Sunday, July 12, 2015

Cable Yoke Cardigan

Sometimes a pattern is so good that you have to knit it twice. This is one of those.  The pattern is "Top down Baby and Children Cable Yoke Jacket by Kyoko Nakayoshi.  And our girls have been getting a lot of wear out of each of them.  

Cardi's and leaves
The second and most recent is this red version that was knit last fall out of Quince and Co. Osprey in a color called "Peak's Ferry".  It is a really, really good red.  Not too orange, not too blue.  Just right.  And the small fry loves this cardigan.  Having only two buttons near the yoke keeps her movements from being restricted (we can't have that!) And really who doesn't love a good hood.

Small fry – Fall of 2014
In progress
The first cable yoke cardigan that I made was back in 2010. I knit this in the NICU, when the small fry was so busy learning to breathe and eat and grow, and my anxious self was trying to stay occupied.  This first  has been worn by both girls and is wearing well.  It was knit out of Shibui Merino Worsted in a color way called Pagoda.  

Awaiting buttons

Small Fry – Summer of 2011
The Peanut – Summer of 2014

Saturday, July 11, 2015

A Little Late: Stockinette Winter and Spring of 2015

The late winter and early spring of 2015 were really, really hectic.  Our lives include these two darling and busy girls, both of whom really want the attention and help of their parents – us. We also were still settling into our "new" house, undergoing a fairly large remodeling project and working full time. Thankfully the construction is behind us.  But that busy time really impacted what I had the energy to undertake creativity-wise.

Strangely making things for me is somehow therapeutic. So in the midst of this fun and hectic time I'd knit a little here and there. These two projects were ongoing, and straightforward enough to be manageable. I didn't have the mental bandwidth for much detail so it was plain stockinette that appealed. 
Simple socks

The first is a pair of simple toe up socks in a yarn that was gifted to me by my dear friend Jen. Pretty aren't they?  The color reminds me of tarnished brass. I used a provisional cast on and short row toe. And also a short row heel.

New socks, old floor.

My plan was to do toe up and use half of the yarn exactly as to not waste any. As it happened I lost the ball band and didn't weigh the yarn prior so although it was a great plan I didn't follow it. So I have some yarn leftover. (It dawns on me now that I could have weighed the ball and the sock in progress. Duh. I must have been high on drywall dust because that never occurred to me.). Oh well, on to the second stockinette project.

…for miles

While standing in line at the checkout at my local yarn shop I spotted this pretty lace weight yarn. (I liken this purchase to buying the candy bar in the grocery checkout.) The yarn was Berocco Boboli Lace in the Gazebo color way.  I don't generally knit much lace, and I felt that there was enough lovely color variation in the yarn, that a fussy stitch pattern would only fight with the color.  So a stockinette cowl was what I launched off to knit.

The only model on hand who
would stand still 

Simple textures

It was really, really simple. I knit about 12 rows of garter stitch, and then miles and miles of stockinette and then a dozen or so more garter rows until the cast off.

The net result is a really, really simple cowl.  It's fairly lightweight and will likely be a good fall/spring accessory.  And soon, I'll share some of the more interesting stuff that I've been working on since…

Folded and awaiting colder temps

Socks and Eric Carle

Monday, May 11, 2015


I am a softie for well photographed anything.  Blogs with good photos? I'm in.  Good food photography? I'll try the recipe.  Beautiful hand knit patterns with fetching images? No contest.  This little fair isle dress is one such example.  I bought a children's clothing knitting book two years ago with the intent to try one of the many darling patterns.  And this was the ringer for me… a little fairisle tube dress that would look darling, darling, darling on one of my girls with a long sleeved T-shirt and tights.

Sunlight and stranded knitting

The book was a MillaMia production called "Wonderland".  (You can find it here.) I hadn't seen anything from this Swedish company before, and I've not yet gotten my hands on the yarn (which looks like it comes in a wonderful palette), but I really liked several patterns in this book and thought I could make a few substitutions and try them out.

I purchased a dozen or so colors in Brown Sheep Nature Spun Sport weight and starting building a new chart.  I didn't actually change any of the designs, but I did want to try out the colors I had on hand with the pattern as written.  The color palette was quite different, but I think it worked nonetheless. I picked out a few colored pencils that were sort-of-close to the colors of yarn I had on hand and then started swatching.  It took me a few tries to see what colors had the right amount of contrast to be neighbors with others… and then I was off and running.

Charted color scheme

I knit this with US 4 and 5 needles.  And followed the pattern as written for number of stitches and shaping for the 2T size.  I did make a significant change in that I knit this in the round, with a single purl stitch up the left and right sides.  This served as a good marker for me for the beginning of the rounds and pattern check spot.  It also created a pseudo seam up the sides of the garment. I really prefer to do stranded color work in the round; it's so much faster and neater.

At the beginning of both the v-neck and arm holes I cast on 8 stitches for steeking.  I'm a novice steeker  – it still makes me nervous to cut my knitting, but it worked out this time with a little bit of extra effort.  Once the knitting was finished, I crocheted a single chain up both sides of the neck and arm holes to reinforce the steek and then seamed up the shoulder seams.

What happened next was the hiccup. I actually crocheted too close to the cut edge of my steeks and as I was picking up stitches for the arms and neck band some of the steeks started to unravel.  Gulp! I resisted the urge to have a melt down and carefully tightened up the tension of the loose, cut yarn and finished the ribbed hems.  In the time it took me to knit those, I was weighing  my options for "fixing" these unraveling steeks.  I have a serious aversion to putting my knitting anywhere near the sewing machine.  (I have fairly vivid vision of the knitting getting chewed up in the bobbin box.) And I decided that I would pull out my rarely used needle felting kit and see if I couldn't selectively felt those loose bits and save the garment.

Felted steek edges

It's pretty unconventional, in fact I've never heard of anyone needle felting a garment steeks, but I think it worked really, really well.  Because it is also done by hand, I had really good control of where and what was felted.  The yarn responded really well to it, and is more sturdy than before.  And although it is a little bulky… it blocked and dried beautifully. (I actually don't think it is much bulkier than it would have been otherwise.)
Wrong Side View

And at the end of the day, this little dress will hopefully fit the littlest this fall and winter.  I can't wait. Ravelry details here.

Saturday, May 2, 2015


Sunshine-y Egg Yolk Yellow
Three years ago I bought a bag of yellow yarn that was the color of egg yolks.  I'm not sure what I was thinking.  I look terrible in yellow.
Little Sweater and my
Childhood Desk

I brought the yarn back out and found a good versatile cardigan pattern for the littlest.  She's too young to notice that most of her wardrobe is handed down, but I still feel maternal guilt about her having fewer original things.  Especially of the hand made variety.  And I decided that this would make a great little summer sweater for her.

Button Band Ribbon - Hidden Prettiness

The pattern is "Cricket".  It is a straightforward top-down raglan cardigan. It was very well written.  I knit the 24 mo size and used the prescribed needle size.  No modifications.  I love the little details on this sweater… the yoke of textured stitches isn't fussy but makes the finished piece look a little special.  And the garter stitch edge of the pockets are really strong.  The yarn I used was Sublime Cashmere Merino Silk DK.  It feels great.  It grew a little upon blocking and has a nice drape.  I think it might not end up being the sturdiest kiddo sweater I've ever knit, but that's not the end of the world.  The button bands and collar are finished last.  And it has pockets.  Oh, how she loves a pocket.  I haven't ever had so many rocks and twigs and bits of paper in the washing machine.

Since the pattern and color are pretty straightforward I used a little length of special ribbon to line the button band and sewed the buttons on with a bright pink.  I love it.  And she seems to like it too – or maybe she was just thrilled that I was so busy with the camera to stop her from embarking on a flower deconstruction campaign.  You never know.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

An Easter Dress and Not-an-Easter-Dress

Easter Garb
I took a little sewing bender last month.  I was inspired by the Posie Gets Cosy posts about making dresses for her little girl, here and here.  And while reading them, the small fry declared that she'd like one too.  So in a shameless turn, I ordered some vintage patterns and a few yards of voile fabric and set to work.  Our eldest requested a dress just like "the green one" and I found the exact print from Amy Butler.  It's called Wildflower Voile in "Zest" and is the lightest voile; perfect for spring and summer.  The littlest isn't as specific, so I had fun picking for her and her print is a Robert Kaufman London Calling Meadow Bloom in "Park". It is a garment weight lawn that was also lovely.  (It's a slightly heavier weight that the Amy Butler, but still perfect for Spring.)

Matching, but not...
The patterns I found on Etsy… the one I used was a Simplicity pattern from 1965.  Our eldest has a preference for skirts that twirl.  And this is one FULL skirt.  The pattern is 6066 and I was able to find one in each size, which was sheer luck.  I was very relieved to find that the patterns were in really good shape and that pattern tissue paper circa 1965 was a much better quality than what is for sale now.  (I had visions of the pattern pieces disintegrating upon unfolding them.)  Not the case thankfully!

The sewing was straightforward and I had a really nice time taking my time getting these put together.  I wrapped things up just in time for Easter.  And then the eldest declared hers "Not an Easter Dress," and so we'll wait for a photo op of that one.  In the meantime, here is a funny shot of the peanut on her Easter Egg hunt.  (Her egg hunting strategy could use some refinement… she prefers to eat the contents before finding the next egg… funny thing.)

Full, full, twirly skirts!

I hope the sun is shining on you.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Diving right in

Yards of pseudo ikat dots

We purchased what I like to call a "less little" house last year.  It's very similar to what we were living in (i.e. almost the same floor plan) with the notable exception that it has a second story.  It's been such a welcome adjustment. No one has a subterranean bedroom, we're closer to the school and the park and the closet space is epic for a home of this vintage.

One thing the prior owners left to us were a pair of 70's-ish wingback chairs.  Their silhouettes were classic, lines good, but fabric was worn and out of style.  I think the previous owners darling dog had claimed one of them as his own for a bit too.  They needed help and I figured what better upholstery experiment than on a piece that hadn't cost me much.  (Let's ignore that we had to buy a house in order to get these two chairs...)

Enter a birthday for the small fry.  She's got the perfect spot in her room for a chair and has a personal penchant for anything purple.  Off to the internet I went to research deconstructing a chair, and to shop for affordable purple fabric.  I hit the library up for a good book on upholstering and discovered that my handy husband had an air nailer that could be used to fire upholstery staples (big bonus)!

I took really detailed notes throughout the entire deconstruction.  My thought was that I would be able trace my way back through reupholstery by just working in reverse order.  And for the most part that worked.  (See the references below for some of the sources I used.)  I marked all the fabric panels with a sharpie and used an arrow to indicate the correct orientation on the finished chair. I was also really careful not to cut any of the pieces, as they were all repurposed as pattern pieces for the new material.

Hey, grubby old chair!
 I found some really interesting materials as I uncovered the chair, including this clever metal fastener strip that I was able to repurpose.  And thankfully, the chair's skeleton (woodwork, webbing and basic structural elements) were in really great shape.

Along the arched back.
 I was most nervous about finishing these arm end caps.  They are so prominent from a visual perspective and would demand really careful re-application.  Again, thankfully, the base materials that were used original chair were in good enough shape to be repurposed.

Original arm cap.
There was really a minimal amount of sewing associated with this project. Apart from reupholstering the seat cushion, there were very few seamed sections.  I did carefully break down the cushion as well and learned a few tricks about applying cording to a box pillow.  The zippers were reinforced well. On an interesting note… all the panels used to reinforce seams, create a stapling surface for long stretches, etc. were remnants from other upholstery fabric.  It was a funny archive of fabrics of the time.

Seat cushion zipper reinforcement.
I took my time with the arm caps.  They were broken down easily and consisted of a heavyweight fiberboard core and were outlined with piped cording.  The original was stapled together, but I ended up taking my time and hand-stitched it back together.  I did add a bit of quilt batting to the face as the original was a little thin after I disassembled it. (Tea and chocolate helped.)

Arm cap success… now to just replace it.
 Once all the fabric was removed from the chair, I cut similarly shaped cotton quilt batting to reline the interior surfaces.  When I removed the fabric, the cotton batts were pulled apart a bit and I was a little worried about the finished surface being bumpy under the upholstery fabric.

At this point, only the cushion was done.
 Disassembly and reupholstery ended and started (respectively) on the interior surfaces of the chair.  The first part that was replaced was the interior seat. Replacing that was one of the more tenuous jobs.  There was a nylon cord that was woven through the seam of the seat and stapled to the exterior to the frame to keep the chair bottom from coming loose.  Thankfully it was replaced fairly easily, and so far, there is no evidence that the tension is too tight.

Starting to see what the new chair
might look like.
Pardon the fluorescent lights.  
 The materials I used were pretty straightforward.  I found the fabric online at quite a discount.  $8 per yard, I think…  I bought a box of upholstery staples, new cotton cording, some new tack strip and the rubber mallet you see below.  That mallet is so fun.  I really couldn't have done the job without it.  It helped me get fabrics folded neatly into that metal finishing strip and to replace the arm caps.  It was also kind of therapeutic to bang it around.

Rubber mallet!!!
 The wings and back finished edges were both lined by this metal stripping. I actually removed it as carefully as I could and repurposed it because I though it was such ingenious stuff, and I had no romantic ideas about hammering in hundreds of upholstery tacks.  (No thank you.)  Unfortunately, I can't tell you where to buy it.  I salvaged it all and took care to bend it straight again and make all the "teeth" stand up before using it to refinish the edges.

Exterior wing and arm.
 The finished chair was a huge hit.  Our girl loves it.  It's become a favorite reading spot and it felt so good to not throw something away and breathe some new life into it.  She had a great birthday, complete with cake and friends and a few new Legos to build.  And I had a great time taking on something new.


References: This youtube video about breaking down the existing chair.  This invaluable reference from the library. And this reference for fabric quantities.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Tiny Sweater Update


Quickly… I'll share the button band and mini skirt.  To be delivered on Thursday to one sweet tiny little friend.
Ruffled Denim Mini

Have a good week.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Spring and a Tiny Sweater

Raglan tiny-ness

This sweater reminds me of crocus.  I'm sure that it's the season that we are in, the sun has been shining. The girls and I took our 2015 inaugural bike rides together yesterday and I'm anxiously awaiting the spring flowers in this yard that is new to me.  I think we've got some daffodils and hyacinth… no crocus or tulips yet.

About this little sweater; I'm pretty picky about variegated yarn, but I love this color combination.  The greens and pinks and lavenders all play so well against the bit of navy blue that anchor this color palette.  I picked this sweater pattern for a couple of reasons.  I really enjoy knitting baby garments out of sock yarn.  I'm wild about the lightweight fabric that it creates and I love how sturdy and less likely to snag it is with tight stitches.  I also love working top down and raglan construction.  Details about the pattern and the yarn are here on Ravelry.

One pink button band awaiting...

I have only the button band to knit and then it will be off to my new little friend.  (And I purchased a funny little denim mini-skirt with a ruffled back side to go along. So cute.) I hope it keeps her cosy in these cool spring days.

It's been busy around here.  Getting settled in the new house, and attempting to tackle the projects that come with getting settled.  But there has been plenty of making going on and I'm hoping to get back to this space and record a few of the projects that I've had/am having so much fun working on.

More soon.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Purple Crested Chatterbox

There are some "birds" around these parts that are always making noise… playing, talking, spinning tales and giving direction.  It's the best, these little opinions… stories made up… the first year of advice for her sister… retold experiences from school.  I will be very, very melancholy when she doesn't have so much to share with us…


Until then, we'll listen and encourage.  Knit hats in favorite colors and do what we can to make sure that these two girls are good to each other.


The hat is knit from Acadia.  The pattern is Rubens, written by Gudrun Johnson.  I knit this in transit back from New Hampshire last June, when a storm created a bottleneck in air traffic and I spent an entertaining afternoon and evening watching the people of Baltimore mill around their home airport.
Lovely Marled Purple

Knitting details are recorded here on Ravelry.  I highly recommend the yarn and the pattern and it's designer… XO Faye

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Little Doe and her Fox Friend

How lovely is everything in Alicia Paulson's world?  Her online presence is so well managed, her home looks like the perfect place to curl up and read a book in, her daughter is darling and her designs… irresistible for this mother of two little girls.

A finished pair of friends

In late summer I purchased two softie kits from the Posie Gets Cosy website.  The first was Miss Dandelion Doe and the second was Mr. Basil Fox. I was just completely drawn in by these charming little faces and leggy bodies and also loved the idea of little animal dolls for the girls that were not mass produced.
Frannie the Fox

I won't lie, they took some time to assemble, but the kit was great.  It had nearly everything you would need, and the few things it doesn't include are identified clearly and are easy enough to find.  I started assembly really, really early… in August?  And felt foolish for kicking the project off so far in advance for Christmas.  Because as it always happens, life gets in the way of these creative projects.  Weekends fill up with commitments, evenings get darker and my eyelids wave the white flag of surrender.  And so, here it is December and I'm just wrapping things up.  I think it is almost better that I started earlier so that I could enjoy the hand sewing and knitting and not feel rushed.

The girls love these little friends as much as I enjoyed making them.  Our oldest is fiercely independent at the moment. She wants to dress herself, has no hesitation about be apart from us (at school, or dance class, or with her favorite sitters) and has ideas about everything. She's not particularly taken with dolls, but is with animals.  She loves Miss Dandelion and immediately declared her a kangaroo.  Her name is now Kanga.  (No argument here… her profile is a little kargaroo-ish..)


And the littlest.  She will probably love Mr. Basil.  She's a clown and affectionate and the wild baby of Borneo lately.  She's taken to walking on her own, just this month. (Her poor sister's world is about to get altered again, I'm afraid.)  I see that it won't be long before she's running.  You can see in her face how badly she wants to keep up with everything that her sister is doing. She loves soft things, loves dolls and fuzzy stuffed animals.  I just hope in a flash of that wild-babyness that she doesn't rip off one of his little arms (she's also surprisingly strong).

I really enjoyed making these and have ideas for more clothes for these two little critters now that they've been made. We'll see how much time permits in the post-holiday winter.  I may be busy playing doll house or tag or hide and seek and not have time to finish additional softie knitwear.

Just hanging out.

Stay warm.  F-