sweaters and more

Despite the lack of posts, things are still thing happening on these fronts. There is a bit of sewing, a lot of sweater making (some big, some small), and a lot of sweater pattern buying – which is ironic given the latest thing going on – word that we are spending some time in the United Arab Emirates over the next year.

On the crafting front, we made our round of handmade teacher gifts, and I’m super happy with how they turned out. We made little bird and garden angel ornaments from the book Scandinavian Stitches by Kajsa Wikman.030teachergift

On the knitting front. I made a second Alberta vest, this time for my Dad’s birthday. I also managed to squeak out a cardigan for my sister’s new baby…whom I had the pleasure of visiting right after she was born. Its nice to know I am knitting for a girl, and I did a little stash diving to find a cute yarn perfect for the little sunnyside cardi  from Tanis Fiber Arts. I also got to see Mia in the Puerperium Cardigan I made for Christmas, which was fun.

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In the past two months I’ve filled up my queue with sweaters, purchased the patterns and skeins up on skeins of yarn…and managed to finish my very first adult sized just for me sweater. I love the pattern, the color and the concept. I made a stupid judgement call on joining the yarn, and I can see the places in the sweater which bugs me. I also have never knitted with this type of yarn before…and I’m curious to see how it all holds up. They yarn itself is knitted strands – I have not idea what that is called, but it seems to easily snag on things. It worked out okay, but I am not sure I’d use that type of yarn again.

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So, here I sit with a queue full of sweaters and a closet full of wool. Rumor has it I may need a sweater or two for the air conditioning, but more likely…in addition to reorganizing our lives, my favorite pastime may need a major overhaul along with my Ravelry queue and list of favorites. Oy  vey!

So, this little upheaval in conjunction with the enjoyment of summer life in general is part of the reason I’ve been putting this blog (and some crafting) on the way back burner and I anticipate that will continue to be the case…at least until we get settled and figure out how life in the UAE works.

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The Rock Island Saga Comes to an End

The Rock Island Shawl is off my needles, can you believe it!?! I received the supplies to do the blocking (thank you Joni), and hope to tackle that, snap some photos and wear it proudly this next week.

What a production!

And yet, once I got it sorted out it wasn’t to bad.

My Rock Island was like child birth…a 9 month production that at times was painful and tiring, but yielded something quite gorgeous that I am sure will bring me joy. And much like having children, I can imagine a day when the “pain” will recede from memory, and the idea of doing it all over again may sound like an appealing idea. Perhaps one day I will tackle the second colorway I ambitiously purchased when I first decided to tackle the project.

And…as my friend Katie said when learning of my Rock Island’s finished status…It is time to block it and rock it!

WooHoo.

Warm Wishes: Knitting for those Impacted by Sandy

Like many people, I have dear friends that were impacted when Sandy came tearing through the East Coast. In talking with one of them, I mentioned wishing there was something hands on I could do. With the cold weather approaching, power outages, and loss of homes and possessions, and she cleverly suggested knitting hats.

This I could do!

I roped another friend into joining me, and we spent the past week knitting up a storm. We put together a little care package with 6 hats, 3 scarves/cowls, 2 fingerless mitts and a couple of head wraps. We used the handmade tags found here, and included a little note. The package is in the mail, en route to my friend in New Jersey who will bring the knitted goodies to those in need.

I hope this is just the beginning. I will be making and sending more hand knit goods. Uniquities Yarn Shop, a yarn shop in my Mom’s neck of the woods got wind of our little project when my mom went in to pick up some supplies to help further our cause and they expressed interest in getting involved, and my often mentioned friend Katie her community was heavily hit as well) just put a call out to her circle of knitters to make and send knitted goodies her way for distribution.

To my friend MJ who got this whole things going…thank you for a great idea, for giving me a way to help out and let the folks in your community know we are thinking of them, and for distributing our hand-made goodies to those in need!

Grab your needles or your hooks, rummage through your stash or visit your local yarn shop, whip up a special hand-made warm accessory…and send a warm wooly hug to someone impacted by the storm.

*if you want to knit, I can get you connected to folks for distribution – just leave a comment!

in this neck of the woods…

Despite the lack of posts, and not participating in africankelli’s September sew along, I have been working on a few things. We have been adjusting to the school schedule thing again, and getting back into the swing of catching early buses, getting homework done and the fun of fall soccer.

On the knitting front, I’ve am slowly plugging away on the Calla Cami, which is going well. I just haven’t focused on it as much as I could. Sadly, I can’t quite say the same thing for the rock island. I made a stab at the starting rock island chart, but ended up with some mistakes and ripped it back to the garter section. I forgot to place a lifeline before starting, and wont be making that mistake again! Soon I will tackle the chart again. I’ve blown it up so I can see it better, marked it up so that the SSK are all highlighted green, and I just know that this time I’ll have better luck! I need to devise a better system of keeping track of the 17 – 6 stitch repeats on either side of the center section. Any suggestions? Oh, and perhaps an isolation chamber might help too.

However, I find it is always important to give oneself some success while struggling, so to help manage my frustration, I banged out another one of Katie’s lovely patterns and had fun doing it.  How can you go wrong…big needles, big yarn, a fun braided cable with a quick turn around! I can almost get excited about the first frost that killed all that remained of our garden, as it means its about time to wear warm woolly knits!


On to sewing…I finished up two projects. The first was a modification to the messenger bag I posted on earlier. This time around the purpose was to be a holder for my daughter’s LeapPad which she received for her birthday. I decided to add some padding to the body of the bag, a pocket for the USB cord, some slots to hold the game cartridges and a pouch for the charger. I also whipped up a sleeve for the device itself. She feels pretty fancy, and enjoys carting her whole set up around.

The second project was a new baby doll wardrobe for our friends’ daughters birthday. I found an awesome pattern over on this blog, reduced it a bit since our dolls were 12 inches and then went to town. I made a few tops, two skirts, a pair of pants and a fleece jacket. Sadly, I didn’t do much in the way of photos – but the feedback is that baby Sara, and her mama are quite pleased with all the new clothing.

So, there you have it, that is what is happening in this neck of the woods. I am looking forward to getting back on track with projects and posting.

August Sew Along: Swaddle Blanket

One of my first sewing projects was the flannel swaddle blanket from the Fabric-by-Fabric One Yard Wonders book. This project, and looking at the book’s FaceBook page lead me to AfricanKelli.com and her monthly sew along. So, when Kelli asked if I’d be willing to sew another blanket and share my thoughts on the process, I said heck yeah! The timing worked well, as this past weekend I saw my dear friend Katie who is expecting.

The swaddle blanket is a simple project. Three pattern pieces are cut, the swaddle ties are joined to make one large tie, and then bias tape is sewn along the outside edge of both pieces. Once that is completed, you attach the tie to the back of the blanket and you are all done. It seems to me, the key to this project is patience and precision … neatly attaching the bias tape, and making sure that you get the seam enclosed when making the large swaddle tie.

I am still new to sewing, and the swaddle blankets are the only times I’ve worked with bias tape. I turned to the Angry Chicken tutorial on applying bias tape found here and followed her steps. I’m certain there are other ways to go about getting the bias tape on there, however I’m not very patient and the thought of lots and lots of pinning is unappealing so this seemed like a good way. In the spirit of full disclosure, my bias tape application wasn’t the neatest and I have already fessed up about my lack of patience. Despite the slips in craftsmanship, Katie was really pleased with the blanket, and I look forward to seeing a chubby baby all snuggled up in there this winter.

At the 11th Hour

School is ending for the year. While I was organized and prepared for my son’s last day, as of yesterday I was not ready for my daughter’s. To add to the challenge, she has two teachers in her class, and two different teachers for the day she is in the afternoon explorers program. I scoured the blogosphere for ideas and settled on coffee cozies. They are cute, quick and make good use of the fabric scraps in the closet. I whipped up a few, stuffed them with a small gift card and was done, a nice little teacher gift pulled together at the 11th hour.

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Race Track Play Mat

I have some pretty great neighbors. Sadly they are moving away this week, and by away I mean far far away, out of state away, away all the way to California away…sniff, sniff! You may remember the dad’s appearance on my blog from some time ago here, and the mama recently abducted a finished project I was planning to blog. At any rate, their  youngest just turned 2, and I wanted to do a little something to celebrate his birthday and came up with this simple race track play mat – a rectangle mat with a race track on the inside, and a set of handles along with a pocket on the outside to hold a few cars.


Race Track Mat Tutorial

Materials

  • Fabric – main and contrast (I purchased 1/2 yd of each)
  • Scrap of fusible interface for snap backing
  • Metal snap (or other closure system)
  • Felt (I used two pieces of the pre-cut rectangles)
  • Coordinating thread
  • Supplies for the handles (I used webbing, or you could sew one with the remaining fabric)

Steps

Cut pieces for the bag:

  • Body: 2 rectangles, one from the main and one from the contrast fabric (mine were 18 x 13 1/2).
  • Pocket: 2 smaller rectangles for the pocket body – needs to fit onto one side of the main body when folded in the carrying mode (mine was 9 1/2 x 6 1/2).
  • Pocket flap – 2 small pieces for the flap. (mine was 9 1/2 x 3 1/2)

Cut felt to make race track. I folded the felt in half length wise, cut one the top half of the figure 8, and then traced it to make the bottom half on the second piece of felt.

Once cut, I pinned the pieces to the contrast fabric for the inside of the play mat and stitched it in place. I stitched around both the outside and inside of the track, and also ran a zigzag down the center where the two pieces meet to secure those edges. With the track firmly in place, I moved to the outside of the bag, creating a car pocket.

Both the pocket body and flap were sewn with the right sides together, leaving a small opening to turn the fabric. Once turned, I pressed the fabric and top-stitched around the top edge on the main body to close the opening. For the pocket flap, top-stitch three of the sides (one long and both short ends).  Determine the placement for the pocket and flap, and then sew each piece to the front of the main fabric of the play mat, stitching down and around the packet body, and across the single long edge of the pocket flap.

In preparation for the final assembly, I attached the fusible interfacing to the backside of the contrast fabric, and ran a little basting stitch to hold webbing handles to the main body of the mat – remember to have all the raw edges lined up.

With the right sides facing together, I sewed around the edges of the bag leaving a small opening for turning. Clip the corners and turn right side out.

Instal the closure per manufacturer’s instructions, leaving enough space for top stitching. Run a top stitch around the edge of the mat to close the opening and create a nice finished look…

…and then, go make a little person happy.