Thursday, May 21, 2015

Signs of Summer


My plan wasn't to turn this blog into knits for little ones, but that appears to be the case for the time being.  My latest knit is a new favorite for me (to see on my daughter).  It's the Midsummer Meadow Tunic by Heidi Atwood-Reeves.  When I saw this test knit come up I was trying to decide between this one and a cute sweater by another pattern designer; I'm terrible at testing two projects at once.  I chose this one, because I had the perfect yarn in my stash (yay, for using up stash!) and I thought that a little tunic would be perfect for my girly girl.


I love how this tunic has fun details like the three little dandelions on the skirt portion of the tunic, picot welt, back box pleat, back keyhole and flower details throughout the yoke.  All this, and there is still a lot of stockinette, so it is a fast and easy knit.


The yarn I used for this project was Frog Tree Picoboo.  I love this yarn, it's a DK Bamboo Cotton, so it's incredibly soft and has a nice drape.  It's also machine washable, which is pretty much a must with children's clothing.  When my sister saw this tunic she mentioned that she loved the yarn (she's not a knitter, she was hinting that I should use the yarn to make something for her son).

While there are still a handful of future test knits that I've seen previews of, and absolutely want to be a part of, I've also started eyeing up some projects for me (it's about time!).  I've lost an interest in sewing for the time being, but I'm hoping that if I start knitting for me than sewing will naturally follow.

Annabelle

Thursday, May 7, 2015

I See You!


I told you all that I have been addicted to test knitting lately.  Seriously, I can't get enough of knitting cute things - especially when it means that I also gets to help out an indie pattern designer.  After I finished my last test knit, I did tell myself no more, I'm done.  Before I even got that project posted, I saw that Lisa had another test knit posted to her group.  The test knit was already in progress with nearly every slot filled up - every slot except for one 6 month size.  How convenient, my nephew is currently wearing 3 to 6 month clothing!  Yep, without even a second thought to all of the things I wanted to sew and knit for myself I went ahead and volunteered to fill that spot.  I think I need to be better about setting boundaries.


Lisa's latest sweater is called Peekaboo, it's a raglan sleeve sweater with what looks like a second layer underneath.  I love the concept.  The sweater is supposed to be knit in a solid color with the under-layer knit in stripes.  After volunteering for the project, I realized that I did not have any worsted yarn in my stash, so I went yarn shopping.  Unfortunately my LYS did not have enough yarn in a single color that I liked for this sweater, as a result I knit stripes throughout the main portion of the sweater and knit the under-layer as a solid.  I still kind of wish I had been able to make the pattern as intended, but I do like how this turned out.  I think the orange really pops against the blue and green.


I am such a fan of Lisa's pattern designing skills.  In my last test knit for her, I loved the texture she added to the sweater.  In this pattern, I love the layered look that is created without there actually being two layers in the sweater.  I find myself thinking that this would be a clever addition to some of the patterns that I want to knit for myself.


It's a pretty good thing that my model was on his best behavior and gave me lots of smiles, because my daughter kept photo bombing my pictures.  I can't tell you how many pictures had her little hands trying tickle my model's tummy or hand him a toy.  It's always precious to see her so eager to help take care of this guy, I think that she will make an excellent big sister later this year!


Annabelle

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Curses and Cleverness - 28 weeks!


I'm honestly surprised that I have another sewn item to share with you!  I feel like all I have been doing in my free time is knitting, which is strange because I usually lose the urge to knit once Spring starts to come around.  Anyway, there will be plenty of time to talk about knitting later, so let's talk sewing!

I was originally planning to sew up another Megan Nielsen Ruched Maternity Top, but I decided that there were a few things about my first one that I would prefer to change.  Namely, the shoulders were too wide and the chest opening felt too large.  I have made several Renfrews, and I love the way that they fit, plus I prefer their clean finishes to the simple finishing in Megan Nielsen's patterns.  With this in mind, I decided to mash the two patterns together to make a Megan Nielsen Renfrew.  I do love the result.


However, there was one major bummer moment during the construction of this shirt - as I was overlocking the side seams for a nice finish, my sewing machine ate my shirt.  Somehow the fabric got pulled in and folded.  As soon as I noticed, a huge panic set in (followed by a string of curse words that I am ashamed came from my mouth).  I went from thinking this is such a breeze to sew up, to thinking, oh dear, please let this shirt still be salvageable.  Once I unpicked the overlocking - a task that took forever - I noticed that there was a small hole in my fabric.  I searched the internet for ideas on clever ways to fix a hole in knit fabric.  You guys, there was nothing out there!  Aside from darning or covering it up with a patch, there was not a single truly clever idea.



Well, I decided that darning and patches are all well and good for old items that need repairing, but not my brand-new-not-even-finished-yet shirt.  So, I came up with my own clever idea and added a fun detail of some braided fabric down both sides of the shirt.  It gives my plain navy shirt a little something extra, and covers the hole in my fabric (which I did darn before I covered up).

I can still climb a tree at 28 weeks!
Have you ever had one of those moments where you thought you ruined something, but were able to come up with a clever fix?  Tell me about it!

Annabelle

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.

Annabelle

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.

Annabelle

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.

Annabelle

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!

Annabelle