Cinderella Cardigan

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      “Shiver and quiver, my little tree, Silver and gold throw down over me.”
    -Cinderella by the Grimm Brothers

At last a sweater has escaped my knitting needles. This was 10 months in the making and took far too long, but the results are pretty nice I think.

Cinderella is my favorite fairytale, so when one of my favorite yarn dyers, Astral Bath offered up a lavender dusted with grey called Cinderella, I knew I had to own it and put in a custom order. Silk blend bases only for this color and well worth it.

The yarn arrived quite true to the description, as if Cinderella has been hard at work in the ash, but what pattern would work well with the dark patches in the yarn? I dove into my Japanese stitch dictionaries and found a simple stitch pattern that reminded me of little specks or cinders.

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I also knew I wanted to try patterning the sweater around the waist so I set out playing with the spacing of each dot and doing math to figure out how to get the spaces just right at the waist. Thankfully I have CustomFit to make the knitting pattern. I just had to apply the stitch pattern how I wanted.

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Overall I’m happy with the finished product and I’m sure I will wear it a ton. The wool, silk, and cashmere blend is light enough for spring and also to ward off the summer office air conditioning. However it isn’t quite as perfect as I’d hoped and for a couple reasons.

For one my bust has shrunk over the last year by 2.5 inches. So the fit is a little bigger than I’d like up top.

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The sweater is also just too long. The large bust, silk content, and pattern calculation errors joined forces against my desires. CustomFit makes great patterns, but there is also a bit of learning curve to modifying the patterns it creates. I know I like my sweaters to be about 13-14 inches from underarm to hem, but when I request that length in the software I get a cardigan that is 15-16 inches instead. This is not the software’s fault. If I were to button the cardigan the negative ease at bust and hip would bring up the length. However since I wear my cardigans open and now own a smaller bust this sweater isn’t what I hoped.

My next sweater is already on the needles and I’m exited to see if I’ve improved on the fit. Hopefully it takes me fewer than 10 months to complete!

Rainbow Girl

Our super busy spring is in full swing now. I can’t remember the last time my weekends we’re so full! Recently my mom, the girls, and I all headed up to San Jose for Stitches West. A lot of my knitting friends head to Rhinebeck in the fall, but my group on the West Coast heads to Stitches instead. Usually I spend more time at the event itself, but this year I spent more time with my family because my sister is getting married!!!!

Oh how Lu loved those wedding dresses. She loves all thinks sparkly right now and was pretty happy to see Aunt Kat try on pretty dresses. Now Lu is plotting what she will wear for the wedding for her important role as flower girl.

It felt kind of silly going to a knitting event when I’ve barely knit anything recently. I spent so much time cross stitching this year during my evening tv time. However one of my knitting groups started a challenge for the year. Every quarter we set our own goals and for each goal met we get one entry into a lottery for a prize. I don’t qualify because I’m the one buying the prize, but I’m still finding the event useful for focusing my time.

I’ve already posted about my first goal (pussy hats) and now I’m posting my second goal, a new sweater for Lu. She wears a sweater every day to school and all of hers were looking rough. So many pills. So much dirt. So well loved.

I started planning this sweater in the fall of 2015. I knit a baby dress with a rainbow mini skein kit from Neighborhood Fiber Co. and had way more yarn left over than anticipated. Not enough to knit a whole kid sized cardigan, but enough to alternate with a coordinating color.

I headed to my local yarn store and picked up a skein of Knitted Wit in a grey. Turned out to be a perfect coordinate to the rainbow, don’t you think?

For a pattern I dove into my library to find something simple and near the gauge on my swatch. I settled on Cricket which had a slightly tighter gauge.  By knitting one size smaller at a looser gauge the finished sweater is around a size 4. I’ve knit this pattern once before (also as a school sweater) and I think I won’t knit it again. It is very square and very wide in the shoulders. I’ve knit other patterns that suit my tall and thin girl better.

Of course Lu just loves the finished sweater. It’s really so fun and cute and looks good with her navy and red school dress code. I still had leftover rainbow yarn so I sent it on to live with my friend. I made 3 projects with that rainbow set! It was like the yarn in the book Extra Yarn. I’m pretty sure I could have knit a mailbox cozy and a dog sweater, but instead I’m sharing the rainbow love as my rainbow itch has been satisfied for now.

Why I Marched

Considered this part craft post and part political. You’ve been warned!

Yesterday my mom and I joined roughly 750,000 of our friends and neighbors in a march/rally in Los Angeles. I have never seen so many people in one place before. It was inspiring, and yes, I made Pussy Hats.

The first one turned out a little on the small side, so it was instantly claimed by my pink obsessed 4 year old. She thinks pussy only applies to a cat and I aim to keep it that way for now. She was just excited to have a cozy hat and it came in really handy when I took her ice skating on MLK Day.

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The other 2 hats were worn by my mom and I to the Women’s March LA. I mostly followed the idea of the pattern, but worked it in the round and used a 3 needle bind off for the top. Part of what I loved about the pussy hat project was that there were many ways to make one with the same general result. Not as many people in hats in LA as other cities, but it was also a really bright and sunny day. Wasn’t hard to feel a tad on the warm side between the sun and the crowd.

I used Astralbath Yarn in Spectra held doubt. I know Ridgely would be happy to have her yarn used for a political purpose. She’s awesome. It had been gifted to me by another knitting friend Mary and it was just the perfect amount for our 3 hats. I wish I’d had the time to make and mail one to my sister too, but I didn’t quite make it in time. Sorry sister!

In case you can’t tell my main sign said “healthy families = a healthy America”. I saw a ton of signs yesterday and they covered a huge range of issues, healthcare, education, marriage equality, immigration, and yes…abortion. I’ve been sad to scan through my Facebook feed and see that my more conservative friends and family seem to have put their blinders on to only focus on the abortion issue.

So I encourage people on both sides of the aisle to look at the bigger picture. There are lots and lots of ways that we could lower the need for abortions. Here are just a few ideas

  • Better sex education
  • Make higher education more affordable
  • Make birth control easily accessible
  • Lower the cost of healthcare
  • Paid maternity leave
  • Equal pay for equal work
  • Affordable child care
  • Teaching girls to be more confident
  • Teaching all children “No means no”

If the United States improved in these areas we would lessen the need for any woman to face the often difficult decision of whether to have an abortion. So instead of focusing on a single issue I am choosing to focus on the many ways we can make women’s lives better.

After attending marches yesterday I know many people are left asking what next? The organizers of the march have put out the first step in a 10 step plan. It starts with reaching out to your representatives, and whether you marched or not I encourage everyone to take part. The only way to make our message clear is to SAY SOMETHING. So go out and do it. Start being the change you want to see in our nation and our communities.

 

 

Christmas 2016 – Part 2

And now part 2! Things I made for adults in my life.

So 2016 was the year I learned to knit socks. It’s silly. I don’t wear socks during the day. However I do enjoy wearing the hand knit socks I’ve received as gifts! So I started off knitting a couple pairs for myself and realized if I was going to feed my sock knitting obsession I needed to branch out to gift knitting.

It started with this pair I made for my mom. I didn’t quite have the right colors for her so I wandered down to my local yarn shop and picked up a skein of Malabrigo Sock in Anniversario. It is quite lovely with reds and purples all intermixed. It looks a little nutty in the photos, but in person the colors blend nicely. We have fairly similar feet so they it was easy to gauge the size and I hear she enjoys wearing them.

 

Next up are socks for my sister. My mom and sister are pretty forgiving gift receivers should things turn wonky. Thankfully this pair also turned out just beautifully. This time I used Dark Harbour Yarns in Bluebottle, but the color really reminded me of Elsa from Frozen and the color is a gradual fade from white with speckles to a dark blue-green. Totally stunning. Nikki creates gorgeous colors!

And then there is the cross stitching! I bought the kit from The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery. It was a mystery stitch along and their patterns are so darling. Not sure what I’m going to do with the long narrow piece, but the bonus ornament pattern was super adorable! So I made two, one for our tree and one for their cousins’ tree!

Then there were was cooking, baking ,and tea towel calendar hemming and all those little projects that fly under the radar! A busy season to be sure, but it was fun to dive into my stash of supplies and come up with some fun customized gifts for some of my family this year.

And now back to my ever growing queue of projects! On top of sewing my usual favorites we have two weddings to attend this spring and of course Easter dresses to plan. I so looking forward to making some fun things!

Christmas 2016 – Part 1

Before moving on to new projects in 2017, I thought I’d take a moment to post the things I made for the Christmas holiday this year. In order to keep our holiday spending in check, I turned to my stash to find some fun materials for gifts.

First up is the adorable Little Red Riding Hood doll set.

I bought the panel at our (now closed) local quilt shop. In fact I bought the very last one in stock. They sold out super quickly and I can see why. Isn’t it sweet? I ended up making a few alterations to the panel directions. 1) I bound the quilt with some fabric from my stash  and 2) I made the doll’s skirt completely reversible with the left over binding fabric and an elastic waist.

Of course our 2 year old spend much of Christmas day sitting in the doll bed instead of her dolly, but that’s toddlers! And the Lil’ Red set has been dragged all over our house and the clothing tried on many different babies.

Next up was a sweater, also for the toddler. I’d purchased the yarn at Vogue Knitting Live here in town last spring. I’ve heard great things about Sincere Sheep, but I’ve come to realize it is best to buy new-to-me yarns in small quantities to test before diving in for enough to make myself a sweater. I quick peek at my phone showed I needed only 2 skeins to make Ysolda Teague’s Wee Envelope pattern in a size 2, so I snatch up Equity Sport in Aegean.

I think you’ll agree the color look just gorgeous on Charlie and kept her nice and toasty on our trip to the beach. The yarn was also a joy to knit! So bouncy, just the way I like it. Ysolda’s pattern was fabulous as always. I’ve knit 3 patterns from her Wee Ones collection and all have turned out wonderfully.

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And lastly here is a snapshot of the girls on Christmas morning. It is hard to tell because Lu immediately donned her Doc McStuffins costume (gift from Santa), but the girls also got matching pajamas on Christmas Eve. I just love this particular tradition. Usually I buy their jammies, but this year I quickly made up a matching set.

It was a bit of a happy accident. The first shipment of fabric got lost in the mail and Sahara Fabrics nicely sent me a replacement. Both shipments ended up arriving leaving me with 3 whole yards of the space print. In the end I was able to get 2 long sleeved long night gowns and two sets of leggings from the yardage. Hooray! I still haven’t quite gotten the hang of using fold over elastic, so don’t look too closely at the neck line. I need a bit more practice.

And so this is part one of the gift sewing! It is really fun to have kids who appreciate hand made items and I plan to keep on indulging them as long as they let me!

Goodbye 2016!

2016 has come and gone. Last night we had storms passing through, but today has arrived cool, clear, and with a beautiful bright blue sky. Like many others 2016 was not my favorite year. Beyond the political landscape, it was just an okay year for our little family. We got by fine, the kids grew and thrived, but it wasn’t an easy year. By the end of it I felt quite worn down by the routine but also by the instability.

There was a lot of good stuff coming out of our house as well. I spent a lot of time on my sewing skills. I now have a much loved skater-style dress I make and wear frequently. I also discovered I do better when I work off the Gertie block then the Cashmerette block (for wovens). I’m sure in the coming year I will buy more patterns, but I also hope to make my own block again. I have a lot of ideas of dresses I’d like to make, but I think making my own block would really help me spend less time fitting and more time designing.

I made some misses too. A few poor fabric choices and a few patterns that just didn’t work for my shape. And sometimes things turn out okay, but they fail to make it to the regular rotation. I think you’d be hard pressed to find a sewer who doesn’t have a few flops every year.

And then there are my sweet girls! Not as much sewing for them as with previous years. Mostly because Charlie can wear so many things I made for her sister and she’s stayed quite tiny. Partly because Lu finally grew enough that she can wear commercially produced school uniforms! I ordered a select number of skirts and dresses in August and Lu’s been set for school since. I am incredibly proud of their swimsuits and plan to make them new suits for next summer. So much fun and really simple.

What’s next? I still have some quilts to finish. One for my bed and the girls matching quilts for their room. We moved all the baby stuff out over the winter break and we’re contemplating bunk beds this summer, so I’d like to get those quilts done. Otherwise I’ll just keep looking for new inspiration. I organized my fabric stash a bit this week and remembered I have fabric to make the Sewaholic Pacific Leggings, my SIL bought me the Decades of Style Lara Dress pattern, and I have more wool jersey to make a skater style dress. Maybe I’ll get to those things, but if I don’t it is okay. I can’t wait to see where 2017 takes me!

Speckles and Sparkles

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I’ve been toiling away on little projects lately, but just in time for cooler evenings I’ve finished my 2nd ever pair of socks.

Poor things have been on the needles since July, but I only ever worked on them during my lunch breaks. Well July is also around the time I started spending 80% of my lunch time walking. These socks were knit 5 minutes here and there!

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But goodness they are colorful and the yarn is sparkly too so they will be a joy to wear during the dark winter ahead. It doesn’t get very cold here, but our only heater is in the back of the house and I will need these coach socks.

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With each pair of socks I’ve been trying a different heel construction. These were knit from a pattern called Fleegle’s Toe Up Socks. And I like the heel construction okay. I think I still prefer the slipped stitch heel I tried on my first pair.

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The yarn is from LushKnit. I’ve known Megan through Ravelry for years and years so I have been thrilled to see her tackling yarn dying with such joy. You can tell she is inspired with each color way. This is Moonage Daydream after the David Bowie song. I kept missing her updates so she graciously offered to dye me up a custom order.

The yarn base is super soft and wonderful to work with, though the sparkles don’t photograph on the light colors. And while I’d hoped the yarn would be more speckled than pooling I will say not a speck of dye came out in the bath. That is a miracle for me. I rarely do color work because our water composition seems to make every single color bleed in the soak! But not Moonage Daydream!!!

And now back to all the other little things I’ve been tackling. I maxed out on summer clothes. I always know I have enough when I need to do laundry because of underwear instead of dresses. But soon enough I’ll need cool weather clothes and I’ll have some new makes to share here.

 

Superstar! 

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This is a kid who is ready to take on the world!

We’ve had a busy start to the school year, but I did manage to make Lu a new sweater in time for her first day as a Superstar at preschool. This is her 3rd and final year at her school and she’s certainly one of the big kids now.

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She’s also spent all summer growing taller and taller. I’m pretty sure she’s 75% legs now. When I went to pull out her uniforms I found none of her sweaters were long enough anymore.

So I turned to my Ravelry library and found I had Georgie Nicolsen’s Feris Wheel pattern. Plus I had some Cascade 220 Superwash Sport in Red to match her dress code.

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The sweater came together really well and clearly Lu likes it. Georgie’s patterns are nice to knit because they are written where you pick a width and height. I picked the 20 inch chest and size 4 length. What can I say, the girl is tall and slender! The only thing I wish is I’d added more increases to the front. The sweater isn’t meant to be worn closed (despite the buttons), but Lu tries to pull it closed anyways.

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Silly Lu. She just doesn’t ever stop moving! But she’s been off to a good start for the school year and hopefully we’ll get more cool weather soon so Lu can continue to wear her new favorite sweater.

 

 

Taming the Sailors Shawl

Well hello there! I’m back and feeling rested and ready to tackle some new projects again! My husband has been in Argentina for the last month and when combined with solo parenting and Stepbet I have been one exhausted lady! But now my husband is home again. I got two consecutive full nights of sleep and I’m a whole new woman.

So today I’m here to share a shawl I knit earlier this summer. I’m not much of a shawl wearer, but about once a year I get a hankering to knit lace just because I want to. Shawls are the best projects for random lace knitting!

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This is the gorgeous Sandpiper Shawl from Laura Aylor. I’ve had my eye on this design for the last year, but I just couldn’t decide on what yarn to use. Then as the warm weather set in I found myself in need of a small project I could knit on my lunch breaks.

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Plus I had a gorgeous single skein of Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light in Jacaranda Bloom. This is a color Madelinetosh created at my recommendation and this skein was sent to me as a gift from a fellow knitter. How did I leave it sitting unloved for almost 3 years?!?!

The main body of the shawl is Astral Bath Spectra in the delightfully titled color Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash while the eyelet row is Spectra in Naked. Hmmm, this is starting to sound like an R rated shawl. Ha!

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And because my husband wasn’t home you all get to experience more photos from a 4 year old photographer. Lu took great joy in making me do all kinds of poses to show off the size of the shawl.

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As you can see it is quite generously sized. I used about 700 yards of yarn all together and this nicely covers my shoulders. It only took about 6 weeks worth of lunch time knitting to complete! Highly recommended pattern!!!


And now I’ll also talk a little bit about fitness and Stepbet. I have no intention of making this a fitness blog, but I thought it may prove useful for others to hear a review.

One of the groups where I hang out on Ravelry has been on a huge fitness kick in recent years, but generally I don’t participate in their contests because it is so hard to balance my personal life and finding the time to work out can be tough. However someone brought up the idea of all joining a Stepbet contest and I jumped at the chance to take part in something where I felt I could succeed.

The idea behind the app is everyone puts the same amount of money into the pot and all the people who make their own personal goal for all 5 weeks gets to split the pot.

Pros

  • Everyone gets their own personal goal. The goals are set by the game, but most people had achievable numbers. Mine were roughly 9,300 for active days and 12,000 for stretch days.
  • It got me moving! I did not realize quite how sedentary I’d become until I had to walk several miles each day, 6 days a week.
  • I won cash! I don’t know the final amount yet, but it is probably about $10.
  • It was fun to do with a group of other people and we all cheered each other on.

Cons

  • The biggest negative is that you are basically rooting for people to fail if you want to win any more money than what you put in. You need more than 25% of people to lose. Kind of sad.
  • 5 weeks of having no free time got me a whole $10.
  • There is no room for bad days. Like when my younger daughter decided to wake up for the day at 3am and I was a total wreck I still had to walk my ass off. 100F heat and extremely poor air quality from a wildfire? Still had to figure out a way to walk miles and miles.
  • When it started I didn’t own a Fitbit or other step tracking device so I had to carry my phone. At first it wasn’t so bad, but I quickly got really tired of carrying my phone every single place I went. It got even more annoying when I got a Fitbit and saw I was walking on average 1,000 steps more than my phone registered.

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But I won and it feels great! I plan to keep up walking, but maybe not quite to the same level. I’m still sorting out what I want my plan to be, but I’m thinking a goal of 10,000 steps 4-5 days a week. I’d also like to add more stretching to my day as my muscles feel really tight.

I think my Ravelry group is going to work on a new contest. Something where its a good thing if everyone wins, because who wants their friend to fail? Not me!

 

2nd Annual Anniversary Project

You may remember last year I knit a beautiful sweater in the color of my wedding dress. This year year I decided to continue the trend with my 2nd Annual Anniversary Project.

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It has been so fun working on these projects around our wedding anniversary. A time for reflection on how far we’ve come and where we’re headed next. Or how we’re maintaining our sanity while our children create chaos around us! You know, life.

What project could possibly go with a 6th wedding anniversary? Apparently this is the candy/iron/wood anniversary depending on which list your reference. Hmmm, how about socks? They were knit on carbon fiber needles…

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This is the first pair of socks I’ve made for myself and only my second pair ever (first pair being slipper socks for my husband last Christmas). I scoffed at sock knitting for many years, but I have to admit it was FUN.

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The pattern I used was Wendy Knit’s Fingering Weight Toe-Up Socks With Gusset and Slip-Stitch Heel. Long name, but it was recommended to me as a good basic toe-up sock pattern.

Can we just stop and admire the stripe matching for a moment? I suppose one advantage to knitting your first socks after becoming a fairly competent knitter means you have plenty of practice keeping your gauge consist

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I didn’t totally follow Wendy’s pattern. I decided if I was going to knit socks I was going to do everything I could to get the fit right. So I cast on for the smallest size and knit asymmetrical toes. This is my favorite feature! I did it by only working 3 sets of increases on the big toe side and all the other increases on the baby toe side of my foot. The instep of the socks were a tad bit snug, so I added 3 sets of increases just on the top half. I then decreased those 3 sets of increases out again at the ankle after discovering the ankles were all saggy.

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Lastly I worked increases every 6 rows on the back side to accommodate my muscular calves as other hand knit socks I own (generously knit by friends) are a tad tight there.

I really wanted to use up every single bit of yarn that I could, but ultimately I still have a little left over. It was a good effort for a first time. Next time I think I’ll pre-split the yarn into two even balls before I start knitting.

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The yarn is fabulous. It’s from the company White Birch Fiber Arts and the colorway is called Royal We. Perfect match to our wedding colors don’t you think? I have another skein in Release the Kraken that I’ll knit up eventually. Socks really do make perfect purse knitting! All those knitters weren’t kidding when they recommended socks as a travel project.

Next year looks like it’s the wool anniversary, so hmm…sounds like I should go big! Good thing I have a whole year to plan.