Saturday, December 09, 2017

Simple Knits for Toddlers

At some point this fall, the kiddo transitioned from baby to toddler. It's a pretty noticeable difference, filled with new abilities and many more opinions. It's been keeping Mama on her toes, but I've still managed to sneak in a little bit of knitting.

Most important was to get a new hat and mittens for the munchkin. We've already had lost mitten issues and he keeps outgrowing hats. (My kid has a seriously large noggin'. Case in point: his adult uncle is wearing his hat in the photo below. The result is that I knit an adult small hat for him this winter so he has a chance of being able to wear it next year too; it's a little too deep but fits just right around his head.)

Enter in the Simple Collection from tincanknits. I've recently become a big fan of tincanknits, having knit four of her patterns in the last year. Her Simple Collection is beautiful and the patterns come in a wide range of sizes. Barley and Maize where just perfect for the kiddo's winter needs.

The munchkin seems to really like his new hat. We're still working on loving the mittens, but at least I used a long i-cord to connect them together so we won't have to worry about losing one when kiddo decides to actually wear them. If you aren't aware of the Simple Collection, I highly encourage you to check these patterns out!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

WI Sheep & Wool 2017

Sometimes I can't believe how fast the knitting time has flown. I've been knitting for 16 years, I joined the Harry Potter Knit/Crochet House Cup over 9 years ago, and, relevant to this post, I went to my very first Wisconsin Sheep & Wool in 2008.

Like that year, I enjoyed WI Sheep in the company of knitting friends. This year was a contingent of House Cuppers, including IsisOnEarth, xamonster, tangledskeing, mariacrafts, (me), and bandbabe:

I also met up with my awesome research collaborator, hedgieknits, who drove up from Chicago for the day. She wrote about the event on her blog here. Most important, she was my voice of reason this year and kept me from running rampant in the Fiber Optic booth, as I've done in previous years. (Seriously, I was carrying around three different items and she helped me leave the booth empty handed - that's strong magic.)

That's not to say I didn't buy anything. Hedgie introduced me to Ewetopia, where I bought 2 skeins of Kickapoo sock yarn in the most lovely kettled-dyed purple-black. I also picked up a copy of The Complete Surprise, a book about variants of Elizabeth Zimmermann's Baby Surprise Jacket, which I've been eyeing for a few months now.

All and all, it was another wonderful Sheep & Wool festival. It's been a decade of this festival and I never fail to enjoy it.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017


I got a new toy for my birthday this year - a serger! I've been doing a fair bit of sewing recently and want to work with more knits, so it was a natural time to level up. I'm super excited about it (and glad to have another Janome in the house).

Buying a serger lets me dig into the backlog of patterns for knits, starting with the Lark Tee from Grainline Studio. I matched the pattern to 1 yard of brushed poly I bought from Zenith & Quasar in the most awesome chemistry-themed damask pattern.

Here's what I learned in my first run out:

  • Using a serger is just as easy as using a sewing machine. Actually, easier because you sew and finish your seams at the same time.
  • Be very careful to not make mistakes. I got a little nervous when setting in the sleeves (which I sometimes mess up when doing with my sewing machine) because the serger actually cuts the fabric and uses 4 threads. Mistakes will be much more costly to correct.
  • I'm glad I bought a catch tray for the cut fabric.
  • Note to self to always use compressed air to blow lint out of the machine at the end of the day to extend the life of the machine. It's amazing how much lint one project will create!
  • Related to the pattern: it is possible to make a size 8 cap-sleeve version of the Lark Tee with only 1 yard of fabric instead of the 1.25 yards specified.

The other thing I realized is that I'm still terrible at hemming my knits. Instead of using a twin needle, as in the past, I serged all of my edges, turned them up, and stitched them with my sewing machine's narrow zigzag stitch. This worked okay on the bottom hem and sleeves, but was a royal pain for the narrow neckline hem. This is something for me to work on going forward.

So my first project on the new serger is a success and I'm very much looking forward to logging more hours on this machine!

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

EZ as Pi

I've been pretty quiet on the knitting front because I've spent the last 3 months knitting this grey beauty, a 1200+ yard Pi Shawl. While this is much more lace than I can usually handle, I can now see why this Elizabeth Zimmermann pattern has been so beloved.

I did my version in MadelineTosh Twist Light in Great Grey Owl. I chose to do a simple center with yarn over's every 6 rows in between the increases, followed by an Alpine Lace edging (which looks a bit familiar to this blog). This kept the lace manageable for me, as I only had to pay attention during the very last section.

Not having knit a circular shawl before, I'm still trying to figure out exactly how to wear it. Easiest is folding it in half and wrapping it around my neck, though I've also tried folding the top third down to wear it around my shoulders. This is something I'll be playing with.

Overall, I'm very happy I persevered through my largest lace project to date. I almost didn't make it when I discovered a math error meant knitting twice as much edging as I originally thought, so I'm very glad it's finally done. Not only done, but beautiful!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017


I mentioned a yet-to-be-seen handsewn baby hat in an earlier post and was finally able to get kiddo to wear it for one minute so I could take a photo. Not a great photo, but for once the little guy didn't immediately take it off his head, so I'm calling it a win.

This adorable newsboy cap is another one from Sewn Hats, which is becoming my go-to book for hat patterns. I'm really sad that kiddo doesn't like this one more but it's too cute not to keep trying. Maybe one day he'll actually wear it from longer than it takes to get it off his head.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Summer Sewing Gone Vintage

We finally hit summer this week in Wisconsin, which means two things: 1) I need to install the window A/C units in the house, and 2) I want all my clothing, including what I'm sewing, to be lightweight. Happily I have a tank top pattern on my to-make list - the Tiny Pocket Tank from Grainline Studio (pattern no longer available) - and some leftover rayon challis from my Mojave kaftan that are just right for summer sewing.

The Tiny Pocket pattern is really simple, so I decided to make this project interesting by using my 100-year-old Singer 27 machine (which I'd yet to use for a full sewing project). Here are some initial impressions about sewing with the old machine:

  • I don't think rayon challis was the right fabric to test this machine out on, as the machine is pretty... sturdy. Sewing the rayon wasn't really a problem, but I get the feeling that the Singer will zoom through quilting cottons and wool. It's a bit more fiddly with fluid fabrics (though that may also be me getting used to the machine and treadling).
  • I'm totally spoiled by the seam allowance guides on my new machines. I'm going to have to get used to not having them on this machine.
  • Also not features on this machine: back stitch. Instead of using back stitch to anchor the beginning/ending of a seam, I: tied a lot of knots, turned my sewing around to "back stitch", and overlapped the start and end my stitches when sewing in a loop (depending on the part of the project). I still have to figure out the best way to anchor the ends of my seams going forward.
  • The Singer works a treat on long straight seams, but it's difficult to sew slowly or with many stops/starts due to the foot treadle. It was quite fiddly to sew on the bias tape around the neckline and armholes, between the fluidity of the rayon and stopping to remove pins every 2 inches.

The Singer was actually quite fun to use and the biggest challenge on this project ended up being the fact that I attached the armhole bias binding to the wrong side of the fabric. Everything worked out in the end and I'm really happy with this cheery summer top!

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Hawaiian Fern Dress

I brought 4 lengths of fabric back from my trip to Hawaii last fall, and I'm happy to report that the second length has been sewn up. The purple fern print became a Colette Hazel dress.

I chose this dress pattern to highlight the print pattern on the fabric, as the dress was designed with a border-print fabric option. While my fabric isn't a true border print, it's definitely directional with the design weighted toward the edges - something I wanted to highlight. Plus, Hazel has a dirndl-style skirt which gives an open canvas for the large print.

The thing I'm most proud of with this dress is my finishings. Once upon a time, I sewed up my seams, pressed them, and called everything done. In lucky cases, I broke out my pinking shears. I now find it very important to finish my seams to prevent fraying. I used a number of different techniques to finish seams in dress, including: overlocking, french seams, and bias enclosed seams. The exact finish depended on the construction of that part of the dress, but I think this will stand up better than some of my first sewing projects.

I've actually been waiting a few months to show this off as it's been a chilly spring here in Wisconsin. Now that it's summer, I'm looking forward to wearing this dress a lot - to work with a small suit jacket and on the weekends with a cardigan.