Friday, December 06, 2019

Fringe Hack in Check

I didn't waste much time making up another Fringe top, this time in a buffalo check rayon. I was tempted to pick the black-and-red colorway, but decided in the end that black and white would be much more practical with my hand-knit cardigan collection -- I have three or four cardigans that go with this, instead of just one. 

I made a few extra changes this time around. I raised the waistline about an inch, and also made it a bit straighter to keep the check from looking "wavy." Not sure if I like the higher waistline yet. I also altered the neckline so I wouldn't need a camisole underneath. That was definitely a success  -- but I may have made it too high! I think it works with the higher waistline, and the overall "lumberjack" feel, but I'll be fiddling with it again the next time I make this pattern. 

I shortened the skirt again, but not as much as my last Fringe since I was shortening the bodice. I found some sweet little black fabric-covered buttons in my stash, which worked perfectly! I also tried to be super careful with my pattern matching in places where it mattered -- like the center front. Fortunately, the pattern had a clear CF marking, so it wasn't too tricky to cut it properly. I'm so pleased with how precise it turned out! The shoulders weren't quite a good, but they did match up better than I expected.

It was really cold and windy when I snapped some photos (hello, crazy hair!), but it was a bit cozier in my White Pine cardigan and Lake Reed hat:

Monday, November 25, 2019

All Bundled Up

When I undertook to outfit my children with much-needed winter gear, I suspected I might be a bit weary of knitting hats, scarfs, and mittens by the end. I wasn't wrong! But it was well worth a bit of tedium to keep them toasty in hand-knits this winter (and hopefully several winters to come).

I posted the almost-finished hats back in October, and happily the mittens proved to be quick knits. I've always been afraid of trying mittens for some reason, but the Tin Can Knits pattern was so easy. In fact, I'm considering trying a pair of gloves for myself! I kept it simple for the scarves, using a seed stitch for Rosa's to mimic her hat, and  mistake rib or no purl rib for the boys. They did take a bit longer, or perhaps it just seemed that way after knitting the same row or two repeatedly for several feet...

I've posted details of each project on my Ravelry page, so I wan't wax eloquent on the blog, but here are photos of each finished set -- just in time, too, because we had our first snow flurry today!

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Fringe Benefits

I've had my eye on the Chalk and Notch Fringe pattern for a while now. I worried it might be too baggy, but I just kept coming back. Perhaps, I reasoned, if I made it in a smaller size with a drapey fabric, I could pull it off. I found an inexpensive rayon challis on, and bought the pattern. It's still hard for me to drop $14 on a single pattern, but this pattern was so well designed and written that it was well worth the cost. I don't enjoy printing off patterns and assembling them, but this pattern not only had a layers feature that allowed me to print just the size(s) I wanted, it also had a guide that told you which pages you'd need to print based on your size/view. Brilliant!

I picked the size that would give me three inches of ease on my bust measurement, and it fits beautifully. I think I'd prefer the waistline to be a bit higher, so I'll probably adjust that on my next one (I bought this rayon, too!). I made the dress length, but shortened it by 4 1/2" so that it would be tunic length. My one complaint on this pattern is the neckline. It's not too low but it gaps horribly, so I may try to adjust that (hoping it won't change the look too much). I don't really mind wearing it with a camisole, but it would be nice not to need one. I did ties in the side seams, and that made all the difference in fit. I think I would have found it too baggy otherwise.

Fortunately my fabric required only rudimentary pattern matching, so I didn't have to spend too much time on my least favorite stage (pinning and cutting!). Actually, I ended up tracing most of my pattern pieces onto the fabric with a disappearing fabric pen, because pinning rayon challis is a bit of a nightmare. It sewed and pressed beautifully, though! You just can't beat that rayon drape.

One little issue I had was the interfacing. The interfacing pieces are designed to be smaller than their corresponding pattern pieces, to reduce bulk in the seams. It's a great idea, but with no stitching holding it down, I had problems with my fusible interfacing pulling away from the fabric during construction. Most of it ends up stitched down, but I had to re-fuse a few pieces along the way.

This tunic is everything I hoped it would be, and it works perfectly with my Goldilocks sweater (especially now that the turmeric dye has faded to a goldenrod hue). I'm hoping the fabric holds up, because this has all the hallmarks of a wardrobe staple.

I have some other projects coming up (including another Fringe tunic), and I've been finding sewing to be therapeutic of late. Most of the fabric I ordered recently included rayon (in everything from challis to jersey to sweatshirt fleece), so that's my fiber theme for the foreseeable future!

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

We lost another baby last week.

One day, we were finding out that our rainbow baby was on the way and sending pictures to family of our littles holding a colorful spectrum of balloons. The very next day, it was clear that our baby was already gone. Our third loss in a year; our fourth in six years (1 2 3). We've never lost a baby so early, and it's left us with more questions than answers. There are still half-deflated balloons floating through my house, painful reminders of our brief moment of joyful expectation. Helium balloons are such a rarity in our household that I couldn't bear to take them away from my eager children, and it's not as though my grief would disappear if they did. We now have two "due dates" in 2020, and neither of them will bring the rainbow babies we'd prayed for and rejoiced over.

I want to understand God's plan through this season of loss. But God doesn't promise to explain His ways. He has promised that He has everything in hand, and that all things work for good for His people.

I want to believe that we'll have another healthy baby. But God hasn't promised me that every earthly desire will be granted, even if it's a "good" desire. He has promised that He has a specific plan for my life, and He will richly provide for every true need.

I want the hurt to stop. But God doesn't promise us a pain-free life on this earth -- on the contrary, He tells us to expect and even embrace suffering. In fact, my suffering isn't "all about me." He has promised that suffering is not wasted, that He will use my suffering to encourage others, and that one day all pain will cease. I won't grieve for eternity.

The pain of losing half of my children to miscarriage has driven me to Jesus in ways I never could have understood when life was "easy," and I know that He holds me close as I wrestle with grief and surrender. As Thomas Case wrote, "In the Word we do but hear of God—in affliction we see Him."

I think of the Old Testament saints, who "all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland...But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared for them a city." (Heb. 11:13-14, 16) These believers recognized that there was more to look forward to than comfort and happiness in this life. They may have stumbled along the way, but by God's grace they fixed their eyes on the goal and finished the race set before them (Heb. 12:1-2).

One day, grief will give way to glory. For now, it's a day by day (and even moment by moment) challenge to focus on that finish line, looking to a Savior who endured more than I can imagine to save me from the fate I deserved. By His grace we mourn, and by His grace we carry on.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Selfish Sewing: The "Medieval" Maxi

When I came across Wren and Ivory's Reese dress, I was in love! I'd been wanting a maxi dress or two for fall -- in fact, I purchased a Mother Bee maxi dress from Amazon a few months ago (while it's advertised as maternity it works as a "regular" dress, too). I am trying to purchase as little new clothing as possible because I am troubled by the ethics of most ready-to-wear garments, but happily both Mother Bee and Wren and Ivory make their clothes in the USA. Still, I knew I could make a dress for about half the cost of the Reese dress (and I wanted a higher neckline, anyway), so I decided to give it a go.

I picked up some wine-colored brushed polyester jersey, and set to work with great trepidation -- I drafted the pattern myself based on measurements from my Mother Bee maxi dress (a bit challenging, as it's a wrap-front dress). I was truly amazed by how well it went together. I had to make very few adjustments, and the whole process of pattern drafting, cutting, and construction took about a day. Admittedly, I had more time for sewing that day than I usually do...

This dress is incredibly comfortable to wear, and feels so feminine. My husband has dubbed it my "medieval" dress, probably because of the sleeves! I didn't vary much from my inspiration dress, though I did add ties to the back (I like being able to customize the fit) and changed the neckline construction to make it easier to sew. I think I raised the neckline a tad too high, but at least I won't be worrying about wardrobe malfunctions.

I'm a bit torn, because I feel like I've betrayed my love for natural fibers (linen is easily my favorite fiber for fabric, and wool for knits) -- but I must say, the brushed poly is dreamy, easy to care for, and feels like I'm wearing pajamas! Maybe I'll try a rayon or bamboo jersey in future.

It was lovely to sew something for myself, as I've been mostly knitting and my sewing has been limited to very practical things (such as mending) lately. It's giving me all of the cozy Fall vibes, too! I hope you're enjoying a taste of this lovely season in your corner of the globe.

Wednesday, October 02, 2019

October Yarn Along: Hat-orama

October is here, accompanied by chilly mornings and frosty nights. The cold weather set in quite suddenly on a blustery day, and it seems it's here to stay (though highs will hit the low 80's later this week). In fact, we had an unexpected freeze last night (well, I didn't expect it because I don't pay attention...) and our garden is officially done. Oh well, it was a difficult year for gardening, and I'm almost relieved it's over.

I haven't done much reading this month, though I've been participating in the fall Bible Reading Challenge, mostly through audio Bible. I did receive Risen Motherhood in the mail, which I've been eagerly awaiting! I'm not far into it yet, but it's been such a blessing and a perfectly timed "re-calibration" on the motherhood front. It's so easy to get swept up in the immediate needs of running a household, and lose sight of the purpose of motherhood. I love how Emily and Laura point back to the Gospel in every area!

Things have been bright in the knitting realm. I finished up my "Birthday Sweater," finished up a pair of Rye Lights (intended for my oldest son, but ultimately mine because they were larger than anticipated), and started on a set of winter gear for my littles. First up were hats, all in different shades of Wool of the Andes worsted. Mittens and scarves will follow, and they're all in  my children's favorite colors -- well, Scout hasn't declared a favorite color yet, but since his older brothers have claimed red and green, I opted for blue.

Little Man has a Gingerbread Hat in colorway "Garnet Heather:"

Rosa has a January Hat in colorway "Blossom Heather:"

Laddie has a Slouchy Diamond Cap (with double "diamonds," since his hat is a bit plainer than the others) in colorway "Shire Heather:"

And Scout has an Owl Hat (in progress) in colorway "Icicle Heather:"

They've been flying off the needles (such a lovely feeling!), and I'm hoping to finish up the last hat tonight. I'll probably start mittens next, which should also be pretty quick -- I'll probably knit them two-at-a-time on DPNs.

I also have several sweaters I'd like to knit soon, so I doubt I'll be relaxing my knitting pace anytime soon! Fall is such a lovely time to be knitting, isn't it?

Linking up with Ginny's Yarn Along:

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

September Yarn Along: The Birthday Sweater

Despite my best intentions, I've not visited this little space since last month's Yarn Along! Since last month, I finished the Rye Light socks I was working on and cast on a new pair for my oldest son. I'm a bit uncertain about the KnitPicks Palette as sock yarn -- after a day's hiking in Yosemite, Rosa's socks appear to be felted in certain areas. I suppose this is why most people use superwash wool for socks! But I just can't reconcile myself to superwash wool (which typically uses harsh chemicals and removes wool's amazing natural properties). I did buy a skein of O-Wool's fingering weight yarn, which does not use harsh chemicals. I'm excited to try that, but it's not cheap (you get what you pay for!), so I'm not sure how feasible it is for children's socks. I'll definitely finish the Rye Lights I have on my needles now, and see how both pairs do over the coming winter. Rosa's were made with leftovers and Little Man's are using up stash yarn, so it will be an inexpensive experiment -- and I can't begrudge time spent practicing sock-making.

My current project is my "Birthday Sweater" from Maria Olson's August Sky pattern. This was a total birthday splurge, using Rosy Green Wool's Merino d'Arles. It's absolutely luscious! The squish factor is really quite absurd, and I'm loving every minute spent knitting with it. I picked the pattern without even paying attention to the name, but it was perfectly appropriate since my birthday is in August. It also uses less than 1,000 yards of yarn in my size, so it's a bit more economical than many patterns. I started this on August 20th, so I'm hoping I can finish it off in a month or less; I like (relatively) instant knitting gratification...

My reading this month has not been of the most page-turning kind -- a book on dog training (finished last night!), and still reading Gavin de Becker's excellent book, The Gift of Fear. I am just starting Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens. It's been years since I last read it, but after re-watching the film adaptation last month I had to pick it up again! Granted, I watched over half of the film on Amazon Prime before realizing that they had cut out a number of scenes -- including some that are essential to character development. Why?! So I got out the DVD and re-watched most of it. This particular volume is part of a set of Dickens' novels that I bought in Scotland over a decade ago. They were 1 pound apiece ($2 American at that time), and they are minute! The pages are as thin as Bible pages. 

Picture purposes only -- I really have only just started! But I do love this passage in the book:
"'I wish he was so very strange a man as to be a total stranger,' answered [Jenny Wren]."

I've also added a pin to my knitting big, despite really having no more room -- but during our trip to Yosemite last week, I found a Steller's Jay pin at the Tuolomne Meadows visitor center. I've wanted to see one in person for quite some time, and fortunately they are plentiful in Yosemite!

I have plans for complete winter ensembles for all of the littles (hats, mittens, and scarfs), so I'm eager to finish up my August sky sweater and get to work! And I really should finish those socks...

Joining up with Ginny's Yarn Along:

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

August Yarn Along: Rhythms

The past few weeks have been all about finding some sort of rhythm in the chaos of life just now. It's been a turbulent summer, to say the least. My husband's schedule has been "predictably" unpredictable, including weeks of crazy late-night flights followed by travel. We had our summer break from school, and my plans to keep up some semblance of order came to naught (though I suspect doing "nothing" was what we needed, and we had a shorter than usual break, anyway). Now we are in our second week of homeschooling for the year, and I'm enjoying the more predictable cadence to the day, even if it means decreased "freedom."

I'm currently reading The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker. This was a book my husband just finished and really wanted me to read. It's a bit disturbing by nature of what it discusses (violence), but it's also very enlightening. A snippet from the description sums it up nicely: "True fear is a gift. Unwarranted fear is a curse. Learn how to tell the difference." 

I'm also reading The Scent of Water by Elizabeth Goudge, but I'm not very far into it yet. To be quite honest, I've been knitting more than reading this month! And both of my current books are on my tablet; I rather miss having a "real" book in my hands. I still have my Beatrix Potter book underway, but I don't think I've read any of it this month...  

I finished up my Ninni cardigan (which I have dubbed "Goldilocks"), and cast on a pair of Rye light socks for Rosa. I love this pattern so far (it really is excellent for teaching you how to make socks, and I rather wish I'd started my sock-making adventures with this!), and these are whipping up very quickly. The heel flaps are done -- why am I always terrible about keeping track of my heel flap rows? -- and it's time for short rows! I love that there's a bit of texture on the front of the sock, but it's still a very easy pattern to follow. I wasn't in the mood for anything too complicated.

My new stitch markers are shameless knock-offs of Pleximama's lovely markers (going back to that post, I realized she was working on a pair of broken seed stitch socks, which I'm also planning to start when these socks are done -- apparently I'm just a copycat!). I love my purple locking stitch markers from KnitPicks, but I couldn't get the thought of little toadstool markers out of my mind. I found the beads on Etsy, and turned them into markers with my limited jewelry supplies as soon as they arrived in the mail. And, of course, they needed a little coordinating pouch -- fortunately, they fit into the pouches I'd previously made for my stitch markers and point protectors, so I whipped up another in red leather:

And now I have a little set of three in my knitting bag!

Linking up with Ginny's Yarn Along: