Monday, July 23, 2007

Today's shopping

It's a chilly, rainy evening, so it felt especially good to take yards and yards of warm, fluffy new flannel out of the dryer and fold them just now.

Of course, it would have felt good, anyway - as I wrote about last year on July 23...

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Hemming a hat

I don't think I've ever edged a knitted hat with anything other than ribbing, a band of garter or seed stitch, or a simple rolled edge. This week I discovered how to put in an actual sewn hem, and I'm loving the neat, tidy look it gives -- to say nothing of the double thickness for extra warmth over the ears. Have you ever tried it?

I'm still experimenting, but the trick seems to be to cast on and then knit in the round for X number of rows - on the hat above, I knit seven, but I imagine you could do any number you want. Then purl one round (this creates your turning ridge), and go back to knitting X number of rounds again. Then purl another round or two for a little style, and go back to straight knitting, or whatever you've chosen to do for the rest of your hat.

You then go back and fold your bottom edge under along the turning ridge, thread your cast-on tail into a tapestry needle (you'll have left it a little longer than usual for this very purpose), and do a loose whipstitch on the underside so the curling edge now lies flat. So neat, so tidy -- almost tailored and sophisticated-looking, if a knitted hat can be such a thing.

I realize this is hardly rocket science, but for some reason I was just so excited to learn this. I could hardly wait to share it with my very talented and clever friend Jean yesterday, and while she already knew about this technique, she kindly celebrated my discovery nonetheless. Jean also recommended using this technique at the bottom edge of a sweater if it doesn't need to "pull in" with ribbing.

What's more, Jean advised me, you can create a sweet picot edge along the hem of a little girl's hat or sweater by substituting the purled turning ridge with a simple row of yarn over/knit 2 together. So I'm sure I'll be trying that one soon, too.

Little hats are such great summer knitting -- perfect for those afternoons of sitting on the front porch, and chatting with whatever neighbors happen to stroll by. I believe I'll pour a big glass of iced tea and head out to the porch right now.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Peek-a-boo pups

Isn't it fun to see what delightful little surprises happen when piecing a quilt?

I only had a small piece of this puppy-dog print, and it seemed perfect to toss in the mix for this happy, scrappy child's quilt. I didn't fussy-cut the squares at all, but somehow these three little pooches found the perfect way to show up. It makes me smile to think of a sweet little one snuggling with this quilt and playing a quiet little game of "find the puppies."

And this little square shows just how much fun I'm having making this quilt:

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Show-and-tell Tuesday: Another refashioned dress

I'm totally hooked on this pattern, which helps turn a Wally Cleaver shirt like this...

...into a cute little dress like this.

I've got a stack of about five other shirts waiting to make similiar transformations. They're really fun to make, and so easy.

My only problem with having made this amazing discovery is that now I'm constantly evaluating the shirt of every man I see. When Dan and I were in Florida last month, I saw terrific summer shirts at every turn. The fellows wearing the shirts adorned with splashy border prints -- the sort they don't tuck in -- had no idea I was staring at their attire. All I could think of was how great those prints would look when transformed into happy little sundresses, all twirly and girly.

I even caught myself staring at the brightly striped shirt of one of our summer interns at last week's staff meeting. The fabric was gorgeous. The back yoke was just deep enough to make the perfect dress bodice. And the kid is tall, so, yay! Enough extra fabric to make a generous ruffle around the hem!

All I know is, I've got to save my shirt-lusting for the racks at the thrift store and keep it out of the office. Can't you just see me trying to explain myself if someone complains about me to HR?!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Little boy blue...

... and his little hat, too!

July is very special month in our family, with at least six birthdays and a seventh almost certain to happen before the end of the month. This set is headed out to Dave and Kate in Chicago to help welcome their little one who's due in a couple of weeks.

The yarn is "Buttons," which is quickly becoming my favorite soft wool for wee ones.

Today is wrapping up what's been sort of an extended long weekend. I was off work on Wednesday, worked on Thursday, took a vacation day Friday, worked only a few hours Saturday, and am off today. It's been terrific, and very good for my knitting and sewing productivity. Hope everyone else is enjoying these wonderful days of summer, too.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Children's bags

A few weeks back, I had a great conversation with one of the staffers of the only women's shelter in our county. I had sent her a batch of little girls' sundresses, but was concerned that I was foisting stuff upon them that they didn't really need.

She assured me the dresses would be put to good use by some of the little girls seeking shelter at their facility with their mothers. And when we got to talking about other needs that might be a match for someone who likes to sew, she suggested some small bags to hold personal care items for children.

She told me that they were usually well-stocked with toiletries to give the adult women who checked in, but that it would be nice to have something age-appropriate to give to the children, too.

I was so glad to use some of the juvenile and novelty prints that were sitting in my stash. Here are a few of the drawstring bags, all filled and ready to be delivered tomorrow:

And here's a look at the contents of one of the bags for an older girl:

There are 20 bags in all. Each one contains a new washcloth, bar of soap, toothbrush, toothpaste and a hairbrush and/or comb, as well as a few other dollar-store goodies like hair barrettes, small notebooks and puzzle books, "Go Fish" cards and bubbles for blowing.

Sewing the bags was a breeze, but when it came to shopping for the contents, I knew I needed to bring in an expert, and a good one at that. I enlisted the services of my young friend Rachael, the 11-year-old daughter of one of my friends at work. Rachael was only too happy to join in the project. We spent a very enjoyable evening shopping together, and I learned more than I ever dreamed possible about what sort of ponytail holders pull your hair and hurt, and what sort are just fine. We had a terrific time, and I feel much more confident about the bag contents as a result. Thanks for your consultation work, Rachael!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Show-and-tell Tuesday: Refashioning!

Inspired by all the clever craftiness over at Wardrobe Refashion, I had some fun making these two ridiculously easy little things. And I'm delighted with how they turned out.

Here's how a thrift-store pair of jeans (with worn knees) turned out after I sliced it right under the zipper and attached a skirt with a happy fish print from my stash.

And once I saw this tutorial that linked off of one of the refashioner's posts, I could hardly wait to cut into an old gingham seersucker shirt. Here's how it turned out:

The back of the shirt becomes the front of the dress. I got ambitious and ripped out the tuck where the shirt back joins to the back yoke, then gathered it for a softer look. Unfortunately, I stitched some pretty serious tucks into the seam in the process of re-attaching. But rather than re-do the whole business, I put some little buttons over the tucks and it almost looks like I planned it that way...

The best part is the back of the dress, made from the front of the shirt.

I guess I could have re-attached the pocket and Izod label somewhere, but I didn't bother.

This was so easy to make! Next time I think I'll make the ruffled shoulder straps a little narrower, as these look a bit wing-like to me, but I'm definitely going to make more of these dresses, and the little skirts, too.