The Steek

My heart was pounding in my chest. My palms were sweating. I could barely breathe.

Carefully, I double checked the blue lines of thread that ran up the front of my colorful knitting.

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Taking the scissors in my hand and inhaling a deep, steadying breath, I put the steel to the wool.

And then I cut it.

I think I might have started to black out a little, so I paused and waited for my sight to return.

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Seeing the shiny silver scissors eating up my knitting made me a little nauseous, but I carried on and cut up the entire length of my sweater.

My hand was shaking as I set the scissors down next to my carefully constructed knitting. I stepped back and leaned against the china cabinet for a moment.

Then I looked at my work and I was happy.

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My first steek was a success!

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Nine

IMGP0264The Dancing Queen is nine years old!

Last week, my third child turned nine. For her birthday, I gave to her pattern, fabric, and notions needed to make herself a new dress. The pattern is also for a matching doll dress (which we will make another day). Part of the gift was hours of one on one time with me as together we cut, sewed, and eventually modeled and photographed this new dress. It was lots of fun.

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This pattern in super cute – with button holes in the back of the bodice that the shoulder straps lace through.

IMGP0268And the matching shorts underneath make it very playground friendly.

IMGP0269Which was a good thing, considering that her birthday celebration was at John’s Incredible Pizza.

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So, another year gone by. Another child inches towards independence (or, should I say, shoots towards it at break-neck speed!)

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Happy Birthday, Dancing Queen! I love you!

A Collection Of Randomness

First off, I would like to thank all of you who have been asking me if I am still alive. Yes, I am here, still pregnant, and healthy, and extremely uncomfortable. Hence the lack of blogging. I don’t want to make this blog my whining place about all of the ways that this pregnancy is torturing me, so I simply stay away. And then there is The Cave, which is once again beckoning me to hide away and finish off this gestation in solitary confinement, preferably in a warm bath with soft music and occasional, brief visits from the little people whom I love, but are who so loud and energetic!

There are some things that I can share with you, though, of the knitting and spinning variety, that would make a decent blog post. So, here is a random collection of my yarnie activities from the last month. (to shorten my sitting at the computer, I am not going to provide individual links to all of these projects. The details can be found in my Ravelry notebook here.)

1. Rainbows!

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2. Billowy Blanket

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IMGP9134_medium3. Fishie Socks!

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4. A baby sweater that came out too big (and so was reassigned to The Fraggle) and a second version that came out just right.

IMGP9197_medium2IMGP9192_medium25. Some sewing has happened, too. Necessitating some matching knit shorties, of course. (Super easy and cute sewing pattern from here and adorable fabric from this Etsy shop – you gotta check out her fabric. She has Mo Willems Pigeon fabric! Oh my! Too cute! )

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6. And, of course, some spinning. It feels like cheating to not properly post about these yarns – they were all great learning experiences and I have a lot to say about them. Maybe I will come back to that later. (Notes are on the stash pages if you can’t wait) For now, just enjoy the pretties. ooooooo, pretties!

IMGP9167_medium IMGP9211_medium IMGP9131_medium IMGP9171_mediumIMGP9162_mediumThere is knitting in progress, some baby related, some not. Spinning is on hold for now, as my feet swell horribly after I sit at the wheel for any decent length of time.

In other news (since this is a random post), my three June Bugs are turning 6, 4, and 2 years old this month and there is a super frilly, pastel pink, girlie-girlie, ballerina tea party coming up that will be very fun to show you. I think that I enjoy planning the parties more than the kids enjoy the actual event, which really is a good thing, because it is a lot of work!

And, now, the obligatory belly shot – 35 weeks down, 5 more to go (give or take)

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SO, that is me for now. I’ll try to check in again before baby comes, but I make no promises. Just know that when this pregnancy finally ends and I have a wonderful new baby and a body that doesn’t torment me anymore, I will surely return to being a good blogger. Thanks again for all of your support and well wishes. I enjoy hearing from all of you, both here and on Ravelry. I have such a sweet group of cyber friends. Thank you for hanging in there with me!

 

 

 

The Ultimate, Super Awesome, Amazing Knitting Needle Case of Glory

It was elusive, this idea rolling around in my head. How to best store my vast and growing collection of knitting needles? I spent lots of money, sewed lots of prototypes, recruited household items (vases, baskets, and the like), and yet I find myself always rummaging around, always digging and ransacking and pillaging, but never finding the needle that I need.

Then, lightbulb! I realized that I was going about it all wrong. Why do I have my needles separated according to type and brand? When I what I really need is to sort them according to size. When I want a size six needle for a project, it is silly that I have to get out five different needle rolls to see what I even have available? Knit Picks nickle interchangeable is always my first pick, but if there isn’t a six in there, then out comes my Hiya Hiya set. Nope, no six in there. Well, maybe a fixed circular in a different case. No. Well, do I at least have a set of six DPNs? Those are in yet another roll. Ridiculous! No wonder it takes me forever to find anything.

So, I did a few sketches, thought about my idea for a few days more and then started sewing. Wanna see the Ultimate, Super Awesome, Amazing Knitting Needle Case of Glory? Well, here you go!

Each size needle from 3 to 10 has it’s own folder, and each folder is labeled on the top.

There is one folder for larger needles that I rarely use and don’t have many of and I am going to make a folder for 2’s and smaller. It is going to be different than these that I am showing you now, with smaller pockets and more rows.

Okay, so each folder looks like this

 

and snaps closed at two points.

Inside, there are pockets for every needle that I have in that given size, shown here size 8.

 

A place for everything, from my ten inch straights, fixed circulars, and DPNs, to all of the tips for the interchangeable sets.

I am thinking about one single folder for all of the cables, end caps, and other interchangeable parts as well. Either that, or collecting them and putting cables for each set in with every size. We’ll see how user friendly it is so far.

So there it is. I am really excited about it and want to cast on new projects just to see how easy it is to find the needles to do so! Pretty ultimate, super awesome, and amazing, right?

 

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My latest sewing adventure has ended and I am thrilled with the results!

The pattern is Simplicity 2588 and the fabric I used was 3 yards Joel Dewberry Fabric- Aviary II Collection – Sparrows – Bark. (I don’t usually blog about sewing, so that sentence felt very awkward. How does one describe fabric? Is there a format?) I got the fabric from this Etsy shop. And, hey! I found out that fabric shopping is almost as fun as yarn shopping! Who knew?

I changed only one thing – I replaced the fabric belt with an old faux leather belt that came with a pair of pants and has been sitting in the back my sock drawer for years and years. It works perfectly.

This dress was inspired by a dress that I can’t afford, found here. I like mine better, but I still want that one, too. Ha! Amazingly, as expensive as it is to sew your own clothes, my handmade version of this dress dress cost me about half of the price of store bought one.
Disappointingly, The Man doesn’t like it. I don’t know about you, but I dress for my man and I want him to like what I am wearing. It is very discouraging that he hasn’t really liked any of my homemade dresses so far.

But, I really like it. A lot. A really a lot. Oodles and oodles a lot. So I can’t wait to wear it to my cousin’s wedding in two weeks.

Next I am going to try to sew some corduroy pants for The Boy and a dress for each of the girls to wear to the wedding. In two weeks. We’ll see if I can do it….

… in between all the spinning and knitting that I also want to do….

 

 

Dearest Little T

Dearest Little T,

Two days before I went into the hospital to give birth to my little Fraggle, your sweet mama was giving birth to you. It was uncanny how similar our circumstances were – we both had high blood pressure and had to be induced, we each came through our trials with a beautiful baby girl to show for it.

Two baby girls and two mothers who were bedridden with high blood pressure. Two friends unable to help the other. Two lives beginning in more than a few frustrated tears. Your mother and I spent our pregnancy’s together with weekly knitting sessions and lots of dreaming about when our girls would come. It didn’t quite go down the way we thought at first, but here we are one year out, and I couldn’t be happier.

I have so enjoyed our weekly get togethers since you and The Fraggle were born. Watching the two of you grow and change so fast, watching you learn new things and explore the world around you, has been such a joy. Even some of the comparisons give me pleasure (you may be talking up a storm, but The Fraggle will walk first! HA!).

So, this year for your birthday, your first birthday, I wanted to make something special for you.

Go ahead, open it!

Okay, let me tell you about it. The shoes first.

When I showed your Mama the pattern for these shoes, I am almost sure that she swooned, so I knew you had to have a pair. Someday you may understand how much I love you when I say that these were crocheted (huge sacrifice on my part). I used some bits of Knit Picks cotton for the colored sections because I thought it would be sturdy and that you’d like the pink. The soles are made of jute twine so that you can wear them outside. (Ravelry project page here)

The shoes really are the main gift, but not so fun for you, right? I confess that I mostly made those for your mom. The doll is for you.

She is made of wool and muslin and cotton floss. She is stuffed with wool and potpurri that should help you sleep if you cozy up to her and breath in her sweet scent. But the best part is her hair. I know how you love hair, so I gave her a lot. Feel free to pull, tug, and frizz it up because she comes with a lifetime hair replacement guarantee. Whenever her hair gets pulled out or worn to wisps, just bring her by and I will needle felt a new wig for her lickety-split.

Oh, and the bag it was wrapped in should make a perfect purse for your little hands.

I am so excited about the years to come, My Dear. I hope that you and The Fraggle will become the best of friends as your mama and I grow closer as well. I also hope that someday the two of you will sit and knit with us (that would be so cool!).

Happy Birthday, Little T.

S.

Two More for the Wardrobe

The sewing machine has been a buzz again and I have two more dresses to show for it.

First up was a kind of personal challenge. I had two yards of jersey knit and I wondered if I could make a dress with it. I had a design in mind and I wanted to be able to nurse The Fraggle while wearing it. I acheived both, but it does require a tank top underneath (I am a modest kind of gal).

This fabric at first did not really do it for me, and I started out using it as a kind of junk fabric to make the pattern with. After it was all figured out my intention was to cut it apart and make the real dress in something more “me”. But, once I put it on I really liked it. I don’t think that I need a pattern to make another one with the originally intended fabric (a lavender and white striped jersey knit). That will be proven (or not) when I next get a sewing bug. I have no pictures of this one, because I can’t find it right now… maybe it is in the laundry? I wear it that much!

The second dress was a variation of the green dress that I made a few weeks ago (blogged here). Using the same pattern, I changed the neckline and the length and fullness of the skirt. This one feels more formal to me and I can’t nurse in it. I guess we will see how much I wear it once The Fraggle is weaned.

This fabric was leftover from a blouse that my grandma made for me when I was a teen (why she had four yards leftover is beyond me. She must have approached fabric purchases the same way that I approach yarn purchases). I was going through the “black” phase, as most teens seem to do and the blouse was a 1990’s fashion wow. I can’t look at this dress and not think of that blouse… and the bangs that I wore with that blouse. In time I hope the negative sentiment fades because I really do like it and I want to wear it. Time will tell.

Oh, and for the bonus, those headbands that I showed you how to make (here)? Yup, I made some for these dresses, too! 🙂

All of this sewing has been very fun, but I am getting frustrated with my lack of knowledge. So far, I have made up each of the patterns that I have sewn, and I have come to the end of that road. So, I just ordered some patterns and some fabric from Etsy so that I can keep going on this quest to fill my closet with handmade clothing. Should be fun.

Tomorrow we will start a new weekly comic strip. The Bookworm and I have been working on it for a few weeks and we are so excited to be putting it on the blog! See you tomorrow!

Doll Hair – A Quick and Dirty Tutorial

Okay – I don’t have a doll in progress, so I threw this together for you quick and dirty.

First, decide how long you want your doll’s hair to be, then find a flat item that is about that width. I have used CD cases or small books, or even some paper folded to the right width. Here I am using a wide ruler. You will also need scissors, scotch tape, a sewing machine, a needle, and lots of yarn.
Wrap your yarn around it a lot. Then wrap some more. You can always take some off later. It helps if you know the measurement of the dolls head from the forehead hairline to the nape of the neck. That is how wide you want your swath to be.
I didn’t make this example very wide. You will want more than this – wide enough to cover from forehead to nape of the neck on your doll. Now, cut your end and put a strip of scotch tape across the front.
Turn it over and cut it at the same point in back that your tape is in front, so that both sides are the same length from the tape.
Now it looks like this-
If you have a lot and the tape isn’t holding it well enough, put another piece of tape on the other side so that the yarn is held straight.
Now, sew a seam along the middle of the tape.
So that it looks like this –
(obviously you will want to use matching thread so that it doesn’t show). The sewing perforates the tape so that it comes off easily when you tear it off.
Make two of these.
To attach to the head, use your yarn and a needle and line the seam up with where the dolls part would be and sew it on right down the center. Stitch it securely down the length of the seam, from forehead to nape of the neck.
Sew on the second piece, lining up the seam up with the hairline around the face.
Obviously, my piece is not wide enough. Yours should frame the entire face. When you are done, flip the “bangs” part back and style the hair in pony tails or braids as you please.
 
You could even cut bangs if you wanted to. I haven’t tried that, yet.
These are the dolls that I have used this technique on.
Long braids in lace weight yarn.
Short pony tails in fingering weight.
And even a pony mane.
Inspiration for my technique was found here. She tells in better detail how to measure the head. I just eyeball it. 🙂
Enjoy your wig making!

There She Sews Again

In my daydreams of sundresses and strappy sandals (as described yesterday), my head is usually adorned in matching headbands. So, of course, I had to engineer a pattern for that, too. What I came up with was so easy, and looks so great, I thought I would show you how.

Welcome to another WoolAndChocolate tutorial! 🙂

How to make a reversible headband for summer wear.

1. Make your pattern. Roughly it should look like this. A single piece of paper isn’t long enough, so you may need to tape another page to the first to make it long enough.

2. Cut out two pieces, placing the wide end on the fold of your fabric. I chose two very similar fabrics for this one, but it is fun to mix and match contrasting fabrics, as well.

3. Sew the two pieces together, right sides facing each other. Sew along the sides, leaving the ends open. Now, notch the curves so that they lay flat and trim wherever it’s needed.

4. Turn right side out and press it flat.

5. Now turn the ends under and press them in place.

6. Using a matching thread, top stitch around the entire edge.

7. Tie on your head and enjoy!