Friday, November 19, 2010

@$%*&!!!!!!!! or Reflections on Making Pajama Pants

Creating art can be a very therapeutic experience. There have been studies done about how art can dramatically improve a person's mental state; art therapy has been shown to help many individuals work through traumatic experiences and help them recover emotionally. According to the University of Michigan's Comprehensive Cancer Center website, art can also reduce a patient's physical pain:

Research has proven that art making has a positive impact on pain management, depression, anxiety, and stress reduction. For centuries, art has served as a healing tool, fostering self-awareness and coping skills.

I have definitely experienced this myself over the years, albeit in a much, MUCH less dire situation. I recall one instance in particular when I was 25. I had all four impacted wisdom teeth taken out at once. Though not nearly as painful as what most art therapy patients would be experiencing (and not even in the same universe of pain when it comes to what cancer patients undergo), I was very uncomfortable and found it difficult to escape from the throbbing in my head. For whatever reason, I decided that this would be the perfect time to take on a large drawing. I chose to sketch a picture of Michelangelo's The Dying Slave out of an old art book I had.  Why did I choose this particular subject matter? In my own tortured state I must have been drawn to this figure, although I can't remember why this sculpture called out to me.

The drawing experience was pretty amazing. I definitely entered "the zone." You know, when you become so absorbed in an activity that hours pass by without you knowing, or you cease to experience anything outside of the activity that has you enthralled--even pain? It's very powerful. It was a life-changing realization for me. We all have to experience physical or emotional pain or suffering somewhere in our lives; I was excited that I had "discovered" one more tool that would enable me to persevere through it.  And my parents got a great piece of artwork to hang in their front hall to boot.

According to researchers you can experience "the zone" through any activity that completely absorbs/ engulfs you, like working on cars, fishing, maybe fantasy football? Needless to say, I've definitely gotten into "the zone" through craft-making too.

So after that nice intro (yeah, that was just the intro.--are you even still reading?) let me tell you that THIS WAS NOT ONE OF THOSE TIMES!!!!!!!!!!!!

In the name of all that is holy: making these pajama pants was most definitely not one of those times. If you are biting your tongue, sweating, and cursing profanely during a crafting experience you will most definitely not enter "the zone." Sewing these simple little pants caused me so much strife it was the complete antithesis to the zen-like experience mentioned above.

I saw this easy-looking tutorial about 6 months ago online and really wanted to make Little C. these pants. I even bought the elastic I would need from Jo-Ann's way back then because I figured I would make them right away. As usual, life got hectic and the pj pants didn't happen, but the idea of them would pop into my head at random times, always keeping the possibility of them on my radar. I finally broke down and decided to make them when I got a winter L.L. Bean catalogue and saw these cute pj ensembles:

 They have a lot of other cute designs, too, however these are Women's. They don't make this exact type for kids. Regardless, they got my creative juices flowing, and I was finally motivated to make Little C. his pj pants. And I even had an idea for a little matching moose shirt to go along with it.

I must have known somewhere in my subconscious that sewing these pants would be a struggle. Maybe that's why they kept getting shoved to the back burner, and also why I decided I would practice making them using a pair of my husband's pj bottoms first.  I wasn't ready to commit to buying a fabric if I knew it was highly likely that I would mess it up.

Upon going through my husband's closet, I had uncovered a pair of plaid pajama bottoms that he had never worn because they were too short. Instead of sending them off to Goodwill, I thought I'd try to recycle them into lounger pants for the Little Man.

So long story short (and man, this is getting to be a long story...) I totally screwed up the pattern: I was using black thread on a dark fabric= total blindness; I wound up using a chopstick to stab the freakin' elastic into the waistband (don't ask); and I made the crotch so short that when I put it on Little C. his whole diaper was hanging out and he looked ridiculous. My husband said he looked like Britney Spears with his diaper-clad hips sticking out of the pants. The poor little guy even fell down because he couldn't walk freely in the constricting things. So off they went, out came my seam-ripper, and with more cursing I was finally able to fix the @#$%&*# pants. Done.  

I had planned on appliqueing the moose with the extra plaid fabric, but by this point the thought of using the sewing machine for anything else related to this project made me feel homicidal. So I went back to my reliable and easy fabric stencil technique and called it a day. (The moose is a sketch from some online clip art)

I still plan on making more of these pants, though. But I'll probably have to follow it up with art therapy to handle the stress.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sibling Rivalry

Here is the big brother version for P's older son. It's quite stretchy, so hopefully (crossing my fingers over here) it fits.

I used this pattern for the hat and added a multicolor pom pom to the top. It's very easy to make a multicolor pom pom: just double up your yarn when winding around your fingers (or triple up, etc.) Here's how to make a pom pom using your fingers again. I know I posted that before sometime.

So the baby will have his crochet hat and the older brother will have a knitted one.

I think I like crocheting hats better than knitting them, only because crocheting them is so easy. With crochet you start at the top and then keep going around and around, increasing until you have the size you want. With knitting (at least with the hats I've made so far) you start at the bottom of the hat and decrease to the top. This means that you have to get out your DPNs (double-pointed needles) so you can knit a small circular space.  Here's an example from a little hat I made last year:

I find DPN's pretty unwieldy, but I'd like to think I'm getting better at using them.

We are heading into hat weather (ha, I love spontaneous puns!) so I'm sure I'll be getting some more practice with them soon. I'd like to make another hat for Little C. and maybe for another munchkin here or there. We'll see.

In the meantime, I hope P's little one's are able to keep their noggins warm with these finished hats...and show school pride!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Rival Hats

Most of my adult friends are pals I have from college. Some of these crazy kids even married their college sweethearts, so there's never any question about who to root for when it comes to sports.

P. attended a rival college and has had the misfortune for a number of years to listen to very energetic (heated) sports conversations regarding the majority alma mater and her school. Sometimes these discussions (diatribes) become extreme; Outnumbered P. sometimes has to put up with a lot of sports nonsense.

Soooooooooooo, I thought one way to extend an olive branch would be to fashion a couple hats for her two boys in her alma mater's colors. Much to my surprise, my knitting did not burn up in my hands as I made this hat for a rival school.

This one is for her youngest son. I used the crochet earflap hat pattern I always use and just added a pom pom to the top. I'm working on the big brother version now which is knitted, without earflaps.

Ah, bringing peace to rival schools, one knit and purl at a time.
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