino. I love that yarn so much. The pattern is from Melanie Falick’s great book Knitting for Baby. Here’s a close up of the hippo buttons (squeal!) and some of the cabling:

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Given that this baby (my cousin’s) is now in kindergarten, it’s not a very recent project! I’ve entertained making it again for many a baby, but I always get distracted by the glut of amazing baby projects on my list.

Ada’s knitted hoodie

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This pattern comes from my newest baby knitting obsession, Vintage Baby Knits by Kristen Rengren. Seriously, I cannot say enough about how much I love this book. I want to knit everything in it. Some lucky lady will be the recipient of this sweater, and another this dress (seriously, I love lace). And the ducky onsie? The cat sweater set? I just can’t. The first project I chose from the book was the Audrey Hoodie. I have some actual action shots of said baby wearing said sweater, but decided to keep little Ada anonymous. Needless to say, it’s even cuter on! This was also my first go at a crocheted shell stitch edging, which turned out well, though I omitted it on the sleeves because they were already really long. I made it up out of another teal Debbie Bliss yarn, this one a cotton (don’t remember which one). Another glamour shot:

Leo’s pirate sweater

More baby sweaters! Let’s make it a trifecta. Though apparently I never uploaded photos of this to Flickr, so you’ll have to go take a look-see on Ravelry. This was my first intarsia project, and a super fun make for my med school classmate’s baby (so also a few years ago!). I’ve never actually seen it on the baby, but I bet it was stinking cute! More Debbie Bliss yarn, this one was Rialto. The pattern is from the precious book Adorable Knits for Tots by Zoe Mellor. This post is really revealing my baby knitting book obsession!

Faux Isle Hat

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Finally, something I knit up for myself! As the above baby knit bonanza shows, I rarely knit for myself. Or rather, I rarely finish things I start knitting for myself. But this hat, THIS hat is one of my favorite projects ever. It’s became my go-to winter topper, gets a ton of compliments, and it was so quick and easy. I don’t even remember what the white yarn was, and all I know about the rainbow is that it’s some kind of Noro. I’ve thought many times about making another, but am always worried I won’t recapture the magic, so I haven’t yet. (Aside: Does this happen to anyone else?)

The Fuzzy Bunnies

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Here’s something I have dared to recreate (shocker, more baby stuff): the bunny pattern from the Lovable Toys collection in Last Minute Knitted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson. If there has ever been a knitting book whose aesthetic I would like to appropriate into my everyday life (okay, that’s a pretty specific superlative, but still) it’s this one. And this bunny is the first thing I knitted from it. First I made the above fuzzy bunny for the baby of one of my medical school instructors. Then I made a second one for my sister by request. It’s pretty much too cute to be believed and I love it. Next time, the elephant?

Anyway, I have a few new projects in the works (and a TON of UFOs hanging out in my crafting closet), so look for more knitting posts in the near future!