A Birthday Skirt

Did you know that all the best patterns for baby and children's clothes are made by moms? I recently discovered Pink Fig Designs. Mama-made patterns that are SO CUTE. Pink Fig patterns are designed to be made from woven fabric, which is great. Knits are fantastic, but sometimes it is really hard to find good prints at a good price. 

The first thing I made was the Nie Nie Skirt. I love how it turned out. Gathering ruffles isn't my favorite task, but I love the result. I'll have to look into a gathering foot for my machine.

Addy is modeling the skirt, though it isn't for her. It is for one of her friends who is just a couple weeks younger than Addy. The little girl needed a birthday skirt, and this will be it! 

I used my serger quite a bit for this skirt. You could get away without one, but I love my serger and use it at every opportunity. I did a serged rolled hem on each layer instead of a sewn rolled hem. It makes such a nice finish to a ruffled look. 

The only modification I made to the pattern was to use 5 ruffled layers instead of the 6 outlined in the pattern. The smallest size in the original is a 2T. This being for a first birthday, it needed to be a little smaller. I didn't want the strips that make up the layers to be any more narrow than they already are, so I went with omitting the sixth layer to make it a little shorter. 

The skirt was to be "Cupcake Themed." And so there are a couple of cupcake prints. I also think the tiers add to the theme, bringing to mind layers of piped icing. 

I love the fullness of this skirt. It bustles with that little toddler toddle and just adds to the cuteness. Addy will definitely need a couple of these for herself!


I've released a monster

Who knew there was a dress-making  monster latent within me? I'm addicted to making little dresses. It's so much more fun than making adult-sized clothes. Except for PJ pants. I love making a new pair of PJ pants. :)  

I didn't use a pattern. I looked pictures of baby dresses and made up my own. Facing is annoying and I probably won't use it often, but I'm glad I did it for this dress. (Facing is the little red strips along the arm and neck holes.)

On future dresses, I'll make the neck a little deeper as this one is just a little close. It's not tight around her neck by any means, but it doesn't sit low enough for my liking.

The bodice just fits. With yesterday's larger product, I wanted to be sure this one wouldn't also be big. It isn't! It fits her fine for now. We'll see if it still fits next week though!
 See the leg warmers? I made those too. Out of women's crew socks. There's a tutorial here if you want to see how it's done. Very nifty!

The darker border is a separate layer. Then I pieced an additional length of the lighter material. I think a fuller skirt would be better, but I wasn't displeased enough with this one to scrap it. ;)

I put a zipper in the back. I find buttons far more time-consuming to install. The layers from the front continue in back, though with the way she's laying, this is mostly a shot of the leg warmers.


Inspired by Tea Collection

Long time no post! I was busy making a person. Now that she's here, I'm feeling crafty like I haven't felt in a while! Don't get me wrong, I made lots of stuff while pregnant. But it would take too long to catch up and post each one. We'll just start fresh with a recent craft!

Some of the cutest baby clothes I've ever seen are made by Tea Collection. Seriously fabulous clothes with designer price tags. So I made a dress with Tea's style, more or less, for about $8 and an hour of my time.

I'm pleased with the result! The shoulders tie for easy adjusting and easy on-and-off. Oh, and easy to make! I thought about doing proper shoulders, but didn't. Maybe next time!

It ended up being bigger than I intended. I wanted something Addison could wear now-ish. This will likely not fit her until late spring or summer. Since I'm impatient for her to have cute dresses, I'll probably make a smaller one. From different fabric, of course. Much more fun that way!

Thank you, Tea Collection for having beautiful clothes I choose not to afford.


Normally I Dislike Dog Clothing

My sister, Megan, is a photographer and took this picture of Miles a couple weeks ago.  I taught him the cue "pose" which tilt the head and prick up the ears while your picture is taken.  Here he is demonstrating a lovely pose for Megan.  Such a good pup!

Miles is my 6 month old English/German Shorthaired Pointer pup.  Jon and I got him when he was 8 weeks old in June.  We got him so I would have a running buddy and he has already proven to be an admirable running companion.  In fact, it is one of his very favorite activities.

His German Shorthair side has given him short hair that is even more fine than usual for the breed.  As a result, he gets cold rather easily.  To combat this problem, I made him a sweater.  I am not a fan of gratuitous dog clothing, but for Miles it is for function not fashion, so I'm okay with it.

I chose a pattern from Ravelry that is more like a strap-on blanket, less like a sweater.  This was my own personal preference to make the piece more obviously for function.  It pulls over his head and straps under his belly.

The sweater is knitted from the neck back and done all in one piece, including the belly strap.  The neck and chest area is knitted in the round and then switched to flat knitting for the back portion.  The only change I made from the original pattern was to use Velcro instead of buttons to fasten the belly strap.  I can definitely see Miles suddenly deciding it's a good idea to chew off buttons.  Velcro solves that problem.

Obviously from the pictures, he doesn't mind it a bit.  When we went camping and it got cold at night, he was quite happy to have it on and even wagged his tail when I got it out the second night.

Miles had a GREAT time camping.  We did a lot of running and playing, leaving a little time for naps in between.  Camping was the first experience that made Miles tired enough not to care about participating in evening activities.  He was so sleepy he didn't even try to share our s'mores at the campfire.  When it was time to go in the tent for the night, he was very eager to get inside and snuggle into my sleeping bag with me.  :)


Thanks to Ravelry

Ravelry is a wonderful knitting community where knitters can find patterns, inspiration, fellow knitters and crocheters, browse other people's projects, chat, and visit forums.  There are groups dedicated to everything you can imagine.  My three favorite groups I've found so far are the German Shorthaired Pointer group, Sock Knitters Anonymous, and Harry potter Knitting/Crocheting House Cup.

Each month, Sock Knitters Anonymous do what is called a sock knit along (SKA).  There are several guidelines for the month and participants make a pair of socks according to those specifications to be entered in that month's drawing.  The winners of the drawing get knitting-related items such as yarn, pattern books, or knitting accessories.  Since it's a drawing, not a contest, anyone can win -- not just the awesome experienced knitters.

If it has escaped your notice to date, I am addicted to knitting socks.  So Sock Knitters Anonymous is a great group for me!  One of the points of having guidelines for the month is to challenge knitters to try new techniques.  September was my first time participating in a SKA and I made the yellow socks I named Goldy Lace.

September's guidelines were:
1. Make yellow socks from a Nancy Bush mystery pattern
2. Make socks of any color from a Wendy Johnson pattern

A mystery pattern is simply a pattern that is not given in its entirety right away.  Instead, the pattern is given out in several parts so that you just have to follow along clue by clue and end up with a surprise since you didn't know what it would look like until it was finished.  It's a really cool concept but I did not do the mystery pattern this month.  Instead, I made yellow socks from Wendy Johnson's Diagonal Lace pattern out of her book Socks from the Toe Up.  The brand of yarn is Crystal Palace Yarns from their Panda Silk Print.  Lovely, soft yarn.  Very fine too.  I used size 0 needles but would use a 00 if I knitted with this yarn again.

These socks were a challenge for me because I had never tried to make socks starting from the toe.  Also I had never done a lace pattern.  And I made these using the Magic Loop technique for the first time.

Socks can be made either top (cuff) down or toe up.  Top down starts at the cuff and is then knit down the leg, heel, foot, and ends with the toe.  Conversely, toe up socks start at the toe and are knit up the foot, heel, leg, and end with the cuff. Previously, I had made all my socks cuff down on double-pointed needles (DPN).  The other needle option is using either two short circular needles or one long one.  Knitting two socks at once on one long circular needle is called the Magic Loop (ML) method.  It is great for making socks when you aren't sure how much yarn you have because you can work on both socks at the same time and, if you start at the toe, can keep knitting up the leg until you run out of yarn.  Cuff down construction means that you might run out of yarn and not yet be finished knitting the foot or toe.  Not good!

The lace pattern wasn't really difficult so much as it was just different from what I had done before.  Lace involves making holes in the sock.  In this case, the holes are placed in diagonal lines to make a neat-o design that I love.

With my September challenge finished I am already looking forward to October's.  One of the choices for October is to make a pair of men's socks and Mike has asked to be the recipient.  He wants Colts socks.  Since he wear a size 16 shoe, I'll probably be making my first pair of socks with worsted weight yarn!  Normally socks are made with fingering weight.  It is very fine, thin yarn to make small stitches.  Worsted weight is a mid-weight yarn that, being thicker, knits up much quicker than fingering.  It will make a thicker sock as well which is fine for the ones Mike wants as he doesn't intend to wear them with shoes, just around the house during Colts games.


You're not going to believe this...

More socks!  I know, I know, shocking.  I blame the chilly evenings for putting me in the mood to knit sock after sock lately.

Here's the amazing thing to me:  Last year about this time, I was making a pair of socks a week, doing alterations, coaching cross country, and teaching.  Now that I'm not teaching, I can't believe I used to do all that every day.  The difference?  I am happier and well-rested.  

Back to the socks!  The yarn I used is made by Rio De La Plata.  It can be a bit splitty but I still enjoy knitting with this yarn.  Beautiful colors (this colorway is called Sunset) though I have heard that the yarn can felt easily.  Hopefully through careful hand washing I will avoid that problem.

The pattern is called Twisted Hourglass and it was a free pattern through Ravelry.  Lovely design.  There is plenty going on without being overwhelmingly busy.  

I love the twisted stitches (the raised sections that squiggle down the sock), but my favorite feature of this pattern is the cable you see down the side of the leg here.

Cables are always beautiful, that's all there is to it.  These cables are particularly interesting because at the gusset (where the sock widens to accommodate the space from heel to the top of the ankle) the cable splits into two smaller cables, one coming straight down the heel, the other forming either side of the instep (top of the sock).  Nifty trick, eh?  To bad I didn't come up with that one on my own.  But it's another technique learned that I'll find a way to incorporate into other things later.  Theoretically.  ;)

The squiggles made by twisted stitches I mentioned earlier are super-simple to make, which just adds to the wonderfulness of this design.  You just knit through the back loop instead of through the front one like normal.  Easy stitch that gives a dramatic result.  What more can a knitter ask for?  (Yarn.  Always more yarn.)

This pattern was written to be knitted onto two circular needles.  I used my preferred four double-pointed needles.  This was the first time I had adjusted a pattern in that way and, happily, it wasn't complicated.

I am wearing these socks even as I write this and they are lovely.  Soft and smooshy.  In other words, everything a sock should be!


Socks for Husband

At long last, Jon received his first pair of hand-knitted socks.  He likes to say that the more I love someone, the less often that person receives handmade items from me.  There does seem to be a strange correlation there.  But correlation does not prove causation!

The sock pattern is from Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks.  The stitch repeat is called a railway stitch.  It is a simple pattern consisting of strictly knitted and purled stitches that results in an interesting textured fabric. 

I used Louet Gems fingering weight in caribou.  It's a soft yarn, but not as squishy as I prefer for a sock yarn.  Sometimes while knitting it felt more like string than yarn.  Yarn should have some stretch and puffiness to it, which this usually did.  But there were tight sections with almost no give whatsoever that prevents Louet from being my new favorite sock yarn.  It makes a nice sock, it just doesn't feel amazing to work with.

The worst part about knitting socks for Jon?  Size 13 feet.  I can't wait to make Mike a pair of size 16 socks.  It is amazing how much additional time it takes to knit the extra rows for a longer foot!  I was so excited to make socks for my comparably tiny feet -- because they would be smaller and also because it meant a new pair of socks for me!  :D