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Family Finished Handmade Handmade for Kitty Kitty

Toy Box Skort {handmade for Kitty}

30/12/2016

Now that I’ve caught up to date with the before-Christmas making, I think it might just be time to have a little look at the Christmas makes.  As I said in an earlier post, the plan to knit the children each a Christmas jumper went by the wayside long before Christmas, and so I had a good hunt through the projects waiting list to find something that I could make for Kitty inside the one sewing day I knew I’d have between stopping work and the day itself.

Space for the Butterflies - the Badminton Skort Oliver + S

And while I lingered over a beautiful party dress that will be hers before Easter if I have to spend a week not sleeping, for once my common sense prevailed and realism overruled eternal optimism.  Well almost. I still thought I was going to be finished by lunch. I chose the Oliver + S Badminton Skort pattern, and a blue quilting cotton (Toy Box II by Sara Morgan for Blue Hill Fabrics) that she’d picked out earlier in the summer.  It’s such pretty fabric that I’d picked up the very end of a roll at Darn it and Stitch in Oxford years ago but never found the right project for it but there was just about enough with a bit of jiggery pokery.

I didn’t help myself by adding a few inches to the skirt length either but I’ve sewn for Kitty before and she is (a) very tall and (b) likes to wear her skirts on the long side so extra inches it is.  The front waistband facing and the hem facing had to be cut from a fat quarter of pale pink ice skates print but when she’s wearing it you’d never notice and I rather like the secret pop of pale pink, plus it means that she knows which way round they go, which isn’t always obvious.

By construction it’s one of the more complicated pieces of clothing I’ve ever put together, but Oliver + S patterns have the knack of making you feel very clever and in the end it all came together quite easily, especially now that I’m not avoiding the questioning gaze of my overlocker and happily serged up all the seam finishes.  I genuinely wonder what on earth I was doing without it, it makes life so much easier!

Kitty loves it; she’d suspected I was making something for her when she was barred from the studio for the entire day but I think she must have forgotten exactly what we’d chosen together because on Christmas morning she tore into the wrapping paper to find out what I’d made.

Space for the Butterflies - the Badminton Skort Oliver + S

Waist-wise it fits perfectly; there’s enough give that she won’t grow out of it in a week but not so much that it’s in any danger of falling down when her little brother rugby tackles hugs her.  I think if I were making it again right now I wouldn’t add quite so much extra length, perhaps only one inch rather than three, but give her until the summer and it will be perfect.

The shorts underneath fit pretty well too – even over reindeer leggings so it seems!

Space for the Butterflies - the Badminton Skort Oliver + S

These pictures were taken in the gorgeous sunshine of boxing day and I had no idea she was still wearing her leggings underneath until I asked her to show off the shorts.

But back to the pattern; the shorts are a great fit and I’ll happily swipe it for some simple shorts for the summer.

Space for the Butterflies - the Badminton Skort Oliver + S

The only bit about the pattern that I’m not wholly keen on is the back waistband.  The front waistband is a deep faced band; there’s a complete lining to the front that you can see and it sits nice and smart against her.  The back on the other hand is a single thickness waistband with the top folded over on the inside to make the elastic casing.  And because the casing is only an inch deep it leaves an equal section sort of in limbo.  It’s not part of the casing but it’s not part of the skirt either.  It’s not a fundamental flaw don’t get me wrong and it definitely passes the galloping horse test but if I were to make it again I think I’d draft a bigger pattern piece and make a complete casing and then use really wide elastic to avoid the feeling of a high-low waistband.

I know it looks horribly crumpled in these pictures; she kept carrying them around with her on Christmas Day and tucking them into her stocking to keep them safe, and as anyone who has ever made for a child knows, that’s true love.

The t-shirt is from Sainsbury’s this summer (and is the same one as she was wearing with her camper van skirt) and the shawl is my Icarus shawl which may have gone the same was as my very nice Angora hat – how old are your children supposed to be before they start filching your clothes?

Joining Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday, Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm, Craft On and Make Do and Push for Funky Kid Friday

Finished Handmade Handmade for Baby Knitting

The sky at the end of the sunset {handmade for a baby cousin}

02/12/2016

Not only has Kitty grown out of the size range of most of my favourite children’s clothes shops, only squeezing into Frugi by the skin of her teeth, but Pip, my tiny little giant two year old, is now out of the baby ranges too.  He’s wearing an aged 4, and we’re most definitely and sturdily into the big boy clothes.  We shall allow a moments pause to think of all the cute and tiny baby clothes that must be ignored by my radar, and then brighten up to the thought that at least he likes mama-made shorts, roll on the summer.

With their sizes going up in leaps and bounds so has the length of time it takes me to knit them a jumper.  My, as always, overly ambitious plans for Christmas will almost certainly end up with my presenting Kitty with three skeins of yarn and a promise; I’ve finished Elma’s birthday jumper, am still on the yoke for her Christmas cardie and then I’ve just got to knit up Pip’s an we’re all done. In 23 days.  Totally doable, yes?

Space for the Butterflies - Olinda baby cardigan in Fyberspates Vivacious DK, Peacock

In the meantime, and I’m sure with no intention but to supply me with tiny adorable people to knit for, my friends and family have continued the tiny baby boom.

The latest addition to the family, utterly adorable in every single way, arrived at the beginning of November, after much patience was exercised by her mama and much facebook stalking by the rest of us.

Space for the Butterflies - Olinda baby cardigan in Fyberspates Vivacious DK, Peacock

And of course she needed a knitted hug just as her big brother did before her, and I got to spend a happy hour rifleing through the stash looking for the perfect yarn, and then finding a pattern to match.

The yarn is a smooshy plump Fyperspates Vivacious DK in Peacock, a very feminine blue with hints of purple; the sky at the very end of the sunset. The pattern is Olinda, a little swing  cardigan with a nice soft garter stitch yoke near the face to rest your cheeks on and then cables running away down the cardigan.

Space for the Butterflies - Olinda baby cardigan in Fyberspates Vivacious DK, Peacock

Well sort of cables.  They give the impression of cables, but there’s nothing more twisty in any of them than a k2tog so there are no lumpy crossed stitches to play princess and the pea if its tiny wearer wanted to have a little lie down.  The cables also conceal the increases in the gaps between them that lend it the swingy shape; they just expand gently down the cardigan in a way that as a knitter makes you feel very clever.

I don’t think I changed anything in the pattern, or if I did it wasn’t so big as to merit my actually making a note of it so we’ll go with no changes. The pattern comments on Ravelry give the impression that it’s a fiendishly difficult pattern but while I wouldn’t recommend it as the first thing you try to knit ever, if you can read your knitting you’ll have no problems and this little cardie whizzed off the needles.

Space for the Butterflies - Olinda baby cardigan in Fyberspates Vivacious DK, Peacock

For the finishing touchI went diving into my button jar to see what would work best.  It turned out to be just nice simple little magenta buttons that hold their own but let the cables and the colour shine out.

And once it had had a nice little wash and block to ease those cables out to their prettiest arrangement, off it went in the post to give the new little lady a giant welcome to the family and a warm and wooly hug by proxy.

Space for the Butterflies - Olinda baby cardigan in Fyberspates Vivacious DK, Peacock

Joining Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday, Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm, Craft On and Make Do and Push for Funky Kid Friday

 

Finished Handmade Sewing

Crystal gnome, crystal gnome {handmade}

18/11/2016

Crystal Gnome, Crystal Gnome,
Living in your crystal home.
Up the stairs and down the stairs,
Up the stairs and down the stairs,
Wherever can he be? Wherever can he be?

I’ve always said that making things is my multivitamin for my soul; a need not a want in everyday life to keep me happy and healthy and sane and these past few weeks I’ve been putting it to the test as the real life job kicked up a notch from crazy busy to bonkers and my time for everything non-work, up to and including sleeping, revealed itself to be nothing more than a will-o’-the-whisp and a figment of my imagination.

It’s part and parcel of what I do in real life, and I get a huge degree of satisfaction from my job, just so long as I can keep my eyes open long enough to enjoy it.  But oh do I miss creating.  I miss blogging, the writing, the photography, the having the brain space to think of things to write, I miss knitting and sewing and I’m starting to get ever so slightly twitchy about Christmas and I know I need to carve out time in the day, even if it’s only five minutes.

The proof of the pudding turned out to be gnomes. Ten of them to be precise.

Space for the Butterflies - Felt gnomes

The girls’ school advent fair is tomorrow, run by the PTA with all of the parents chipping in to do something to help get ready and my contribution, along side a bit of decorating help, was 23 decorated star shaped gingerbread biscuits for the cookie house, and those gnomes.  What’s the collective noun for gnomes do you think? a garden?

img_4056

These gnomes are bound for gardens; one of the activities at the fair is to make a garden.  The children start with a slice of tree trunk, roll out air drying clay across it and then add leaves and conkers and foliage and paper snowflakes to make the scene, finished off with a little gnome to live there.

img_4057

It means needing a couple of hundred gnomes and John came home from school one day with a little packet of pre-cut felt and a picture on his phone of the finished article and as they came with a very definite deadline I had no excuses; for a little while the laptop had to go away while I sewed them all up; it was bliss.  And I felt it the next day too; I was less tired and my brain felt as if it had a little more thinking space again; despite having as little sleep as ever.  As good a reason as ever there was to make sure I spent a little time each day knitting or sewing or something that just isn’t words for once!

Space for the Butterflies - Felt gnomes

It’s comfort sewing at its best; both red and green gnomes came from the same shape felt; the red ones are blanket stitched all the way up their fronts and the green ones just have the top corners overlapped, and then stuffed with a little bit of merino top that I had in a bag in the bottom of my rather neglected spinning stash.

I think they’re rather cute and the kids wanted to adopt the lot of them.  Pip picked up my first finished gnome, instantly recognised it (which was very reassuring) and started singing Crystal Gnome.  It’s his absolute favourite playgroup song and he loved having an actual real gnome to sing it with – to the point that when I said we had to put them all in the bag and take them to school he was most unimpressed with that idea.  He gave his gnome a cuddle and a kiss and put it in the bag and if he doesn’t come home from the advent fair with one of my gnomes I will be very surprised.

Space for the Butterflies - Felt gnomes

In the meantime, I have felt, I have some more merino – and I’ve traced the pattern!

Joining Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday and Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm, Craft On 

 

Family Finished Handmade Knitting

Mediterranean a la Regia {handmade}

04/11/2016

It wasn’t until after we got back home that I noticed the name on the ball band.  John’s Innsbruck treat came in the form of a new ball of sock yarn, he not being the worlds biggest wearer of brightly pattern leggings, and as I worked my way down my leggings construction line over the last few weeks it seemed in the interests of family fairness to cast on for his socks too.

An it’s then that we noticed the name of the colourway; Mediterran.  I’d picked the ball up in the shop simply on the colour and as a good number of sock yarns just have numbers, I never thought to look for a name.  But Mediterran? Could it mean something other than Mediterranean? No, Google translate assures me that my first guess was accurate; this is a colourway named after the sea.

Space for the Butterflies - hand knit socks, Regia Mediterranean

Which leads me to wonder whether the dyer at Regia had ever actually seen the Med.  I mean I know it’s two countries away from Germany and it would involve a bit of effort to get there, but pictures do exist, and from what I can recall of trips to Venice, Greece and Southern Spain, on no occasion was highlighter green the predominant colour.

As a sock it is a fabulous colour; John goes for handknit socks in the brightest shades possible, and these match his neon orange and yellow trainers a treat.

Space for the Butterflies - hand knit socks, Regia Mediterranean

Perhaps this is the Med suffering from a bloom of blue green algae, like the sort they had to clear out of the harbours in Qingdao for the Olympic saiing in 2008, or Med-a-la-Rio-diving-pool. What would you call it?

Space for the Butterflies - hand knit socks, Regia Mediterranean

In terms of the socks themselves, a lovely Regia self striping means 72 stitches over 2.5mm needles for a standard John sized sock, and my inner perfectionist had a wonderful time getting the self striping to line up exactly.  It’s a long repeat, and as is always the way, I finished the first sock about 12 inches past the ideal point to start the second sock and had to wind on a big chunk before I could get to the start again.  It meant that there wasn’t enough left on the ball to finish the second sock so I had to dip back into the middle to find the colours I needed.  There may be three separate sections to that second foot but you’d never know if you weren’t looking for it.

Regia can feel a bit of a coarser yarn to work with when you’re knitting, certainly compared to the smooth plumptious yarns like Socks that Rock or Wollmeisse but it wears like iron.  I’ve lost a few socks over the years but the very first pair I knit from a Regia yarn are still going strong, and the yarn softens up enormously on washing.

Space for the Butterflies - hand knit socks, Regia Mediterranean

These pictures were taken first thing in the morning before I left for work; we’re into that stage of the winter where it’s dark when I leave in the morning and dark long before I get home, and I’d had all these wonderful plans to take pictures on Wednesday lunchtime when I work from home.  I grabbed my camera, decided where in the garden had the right light, and went looking for the socks.  No joy. they weren’t where I’d left them, they hadn’t fallen off the back of the dressing table, and the children denied all knowledge of having run off with them to dress a teddy bear.  Only when I happened to mention to John that I was looking for them did I find out why, when I pulled up one trouser leg to reveal neon coloured toes.

Well, you can’t complain about that!

Joining Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday and Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm, Craft On 

Finished Handmade Handmade for Pip Pip Sewing

My little monkey {handmade for Pip}

21/10/2016

If it seems that all I’m making at the moment is leggings, you might just have a point.  I am doing a little bit of secret knitting on the side, mostly because you can’t take a sewing machine and overlocker on the train without getting some seriously funny looks; although now that I think about it I’d love to take a sewing machine on one of the big trains that has charge points by the table and sit there sewing – I think the looks would be on a whole new level to the sideways glances you get for knitting!

Anyway, back to the sewing. I actually have a huge pile of sewing sat next to the machine but it takes me so long to thread all the needles and get my desk organised to be able to overlock and use the twin needle on my sewing machine that I’ not moving them, or fitting another needle until I’m fully up to date on the leggings front.  And, if I make the leggings before I get to the point of needing to do a big proper grown up declutter and tidy up of the studio then I don’t have to find somewhere for the fabric to be stashed.  It’s slow tidying at its very best.

And with the girls’ pairs all finished, and worn, and sat in muddy puddles, and washed and worn again, it was time for some for Pip.

I love leggings for little people, they’re so cosy and they’ve got room to wriggle and move and stretch and do all the things that babies and toddlers should do, while also looking incredibly cute.  We’ve had some gorgeous pairs over the years (and if you’re not planning on getting to grips with an overlocker I can happily enable a legging addiction by pointing you in the direction of Lottie and Lysh and Maybelle & Bo!), but that little boy of mine possesses spectacular abilities to grow both out of and through his trousers.  Perhaps three children is what it takes to wear holes in the knees or perhaps he just does it in style!

Space for the Butterflies - Monkey Leggings for Pip

So, back to Innsbruck and the wonderful wall of jersey: we chose two prints for Pip on the basis that if I was only having half a metre of each then we could stretch to two.  There’s still a nautical pair in my future, but I couldn’t resist starting with these monkeys.

I seem to have developed a bit of a habit of underestimating my son’s height on all available opportunities.  I know I held up a tape measure vaguely in Pip’s direction and half a metre seemed loads, even allowing for shrinkage, but somehow when I got that half metre home it just didn’t look that big any more.  I’d tried Elma’s elephants on him and while baggy, they weren’t ridiculously huge, and that’s an age 5. Only when I laid the age 5 pattern piece over the fabric did I remember that they’d fitted nicely into 3/4 of a metre.

Space for the Butterflies - Monkey Leggings for Pip

This patten started out life as the age 5 size of that Oliver + S pattern but with some fairly heavy macgyvering to end up with something that fits him more closely but without being too stretched, so he can pull fleecy waterproof trousers over the top without them bunching up.

Although I knit while the children are up and about and awake, sewing tends to be a nighttime pursuit for me, and if I’m making something for one of them I always start second guessing how big they’ve got and wondering whether it’s too big or too small or just too too. With Pip’s monkeys I was worried that the ankles would be too tight; I was so tempted, not to wake him up exactly, but maybe to sneak a little foot out of his sleeping bag and just try it on.  I’m sure he wouldn’t have woken up; well maybe not.

Space for the Butterflies - Monkey Leggings for Pip

The sewing fates were on my side though; the ankles fit, and the chosen length of ‘this is the longest I can make it’, turns out to be just about long enough, at least for the next five minutes.  The hem on them is absolutely tiny though; literally the ends finished on the overlocker, flipped under and sewn down so for the next pair I’m going to cut them slightly wider and put cuffs in.

Space for the Butterflies - Monkey Leggings for Pip

And the verdict from their small wearer:

“Mine monkey trousies!”

Space for the Butterflies - Monkey Leggings for Pip

He wouldn’t let me take them off him when it was bedtime; and so after we’d washed off the mud, and his sisters’ efforts at decorating, back on they went – I think that makes them a hit!

Joining Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday, Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm, Craft On and Make Do and Push for Funky Kid Friday