Sundress Prototype

It is not often that I pull out my sewing machine and try to design clothing for myself, so last week was very, well… interesting. With the hot summer weather approaching I have visions of sweet sundresses and strappy sandals. I imagine an entire wardrobe made by me, for me in gorgeous colors and airy fabrics. I started searching for inspiration on the internet and found bucket loads of ideas. Then I went stash diving – not the knitters stash dive into wool and alpaca, but the seamstress’s stash dive into cotton lawn and organza. This is what I came up with –

Being without a pattern, I remembered the wisdom of my grandma, and I got out some plain muslin to make a first draft. I somehow managed to fashion a dress and then (regrettably before taking a photo) I cut it into pattern pieces. With those pieces, I made this-

Okay, okay, I will model it for you…

(Why is it that when I model my knitting, I feel awesome, but when I model my sewing, I just feel like a dweeb?)

So, this little green number still has some areas that need work. It is too short and the skirt is too full for my figure (a feature that looked nice in muslin, but not so nice in lined cotton). I like it, though – it is comfortable and cute and nice and cool.

This dress is fully lined, because I love lining dresses (call me crazy), and because the fabric is a little shear, and if I have to wear a slip with it, it will hang in my closet for two years before getting thrown in the Goodwill bag having never been worn!

I have also completed a second dress, this time with an a-line skirt and gathered bodice –

But it doesn’t fit right and I think I am going to have to take it apart and try again. That is a little discouraging, so I have been stalling for a couple of days.

All this sewing is exhausting and I remember now why I turned to knitting. But, it is rewarding, too, and I am getting better at it as I go. Maybe before the heat gets here, I will have that wardrobe that I am dreaming of.

Or maybe I will just knit another pair of socks….

Every Stitch An “I Love You”

When I knit something for someone, I spend hours thinking of her, imagining her smile when she sees what I have made, hoping she will love it. A knitted gift is so much more than a mere pair of socks or hat or sweater. It is “I love you” said tens of thousands of times – one “I love you” for every stitch. But even a pair of socks cannot contain enough stitches for my mama.

My mom’s birthday was yesterday, and I was so excited to give her these socks (project page on Ravelry here). They are Esther Socks in MacKintosh Skye Sock Yarn Twilight.

Three things about this knit –

1. This pattern is so gorgeous. It was easy to memorize and turned out lovely. That said, there were a few quirks. The cuff is a bit tight and hard to get over my heel, and the difference between the small and the large was a whole ten stitches! I had to choose between too small or too large, not an easy choice for a gift. I chose too small hoping to stretch them a bit when I blocked them. It worked, but I was a little unsatisfied with it. Also, it was originally written in German and the translation is a little awkward. I relied pretty heavily on the Ravelry notes of those who had gone before.

2. I made some modifications (big surprise, I know). I only did one repeat of the pattern for the cuff before diving into the heel. As for the heel, I used my new love, the sweet tomato. I also switched the direction of the cables on the second sock so that the two socks would mirror each other. Mom will probably never notice, but it pleased me greatly to do so. 🙂

3. This yarn is a bit normal. Nice, but not fabulous. It knit up normally, it felt normal on my feet. The color is nice, but not fabulous. Maybe I am just still reeling from the amazingness of the Casbah, I don’t know. It is good yarn. It is a pretty color. Not every ball of yarn is going to knock me over, I guess. That said, I would buy more in a heartbeat!

Another happy pair of feet wrapped in knitted love. My job is done here.

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Green

The Boy’s Green Sweater

Driftwood Cardigan in Dream in Color Classy, Emerald Darkness

With matching hat of my own design.

My boy wasn’t too comfortable modeling, so we went the silly route. 🙂

Three things about this knit.

1. The pattern was less than great. First of all, I made the mistake of assuming that it covered the size that I needed (it didn’t), but that was a minor thing. Being top-down, I just made it big enough with no problem. Secondly, the pattern was written as if it were just notes taken while someone knit it. It felt very unorganized and incomplete. I had to rely on my experience to make it out and I felt that for a written pattern it should have been better. Once I got the gist of the thing, I stopped following the pattern at all and just winged it. Not exactly what I spent $6.25 for.

2. This is not the first time I have used this yarn and my opinion of it hasn’t changed. It isn’t very luxurious and it isn’t my favorite to use, but it wears wonderfully and is machine washable, so it is a good choice for The Boy, who tends to be hard on his clothes. Another good thing about this yarn is the yardage – a full sweater and hat made from less than four skeins of yarn. And the color! Oh the colors of this brand are so amazing!

3. I got some really spiffy ebony buttons from this Etsy shop. They look awesome. I had played with the idea of using snaps and ribbon, or even a zipper, but the buttons won in the end. I am happy with how it looks.

Getting The Boy to model for me wasn’t hard, but he sure was glad when it was over. Look at him go!

I am glad this one is done, too. Time to knit a sweater for me. I already wound the four balls of Malabrigo Sock needed for it, but confess that I am on a sock knitting kick that doesn’t seem to be letting up.  See?

Socks of my own design, Shibui Knits Sock, Spectrum

Remember These

My days are full of “must remember this” moments, moments that I hope I will be able to recall twenty years from now when I am an empty-nester and I have all day to myself.

Cuddling with my three Littles as the early morning light streams in through the window.

Listening to The Munchkin prattle on endlessly, with her lisp and her smile. 

Drinking the watered down coffee that The Dancing Queen proudly made just for me.

Teaching The Princess how to grate cheese.

Hearing The Bookworm sing in her sweet voice the song she just wrote.

Watching The Boy mime entire battles in the backyard.

Playing peek-a-boo over and over and over (and over) again with The Fraggle.

These moments. I don’t ever want to forget them. And while there is the myriad photographs that I have taken to help jog the memory, and the home videos, as well, I am afraid that it will all fade from my mind. And so I am in the business of enjoying each of these moments to the fullest. Savoring my time with my young children before they grow up. I feel the temporary-ness of this situation. I have a twelve year old already, and it seems only yesterday she was crawling around the house on all fours. It goes so fast. So fast. I don’t want to miss even a second.

While I know that all sounds so poetic, so picturesque, so unrealistic, I am here to tell you that we do have not so nice moments, too.

Washing dishes to the sound of the living room being ransacked.

Cleaning up poop when someone didn’t make it to the potty fast enough. 

Refereeing fights and begging them to “please just act like people who love each other”. 

Saying the same things over and over and over and over and over and over…….

Sure, every day has those moments too. But I think I might miss those someday, as well. I was made for this job and “Mama” is all that I ever wanted to be.

One day my house will be clean. One day I will finish row after row of knitting uninterupted. One day I will wash a load of laundry or two and be done. One day it will be quiet in this house. One day I will be free to jump up and go when I want, eat whatever I want without sharing with six other people, and take a nap at any hour of the day. And that will be lovely.

But these moments now, these are my priceless treasures. Each day that I spend enjoying my little ones is a gift. Each moment is so precious. The good ones and the less good ones and even the frustrating ones, they all come together to make up a mosaic of the good life. Life with Littles.

 

 

This Moment – Monterey Bay Aquarium (and a giveaway winner, too!)

A Friday ritual inspired by SouleMama. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

And the winner of the woolandchocolate blog birthday giveaway is eidolons of Wild Faerie Caps! Congratulations!

Call in the Reinforcements!

Yesterday I mentioned that I had reinforced the bottom of the foot section of my new socks. This is how I did it. (Inspired by this article in Knitty.com)

First, I turned the sock inside out and put it on my foot. Then, using a contrasting color yarn and a darning needle, I outlined my trouble area – the balls of my feet is where I always get holes in my socks.

If you are following along, outline your specific trouble area – do you get holes in your heels first? Your toes?

Yes, this totally tickled like crazy!

Next, I took the sock off and put it on a sock blocker (inside out). Alternately, you could use a darning egg or really anything that will hold the fabric slightly stretched.

Taking my matching yarn and my needle, I then began weaving up and down over the outlined area like so.

When I had covered the entire section with weaving, I cut the yarn and took my sock off the blocker.

Then I pulled out my outline yarn.

When this is done right, the reinforcement is totally invisible from the right side.

It is my hope and expectation that this will increase the lifespan of these most excellent socks. I will let you know how it works out.

Simple Pleasures

Handknit socks in Handmaiden Casbah. No pattern, just mindless knitting and amazing results.

Three things about this knit.

1. The pattern – I cast on 64, worked a 2×2 rib for about 1 inch, and immediately went to the heel. I was really excited to try out the sweet tomato heel and I was not disappointed. It is awesome. I worked 3 wedges of the sweet tomato heel, then knit the foot to 2 inches short of the length of my foot (maintaining a 6×2 rib over the top of the foot) and finished off with a regular toe and a kitchener graft over 10 stitches at the very end.

See the heel? Cool, huh?

2. The yarn – heavenly. The colors are splendid, the cashmere is so soft, this yarn is amazing. I could gush for pages but I will just say this one thing – get some. You’ll love it. Oh – and this little pair of socks used less than half, so I still have a good amount left over! Yippee!

3. The next time – This was the first time I have ever attempted to knit socks without a pattern and I am pleased with the results. Next time I need to remember a few things. One: knit a longer cuff. Two inches at least. Two: do something prettier than 6×2 ribbing. Three: Well, I guess that is it. These socks are pretty close to perfect.

Oh, and one more thing. After knitting and wearing several pairs of socks I have discovered that I tend to wear holes in my socks on the balls of my feet. I tried a new trick to reinforce these socks in that area and I will tell you all about it tomorrow.

Lil’ Olive

It isn’t very often that I knit a pattern twice. I have now knit this one three times. You might remember these dolls that I made last year for The Princess and The Munchkin?

Well, I went and knit another. Meet Lil’ Olive, my gift to my niece for her first birthday.

Three things about this knit.

1. I still think that this doll looks so much cuter without a face. I also made the head larger than the pattern dictated and totally winged my own dress. I am so glad that I took good notes the last time that I knitted one of these, because I really like my modifications.

2. My niece, like her Mama and Papa, has dark hair, so I went with some black Knit Picks Palette. I should really make a tutorial on how I did the hair, because it was so easy and looks amazing (if I do say so myself).

3. I was so excited to give this to my sister in law niece. And her delight made my day.

Trumpets and Fanfare and A Giveaway, Too!

WoolandChocolate, the blog, is now two years old! Happy Birthday, Dear Bloggy-blog! In celebration we should have a giveaway! But first, I must gush and prattle, right?

When I first began blogging it was really out of curiosity. Where would it go? What would I write about? Would anyone actually read it? Well, thanks to you, it has been so much fun! Writing a new post at the beginning of nearly every day for two years has been an amazing experience. I have met some fantastic people (you know who you are), I have learned new things, and I have been motivated to finish projects that otherwise would have just been forgotten. Since I always say three things about every finished project, I am going to say three things about this blog. A bit self serving, I suppose, but I am going to do it anyway! HA!

1. It was time for a face lift. Like it? I do too. Check out the new pages. There is a new “about me” page where I moved all the family bio’s and I rewrote them, gave them new, more recent pictures, and V got renamed.  There is a link page where you can find some cool stuff to check out. There is a new pattern page with new links to the patterns in the Ravelry store. By moving all that stuff to separate pages, I uncluttered the home page, which I really like.

2. WoolandChocolate now has a new address. I purchased the domain name and am now woolandchocolate.com. I am unreasonably excited about this.

3. WoolandChocolate can now be found on Facebook. And I actually have fans. Wow. Check it out and join in the chit-chat. facebook.com/sweetknitting

And now, the giveaway.

I have put together a headband kit (see below) to giveaway to one lucky winner. And, since I know that there are nonknitters who read this, if you don’t knit you can still win – I just happen to have one all knitted up and ready to go. So, knitters and knitters who don’t knit yet (because I am going to convert you eventually!) enter in three ways.

1. Leave a comment telling me why you keep coming back and reading this blog.
2. Like my Facebook page and leave a comment here telling me that you did so.
3. Pin something from this blog to Pinterest and leave a comment here telling me what you pinned and why.

Using a random number generator, I will pick the winner on Friday and announce it alongside my “This Moment” photo. Good luck and thanks so much for being the fabulous readers that you are! Here’s to another great year of knitting!

Headband kit includes a PDF of my Natalie Headband pattern and enough Malabrigo Chunky in black to knit one headband, plus a small amount of Malabrigo Worsted in Kaliedos for embellishment. Alternately, non-knitters will receive the headband pictured above instead of the yarn and PDF.