12.31.2013

2014


As the year comes to an end, I've found myself trying to do all the things that I've been putting off for the past 12 months (or seven years, as the case may be).  I've gone through closets and toy bins and cabinets, getting rid of all the things that we no longer need, use, or want.  It became abundantly clear in the past year that "stuff" doesn't just occupy a place in your home.  Rather, "stuff" requires work, whether it's cleaning it, putting it away, moving it around, or taking it out.  And quite honestly, I'd rather spend 2014 putting my efforts into people, not "stuff."  I've also been ticking off tasks that have been on my mental to-do list for far too long (like the curtain rod that we literally bought seven years ago but have just gotten around to hanging up.  Thanks, Ben!).  It feels incredibly good to be getting things done.

And as the year comes to an end, I've also been thinking about the coming year and what's in store for our little family.  Last year was the year that I often repeated to myself, "something is better than nothing."  Ben jokingly referred to this as the lazy man's motto but I have to tell you that this mantra often pushed me to do many things that I wouldn't have otherwise tried to do because I didn't have the perfect amount of time, or the perfect skill level, or the perfect tools.  It may not be the most eloquent of sayings, but it served me well in 2013.

As for the coming year, I find myself constantly returning to the idea that "life is a marathon, not a sprint" (and I blame this firmly on the TED Radio Hour episode on grit.  Damn you, NPR, and your awesome radio shows).  There's a lot that needs to get done around here in the coming year, some of which is not very exciting (like taking a math class.  Blah!) but 2014 will hopefully be about sticking with things, even when you rather not.  And when I feel like throwing my hands in the air in surrender I hope that I'll remember that there's no better way to teach your children a life skill than by demonstrating it for them.

So here's  to a very happy new year to you and your loved one.  May your 2014 be filled with much peace, love, and joy!

12.26.2013

2013 Superlatives

MOST WORN


Me: This simple tee made from a pattern created by tracing another tee that I love.  Sometimes it's the simplest things that turn out the best and are loved the most.


O: This quilted coat (made from the Make It Perfect Uptown Girl pattern) got a ton of use throughout the fall and into the early winter (until it got too cold to keep her sufficiently warm).  I realize that it's white and seems totally impractical for a children's coat, but it's fully machine washable and dryable so it was actually super-easy to keep clean.  Definitely a win with this one.

LEAST WORN


Me: Without a doubt, these culottes.  In fact, I never wore them out of the house due to the static cling issue that could not be done away with.  This project was not a total lost cause though, because it helped me resolve some fit issues for my second version of the Tania Culottes that I made shortly after finishing these.  That's right - I made a second pair, only this time in (static free!) rayon challis and I love them.  And yet I never got around to blogging about them.  Oops.



O: Sadly, O's least worn item was the Scirocco dress.  I am in love with the design of this dress but I ended up choosing to make a size that was on the small side and unfortunately she quickly grew out of it.  Fortunately, I happen to have two little girls and I can't wait for the day when it fits C.

FAVORITE PATTERN



Me: My favorite patterns this year have a lot to do with patterns that pushed me beyond my comfort zone and allowed me to make things that I never thought that I could make - like shorts!  The Maritime Shorts pattern definitely held my hand when it came to installing my first fly zipper and it re-ignited my long lost love of shorts.  It's definitely a winner in my book.



Kids: Along those same lines, I always thought that sewing a bathing suit would be way beyond my skill level but the Waikiki Bathing Suit(affiliate link) from Peekaboo Patterns came together super-easy.  So easy in fact that I sewed four this year.  The first two were made from vintage fabric and they came out super-cute but apparently there's a downside to using vintage fabrics, because the fabric definitely didn't hold up very well and the suits kind of looked like crap by the end of our trip to Hawaii.  In the summer I made two new suits with fabric from Girl Charlee and they are holding up perfectly.  And it still makes me smile every time I see the girls in them.

FAVORITE QUILT KNIT


I didn't make any quilts this year (although I did make lots of blocks as part of my Do Good Stitches sewing group), so let's just start a new category this year - favorite knit.  And considering that I only knit one thing this year, the sweater that I knit for O is a clear winner.  I really do love this sweater though, and I happen to think it would be a winner even if it did have some competition.

ALL-TIME FAVORITE FINISHED OBJECT FOR 2013


Definitely the bike jersey that I made for Ben.  I rarely sew for the guy but when I do, I'm always pleasantly surprised at how the projects turn out.  This jersey has gotten a ton wear (I even got to wear it on a couple bike trips) and I'm happy to report that it's holding up great.  Ben has been requesting more handmade items and I just so happened to surprise him on Christmas with another  jersey made from the leftover fabric from this project.  


A close runner-up though is this Saltspring dress made out of gorgeous Valori Wells voile.  There is nothing that I don't love about this dress.  Should the bike jersey not be able to fulfill it's duties as the all-time favorite finished object, the Saltspring dress will gladly take its place as the first runner up. 

Now what's on your list for 2013?

PS - 2012 Superlatives can be found here.

12.23.2013

Santa 2013

O has always loved going to see Santa because Santa gives her candy canes and in her mind people who give her candy = awesome.  So for the last several years our trips to see Santa have been filled with excited anticipation, not tears.  But C is apparently not so easily won over.

First she eyed the big red man suspiciously.


And then she said "get me the hell out of here!"


Is it wrong that I was laughing the entire time?

12.21.2013

Winter Solstice


My least favorite day of the year but also my most favorite day of the year, because no matter how short the day is today I know that tomorrow it'll be just a little bit longer.

(Look at me, looking at the glass as half full.)

Happy Winter Solstice!

12.09.2013

Look At Me, Making Seasonally Appropriate Clothes!


I know that 20 degrees isn't cold for many of people, but you should know that Seattle is notorious for being full of weather-wimps which means that there's been a whole lot of complaining about how freaking cold it's been around here lately.  One upside to freezing weather though is that it sure does make you appreciate all your woolens.  And look, O, has a new one!


After a couple weeks of knitting a little bit here and a little bit there, her new sweater is done.  It's a simple top-down stockinette stitch sweater with a cable running down each the sleeve (the cable is Frosted Edge from Vogue Stitchionary 2 for anyone interested).  And as usual, I used Barbara Walker's fabulous Knitting From the Top to guide me along the way.


I contemplated continuing the cable down the sides of the sweater too, but in the end I chose to keep the body super-simple.  I'm usually not a huge fan of ribbed cuffs and bottoms but they seem to be pretty practical on children's garments so I finished both with some simple 2 x 2 ribbing.


The yarn is Jaeger Extra Fine Merino and I think I bought it way back in the day when it was being discontinued (or maybe just this color was being discontinued?  I can't remember).  In any case, I bought enough at the time to make myself a sweater but that plan was obviously tossed somewhere along the way in favor of Plan B - making O a sweater.  Fortunately, Plan B worked out pretty well, if I do say so myself because how much does O love her new sweater?


This much.

11.27.2013

Bedtime Story Pajamas - Take Two

 

I know that things have been awfully quiet around here lately, but you can rest assured that it's not because things have been going terribly wrong.

In fact, in many ways, things are going terribly right around here (although being an entirely too superstitious person, I'm a bit afraid to even write that...is that just inviting something bad to happen.  Let's hope not.)


O is officially rocking it in her first year of preschool.

C has mastered the art of angrily crossing her arms in front of her when we do something to displease her (trust me, it's much cuter than it sounds).

And Ben is a champ who has seamlessly taken on more of the parenting duties while I've been in evening classes.

And as for me, well, something had to give around here and lately it's been my presence in this little space (and probably my presence in your space too because I've also become the worst commenter).


But I've tried to keep a little bit of time here and there for some sewing projects and here's my most recent one - a new pair of pajamas for O.  I loved the Oliver and S Bedtime Story pajamas the first time I made them for her, but they haven't fit her in quite some time now.  And she sadly had grown out of the size options on the smallest size package so I had to pony up the money to buy the largest sizes.   Of course that meant that I also had to tape the entire PDF pattern together and trace it, which is not an easy thing to do when you have a one and a half year old trying to tear apart everything that you just taped together.  Good thing she's so darn cute.


I cut out a straight size 4 for my four year old and the top seems a bit large on her, but hopefully that just means that it will fit her for many months to come.  The main fabric is from the Moda Ticklish Collection and the contrasting fabric is Valori Wells's Bridgette Lane flannel - both super-soft flannels.  So now she is officially all set for some warm and cozy winter sleeping.  Just in time for the super-cold weather that we've been having around here lately.

11.24.2013

A Knitter


Once upon a time I was a knitter.

Like an all-consumed, thought-about-it-constantly,  knit-like-it-was-my-part-time job knitter.

I made hats and scarfs and shawls, but what I really loved to make were sweaters (for me, of course, because I'm nothing if not a totally selfish knitter).  And make them I did.  Many, many sweaters.

But I haven't made a sweater for myself in years.  I've started one many a times, but I just can't get up the motivation to finish it. And honestly, I haven't even knit a stitch since finished I this little hat last December.  But recently the knitting bug bit again.  Not only does the little nip in the air remind me that knitting is fantastic, but there is nothing that beats the portability of a knitting project.  Plus, knitting is the perfect craft to do in those two minutes while you're waiting for your kid to put on their shoes, or the three minutes while you're waiting for your husband to finish packing the bag, or the five minutes while you're waiting for the water to boil.  And given that that's pretty much what my free-time looks like nowadays, knitting is kind of the perfect hobby

Before deciding on a knitting project I searched through Ravelry trying to find something that piqued my interest, but in the end I decided to stick with what I love - which is knitting top-down sweaters that I design based off of Barbara Walker's book, Knitting From the Top.  Mostly I love that there is no "trying to get gauge" when you design your own sweater.  Instead there is just an acceptance that "this is my gauge and I'm just going to work with what I have."  It is liberating.

So there you have it.  Me and knitting have fallen in love once again.  And I'm currently in the middle of knitting a little sweater for O to keep her all warm and toasty in the upcoming winter.  It'll be a top-down sweater with cables running down the sleeves and probably just a simple garter stitch body (I'm a simple gal with simple knitting needs).  And I am loving making it. 

Hopefully she'll love wearing it.

11.13.2013

The Philippines

Teenage Carolyn chillin' on a banca boat
(and yes, Hard Rock cafe t-shirts were totally cool then)
(and no, not in an ironic way)

Growing up the idea of home was pretty much a foreign concept.  I was born in the South, but then we quickly moved to the West Coast followed by a move to Western Europe followed by a move back to the West Coast followed by another move to the West Coast followed by a move back down South.

And all before fifth grade.

Home was pretty much wherever my parents dragged us.

And when I was 12 my parents moved us to the Philippines so that my dad could work in a small town near Batangas.  Originally I was supposed to spend the years my parents were in the Philippines at a boarding school in Singapore, but through a series of events I instead ended up living with a family in Manila.  There's a lot that I could say about that time in my life (like how I showed up for my first day of school and the office told me that I couldn't stay because I didn't have the proper visa...which, of course, made me start crying in the office because I had just moved in with the family the day before and so I didn't know my address, my phone number, or how to get home.  Awesome.) but what I remember most of all was that being in the Philippines was the first time that I felt "home." And considering that I was an awkward teenager, living in a foreign country, with a family that wasn't my own, that's certainly saying something.  You've never met someone who looks so Irish but could cuss so well in Tagalog and play a mean game of Pusoy Dos.

But that was over 20 years ago and sadly my Tagalog skills are nearly non-existant now and I don't even remember half the rules to Pusoy Dos.  But what I do remember is how much I love that country.  And how it hurts my heart to think about what they're going through right now - especially considering all that they've gone through in the past.

But if there's one thing that I learned in the three years that I lived there is that you never count the Philippines out.  And if there's one thing that country has going for it, it's the unbreakable spirit of the Filipino people (and the fact that they start playing Christmas music in the stores in early September.  Man, I loved that as a kid).

So, stay strong, the Philippines.  Stay strong.

10.30.2013

Making Lemonade


You know the saying "when life hands you lemons, make lemonade?"

Well, to be perfectly honest, when sewing hands me lemons I usually don't make lemonade - instead I just make trash.  It's wasteful and lazy and I'm a bit embarrassed to admit how many projects have ended up in the garbage.

On the flip side, it is oddly satisfying to wad up a project that has given you hours of frustration and shove it in a garbage can.


And that was what almost happened when my version of the Hemlock Tee came out looking utterly ridiculous on me.  Even my 4 year old said "um, I think you made the wrong size."  Perhaps the over-sized look is not one that I can pull off.  In any case, by the time I finished the project is was clear that it was a failure.  The good thing about the fact that the Hemlock Tee is so oversized though is that it leaves large pieces of fabric in tact so I was able to refuse the fabric to make a Flashback Tee for O.


Look at me making lemonade out of lemons!

Find the bird, C!

The fabric is from Girl Charlee.  It's a fairly thin, drapey jersey that is part cotton and part rayon. I opted for a super-simple version of the tee, leaving off the cuffs, and just hemming the sleeves and bottom with a double needle.  Done deal.

Now if you'll excuse me I'm off to go drink my lemonade.

10.28.2013

Her Saving Grace

Allow me to introduce you to the world's worth teether.


I woke up this morning feeling like I'd been out drinking all night, but in reality I was up half the night with an inconsolable toddler and I was sleeping the other half of the night in the living room with said toddler on my chest.  And for the record, having a toddler sleep on your chest is not like having a sweet little baby sleep on your chest because the toddler is much, much heavier.  And she has more hair on her head which tickles your chin when you're trying to sleep.


Her saving grace as always, though, is just how darn cute she is in the morning.  It almost makes me forget how miserable the night was.

Almost.  But not quite.

10.21.2013

Snow White


Let’s just start by pretending that my peter-pan collar actually meets in the middle as it’s supposed to, okay?


Good.  Glad we got that out of the way.  Now on to the rest of the post.



I knew that I wanted to make at least one Halloween costume this year but I also knew that free time is at a premium around here nowadays so I didn’t want to spend a whole lot of time trying to figure out how to sew random amounts of fun-fur together.  So instead I opted to use a pattern modification that had already been figured by some other kind soul in blog-land.  Just like Janimal, I modified the Oliver and S Puppet Show dress to become a Snow White dress and I followed her directions for creating these lovely pleated sleeves.  O is really into floor-length dresses nowadays so I opted to add some length to the dress by adding 8.5 inches to the bottom.  Because this also resulted in a wider dress I decided to just leave off the hem facing and instead I finished the bottom of the dress with a regular hem.  Also, because this dress is longer than intended I added some extra buttons down the back to accommodate the extra length.  


And can we just talk about these buttons for a second?  I know it's next to impossible to see in these pictures but they’re gold!  And super fancy!  And kind of perfect for this dress!  And I actually had enough of them since I bought two packets of them from an antique store many years ago.  That was a miracle in itself. 



Not a Christmas miracle.
A Halloween miracle.  Which is usually just me not eating all of the Halloween candy before Halloween night.


10.13.2013

Letting Go Of Summer


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I loved having my babies in the spring - mostly because I don't do so well in the winter.  Honestly I was afraid that chronic sleep deprivation combined with winter-time lack of sunlight would have turned me into a very unpleasant person should my babies have been born in the winter.  But despite my love for them being born in the spring, I always considered the summer after they were born to be a loss.  I know that some people hit the ground running when they have a newborn, but that just doesn't work for me.  Instead, I'm all for hunkering down and staying close to home when we have a new little one in the house.  So while last summer was a bit of a loss, it just meant that this summer was that much sweeter.

And sweet it was.

I'm sorry to see it go.

(Although I am excited for up-coming Thanksgiving food.  Bring on the stuffing and the apple pie!)

9.30.2013

Nom, Nom, Nom!

In case I have you wondering, the blog silence around here is mainly due to classes starting up again.  And yes, it's classes plural this time because apparently I'm glutton for punishment.  So needless to say there hasn't been much sewing around here lately and there will probably be a bit of a drought for the next ten weeks or so (although I am hoping to sew at least one Halloween costume this year - wish me luck!).  Luckily, though, I was able to eek out one super-simple project before the dust started to settle on the sewing machine.


After seeing Rachel's version, I quickly purchased the Sunki leggings pattern (at four bucks it's kind of a steal) and used the last of my Briar Rose jersey to sew a little pair of leggings for C.  They happen to be the perfect fit - which kind of makes me sad because all that means is that they soon won't fit her anymore at the rate that she's currently growing.  I guess I'll just have to enjoy them while I can still squeeze her into them.  So if you'll excuse me I have some baby legs to go gnaw on.

Nom, nom, nom!

PS - I realize that photography is not my strong-suit but I'd just like to go on the record as saying that it's next to impossible to get a good picture of this kid because she never stays still.  For photographic proof, please see exhibit A below.

Exhibit A

9.16.2013

Mrs. Greedy-Pants Makes A Gift (Two Actually)

Call me greedy if you must, but the truth is that I'm generally a pretty selfish sewer.  Ninety-nine percent of the things that I make are either for myself or my children (with a little something sewn for someone else every once in while).  A few years ago, though, things were quite different and I often knit and sewed gifts for other people but the fact is that people who don't make things by hand rarely appreciate the time and effort that goes into handmade gifts.  At one point I was a bit bitter about this but I've come to realize that there are many, many things that I have no appreciation for or any idea of how much time and effort it takes to create.  So to each their own, I say.


So given that I'm generally Mrs. Greedy-Pants when it comes to sewing, I was as surprised as anybody to find myself sewing not one, but TWO baby gifts for co-workers who are currently expecting new little ones.  For the baby-boy-to-be I decided to make a Baby In The Hood jacket from Anna Maria Horner's Handmade Beginnings and I settled on a 9-12 months size hoping that the coat will fit the little guy next fall.  The only modifications I made in making the jacket were to make the elastic in the hood a tad bit shorter so that it would be more fitted around the face and I added a little coat hook for easy hanging.  As you can imagine, those were both incredibly difficult modifications to make (that's a joke, people).


It must have been kind of entertaining to watch me at the fabric store as I tried to figure out what a "boy" fabric is.  On the one hand I didn't want anything too traditionally "boy" but on the other hand I know that I'm far more accepting of gender-neutral fabrics than other people and I didn't want to make something only to have them deem it too "girlish."  I also knew, however, that the mom is a lover of bright colors, so in the end I settled on this elephant fabric and some bright orange polka dots for contrast.


I decided to line the inside with flannel to make the coat a little more seasonally appropriate and once again I cut up an old baby blanket for the flannel (which coincidentally also has elephants all over it).  It's almost like it was meant to be.


For the baby-girl-to-be I cut into my Briar Rose jersey and made an Oliver and S Hopscotch Knit Dress (there are few things better than rediscovering a new love for an old pattern).  When both my girls were infants they had a little strawberry outfit that I loved to have them wear so little baby strawberry clothes hold a special place in my heart.  Although I guess this dress isn't particularly infant-ish since it's made to fit a 6-12 month old.  It's still absolutely precious though.  Man, I love this fabric.
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