Monday, April 25, 2011

colour wonder

Warning: my little friend firmly believes in modelling and I have a hard time editing the photos that he's in. This dilemma ends with having more than the necessary amount of photos in one single post. Pretend that I'm writing about a quilt and not an almost-two-year-old.

It feels good to finish a quilt - especially one that has been kicking around for over a year. I must give credit to Amanda at Soulemama for the inspiration; surely if she can finish a twin size quilt while 8ish months pregnant with her 5th child, I must be able to get mine done, right? But let me at least lay blame in the size of my house because for the longest time I just couldn't figure out how to baste the layers together. There is no floor space big enough in this small dwelling...and it's not even a big quilt. But then one night I realized I could take this to my father-in-law's and baste it on his empty, spacious tile floors. Next hurdle - remembering to do this when a visit was looming. Finally, I had everything ready and two weekends ago I selfishly used a visit to pin everything together. Then I spent this past Thursday machine quilting and binding it. Things are wonky - for instance, I chose turquoise thread for the quilting (what was I thinking?), the lines aren't very straight (umm, should have paid attention to Soulemama's trick for that), and there's a host of problems with my binding, but overall it's done. And it's usable. And Milo loves to lay down on it because the extra thick batting (again, what was I thinking?) makes it really puffy and comfy.

And in the spirit of adding colourful blankets to the house, my Mom made me an awesome granny square lap blanket for my birthday. I feel really spoiled. She did a fantastic job and I just love the palette. There's something so timeless and so fun about granny squares. If you're a fan you should check out this Flickr group, and if you're in Toronto I think this workshop would be amazing.

It's definitely a colourful spring around here.

Friday, April 22, 2011

dinner music

One quiet Friday Jay, Milo and I visited the local Salvation Army. Jay has the better eye and he soon spotted some Disney records circa 1967 that had the most wonderful covers (and the Jiminy Cricket one above had never even been opened!). We debated for a moment whether Sadie would be interested in records or not, and then purchased six. Basically we figured she would enjoy them for about a week, and that a week of fun was worth the cost. Clearly we know nothing.

Both Sadie and Milo are addicted to these albums - and we're at least a month past that fateful day. Jay has an old Fisher Price record player (the full plastic deal with speakers built in) and it has been sitting on the kitchen table reliably playing an album during every meal...or any time we're in the kitchen. The house favourite is Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day: Sadie has every word memorized, Milo has learned to ask for "wiyo oooh oooh" and I can't stop humming Tigger's song.  We actually avoid Disney most of the time, but I find these recordings incredibly charming and I can't complain that the kids have forgotten all about TV during their vinyl addiction. I've figured out how to set the table around the player and I don't think I could tire of watching Sadie carefully place the needle down or Milo flipping through the gigantic pages inside the covers.

Oh yes, it was well worth the investment. Lesson most definitely learned.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

the one hour shirt

Oh sure, it's snowing outside, but that doesn't mean we can't think ahead to better weather, right? I had another week at home and decided to use the time to sew some clothes for the it-must-be-coming-soon spring.

Way back when I was pregnant with Sadie I used this McCall's maternity pattern to make a couple of dresses. But the style is very simple and it doesn't scream maternity so I've been wearing one of the dresses ever since. I figured this would be a good base pattern for a few shirts and dresses however I must have given away the real thing in a ruthless purge. Thank goodness for the class I took last year at the Workroom - all I had to do was draft a new pattern from the existing dress and make some necessary adjustments to match my still-shrinking chest. Then I set about making a few garments, starting with these two little tops. Easy bust darts and an A-line shape mean these sew up in no time, and for variety I tried making straps with an inner facing on one and then bias tape straps and edgings for the other. Both are quick and easy options.

I simply adore this polka-dot fabric though. It's a linen/cotton blend from this Etsy shop, but I only ordered half a yard thinking it would be great for crafty projects. Turns out it was JUST enough for this top. I imagine it would make a great dress because the drape is lovely, but there may be a limit on how many polka-dot garments I can own. Maybe.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

love is...

Lemon cupcakes, for starters. But not just any lemon cupcake - only these moist, delicately glazed morsels will do. Using Ina Garten's Lemon Yogurt Cake recipe I simply filled 18 muffin cups instead of a loaf pan and halved the glaze. They are heaven, plain and simple. Something about the fresh scent of lemon seems perfectly Spring-like.

Love is also having a new workspace, and one that isn't stuffed into the corner of a bedroom. Sure, maybe some people wouldn't love the idea of working in the unfinished basement of a house built in 1923, but I'l take anything that allows me to put two tables back-to-back. Finally my sewing machine and serger don't have to jockey for space and I can lay fabric out without having to move furniture out of the way.

It's amazing what a few coats of paint can do for freshening up old cinder block and concrete. The bare hanging bulbs aren't the best, but a sisal carpet and hanging pendants add some warmth and I'll figure out better lighting later. The curtains on the left are hung on cast iron plumbing fixtures and slide aside easily to reveal the unsightly laundry area. They create a clean, ivory wall that defines the space - which measures close to 8' x 14'. With all this work space, I'm addicted to spending time in the basement. Finally I can sew (or paint, or draw, or whatever) at night and not wake the little people.

But there is one thing that tops all this in the love department: Jay brought home 48 boxes of chocolate raisins for me the other day (umm, that's 2 cases). He's worried that Glosette's may be phasing out my absolute favourite candy, so he stocked up. For me. Not only am I set for a 6 month sugar high, but I seem to have the best husband ever.

Ah, love.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

toddler snappy shoulder vest

{EDITED TO ADD: 6, 8 and 10 year old sizes now added! See updated pattern here.}

Honestly, I think vests are a marvellous invention. Not only are they fun to knit, but because there is no sleeve length to worry about, they tend to fit a growing toddler for at least two seasons. That's quite a feat for a single garment.

This new pattern has a sportier feel but still fits my lazy-knitter requirement: there are no seams to sew. Using a saddle shoulder construction this comes together pretty easily and the shoulders are a great way to use up scrap yarn. I've knit three versions of this and basically chose a different close-to-worsted scrap yarn every time and although it made tiny differences in the size of the saddle, it didn't affect the final size of the vest much. Gauge is only important for the main yarn which is Dream in Colour Classy again. What can I say, I like a washable yarn that has interesting colour affects - I mean look at those blues! So awesome. And I've worked out two sizes this time, 2T and 4T. Keeping our little guys in sweater vests until they are school age sounds like a nice idea to me.

What you will need:
Worsted weight wool (I used Dream in Color Classy, Midnight Derby colourway, 1 skein for either size)
Worsted to Aran weight wool for shoulders, 50 yds (great use for scrap wool)
4.5mm needles (16” circ)
extra 4.5mm needle (for holding stitches)
4mm needles (DPNs - for neck and armhole edgings)
1 stitch marker

Gauge is 19 stitches over 26 rows = 4” square. Size is 2T [4T] with finished dimensions of: 10.5″ [11.25”] wide, 14.5” [16”] long (or longer – the body is up to you!)

Using 4.5mm circs and shoulder wool, CO 20. Knit in stockinette for 14 rows and bind off on RS row.

Using main wool, pick up 12 stitches along vertical edge of a shoulder saddle. CO 15 [17], then pick up 12 stitches along vertical edge of the second shoulder saddle (39 [41]stitches on needle). Turn work and purl to end. Turn work and knit to end. Continue knitting flat in stockinette for 3” [3.5”] ending on a WS row.
Next row (RS): Knit to end, CO2.
Next row (WS): Purl to end, CO2.
Next row (RS): Knit across 43 [45] stitches and transfer to spare 4.5mm needle.

This time, it’s much easier to see where you are picking up stitches, because the shoulder saddles are already in place. So, using your main wool, pick up 12 stitches along remaining vertical edge of a shoulder saddle. CO 15 [17], then pick up 12 stitches along vertical edge of the second shoulder saddle (39 [41] stitches on needle). Turn work and purl to end. Turn work and knit to end. Continue knitting flat in stockinette for 4” [4.5”] ending on a WS row.
Next row (RS): Knit to end, CO2.
Next row (WS): Purl to end, CO2. Turn work.
Now you’re ready to join in the round.

Knit across 43 [45] stitches, CO 9 [11], knit across the FRONT 43 [45] stitches from your spare needle, and CO 9 [11]. You should have 104 [112] stitches in total. Join in the round and sit back for some relaxing, mindless knitting. The body length is truly up to you – I knit in stockinette for 6” [7”].

[K2, P2] ribbing for 2.5” and bind off loosely.

You can easily tell the front of the vest because the neckline is lower. Using 4mm DPNs and your main wool pick up 17 [21] stitches across the back neckline of the vest, 17 across one saddle, 17 [21] across the front neckline, and another 17 across the remaining saddle (68 [76] stitches total). PM and [K2, P2] for 5 rows. Bind off loosely.

Using 4mm DPNs and main wool, determine the bottom center of the armhole and pick up 18 [21] stitches from this point until you reach the shoulder saddle. Pick up 17 stitches across saddle, then 21 [26] stitches along the back. PM and [K2, P2] for 5 rows and bind off loosely.

Using 4mm DPNs and main wool, determine the bottom center of the armhole and pick up 21 [26] stitches from this point until you reach the shoulder saddle. Pick up 17 stitches across saddle, then 18 [21] stitches down the front. PM and [K2, P2] for 5 rows and bind off loosely.

Weave in all ends and block if desired. Find your favourite little person and keep them toasty warm in their newest vest!

(Pattern is for personal use only. Please do not use for commercial purposes.)