Thursday, 13 May 2010

Kids Clothing Challenge Update

I'm a little discouraged with my sewing progress. I'm pleased that I've got myself working in my sewing room every day this week so far as challenged. The problem is I'm beginning to feel as though I'm going to end the week with only one outfit made (and I haven't actually finished that one yet). This is the pattern I've been working on and a glimpse at the work in progress:

It's not a particularly complicated garment, I did make it a little trickier for myself by essentially making two dresses though. The floral print I bought is fairly thin so I knew it would need something worn underneath and so actually decided to cut the pattern pieces also in another fabric to line the garment (I'm joining them together where there's binding at the neck and sleeves and at the opening in the back). Still, I'm not sure what's taking me so long!! Hopefully my daughter will like it, now I'm debating whether I should save it to be a birthday dress since if it's taking me this long I don't know whether I'll get round to more before then!

I haven't actually done the best job of getting sewing on clothes done today anyway to be honest. This morning I ended up spending most of my daughter's school time at her school - they have an assembly for the whole school which parents can attend once a week and I thought I'd go and see that but it meant sitting around for quite a while afterwards as the mother I'd got a ride with was in a meeting. I did do some sewing for my child though, here's a peek at what I was working on:
This is as far as I got because it turned out I had brought the wrong green embroidery floss with me so then I started unravelling the knitting project I've been working on (another reason I'm a bit discouraged with my crafting right now) to restart because I just wasn't happy with the way it was fitting. Here's hoping that tomorrow I can actually manage to finish something!

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Kids Clothes Week Challenge - Day 2

Well, I did sew today for more than the one hour, unfortunately I guess I'm not the fastest sewer so I do not have anything ready to show and tell about yet. Fingers crossed for tomorrow. I have most of the sewing done for the outer part of the dress so I need to finish up the lining and put binding around neck and sleeves and then hem. I have matching trousers cut and ready to sew too. Then it'll be time to make something for the baby.

Hopefully I'll build enough sewing momentum this week to carry me through until the new baby comes and will then actually manage to get through the list of things to make I came up with yesterday (and have thought of more things to add to today of course!).

While I work on my sewing I like to catch up with my BBC radio listening (mostly Radio 4 and 7). I forgot yesterday to mention a series that I've been listening to (currently running on BBC Radio 7) which seems particularly appropriate listening for this sewing challenge - it's called The Invention of Childhood looking at what we know about childhood from the middle ages through to the present day. Each episode is available to "listen again" to for 7 days after broadcast, the first couple of episodes are now gone unfortunately but the series has a total of 30 episodes (each 15 minutes long.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Time to Sew!!

I hope everyone for whom it was Mothers Day yesterday had a good day. Mine was not exactly the day I wished for going into it - my husband and I had talked about me having the afternoon to myself while he took our daughter to see his mother. In the end I went with them which was good but also a little stressful in places and since I napped in the car on the way down I didn't get as much crafting done as I'd thought I would manage.

Maybe I changed my mind because I was feeling a little territorial since the first thing my daughter said upon waking up on Mother's Day was, "I'm so excited because we're going to see Memere today!" Then turned and confided in whispers to my husband that though she'd finished the collage she'd decided to make her Memere the one for me wasn't done so, "maybe I can finish it and give it to her next year" - so nothing for me for Mothers Day morning! She did draw me a picture (of a "rainbow house") while we were in church and then cuddle up in my lap and tell me how much she loves me which is the best gift after all. Plus then the three of us went out for brunch which was very nice. And I suppose there's a teeny tiny chance I'll get another opportunity for a day to myself before I go into labour...

Really though I can't complain because although it can be hard work and exhausting this is where I wanted to be in life - a SAHM with an amazing daughter and a new baby on the way - and there was a time I wondered whether it would happen for me (after several years of trying to get pregnant we lost our first daughter due to a placental abruption about 23 weeks into my pregnancy). And how can I be anything but thankful when there are so many women out there still waiting and hoping, and for some, trying to figure out how to grieve and move on from their dreams of motherhood? When we got home and my daughter was in bed I read a couple of posts that were exactly what I needed to be reading right then, check out this blog post at Uppercase Woman (watch the video too), and the Huffington Post article PBS's 'This Emotional Life': Now Is the Moment to Hold Your Child by Catherine Connors (her brief Mothers Day blogpost is here with a poem by Christina Rossetti). You may well need to get tissues first though.

But wait, this post was supposed to be about sewing wasn't it, whoops! I signed up to join in with elsiemarley's kids clothes week challenge - which is to spend at least one hour a day working on sewing clothes for children for the upcoming season.

I'm hoping I can follow through with it better than I did with eskimimi's knitting and crochet blog week challenge - I started working on the blogposts every day but most of them are currently still in draft form waiting to see if I'll ever finish them. This is largely due to my amazing indecisiveness -- picking just one pattern or designer or knitter is so hard! Just looking at my queue and lists of favourites at ravelry will give you an inkling of how much time I wasted going back and looking through and thinking about and narrowing down what to write about! It did get me knitting again though so that's good -- I'm working on a mini-sweater (aka boobholder) after obsessing over cropped not too warm quick to knit patterns to make and wear at a wedding we have coming up (I have a long black dress and wanted something pretty and colourful which I can wear over my almost ready to pop belly to make me look more wedding like and less funereal).

But to this week's challenge... I did not get quite as far as any actual sewing today but I have been going through my fabric and patterns trying to decide on projects for the week and have cut out fabric for a dress for my daughter, she doesn't really need any more summer dresses but can one have too many? Tomorrow is her long day at preschool so hopefully I'll get some daytime sewing in that might allow for daylight picture taking. I've been looking through pictures people have posted to the flickr group, some really cute stuff already. I'm a little afraid that if I start visiting all the participating blogs I might never actually get any sewing done though so perhaps I'll wait on that until I've posted at least one finished object of my own.

So what I'd like to try and get to this week would be:

  • a dress or two, and perhaps some twirly skirts for my daughter
  • also what she actually needs is be some shorts and summery trousers so that's on my list for sure
  • a sun hat or three would not go amiss since I don't know what happened to the ones we had last summer so right now she just has a purple baseball cap which is really a bit too big for her

I didn't actually go through the baby patterns yet but it's probably what I should really work on - some thoughts for that:
  • kimono tops
  • trousers
  • cloth diapers
  • cloth baby shoes
Now I kind of wish we'd found out whether the baby will be a girl or a boy 'cause if it's a girl I could safely make some baby clothes to coordinate with the dresses for my daughter which I bet she'd get a kick out of. Well I'll save the offcuts and see what happens, perhaps I can use the more girly fabric for doll clothes if it's a boy.

I have another sewing WIP to share at some point, and it's even for my daughter but it's not clothing so maybe I'll take a break from working on it until next week. I'm hoping to finally make her a quilt to give her a special birthday/big sister gift (baby's due in June, her birthday is in July). I'm excited about it and hope I can get it done - it involves embroidery which I need to do before piecing the quilt so I hope I'm not being ridiculously ambitious.

At some point I should probably really be cleaning the house so we can invite people over to see the new baby when it arrives. Oh yes, and actually get the house ready for having a newborn in it again since we've not had changing stations set up around for a long time. Ugh, I'm tiring myself out just thinking about it, the baby on the other hand is doing a little high kicking!

Friday, 30 April 2010

Location, Location, Location – Knitting and Crochet Blog Week Day 5

Today's prompt for Knitting and Crochet Blog Week is:

Where do you like to indulge in your craft? Is your favourite arm chair your little knitting cubby area, or do you prefer to ‘knit in public’? Do you liek to crochet in the great outdoors, perhaps, or knit in the bath, or at the pub?
I probably spend the majority of my knitting time on the couch in my front room or in the passenger seat of the car (I don't drive, yet, so try to always bring a project or three in the car for long drives). Not that those are the only places I'll knit by any means, especially since I became a mother and time to knit became a little harder to come by. If my daughter will play by herself for a while at the playground (or if we happen to be there with other children and she's not being too shy), or when she's running to blow off steam after we come out of the local coop, I'll pull out one of the small projects I keep in my bag and fit in a few rows.

Lots of my friends and some of my family knit/crochet so they don't think it strange for me to pull out some knitting if we're sitting talking. When we visit my husband's family and everyone just sits around to chat and visit it saves my sanity to be able to pull something out of my bag to work on so my fingers don't itch!! I think they think it's an exotic curious thing that I'm working in the corner over there from the questions they ask but they don't seem to mind that I'm doing it thankfully.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Starting Out – Knitting and Crochet Blog Week Day 1

Just as I want to try to get back into the swing of blogging (and generally being creative) again conveniently there's something to join in with that will prompt me to get going each day this week. Courtesy of Eskimimi this week is Knitting and Crochet Blog Week, each day there's a different topic for those taking part to blog about.

I also notice (and I'm afraid I've already forgotten where I saw this) that once I've got a hold of my knitting inspirations "Elsie Marley" is having a kid's clothes week challenge - for the second year she's challenging herself and others who want to join in to "spend an hour each day working on clothes for your kid’s–or kids’–summer wardrobe." Hopefully this will get me motivated to work on some new baby clothes, and make some things for my nearly 4yo too (although I'm afraid she has quite a lot of summer dresses already).

Of course part of the danger of all this will also be discovering more blogs I want to add to my insanely congested feedreeder but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it! I'll have to be firm with myself and get my bloglines subscriptions in better order and then actually get around to making a blogroll here.

And at last on to the blogging topic of the day. This may not be my finest blogging hour since I've left it rather late to sit down and write (and then I may just have fallen asleep on the couch for 3 hours and woken up, ahem, oh and then resettled my daughter who also woke up).

So, Starting Out. How did I come to be a knitter and sometime crocheter? Well it must be initially in large part be due to the fact that my mother is a knitter (not to mention that she's also being doing many other crafts my whole life) so it always seemed like something one would want to do. My grandmothers also both knit, and my mum's mother -aka Nana- at least used to crochet (in fact she crocheted my christening gown which is a lot prettier than that may sound if you're not a crochet fan). I always had some mum-made hand knit sweaters, some of which I've long outgrown but sometimes still squeeze into around the house when visiting my parents!

My mum, Nana and I think even my dad (who I don't think I've ever otherwise seen knit, although he does occasionally hook rugs and has been known to sew on his own buttons if someone threads the needle for him) sat down with me and showed me how to knit, and probably crochet, as a child. However I'm really not the best pupil when it comes to things like that (I always want to be able to just do it NOW and not have someone tell me how, it's the same with me and musical instruments), so I think my progress went in fits and starts. Too bad I didn't have knittinghelp and sites like that to hand back then, but once I was older and motivated I started to fill in my knowledge with help from books with good diagrams and descriptions and have been knitting, and dabbling in crocheting, on and off ever since.

I took textiles as one of my GCSE subjects and did some knitting as part of that (including some brief experimentation with machine knitting). As family and friends had babies I would start and not finish sweaters for gifts, and similarly start but never finish experiments for myself. Then while I was at university I made my first adult size sweater (I still wear it, here's the ravelry project link) for myself (improvising a pattern using some lovely sturdy wool yarn bought from a store in Lancaster which I think might have disappeared by my last year of uni sadly). During my year abroad (I went to Wellesley College in Massachusetts) my mother and I collaborated on a cardigan for me (I knit the easy part and she did the complicated pattern and finishing!). In my final year back in Lancaster I actually finished and presented a baby cardigan in a timely fashion and really felt like I was now a knitter!

All of this was also compounded by the time I spent singing and touring in my late teens and early twenties with a singing group (both in the form of summer camps and semi-professional touring groups) based in Vermont where on some of the tours it seemed as though almost every member of the group was knitting or crocheting (this is also where I met my husband who does neither of those things but does sing, a lot). Someday soon I'm sure I'll sit down and show my daughter how to knit and crochet too, she's already showing an interest if not the staying power to figure it out just yet...

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

of wool and a pillowcase

Maybe I'll have to do some posts of the things I've been working on while I wasn't blogging but I think it's a good idea to not try to play catch up so I'm just going to share a couple of recent crafty things today -- first fleece and then a quick sewing project I actually completed thanks to a tutorial at the blog SpiderWomanKnits.

The weekend before last a local farm in conjunction with Post Oil Solutions and some other local organizations/businesses gave away free wool, and also provided information about what to do with wool. I think it's partly to raise awareness of how hard it is for sheep farmers to sell their wool in the USA (and I think the same problems are encountered by shepherds in the UK), and also to engage people who use fleece and wool yarn for crafting and especially those who are thinking about it and just need a little help to join in - (some articles about the event. There were people demonstrating spinning and felting there and also some people from The Green Mountain Spinnery (who do buy the yarn they process from within the USA). And of course the host farm also had their sheep's milk cheeses and other products for sale (you can buy from their website too here). As you can see it was a lovely day, I wished we'd been trying to fit slightly less into the weekend so we could have stayed and let my daughter sit in the sunshine and see all the cute lambs.

And now for an actual finished object that I myself made!! I saw a blogpost in which Abi/SpiderWomanKnits made a grocery tote from vintage pillowcases in 15 minutes then very kindly made a tutorial so I don't have to figure these things out for myself. It took me a bit longer than 15 minutes to make mine, being out of shape sewing-wise and all, but it was certainly quick and very satisfying. I believe I shall make more soon once we move past vacation week and when my husband's work projects settle back down a little (or, you know, tomorrow if I don't nap with my daughter in the afternoon). Here's a photo of the first bag filled with half of my daughter's items to return to the library (she carried the other half in her back pack which was totally her own idea because mummy has a baby in her belly and gets tired <--- love!!). If anyone stopping by here follows the link to make one don't forget to post a photo to the flickr group pool.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

It's been so long

I think about posting here often and it's kind of overwhelming. Not sure why because I don't know that anyone's actually out there waiting for me to post (except my mother perhaps!) so it's just about what I want to put on here. But there we are, there are SO MANY things I want to be doing in my life that I just don't seem to be able to get myself on the right track to do. I thought having my daughter at preschool in the mornings was going to mean I would do so many things I've been wanting to, but instead I spend too much time lying on the couch and reading about what other people are doing. My feed reader is out of control!!

Not that I have been sitting around doing nothing since last I posted, and that's another thing, what FOs should I share, and how can I do that without continuing to be so far behind!! It seems as though I tend to stagnate a bit creatively in the Winter months, and Spring often finds me itching to get further back into the swing of things. And it's been a little more pronounced this year because I'm expecting a baby and as with my previous pregnancies I feel so much of my creative energy is channelled into growing this new person inside me that I have a hard time doing starting projects, and finishing existing ones.

Anyway, since I've just recently started to feel like I'm getting moving again and have started keeping up with twitter and even posting stuff there again I'm hoping to dust off some cobwebs around here too. I thought I'd say something here to break that silence in the hope that it'll be less intimidating to jump in and post again soon. Perhaps I can share a bit about what we did for Easter, or write about some of my attempts to put together some Montessori style materials for my daughter to use when she's home...