Knitted hats and broken needles

I have one finished project to write about (almost two!), but I haven’t had any time to take proper pictures.  So, you’ll have to be left in suspense as to how my crazy jeans turned out for just a little bit longer.  I will say, though, that I have worn them and I got a lot of compliments!  So, I’ll say they are a success. In the mean time, I’ve done a fair amount of knitting.  With the Olympics coverage on non-stop in my house, it’s hard to tear myself away and head to the sewing room.  Knitting on the couch has been much easier.  I’m done with the body of my Miette cardigan, and only have to tackle the sleeves and button bands next.  Very exciting.

I’ve also made two hats for the nephews!  (We won’t talk about how overdue these gifts are…) hats I used Lion Brand Tweed Stripes in Ozarka Forest (left) and Woodlands (right).  I made up the pattern as I went and they turned out quite well.  The husband has now requested one made up in his size, though he can’t decide which color he likes best.

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My notes about making these hats are on Ravelry here.

I’ve been on a serious denim kick recently (not helped by every local fabric store having tons of gorgeous colors and styles to choose from every time I walk into them!), so after I finished the crazy jeans (hopefully to be blogged about this weekend), I moved right on to a jean skirt.  Construction of that was going very well, until I tried to tackle the buttonhole…

My machine has a 11(!) different buttonhole options.  But the buttonhole foot is a little different than any I’ve used before.  Maybe that accounts for this…

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Whoops.  Or maybe my three-layers of denim were too thick for the needle to handle (though I did use a denim needle!).  I don’t know.  I do know I decided that I needed a break at that point.  But, this should be finished tonight.  So, two new finished projects should make their appearances shortly!

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WIPs

Holy cow.  We’re 23 days into the new year, and I have yet to complete a single project.  Yikes.  This is partly due to the fact that I’ve had a million family things to do lately, and also partly due to the fact that in the little sewing time I’ve had lately, I’ve been exclusively focused on one project – jeans!

Here’s a glimpse of the crazy jeans I’ve got in the works (which I hope to finish tonight!):

jeansI’m using the Style Arc Sandra Narrow Leg Jeans.  So far so good!  Just have to do the button/buttonhole, tack down the belt loops and hem the legs!  Looking forward to having my first pair of jeans completed.

On a side note, taking a photo of jeans without anyone wearing them made me think of the Dr. Seuss story, “The Pale Green Pants.”  Is that weird?  Yeah… maybe I’ve spent too much time around kids…

My other current WIP is the Miette Cardigan by Andi Satterlund.  I’m using Cascade 220 Heathers in Mallard.

miettewipIt’s going to go well with my crazy-colored jeans!

I could probably survive a zombie apocalypse

Last week, I started reminiscing about living in France and I realized that the thing I miss the most was the availability of freshly baked bread and organic meats and vegetables.  I loved going to the farmer’s market every Sunday to purchase fruit, veggies, eggs, bread and a roasted chicken. all organic and all locally produced.  Those days were the very best.  While reminiscing, I realized that I may no longer be in France, but there is no reason that I can’t have the same delicious foods.  I decided I should get back to baking and focus on making and eating more organic foods with less preservatives.

So, first up – bread!  I found this very simple recipe for no-knead artisan bread on Simply So Good and decided to give it a try.  I whipped up the dough on Friday evening around 6:30pm, and let it rise until Saturday around 5pm before popping it in the oven.  It was so easy and turned out so well!

bread(That loaf lasted until yesterday evening, and I actually baked another loaf this morning before work!)

I didn’t want to eat the same old processed butter on such a delicious loaf of bread, so I whipped up some homemade cultured butter to accompany it.  I used this recipe from America’s Test Kitchen.  It required a little time (set up the cream and yogurt on Friday evening and actually turned it into butter on Monday morning) and a fair amount of effort (mixing the cream into butter/buttermilk mixture, squeezing out the buttermilk in cheesecloth and then washing the butter six times to get the rest of the buttermilk out before rolling it into a log), but it turned out so well!  I’m not sure that the cost and effort is really worth it to consume only homemade butter, but it’s definitely doable for a special treat.

butterAlso, the act of making butter made me really study the butters on the shelves at the nearby grocery stores, and I’ll probably be a lot more picky about which butters I buy in the future.

I also purchased a wonderful new cookbook, The Homemade Pantry by Alana Chernila (available from Amazon here), which has recipes for tons of basics, like granola, nut butters, ricotta, mozzarella, pop tarts, etc.  I can’t wait to give some of those recipes a try.  I think I’ll start with the granola first.  Guys, I’m on a roll with the healthy eating/organic cooking thing!

Mixed in with all the cooking (I also made a huge batch of red beans and rice yesterday!), we also took Gordy on his first foray into the ocean yesterday!  He’s still not entirely sure about water, but he loved the barnacles.

photo Between this weather and the Seahawks making it to the Super Bowl, this was a fantastic weekend in the Emerald City!

Socks, socks and more socks

While I haven’t been sewing much, I have been doing a lot of knitting.  Sock knitting, specifically.  Turns out, socks are the perfect portable project.  I’ve been spending a fair amount of time hanging out in hospitals lately (my 93-year old grandma has been very sick), which means lots of time to work on socks!

In the last three weeks, I’ve made three pairs of sock and I’m working on my fourth.  First, I made a pair of socks for my best friend, because she kept mentioning that her life-long goals was to have a pair of hand-knit socks.

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She described them as a “hug on [her] feet,” which I take to mean she likes them!

Next, I decided that, if I’m going to make socks, I should have a pair for myself!  So, I made these for me:

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I love the self-striping yarn, though I failed and trying to match the stripes.  Whoops.  Oh well, they are for me, so I guess it’s okay.  It’s amazing how perfectly socks fit when they are made to your own measurements!

Finally, I decided my grandma needed a healing and love-filled pair of socks while she recovers.  So, I made these:

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In her favorite color, of course.  I don’t have a photo of the finished socks because I gave them to her just as soon as they were done so she would have something nice to wear while she was at the rehab center after her most recent hospital visit.  But, they turned out well, they fit her perfectly, and she loved them.  So, success!  Now I’m working on a similar pair in grey for myself, because these were the most comfortable socks I’ve ever tried on!

After I finish the grey pair, I’m planning on starting on the Cropped Sweater for Winter.  I think I’ll make it out of the same yarn I used for my grandma’s socks – I just love the color and the feel of it.  It’s Cascade Superwash in Rainier Heather.

Seeking sewing mojo

Aside

Alright, let’s pretend that it hasn’t been over a year since my last post…

Since August of 2012, I’ve gotten married, gotten a puppy, completed my first jury trial, worked a lot, sewed a lot, traveled a lot, knitted a fair amount, and had lots of game/trivia nights with friends.

Anyway, the real reason I’ve decided to start blogging again is because I’ve recently lost my sewing mojo!  It’s tragic, really.  Over the last month or so, I’ve barely spent any time sewing.  I typically spend at least a couple of nights per week working on garment sewing, but, lately, I haven’t even touched my sewing machine!  😦  In fact, the only sewing I’ve done in the last month is to make two pot holders for Christmas gifts.  That’s pretty sad.  While there have been a lot of family and personal things weighing on me, which partially explains the lack of sewing mojo, I’m determined to get my mojo back!  So, I’m re-starting this blog in the hopes that I’ll feel motivated to start sewing more often if I have a place where I can show off my finished objects.

To further motivate myself, I’m establishing the following goals for 2014.  They aren’t resolutions (because I hate the idea of making New Year’s resolutions – why not make a “resolution” any time you find the need to make a change and go for that?  Seems like you don’t have to wait until January 1 to start a new goal!  But I digress…), but they are something I hope will motivate me in the next few months.

So here we go!

New garments I’d like to create:
1. Finish my first pair of jeans (currently in progress – style arc narrow leg sandra jeans);
2. Try out the jalie jeans pattern;
3. Make a blazer;
4. Make a fitted coat;
5. Make a pencil skirt; and
6. Button-up shirt (Archer?).

Sewing skills I’d like to learn:
1. Professional looking button holes!!
2. Improve lining skills on skirts;
3. Pants fitting techniques (and establish TNT pants pattern which can be adapted to different styles); and
4. Improve muslin-fitting skills.

And, of course, I have a few knitting goals, too:

1. Knit a sweater I actually want to wear! (Maybe this one?);
2. Practice stranded colorwork knitting (Starting with this pattern);
3. Knit these socks (for myself);
4. Improve blocking!
5. Actually do gauge swatches before beginning projects…; and
6. Work on sewing up seams in knitted works!

So, lots of goals and a whole year in which to try to accomplish them.  I’m already more excited, having just laid the goals out there.  🙂

Recharged with solitude and sewing

I spent most of last weekend reading, sewing, and just enjoying some alone time.  It was glorious.  I am fairly outgoing, but there are just times when I need to spend a couple of days by myself.  Having done that, I now feel like I can face the world again for a while.  I feel recharged.

One of Ike’s millions of cousins just had a baby, so I decided it’d be a good time to make a baby gift.  My very favorite stuffed animal as a kid was a stuffed animal that someone hand made for me.  It was sort of a nondescript cross between a teddy bear and a puppy dog (I think), but I loved it so much.  If I could make a stuffed animal to look exactly like my “green baby” (oh, how creative I was with the naming!), I’d do it.  But, since I have no clue how to go about doing that, I searched the internet for a fabric teddy bear pattern.  I found this pattern from How Joyful and decided to give it a try.

Here’s the end product:

I used some fleece that I had on hand (left over from a fleece quilt), made a couple of changes to make it newborn friendly (stitched on the eyes, instead of using buttons which pose a choking hazard), and voila!  It’s soft and cuddly – perfect for a new baby.  The pattern makes quite a large teddy bear, perfect for little baby hands to grab!  And I found the process of putting it together quite easy.  I’m so excited to give this to the new baby girl in the family.  I’ve already started work on another one, with blue accents, for another new baby in the extended family.

A week of gluten free living

I’ve made it an entire week without gluten.  I have probably consumed tiny amounts on accident, but I’ve tried being very careful over the last week and have inspected every item before eating it to make sure it doesn’t include any gluten.  And….  I feel better.  I’m no longer suffering after every meal.  So, that’s a huge improvement.  I’ll have to keep up with this and see how it goes, but, for the first week at least, going gluten free has been worth it.  Plus, lucky for me, I live near a PCC, which has some pretty delicious gluten-free baked goods.  I was even able to eat a sandwich last night, using gluten free bread, and it was delicious.  Ike and I had pizza the other night on a gluten-free crust and I didn’t even miss the gluten!  Eating out is a bit of a pain, but as long as I do some internet research before I go, it’s been fine so far.  Of course, it has only been a week… Shopping for a gluten-free wedding cake may prove to be a bit of pain, but oh well.

My mom and I went wedding dress shopping on Sunday at Belltown Bride.  This was my fourth trip to try on different wedding dresses.  I had been feeling quite discouraged, thinking that I’d never find a dress that I really liked.  I’d even considered just making my own dress.  But, about half way through the 2-hour appointment, I found THE dress.  It’s absolutely perfect and I love it.  I never thought I’d be this excited about a dress, but man.  I cannot wait to wear it!

This is the dress (from the photo on the designer’s website: http://www.amykuschel.com/gowns/lucky):

Yay!

Now, I just have to go about hiring a caterer. And a florist.  And someone to bring in the linens and such. And find Ike a suit.  And get wedding bands…  *sigh*  That list never seems to get any shorter…