Monday, October 25, 2010


I opened up my Blogger dashboard, and found out I had a new follower! I'm up to 10! That thrills me much more than whatever my Facebook friend count is! I feel like I should have a contest! I'll think about that. I'm actually planning a contest/fundraiser for early December, but I need to find some plain white roving, and that's proving much harder than I thought it would be :(

I also looked at my stats, and see I had another busy day last week, with 35 page views in one day. One page that got 4 views was not what I would think of being an interesting one--showed my pink fingerless gloves from early 2009 (I think...).
But what I really wanted to write about....babywearing! Yup. Now, I know, you're saying, this is a knitting blog now, take that child stuff to your other blog. Well, I did sew the sling, so does that count? :)

The week before Thanksgiving, a woman posted on Freecycle that she had borrowed a sling for the weekend, and loved it, and was hoping to get one for herself. I didn't think I had one to offer, just a knit pouch that was sized for me, and what's the chance of finding another me? But I responded, giving her some suggestions for making her own, places to get instructions to sew one, and let her know that I had the one pouch, and had some fleece I could sew her one for free, or if she wanted a ring sling she could pay for the rings ($5) and I'd sew something, either with her own fabric or something from my stash.

I was her only response! She came over later in the week, and Meg had hidden the pouch sling, and wouldn't you know...the lady, Amy, was short and big busted! However, her baby was already 4 months old so a cotton knit pouch would be limited in longevity. I showed her some fabrics I had and she feel in love with a green paisley fabric....a different colourway of the pink fabric I used to make Lucy a sleeveless dress way back in 2008 (that seems so long ago, but I guess it really wasn't). She would be coming back through town the day after Thanksgiving, to go to Sick Kids (hospital). I was aiming to have it done for then.

It'd been over a year since I've sewn a ring sling, so it took some refreshing, LOL. And I was having one of those days when I felt like I had never sewn anything before in my life. But it all came together, and I tested it with Meg. OMG. I could get her hoisted up, but she is one big girl! Where'd my little peanut go?
When Amy stopped in, her baby was sleeping in the car so she didn't disturb him. But she had done her research and seemed confident and on her way. She sent me an email later saying that he loved right away and they never even bothered to take the stroller into the hospital! She added a picture, and indeed, she looked like a pro!

I'm not going to post her photo, but I am so excited that someone else is babywearing! I got so frustrated with giving away slings before, and finding out the people never/rarely used them. One woman had a 7 month old baby, and a 4 month old foster baby. She seemed really interested in babywearing and the convenience it would offer her, so I gave her one of my slings. A month later I hadn't heard anything back from her, so I asked her how it was going. She replied that her baby had been sick and she hadn't had a chance to try out the sling. What?! Most sick babies I know of what more holding, not less. And with two babies under 8 months? How could you not have ONE chance to try a sling? So now I ask for $5 to cover the ring cost.

I have been knitting, not with the greatest, or most interesting results, but I'll get to that later. Off to look for more Hallowe'en costume items!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Interesting Stats

I haven't had many comments lately, despite doing way more posting than normal (due to a week without a vehicle, LOL). So, I like checking out my blogger stats and just making sure I actually have readers. Well, you learn some interesting things, and sometimes get more questions than answers. Like, why, on Oct 14, at 12:00 (noon, I think, and is this EST, GMT, or the weird time on my computer), was there 43 page views? I can't find out what page specifically they were visiting--you can get that detail for the day it is, but not for previous days. Why, when someone searched Yahoo! for "Naughty teen" did a picture of me trying on the bodice of the empire waist dress muslin show up? And why is someone searching "Things to do in a Snuggie"? Why did I get so many views of Fuzzy Wuzzy (the last post)?
Apparently, having a sudden spike in views can mean that someone linked to your picture instead of saving it to their computer. But I can't find out how to know if someone actually did this (hot linked).
While it's great knowing that people are actually finding their way here, and at least looking at'd still be nice to get feedback :)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Fuzzy Wuzzy

Fuzzy Wuzzy wuz a bear; Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair....what's the rest?

I actually had to look at my photo albums to see if there was anything I made recently that I hadn't posted about! I got caught up last week because I had no vehicle to go anywhere in the afternoons, LOL. I did make a giant sized cloth diaper and a ring sling last week, but I'm sure you don't need to see them. I made two dresses early in the summer and you really don't need to see them. I did some baby booties over the last week or so, but they're not quite finished and I want to re-write the pattern so I can post it too. That leaves the one ginormous project that I did finally finish.

Falling Leaves Fichu (...leaves...LOL).

According to Ravelry, I started this July 10th. I had been inspired a couple summers ago by 3 fichu patterns in an issue of Knitters. They had been based on fichu's from "Victorian Knitting Today". I didn't really care for any of the lace patterns they showed, but felt pretty confident that I could figure something out on my own. I studied lace shawls that I liked, and realized that I didn't like it when stitches in each partial pattern repeat at the start and ends of rows were knit in stockinette stitch. I liked designs which seemed to emerge right from the increase lines, such as Flower Basket Shawl or Heartland Lace Shawl (look at that...they're both by Evelyn Clark!). So I knew I needed a pattern that had a diagonal element. There was this one in a stitch pattern book that I had always liked, "Falling Leaves". It was bold, graphic, and not too fussy. It took some careful consideration to figure out where to start the shawl in the pattern, and I did have some complications along the sides at times, where there were double decreases. It didn't remain symmetrical along the increase lines, but as I'm not about to publish this, I just wanted to get it knitted up. The yarn is, I think, Handmaiden Fine Yarns, "Angel Hair"; 70% mohair (not curly), 30% nylon, 875yds for 100grams. I can't find the label right now, but I do remember how long it took me to wind it up! I bought it at the Kitchener-Waterloo Knitter's Fair, Sept. 2005. I was very pregnant with Meg, Handmaiden and Fleece Artist were all the rage and selling out, and I really wanted something to make a nursing shawl for the new fall baby. This skein literally fell on me in a had fallen off the table and someone from the booth on the other side of the curtain just dropped it over the curtain, landing in front of me. I took that as a sign, esp. when the lady next to me said it would look great on me. I quickly got started on a nursing shawl. A rectangular stole in a fairly easy lace pattern....yards and yards of an easy pattern....Meg soon came along and I was not half-way done. I quickly realized that a mohair shawl would not play well with a nursing pillow that had velcro on it. I had never used a shawl to nurse before, why now. It sat for a long time....I got it out to take a picture at the last "new" house, just as I decided to give up on it. What I thought would be a mindless knit ended up driving me crazy for it's mindlessness!

The patterns in Victorian Knitting took a variety of yardages, and I was uncertain about how big this would turn out, as I didn't seem to have a huge amount. I thought about doing the last shawl (Sweet Lily) with it, but that one called for 900yd+ (I think) and I thought the mohair would obscure the pattern in the lace section. For the fichu I used uhh...5 or 5.5mm needles and it was fairly open before blocking. As it got huge, I started a second needle. I'd knit from one needle, onto the second one, instead of using both to hold 1/2 of each row. At some point, I stopped the increases as I figured it was full enough. I could have stopped a lot sooner! This thing is huge. It's definitely a "wrap up in it" sort of thing. I had once considered using it to make a sweater but didn't think I'd have enough. Oh, I would have for sure!

I had wanted some sort of edging, but it's hard to know when to start that, and I wanted to finish up the last pattern repeat I had started. Ideally, I should have ripped that out, and done the edging from then. Hindsight...

As it was, I was unsure if I would have enough to cast off. On the last row, I took my remaining yarn and tied a little knot in the middle. I did get to the end of the row before the knot...but barely. I knew I needed to cast off loosely and really had no clue if that would take more or less than knitting a row of lace. I went down to my stash, and found a ball of yarn, Highland Aran, I think. It was 3 ply, and a single ply was just about perfect. I'd cast off loosely, untwisting the plies, until it got unmanageable. Then I'd cut it, and start with one of the two plies left. Repeat again with the 3rd ply when I got to the point where the other two had been cut. Repeat the whole process again. Once I had it all cast off, I wove the mohair yarn over the cast off edge, loosely, going from one edge to the other, and then I pressed my luck and came back again. I BARELY made it to the first edge. Then, I thought, what I should have done was cut off the last of the mohair, find the middle of the piece and start weaving it from the middle of the shawl outwards to each edge. That way if I ran out, each side would still match. Anyway, doing this did make the cast off edge blend in better, and provided a nice finish with a bit of oomph. I should have beaded that bit of mohair....LOL.

It was impossible to block. I initially wanted to block it into points, but I didn't have enough room. And the is a BIG shawl. I washed it gently, stretched it out as best I could, then folded the sides over to keep everything lined up nicely, and pulled it as best as I could into a good shape. The next day I picked it up. It felt almost dry, so I shook it to It's warm and fuzzy and almost like wearing a mini-afghan. I think I got a perfect combination of colour, pattern, and design!

Thursday, October 07, 2010


I've written before about knitting diversions. Sometimes they are intentional (need to start a new 'brainless' project for knitting during rehearsal break), sometimes unnecessary (my project is having a time out), and sometimes unexpected knitting adventures (repairing a baby blanket). But I think it is these projects that can really tell us alot about us as knitters.

I've written before also about my favourite aunt, who raised sheep, spun and dyed her own fleece, and made great thrummed mitts and slippers. I'm not sure if I wrote about her unexpected passing this summer. I know when someone goes too early we often wish we could have had more time. Well, knitting is, in a way, giving me more time with her. My cousin was cleaning out her mom's laundry/crafting area and brought an almost finished project over for me. First off, I loved the canvas bag it was in. It was from the community college where she taught sheep/fiber/farm courses, and it stood up by itself! But the yarn inside was a surprise. It was a bright peachy colour, of Canadiana Chunky (that's been discontinued for quite awhile). This is a 100% acrylic fiber, in a colour my aunt never wore. There were also a pattern book (a Patons one that I've temporarily misplaced), and lots of 'extras'...stitch holders and safety pins pinned to the bag, needle and stitch gauge, 3 tape measures, extra needles.
I looked through the pattern book and saw there was one pattern for a single colour sweater using chunky yarn, and counting the sts indicated a size that would have fit my mom or my aunt, but the body length of the sweater was on the short side, and my aunt was tall (oh, I HATE writing 'was'). All four pieces were knit, up to where they would be joined to make the yoke with a textured design. I figured, great, that hide any tension issues.

Upon closer examination, I found that one of the sleeves (I think it was) had an error at the top which meant it needed some ripping back...a few inches. The type of error that makes you slap your head and put the project in time out. I got that settled out, joined all the pieces, and knit the yoke. I opted to knit a single ribbed collar instead of the folded over ribbed collar as I find those too bulky. I wove in a bunch of yarn ends, got sidetracked by the baby blanket repair, then realized we were going to visit my parents, so I stayed up late to finish it and give it a much needed soak. As you can see, it looks like it was made just for Mom! This is the second time I've worked on a project for my mom that has a connection with her sister (the February Lady Sweater being the other one). I feel very blessed to be able to do this!

There is still a LOT of the yarn left. The pattern called for 50gr balls, and the Canadiana Chunky is 100gr balls, and there's no yardage info available, so I think my aunt erred on the side of caution. It's too bad we'll never know the origins or intentions of this sweater, but it just feels right to give it to Mom. I have an idea for the remaining yarn but I'd like to know first if anyone has a fondness for peach, esp. in home decor. Does anyone have any particular requests for an item in this yarn?

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Dress Up Girls!

When I was at the fabric store recently, I saw in the remnant bin a piece of fabric that Lucy had liked when choosing the fabric for her last dress. Even though she said she didn't "do" polka dots, or pink, or flowers, she liked the fabric (but wished it was another colour). I had never worked with a 'border print" and thought it would be great for her. I decided to make the other design of the pattern I used for their dresses as summer was pretty much over (doesn't stop them from wearing their sundresses!). It was a straight forward job, although I still have issues with reversing the second sleeve!! Luckily I had just enough fabric to re-cut another sleeve.And yes, that's not Lucy. She was in a bit of a cranky mood when she tried it on and declared it too hard to get on and too small. Meg (at the time I made the sundresses) is a bit bigger in the chest than Lucy. But more patient. So now she has a new dress. Meg looks super tall in this photo. The other day she was standing behind a JK student and he barely came to her shoulders (and she's the youngest SK student!). Last night she was at Kindernastics and Rob was on my left, and he says "Look how big she is, it's hard to believe she's only four". The lady on my right nearly fell off her seat. Her daughter had just turned four and is a good size, but still looks small next to Meg. It's hard to believe this is the same girl that wasn't even 19lb on her first birthday!

I mentioned before how I was excited by the "365 Days, 365 New Dresses" blog. About two years ago, I had plans to make some cloth diapers that used hidden polyethylene film and were covered with a polyester fabric (cotton would soak up the moisture around the edges and wick). I bought some outfits at a thrift shop to use as the polyester material. One was this muumuu. I loved the purpley flower print but it was really long. After reading that blog, I knew I just had to alter it for myself--she had done several with this exact neckline!
As I was taking off the sleeves, I found some small holes on the front...the edges were melted. Ick. Probably a smoker, or maybe from around a campfire. One of the holes was noticeable as it laid against my leg. I tried stitching it closed, but it showed badly. I thought about putting a patch behind it, but the stitching would show (even with that print). I thought about gluing a patch, but worried the glue would darken the fabric or be stiff.
My first attempt at taking in the sides made it too tight. I let it back out in the chest and took in the waist, but the chest is still snug. It was snug under the arm, up to the neckband. I cut it back more, but now my bra straps show (under my wet hair). I'm not keen on going braless with an unstructured dress, but it is doable. LOL. I really shortened it. Then I took 4 narrow pieces of the cut off section and sewed two of them together, twice (so I had two pieces). I stitched a gathering stitch along the top edges of the narrow piece and gathered each one to fit (one for front, one for back...easier than one really long piece). I LOVE the little ruffle. I kept it narrow as I thought that looked more modern and grown up than a deep ruffle. I also made a belt, but I don't like the position of it in this picture. It looks much better higher up as an empire waist. Without a belt, the back is droopy. You should have seen the google results I got when I tried searching "Fix a droopy back". LOL!
Of course, it's been very cold since then, except for two days. Oh well, we can't all live in California!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010


I wrote a while ago about not liking patterned skirts with matching tops. But there is something to be said about having a 'guaranteed' matching top. I've had this sueded rayon fabric in my stash for awhile (bought it from Wal-Mart which stopped selling fabric long before we I probably bought it in 2008 after my initial "success" with sewing dresses...I guess that's not as long ago as I though!). It was a remnant...or maybe end was very poorly cut and was quite a bit shorter than the opposite selvage. I did find another piece in the remnant bin and bought it too. I've been wanting to try skirts now, and picked up McCalls M5856 when McCall's patterns were on sale (side note---the regular price for this pattern is $15.95...the two views are different only by length, there are 3 pattern pieces plus facings....I couldn't believe it when I saw the regular price compared to some Simplicity patterns that give you six DIFFERENT garments...). I thought this skirt had a wide waist yoke similar to a skirt I bought from Wal-Mart and loved. I don't want pleats all the way up to my waist! However, this skirt does not have a yoke; the pleats are stitched down over the tummy. This is great for two reasons--no pleats to pop open, and the stitching helps to prevent the fabric from stretching out and acts sort of like a 'control top' garment, LOL!

I didn't really look at the envelope in the shop and when I got home, I realized that it would not be big enough! I carefully measured myself and added exactly what I needed to the pattern pieces. Then I went to lay them out and saw that the pieces got laid out sideways to what I had expected...instead of the waist up at the cut edge of the fabric, the waist/hem go parallel to the selvage. I was able to fit the pieces onto the largest of the fabric pieces, by skimping a little on the length and bottom width. The different layout actually worked for me as this fabric is a print, not woven, and there ended up being a faint vertical white pin stripe effect. If I had laid it out the way I would have thought it should go, those lines would have been horizontal. While laying out the pieces, I discovered that the second piece of fabric was rather blotchy looking...the blue wasn't even and dark. I wouldn't have been able to use both together for a dress, and I doubt I'll use that piece even for a matching it won't be matching.

Of course, I didn't think about zippers in the store. Once sewing, I looked through my zipper collection. I had just re-organized all my sewing stuff so it's actually in my sewing desk instead ON my sewing desk. I had some bags of odd notions that I'd picked up at yardsales, etc. Inside one was a perfect blue zipper, the exact style and length needed!!The sewing went fine, I just followed the directions for sewing the pleats and the zipper (bit ripply the first time). Had no problems with the facing but handstitching the hook and eye drove me crazy as it was a tiny one and I can never get them lined up right. Did a nice job hemming. But all the while of doing the zipper and facing, I was thinking I should try it on. But how could anything be wrong? I measured myself, the pattern, added what I needed...
Well, I tried it on when finished. And it fell off. I tried it on again and pinned out the extra. EXACTLY the amount I had added!!!!!!!!!! I was ticked, to say the least. I wanted to wear it on the first day of school though, so I had to get back to work on it. It was no fun taking out all the stitching for the facings! Taking out the extra at the waist restored the original angle of the side seams and the second time around improved the zipper. It's still a little loose! The weather was cool on the first day, so I wore this very light knit top. Inside, the whites matched, but outside...not so much. I tried on the white gauzy top I had made long ago, and it was too full around the waist. I have two other white tops to try with it when I'm feeling a bit skinnier. Shoes are another issue. I wore some nice summery beige shoes, but they are not comfy! My other beige sandals are too clumpy, the next pair too flat/casual, the fourth (?! really?) pair are closed toe loafer heels with open backs that I'm just aren't sure are skirt shoes (I think they're pant shoes).

I'll probably make this skirt again. The width at the bottom balances out my bust and makes it feel very feminine. It moves nicely in the breeze, but doesn't fly up indecently. This fabric is surprisingly heavy, given the summery pattern, but it's not heavy as in thick. You wouldn't want to go too thick with sewing the pleats; I wonder if you can trim the bulk? I'm not too adventurous in my skirt styles and this design is very workable with different styles.

On another note....someone was having a bad day....I think this was after her first day at all-day day camp. She had a tantrum for an hour and twenty minutes. But, surprisingly, the return to school has actually been really good, with only one 'going home' tantrum!

Monday, October 04, 2010

Sleepy TIme

When I left off on Friday (more than a week ago?!), I was heading out to search for the yarn. I went to my closest Michaels, and they had white Cottontots but not blue. I got the white and decided since I was out anyway, I'd drive over to the other Michaels that I had seen, but not been too. I couldn't find the freakin place. Stopped at a Zeller's and they didn't have blue either. I couldn't do any knitting on it on the weekend (I did some prep work) and on Monday afternoon I looked up the lost Michaels and headed over (it doesn't look the same as the other one!) and they had the blue. I really liked the blue better---when I put the white next to the blankie, it made the blankie look grey (the mom said it had been light blue when new).I cut the top and bottom borders off and unpicked it so I had one even row of live stitches. Then, along the sides, I had done two rows of machine stitching, like for steeking, but I picked up sts just to the ....oh, I've forgotten....I think to the inside of the stitching. I hadn't decided how I wanted to finish the sides so I didn't cut the side borders off, but I needed to prevent any unravelling in case I did cut the sides off. I worked a new border, all in one piece, outwards, using the same stitch pattern as the original border. By working outwards, it will be much easier to fix in the future as the sts will run only to the start of the border. I meant to machine stitch the top and bottoms too to stop any possible running into the blanket, but I doubt it'll happen anyway (the boy is already 8, the new yarn is fluffy and thick and not likely to run easily). I did increases on the corners every other row. It's not a very wide border but it did take quite a bit of knitting! And a long time to cast off! Every time I trimmed a bit of the old blanket off, I felt sad! His grandma had made it for HIM and here I was, a stranger, chopping off her love! I wanted to preserve as much of it as I could. Right up till the end I was still undecided on the side edges. I really didn't want to cut them off and deal with the yarn ends. I thought maybe I could get some cotton ribbon and sew it over the trimmed ends. But that felt too foreign to the rest of the blanket. Once I cast off, I was left with a raggedy flap of old blanket on one edge and an intact flap on the other edge. I thought of sewing it down to the back of the blue border, but there was a lot of contrast between the good edge and the worn out edge. I decided to trim the strings, and sew them down over the blanket. I used a wide zig zag on the machine, and an off-white thread, and stitched the old edgings down.

Although it shows up in the photo (this shows the 'right' side of the blankie) I think that's the flash reflecting off the nylon sewing thread, cause it's not so obvious in real life.
The first ball of Cottontots seemed thicker and very textured compared to what I remembered. There were some very thick and thin spots and the blanket didn't have that. The second ball (of which I used very little), was much smoother and even, even though they were the same dye lot. I wish I had noticed this sooner. I also ended up picking up too many sts on the sides (I used 3 sts per 4 rows, but you can't tell until it gets underway, and that's the one draw back of doing the border as one unit). If it had been for my kids, or not an urgent project, I would have ripped and maybe tried the other ball. The thicker border though gives a nice heft to the blanket now.
The mom was thrilled and I hope her boy was too. It still has the same cottony feel, and almost all the old blanket is still there, along with grandma's love :)