Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Two Newborn Sweaters

When I made last year's Christmas sweaters for my niece and nephew, I bought three balls of worsted weight yarn for each of them, and each sweater used two full balls plus just a bit of the third.  When I finished, I had a good brainstorm about what would be a good use for about 200 yards of superwash worsted weight yarn in each of pink and yellow, and I hit on newborn sweaters!  I picked out a free pattern on Ravelry that would be good for any gender - Olive You Too.
I made two almost exactly the same, and finished them in February.  The pink one is for a friend's daughter and I made it exactly as written in the pattern. 
The yellow one is for my baby (who is expected to be a boy), and the only thing I changed was the buttonhole placement and number of buttons - I thought the buttons grouped at the top were a little bit on the girly side.  If you're paying attention to the photos, you'll notice that I also crossed the cables the other way on the yellow one - that started out as an accident, and when I noticed half-way through the sweater I decided to make it a design feature rather than ripping out to start over.

This project was very successful!  It used almost all of the leftover yarn (and the buttons were from my button jar), and my friend's daughter looks adorable in her sweater.  I'm excited for my baby to wear his!

Pattern:  Olive You Too by Taiga Hilliard Designs
Size: 0-3 months
Yarn: Yalley Yarns Superwash Worsted, about 200 yards per sweater
Needles: 4mm
Started/Completed: January 2018/February 2018
Modifications: None for the pink sweater.  For the yellow sweater, I crossed all of the cables the other way and made five buttonholes evenly spaced along the button band instead of four buttons all near the top.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Me-Made-May 2018

I, Katherine of, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '18. I endeavour to work on sewing garments for myself every day until my baby is born.

Last year, I wore lots of me-made clothing for Me-Made-May.  This year, I have a grand total of four non-underwear me-made (or altered) items that fit my current shape, so wearing me-mades every day or even most days isn't an option.  Instead, I want to focus on sewing some nice summer dresses that will work for nursing.  I'm planning a Washi dress with a button placket (made of lovely soft double gauze) and this knit dress, which is designed for maternity but I think will work well for nursing this summer.  I also bought supplies to make myself a nursing cover, and I'm going to count that as sewing for myself rather than for the baby.

I have a lot of sewing goals between now and when the baby is born:  not only the dresses and nursing cover for myself, but also three baby quilts - one is for a college friend's baby (born at the end of February), and it's getting close to done.  I just need to finish the second half of the machine quilting and then bind and label it.  The next one is for our baby, and the third one is for some friends who are expecting.  Their baby is due in August, but it is unfortunately looking like he may be quite premature, so I'd like to have his quilt ready for him before my baby is born.  Those two quilts are still in the planning stages.  I'd also like to make my baby an Oliver + S bucket hat for the summer and some bibs and burp cloths, and I have fabric sitting in my sewing room to make two new tablecloths for our kitchen table.   I'm sure not all of this is going to get done, so it will be nice to have time set aside for high-priority projects!  When I have a lot I want to sew and not a ton of time to do it, I tend to get paralyzed by indecision and not sew at all, so hopefully my Me-Made-May challenge will help with that!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Maternity Sweater

My big winter knitting project is done!  After multiple years of infertility, we are expecting a baby at the end of May, and one of the first things I did after my first ultrasound in October was to buy yarn to knit myself a maternity sweater.  It took me a while to get started, because I was worried about how my pregnancy might turn out, and then I got distracted by Christmas projects, but I finally finished the sweater a few weeks ago.  In these pictures, I'm 34 weeks pregnant.
The sweater has button plackets on the sides and sleeve cuffs.  I added a fifth button to each side, because odd numbers are more visually pleasing, and I was worried that the button plackets wouldn't come up high enough on my belly for them to really be functional - they're designed to be worn open at the end of pregnancy, to create more room for the belly.
At least so far, I prefer the sweater buttoned all the way down.  And, I really like the buttons I found.  It wasn't easy to find 16 matching buttons!  I think the brass-colored roses give it a nice, slightly dressier touch, and they're really cute.
The sweater is knit in 2x2 rib, and it's super stretchy.  It's really warm and comfortable!

Luckily (I guess?) we've been having a late, cold spring this year, so even though it took me so long to finish my heavy wool sweater, I can still wear it a bunch before the baby is born.

Pattern:  Mommy Snug by Kate Gilbert
Size: 20.5" bust circumference, to fit 39.5" bust
Yarn: Cascade 220 Heathers, color 8011 (an oatmeal grey), 6.5 skeins
Needles: 4mm
Started/Completed: October 2017/April 2018
Modifications: I added a 5th button to each of the side plackets, which made the plackets taller (but I kept the number of rows in the sweater below the short-row belly shaping the same as called for in the pattern).  I worked a second set of belly short rows - in hindsight, this really wasn't necessary and the short rows are a little high on my anyway, but the sweater fits fine and is comfortable.  I knitted the sleeves in the round (from the end of the button plackets) and lengthened them significantly.  Instead of working a hemmed neck edging, I followed a project I saw on Ravelry and worked an i-cord neck edging.  

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Handmade Christmas 2017

Wow, this post is late!  I didn't plan to make very many Christmas gifts, but somehow I ended up making a bunch anyway.  This quilt was for my Grandma, and it was a team effort with my mom.  We had given Grandma the fabric and pattern for Christmas two or three years ago, but we came to the conclusion that she was never going to sew it, so we decided to do it for her.  It was relatively quick (two weekends), and fun to do together!  It came out great, and Grandma loves it.
I've done Christmas sweaters for my niece and nephew every year so far (although last year I made a flannel shirt for my nephew instead of a sweater), and I kind of thought last year was going to be the last year - they're getting big, and the sweaters are getting to be more of a production.  But then I hit on the idea of a ballet wrap sweater for my dance-obsessed niece, and I couldn't not do one more year.
I used free patterns and used worsted weight superwash wool from Valley Yarns (the Webs house brand).  They were fun to knit, and apparently were a hit with the kids.

Earlier in the Fall, I knit a pair of socks for Robert for Christmas.  He loves them, but has dubbed them "the betrayal socks," because I knit them right in front of him without telling him they were for him.  He assumed they were for me, and was surprised that I was knitting myself socks in a blue tweedy yarn.  He tells me that he resisted the urge to ask if he could have them - he did it so well that I hesitated a bit to wrap them up for Christmas, because I wasn't sure if he liked them!
And lastly, I made a few Christmas-y kitchen things for us.  I took two fat quarters of Christmas-y fabric I bought for this purpose in Fall 2016 and finally made a set of four holiday napkins for our dining table.  I also knitted three Christmas dishcloths.  One of them made its way into my mom's stocking, and we kept the other two for ourselves.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Spinning Lately

Last June, my mom and I took a spinning class at our state's sheep and wool festival.  The topic was color in hand-dyed rovings/tops, and we learned three ways to manage overwhelming or clashing color in hand-dyed braids.  The first (on the left in the photo above) is involves tearing the braid into small pieces to create a gradient.  The second is stained-glass - spinning the colored singles together with a solid neutral singles.  The third was fractal-spinning.  Then, I had a fair amount of leftover colored singles from the stained-glass sample, so I chain-plied that to get the fourth skein in the picture.  My stained glass and chain-plied samples have too much plying twist, so at some point before I use them I'll have to run them back through the wheel to remove some of it. 
This enormous skein is spun from Hello Yarn roving that I brought home from Yarn School in October 2012.  It took me over a year to spin!  I don't remember what my final yardage was, but I'm pretty sure it's over 800 yards, and it's laceweight.  My plan is to knit it into a large square shawl, maybe something like this, or this, or this.  I'll use it to wrap around my head in winter instead of wearing a hat.
Then, I spun up two alpaca skeins to go together.  The white one is un-dyed alpaca that I bought on vacation in Vermont several years ago, and the purple is a sparkly alpaca-merino blend that was given to me as a Christmas gift a few years ago.  They're fingering weight, and I've forgotten the yardage on them, but I'm hoping to knit something with colorwork.  I think the purple skein has a bit too much plying twist, so I'll need to remove some of that before I can use it.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Handspun Neck-warmer

This Fall, I decided I needed a scarf/neckwarmer to go with my purple down jacket.  I wanted something relatively small, and I decided to use some of my handspun.  I decided to use this yarn, which I spun from a batt I made at Yarn School back in October 2012 and apparently never blogged about.    
I turned it into this, which is loosely based on the Red Rasta Cowl, which I found browsing Ravelry for neckwear designed for minimal quantities of super-bulky yarn.  I wanted it to be snug and not mess up my hair, so I knitted it flat.  I used all but about six inches of the yarn.  It closes with three non-matching silver-colored buttons out of my button jar.  The yarn is thick enough that I didn't need buttonholes - I just push the buttons through the knitted fabric wherever seems right.
Here it is under the jacket.  It's very cosy and does a good job keeping the wind out of my neck!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Fixing my socks

In the six years I lived in Texas, I knit a lot of socks and almost never wore them.  When we moved to the Midwest a year and a half ago, I had about 20 pairs of handknit socks, and each of them had only been worn a few times.  Since then, they've all been worn a lot - and I have new opinions about them.  I'm finding that I like my socks to fit with some negative ease, and to be knit at a tight gauge.  I like them to have some structure, so they don't twist around or slide down in my shoes (this problem is worse with boots, which I now own two pairs of (previously, I owned zero)).  In general, I prefer a traditional, top-down heel-flap heel to almost all of the toe-up/short-row heels I've tried. 

With this new knowledge, this Fall I fixed some of the socks in my drawer, to make them more wearable:
This pair, my Deflect socks, were just too long in the foot.  I had knit them long because the cable pattern has a very long repeat, and I convinced myself that it would be okay, but once I started wearing them often they were not okay.  I had at least an inch of extra length beyond my big toe.  So I ripped out the toe half of the feet and re-knit them significantly shorter.  Now I enjoy wearing them!
The green pair (which I apparently made before I started the blog) fit well, and I enjoyed wearing them, but I made them in a very soft yarn.  I wish I had knit them at a tighter gauge - I think they would have worn better.  As it was, wearing them often for a year, I wore a hole under the ball of the foot of one sock.  Luckily, I still had the extra yarn, so I was able to repair the hole with a knit-in-place patch, following this tutorial.   I was somewhat surprised to see how much these socks have faded from wear - the color difference is pretty clear in the photo!  I was mildly concerned that I would be able to feel the patch when I wore the repaired sock, but it hasn't bothered me at all.  I'm glad that I can wear one of my favorite pairs of socks again.
The last pair are my Skew socks, which I knitted while I was on the job market in Winter and Spring 2016.  They were too big, especially in terms of length in the foot.  Unfortunately, because of the unusual toe-up way these socks are constructed, I couldn't just re-knit the toes, like I did on the red pair.  Instead, I frogged the whole pair and re-knit them with the same yarn, but on smaller needles.  It was a little bit time-consuming, but totally worth it.  I love the way these socks fit!  They have a right and left foot, so they fit snugly in the toes across both feet, and the way the heels are constructed, they don't shift around in my boots at all.  They are a little firm to get on and off, but once on they're really comfortable.  This is the only construction I've used so far that I actually prefer to top-down heel-flaps.  I will definitely be making more of these - maybe I'll try to embellish them with some cables of lace, since the pattern is pretty plain.