Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Not My Knits: Baby Blanket in White

This blanket was given to me at my baby shower by my friend J. She commissioned her grandmother-in-law to make it. Later I placed it on the nursery floor and used it to take Little C.'s baptism photos. It made such a stunning backdrop with the little guy in his christening gown lying on top of it.

It's folded across the back of the chair in the nursery still, probably because I love looking at it so much. I really love this design and it is made so expertly. Nobody really knits/ crochets like a grandmother does!

I've tried to find the pattern for this online but I can't find anything exact. This pattern (from Ravelry) was as similar as I could find.

I do have a crochet book though that shows several variations on this "spider" stitch. (It reminds me more of a sun than a spider.) After flipping through the book and studying the designs I finally narrowed it down to the right stitch. I decided to give it a go and make a short swatch using scrap yarn to try it out. I'm always up for a learning experience!

One of the first things I learned was how to make a treble stitch, a stitch I've never encountered before. Another thing I was struck by was how involved this pattern was. God bless J's grandmother!

The final thing I discovered was that this pattern was not made up of granny squares. When looking at the blanket I had mistakenly thought that each of the sunbursts (or spiders) were made individually and then joined together. Not so. The pattern is made of a series of stitches row after row. What a surprise!

*Contented sigh*

I loved the blanket to start out with, but I have an even deeper appreciation for it now that I know how it was made.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Nautical Stripes

Little C wore his Boardwalk Sweater a lot last year so I really wanted to make him a new version for this summer. I thought about it a lot. The thought process kind of went like this:

I'll make the same sweater in a bigger size!
--nah, too boring. However, I really want to use white cotton again.

Oooo, I love white and navy blue together! I'll make a hooded tunic with navy blue trim all around the neck and bottom.
---hmmm, that's kind of girly. And it's making me think of the Real Housewives of OC for some reason. Forget the tunic.

Oooo, wait a minute! How about a french sailor uniform? Let me go research sailor uniforms from the 1900s-1940s on the internet.
-----um, I think I'll just make a striped sweater. With a hood. Using a pattern I've used a million times before.

I do tend to complicate things. I wound up wanting to make this very common striped design (I've seen it everywhere, especially this spring); I even have a striped top that's slightly similar to this. We can wear them together and be twins.

I didn't bother blocking the sweater; I wanted it to have that relaxed, summery feel to it (and I was too lazy to block it!) It's soft and cool, like a terry cloth towel. The hood is extra big and floppy, and it looks so cute on Little C. I can't wait for him to wear it on the boardwalk on an evening stroll, or on a windy day. It makes me think of the sounds of gulls calling to each other, the dry creaking wood of the boardwalk, and the surf breaking on the sand. Ahh, summer!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Girls Night: June

It was my turn to host Girls Night last week and P. showed up just in time to give me a refreshed interest in sewing again.

While K worked on her cupcake hat and I barely worked on my blanket, P. managed to whip up this skirt with ease. She still has to add a zipper, but it was really cool to watch her work.

She used this pattern for an a-line skirt--perfect for summer.

Action shot of her working with the pattern. (I've never seen this done before. K and I were mesmerized).

And the coolest thing was checking out this fine piece of machinery! A serger which P. brought over!

I kind of just sat there with the crochet blanket in my lap, and my mouth open, staring at P. work.

I also took breaks to shove these brownies and shortbread cookies in my mouth.

The chocolate chip cookie/ brownies were from a Betty Crocker mix (they were very good though) but these shortbread cookies I made following a recipe I found here. (They look much better in her photos so check them out). And they were incredibly easy. I will definitely be adding them to the Christmas Cookie list from now on. (I'm imagining them rolled in red and green non-pareils or raw sugar). They could easily be rolled in red for Valentine's Day, green for St. Patrick's Day, red white and blue for July 4th, orange and black for Halloween...ok, I'm sure you get it.

Even though I didn't get much work done on the crochet front, I found a keeper cookie recipe and learned a lot by watching P. P. also said she'd make K and me a skirt now too. That would be a good Girl's Night activity, actually. Maybe she could help us make our own skirts? I'll have to discuss it with the girls.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Anchors Aweigh!

I have to make a confession.

I think I hate sewing.

I really want to like sewing because it's really cool (in my world at least), you can make awesome things, and be super creative. And I so admire the people out there who are good at it. In fact, they are so good at what they do that these people make me think it's easy.

It's not. At least not for me. I'm sure this is because I need lessons, or at least a lot more practice. So far the only thing I can really do is sew a line. And it's probably not going to be a straight line either.


My confession emerges in light of a recent reverse applique experience. Like the octopus tee, I had an idea for an anchor shirt (anchors are on everything right now for boys' clothes) for Little C. for a few months now.

I drew out an anchor after looking at different images online, cut it out, and followed this tutorial for reverse applique. There are other ways to do it, like here, but I chose the former because it required fewer materials.

I turned the shirt inside out and attached the navy fabric to it (wrong side facing up) and pinned it in place.

Then you're supposed to sew around the anchor. I tried pinning it to anchor it in place (ha! get it?), but that wasn't working for me because the shirt was getting all bunched up when I was sewing. So mother's ingenuity struck and I decided to use this:

Little C's sidewalk chalk. Remember when we made these for Girls Night? I use mine all the time for crayons, etc.

Anyway, I used the chalk to lightly outline the drawing and then sewed around it.

Not exactly perfect, but I gave it a good shot.

I turned the shirt right side out. You can sort of see the outline that I sewed.

I used small scissors to cut away the white fabric to reveal the navy beneath.

Then I trimmed away some of the excess navy fabric on the back.

Here's what I learned:

1. Sewing circles/ curves is really hard.
2. The ideas I have ALWAYS look much better in my head.
3. When sewing the front of a shirt or onesie, it's really hard not to sew over the scrunched up fabric on the sides/ keep the knit flat and not pulled taut.
4. There appears to be a delay between the time my brain tells my foot to get off the foot pedal and my foot actually obeying. This made me have serious issues trying to sew an outline. Who knew my reflexes were so slow?

Oh, and here's an actual tip and not just another example of me complaining/ whining:

5. Draw your design larger than you want it, because you will lose width when cutting it out. (This didn't make much of a difference for my anchor because it was large to start with).

Conclusion: I must practice more on the dreaded sewing machine, and  I need to look up basic sewing tutorials online. There's just no other way around it. I don't want to hate sewing and I'd really like to learn to be better.

All in all the anchor shirt is not that bad, and Little C. will definitely get some wear out of it this summer. It also cost next to nothing to make (the navy blue fabric was a dollar, and the white shirt was on sale for 2.99). $3.99 for a new shirt and a good learning experience? Now I call that a deal!
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