Thursday, April 23, 2015

My Name is Annabelle and I Have a Stash Problem!

No, she said, I don't have a stash.  The ladies of knit club all chuckled, as if they didn't quite believe her, or at least didn't believe that her statement would continue to hold true.

Oh how the tides have changed!  Slowly over the last five years I have developed quite the stash.  It started simply with the women of knit club cleaning out their stashes, and declaring that it now belonged to me since I needed to build a stash.   Then there were the yarns purchased for a specific project, only to do a gauge swatch and find that the yarn didn't quite work out - so new yarn needed to be purchased while the first purchase went to the stash.  Then there were the projects where I bought the recommended yardage, but still had a skein or two left over when the project was complete.  Lastly, there are the sale yarns - who can resist yarn on sale?

I recently realized that my non-stash of yarn had really turned into an abundant stash.  I decided that I was going to come up with a system to combat this problem.  The first plan of attack was to inventory every single skein or partial skein I owned and file it in my Ravelry stash.  It was a bit of work to gather every single skein and enter the information into Ravelry.  However, now when I start a new project it only takes a few minutes to see if I have anything in my stash that might work.  This is super helpful if I want to continue test knitting, as designers often want to know what yarn you plan to use when you first volunteer.  It's also super helpful as it prevents me from buying more of certain types of yarn (i.e. those yarns that are already taking over my stash, but are hardly ever knit with).

Speaking of certain types of yarn, I noticed that the biggest player in my stash problem is cotton yarn.  When I first really started knitting I decided that cotton was the most delightful type of yarn to knit with.  That is because I made mittens and baby sweaters.  When I actually started to make sweaters for myself and knit with quality wool, I realized that cotton was only ideal for those baby items.  I now have a stash of cotton yarn and not a lot of uses for them.  Ugh!

The second largest contributor to my stash problem is lace yarn.  This was completely unintentional.  I made one sweater out of lace from a vintage pattern that did not give a yardage requirement.  I ended up with nearly four skeins left over - just over three skeins were used in the making of the sweater.  Then I planned to start another lace weight sweater.  I did not like the way my yarn knit up at all, so I bought something else.  Then I got pregnant and did not feel like making a skim fitting sweater from lace yarn . . .

And the stories and excuses add up.  One good thing I did notice is that my stash is mostly made up of older purchases.  What I mean is, in the past two years, nearly all of the yarn that I have bought has been used in a project, even if not the original project it was intended for.  What makes up my stash is mostly yarns purchased three years ago or more.  This is a good sign, because it means the things I am buying now are being used - I'm buying more of the right yarns for my knitting projects and tastes.

What about you, any stash confessions?  Come on, you know you have a problem too ;)  How are you attempting to manage your yarn (or fabric stash)?  I would love to hear what has and hasn't worked.


Thursday, April 16, 2015

Top Gun

My nephew came over recently so we could complete the photo shoot for his new sweater.  (Haha, I take my test knitting very seriously and don't just take pictures, but create "photo shoots").  Anyway, all that meant was that I needed to create a theme for the pictures.  Since one of Grandpa's nick names for this little fella is Top Gun, I decided to play off that theme and complete the sweater with a little airplane button and add card stock airplanes as props for the pictures.

Gosh darn it, my nephew is a handsome one!  This sweater is another pattern from my favorite designer, Frogginette.  I simply adore Lisa's attention to detail when she creates a pattern, and the fit of her sweaters is always spot on.  The textured stitch at the hemline and on the sleeves adds so much to the sweater, yet it is so easy to do!  It makes me think that I should start finding ways to embellish my knitting with a little texture.  The shawl collar gives this sweater and "old man" vibe, while still being utterly adorable and modern.

I used some Sublime Baby Cashmere Merino Silk DK from my stash for this sweater, and I just love how it knits up.  I don't love that it's a hand wash only yarn and my model spit up all over his sweater during the photo shoot, but some quick action with a damp towel suppressed most of the damage.  I also told my sister that she could bring the sweater to me when it needs to be washed if she didn't feel like dealing with it.

It's always a nice feeling when the baby's mother likes the item you spent hours lovingly knitting by hand. Luckily my sister, who is super picky about hand made clothing, really likes this sweater.  As I mentioned, she's my sister, so she would have had no problem telling me that she didn't like it if that were true.

I wish I could promise that I am done with showing off test knit items and baby projects for the time being, but I find them rather addicting.  There's currently another one in the works, and I am strongly considering volunteering for another one after that.  Not to mention, I've got a mental queue of a handful of things I would like to knit for my baby on the way.  Someday I would like to get back to knitting for myself again, but until then, I do hope you enjoy little hand knits too.


Thursday, April 9, 2015

Hello Gorgeous - 25 Weeks

Maternity clothing can be frustrating; there are some days when I look in the mirror and think ugh, I look like a water buffalo.  I remember with my first pregnancy having to politely respond to the comment "You look like you could pop any day now!"  Smiley sweetly and replying, thank you, I still have three months to go.  If you've ever been pregnant, you know what I'm talking about.  There are just some maternity clothes that add 10 pounds to your already not-so-delicate figure.   Ladies, this is why I sew for myself - I always feel better in something that I have made to fit my body, and my most recent project is one that makes me feel gorgeous.

Necklace: Bella Lily Boutique (etsy)
Dress: Made by Me
Purse: Kate Spade
Shoes: Miz Mooz

Just in time for Easter, I finished Butterick 5860, and I love wearing this dress!  Wrap dresses are super flattering on my body shape during pregnancy.  I like how I am able to fit the dress to my small-ish bust (that doesn't double in size during pregnancy like some women experience) and still have plenty of room for my mama belly.  Being a wrap dress made out of a knit also means this dress is about as comfortable as a pair of pajamas.

When I was first getting ready to sew up this dress, I felt like it was too much work.  Cutting knits always takes me forever, as I am meticulous about having each piece cut correctly on the grain.  Also, I've been taking care of my nephew several days a week - so even if my daughter takes a two hour nap, I don't have two hours of free time.  However, once the cutting was complete, this dress sews up rather quickly.  The only change I made to the pattern was to add twill tape along the shoulder seams (thank you Sewaholic Renfrew instructions for that tip, I use it with all of my knits).

This dress is going to get a ton of wear for the remainder of my pregnancy.  I actually haven't boughten a single item of clothing, and this is the first thing I've made for myself!  Luckily, I have been able to survive on a few items that I have borrowed from a friend and my sister.  However, this is currently the most comfortable and flattering addition to my maternity wardrobe, so it will likely get weekly wear.  (I love getting the maximum wear from my handmades!)

Have a fantastic rest of the week.  As for me, I'm hoping to get some more sewing time in this weekend.


Thursday, April 2, 2015

Making Plans

While I am totally inspired by my mood board from last week, I have to admit that my one big problem is that I am more inspired to start sewing for my body after baby - not my pregnant body!  I look at my mood board and see cute fitted jackets, dresses with a waistline, and anything else made from woven fabrics.  Do you know what this means?  It means that you will likely see this mood board again, after I have the baby.  Yup, I love this mood board so much, that I can't limit myself to only using it on clothes that will be worn for the next four months.

Navy knit and floral print are from fabric stash.  Yellow and green are "place holders" of fabric that I hope to find to complete my sewing plans (they are really shirts I already own, just folded up)

Having some idea of the things I wanted to sew, I started by raiding my current fabric stash - which is really starting to dwindle on the "good stuff."  I mean, I still have a sizable stash, but it is unfortunately made up of a lot of wool - that I rarely sew with now.  However, I was able to find a navy knit that has a lot of stretch and great recovery (perfect for maternity sewing).  I also found a cotton/linen blend in a graphic white, yellow, black and grey floral.  It would have been perfect if that black was navy, but I'm working with what I've got.  Next up was a shopping trip to source more knits - hopefully in greens and yellows.  Shopping with a toddler in a warehouse type fabric store does not go over well, so I left empty handed.  What this means is that at the moment, I have only two fabrics that I can use, but I still have the intention to go shopping again - when I can get a babysitter ;)

Pressing on, I was able to select a few patterns from my stash that were designated maternity patterns.  I've also been thinking about using non-maternity patterns that could still be appropriate for my body.  Suzanna tipped me off to this idea when she left a comment on my last post about her maternity sewing plans.  Plus, I need a pattern for my woven fabric.

I've chosen Butterick 5860, I wanted to sew this up during my last pregnancy - but my work schedule got the best of me.  I think my navy knit fabric will be perfect for this.  I'm also going to use Megan Nielsen's Ruched Maternity Shirt, I sewed a version of this last time I was expecting and it got a lot of use so I might as well make another one.  Lastly, I thought that the wrap/cardigan thingy from Burdastyle 7239 would be great made up in a green knit as well as a yellow knit.

As I mentioned, I also wanted to explore using a non-maternity pattern, made for woven fabrics, that would be appropriate.  I've narrowed down Twinkle Sews Next Big Thing dress because it has an empire waist (with elastic) and is fairly flowy.  The only issue I have with this pattern, is there really isn't a way to make it nursing friendly.  So while I will be able to wear it after the baby, it may not be until I am done nursing.  Because nursing appropriate clothing is also important to me, I've been thinking about Burdastyle's Cap Sleeve Dress.  Yes, it was released with their Oktoberfest patterns - but I will not be making the accompanying apron.  Also, I will have to alter this dress to have the bodice made into an empire waist - but that should be a simple alteration.  The dress has a button front closure - so it will be great for nursing after the baby is here and the dirndl skirt will have ample room for my 9 month belly and is perfect for hiding my postpartum belly too.

Twinkle Sews Next Big Thing dress, Burdastyle Dress and line drawing, fabric selected.

Oh my, this was a wordy post!  Thank you for sticking with me if you made it all the way through!  I'm going to work really hard at making all of these things for myself because I have been doing a lot of unselfish knitting lately (including signing up for yet another test knit).  It's time to do something for me!


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Maternity Mood Board

I'm trying something a little different with my mood board this time.  Typically I have drawn inspiration from nature and the things happening outside - for Spring and Fall this is always so easy to do.  However, being in between seasons, and wanting my maternity wear to be somewhat trans-seasonal (is that a thing?), I decided to base my inspiration on some lovely outfits on pinterest.
Photo credit clockwise from center top: Child, Dress, Polkadot, Blazer, Stripes, Skirt

I actually love this mood board.  As you can see, there aren't any maternity outfits that I'm using for inspiration - more the color pallet.  I have always been a fan of navy and yellow together, and seeing some of these outfits on pinterest only depended that appreciation.  Adding a more graphic element like bold stripes and polka dots; loving it!  I also started seeing shades of green paired with navy, again using stripes, checks and polka dots.  The picture from the top right is probably the most "me" of all the outfits here, but I would love to incorporate elements from all of these pictures into a maternity wardrobe that is "me."

After spending more time than usual on pinterest to draw inspiration for this mood board and my maternity sewing, I found myself feeling more materialistic.  It's strange, but normally I don't put a lot of effort into how I look.  I own one purse until it falls apart, I don't really have a jewelry collection, I love my shoes - but don't have a lot of them, and my closet is pretty "thin."  After browsing so many amazing outfits, I find myself wanting more - more accessories, more clothes, more shoes.  Right now, I love the idea of feeling "put together" in an outfit.  Does this happen to anyone else after looking at pinterest?  I mean, can it really change your perspective on things, or am I just experiencing a shallow moment?  Would love your thoughts on my pinterest tangent!

I will be back next week with my actual sewing plans based off this mood board.  In the mean time, if anyone wants to share their favorite maternity sewing patterns, I'm listening.


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Mummy Mommy

I was really, really hoping to have some sewing time this past week but I got bogged down with the flu.  It was the worst!  My symptoms lasted nearly a week, and chasing after a toddler and wanting to throw up do not mix well.  Fortunately, I am now completely over the flu and feeling great.  I was going to post another baby test knit for you, but I've shared a lot of baby knitting on this blog recently, so I decided to mix it up a bit.  Since I didn't have a chance to squeeze in some sewing I thought I would share an older sewing project that never made it onto this blog.

I made this top two years ago when I was pregnant with my daughter, it's the Megan Nielsen Maternity Wrap Top.  I love wearing this top because it's different from the things I've seen at the stores.  It's also really comfortable and easily grows with your body because you just wrap yards of fabric around yourself until you feel "covered", then you tie a knot.  I do feel a bit like a mummy, and it does take more work to get dressed than when I just throw on a t-shirt - but I like the way it looks.

Do you know what is most amazing to me?  These pictures were taken outside in the middle of March! Normally, I'm still freezing my fingers off even with mittens on this time of year.  We have had the most wonderful early Spring - I've had my windows open several times this month - and typically the furnace would still be going full blast.  Lovely weather = happy Mommy, happy Mommy = happy baby.  Life is good.  (Yay 22 weeks!)

In these pictures the color of the fabric didn't quite turn out as it is in real life.  It's still a bright salmon color, but not as neon as it appears in these photos.  The color is one of my favorites - as you can see it nearly matches my shoes!  I'm also wearing some maternity jeans, hand-me-ups from my younger sister.  I survived my last pregnancy without needing maternity pants because I carried really high, this time baby is sitting pretty low - so maternity pants are a necessity.  It's so nice to be able to "share" with my sister.  But alas, she had a winter baby and I'm having a summer baby - so I will need to start doing some sewing to survive the rest of this pregnancy.

What have you got on your sewing table?


Thursday, March 12, 2015

I Believe in Woodsprites

Last week I mentioned that I have been preoccupied with some test knitting again.  Late in January, Heidi of Make Ready announced that she was looking for test knitters for her Woodsprite Hooded Coat.  I took one look at her sample knits and volunteered all of my free time.  You see, my daughter loves wearing sweatshirts all the time.  She loves hoods and pockets (mostly for storing animal crackers), also it's winter in MN so it's cold.  But I want her to wear more sweaters - so this project satisfies us both.  It's a sweater, but it's got the hood and the pockets.

Since my daughter has been pretty difficult to photograph as of late (it took a month and half to get her 18 month pictures - so they were actually 19 1/2 month pictures - and only 4 of them turned out) I thought I would compensate for the potentially bad photos by overdoing the woodsprite theme.  So I cut out a bunch of construction paper woodsprites or faeries and took my daughter on a woodsprite hunt.

To my amazement, we had a blast and the photos turned out much better than any other photos I have tried to take of her in the past two months.  (I especially love the photo below with her look of amazement).

I knit this sweater from Rowan Belle Organic Aran, which is a cotton wool blend that has been discontinued.  It's actually a great yarn, but it is a bit heavy because of the cotton, so this sweater could almost replace a jacket in the early spring or fall.  When I bought the yarn a year ago, I was intending to make something similar to this sweater - only I hadn't found the right pattern.  The fact that this pattern didn't show up until this year was perfect, because I prefer this type of sweater for my daughter now that she is a toddler, rather than a baby.

This is her "I'm so excited, I just spotted a woodsprite face"!
Seriously, I had way too fun much taking these pictures!  I've got pictures of my nephew in his first ever auntie photo shoot for next week's post.