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Oh youse guys.

This is bad. Like, really bad.

This peasant blouse was supposed to have been a transitional maternity top for me last spring/summer. And in that respect, I made an excellent choice in pattern (Butterick 5217 for anyone who really cares).

Guys, I can't see my toes.

Guys, I can’t see my toes.

When I put it away last spring, or, more accurately, when it just sat in a lump on my table for months on end, I had already sewn the yoke together, constructed the sleeves, and had sewn the front and back together. I even put French seams in this bad boy! All I had to do was put the above-mentioned pieces together and it would have been done! But…

I decided that beige linen was boring. It needed something to spruce it up, give it a little visual interest. I found some kind of whirly fiddly little design that I wanted to embroider on the yoke. For Christmas, Mr. Gren had given me one of those fading ink fabric pens. I drew on the fiddly little design and set to work. When I was 80% done with it, I left on my trip back East. That was the last time I touched it. The ink had faded by the time I returned and, for some reason, despite my growing belly, I had no interest or inclination in finishing this particular project.

I got the embroidery 95% completed this time before I decided I didn't care anymore.

I got the embroidery 95% completed this time before I decided I didn’t care anymore.

And let’s face it, peeps, my embroidery skillz ain’t so hot. But the whole project was hung up on me finishing the embroidery before attaching the yoke and bodice, otherwise I’d embroider through the yoke facing and I needed all the ugly side to be sandwiched between the two layers of fabric where it would be protected from unraveling. So I got to this point and went, “Eh, less is more” and sewed the yoke and bodice together.

Then I thought it would be fun to try it on.

i haz a sad.

i haz a sad.

You’ve heard the phrase “sad sack”? Now you have a visual reference. This is a sad sack. No, I take that back. This sack is downright depressed.

Plenty of room to grow! Except... baby was born 4 months ago.

Plenty of room to grow! Except… baby was born 4 months ago.

The plan was that this could serve me through pregnancy yet also be something that wasn’t overtly maternity and even have an extended life as a cute top postpartum and beyond. Obviously that’s not gonna happen.

“What about belting it?” you ask. I asked myself the same question and tried it out with a belt. They’re all worse. Laughably worse.

There's no helping this atrocity.

There’s no helping this atrocity.

Baby Sprinkaan was asleep in my room at the time of the photo, so I couldn’t get to my belt, but you get the general idea. Cinching in the waist does strange and unflattering things to the bust region. The heck is up with those pleats?? There really isn’t any point in attaching the sleeves now. In fact, this UFO is destined for the scrap basket. I think there is enough fabric in the bodice that I could make something for one of the kids; I just haven’t hit on that something yet.

Next up on Disasters in Linen…

Remember this dress? IMG_0073

I unpacked it recently to find a large, yellow stain on the front. It looked like mustard, but surely I would have noticed that when I packed it away? I ran it through the washing machine. Heh. Not only did the stain not come out, this happened:

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It’s unsalvageable. There are two more rips like this on the skirt. The peasant blouse makes me laugh. This one actually does make me sad. So, I’ll be clipping all the buttons off and throwing this one in the scrap heap, too. {sigh}

Enough of that. Next up in the quest to conquer my UFOs:

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I’d better get a move on.

 

 

 

 

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Sleeping bag bag

No, that’s not a typo. I suppose I could have said sack or receptacle. But that’s not as fun.

Last week, Konik and I were in the fabric store (buying my pristine cardboard cutting mat) and I spied a roll of Curious George fabric in the remnant bin. For a little boy who loves monkeys, Curious George is tops. I checked the remnant and it was just a little under a yard. Definitely enough to use for something. For the next several days, Konik pestered me about what I was going to make out of it. I didn’t give him any hints because I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do with it. At first I considered a pillow case, but… meh. He has pillowcases. He kept begging me, “Don’t cut George!” So what could the boy use?

Then I remembered when I was a kid, my Aunt E made me a bag to keep my sleeping bag in. I still have it and use it (Thanks, Aunt E!)! It’s a little faded and dingy, but it has served its purpose well for the past 25 or so years. Konik got a sleeping bag for Christmas and really didn’t have anywhere to keep it, nor does it have any straps or ties to keep it rolled up. It’s kind of a pain. But a bag! He could use that.

The sewing is so easy it’s barely worth mentioning. I put in some elastic on one end to be the top and then sewed up the side and bottom. Done!

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Elastic top keeps things inside

Elastic top keeps things inside

Konik demonstrates how to take out the sleeping bag.

Konik demonstrates how to take out the sleeping bag.

And how to stuff it back in.

And how to stuff it back in.

Soft and squishy

Soft and squishy, good for hugging.

 

And I didn’t even have to cut George.

 

 

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Ready, set, craft!

We’ve been in this house for five months and 14 days and today, I got my sewing room put together in a way that I can use it. It’s not perfect and my storage “solutions” are not Pinterest-worthy paragons of organization, but it’s functional. It started with a new cutting board. My kids have wreaked untold havoc on my old one. It’s dingy, torn up, bent up, adorned with marker drawings and globs of glue. In short, it’s hideous.

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I had been all excited to start sewing on my peasant blouse (aka UFO #2), but when I spread out the cutting board on my table, I couldn’t bring myself to lay any fabric on it. It really was that gross. But for an almost 8 year old sheet of cardboard that survived two moves, I’d say I got my money’s worth out of it. All ten bucks and then some. Today, I bought a new one.

A thing of beauty

A thing of beauty

Now, to be fair, I shouldn’t say that the cutting board started this process. Really, it’s more that the cutting board ended it. Ever since we moved in, my table has been covered in mounds of stuff, most of which had no business being in my sewing room in the first place. Slowly, but surely, I was able to get the table cleared off. All except for my computer. And so, the table morphed into a desk, which was really handy, but didn’t help me accomplish any sewing. So today, with a new cutting board, I vowed to keep my table clear so that it will be project-ready at a moment’s notice. I tried various configurations of boxes and bins to use as a makeshift desk for my computer and moved it around to three different places in my room to find the best location. If Goldilocks had a laptop, this would have been her story. This stack of bins was too high; that stack was too low. Where was that elusive sweet spot?

Mr. Gren came in to observe my progress and suggested, “Why don’t you just use the ironing board? It’s adjustable.”
“But what do I do when I need to iron? It will be just like the table was before.”
“Just set your computer on that stack of bins right next to it.”

Heeeey…

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Frog is looking at you

This just might work.

Eventually, I’d like to get my fabric and yarn out of bins and into some kind of dresser or cabinet, but I can be patient until a good deal comes along. I can get to everything I need, I can see most of it, and I have plenty of room to move around.

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Lots of natural light with South and West-facing windows

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See that little mound on the table? That’s the peasant blouse, waiting to be sewn.

The closet, however, is a different story. But, as Mr. Gren pointed out, “At least you have a closet.”

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I still need to write about that cape that’s hanging up in there!

Betcha thought I had forgotten, didn’t ya? Nope, nope, those UFOs are still looming over my head. But I got one done! Like I talked about in my first UFO post, I felt like the baby booties needed to be completed first so that, y’know, the baby might get a chance to wear them. I dug them out and wow. I had barely done a thing to them when I put them away 4+ years ago. And why did I put them away 4 years ago? I have no idea. It really only took about four evenings of embroidering and about ten minutes to pin and sew the soles on. Sometimes I think I mentally construct these giant obstacles just to feed the procrastination monster.

The pattern is Simplicity 2867, originally from 1948. There are three different styles, all adorable.

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The booties are made from wool felt. That stuff is not cheap! Good thing these booties take only a miniscule amount. The little laces are just crocheted embroidery floss.

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Now that the booties are finished, we may have a problem. Sprinkaan has square little feet — they are already the width of the booties, while of course being nowhere near the length. By the time his feet get long enough to wear them without looking like little vintage clown shoes, his feet will be too wide to cram into them anyways! If I had finished these for Konik like I had originally intended, I doubt we would have had this dilemma because he has long, narrow feet. Procrastination comes back to bite me.

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Well, they’re cute. And the baby is cuter.

********************************************************************************

As for the rest of my UFOs, I wrote them on slips of paper, put them in a jar and I pulled one out at random, with the goal of completing one per month.

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And the winner is…

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Mental cleansing

Often, after doing something fiddly or mentally taxing, I need a break. Not inactivity, mind you, but something that will help wash all the fidgets away, something that will let my mind relax and will still be productive in the end. After finishing up Sprinkaan’s baby sweater, I was desperate for a quick project that didn’t require a lot of thought. Crochet, I never really left you.

Scarves and hats are great little projects to whip out just for fun, but would you believe I only own one scarf? And it was store-bought, given to me by a friend for my birthday 8 years ago. How does a thing like this happen? By very virtue of being a crafter with an emphasis in yarn arts, I should be surrounded by more scarves than I could wear in one winter. [hangs head] Please don’t revoke my hooker license.

I’ve liked the idea of an infinity scarf for awhile and found this pattern called Chic Shells Infinity Scarf. I don’t know if it was the power of suggestion or what, but I ended up using a gray yarn, too. It was a Red Heart Soft no it wasn’t, I made that up. It was “Loops & Threads” Glitter, which I believe is from Michael’s. I had bought it to make Axl’s bandana on my Axl afghan, which used only a miniscule amount. I didn’t have any other real plan for one mostly full skein of yarn. I don’t think it would have been enough for a traditional scarf, but it was just right for this project.

The pattern itself was a pretty straightforward shell stitch. But can I just say? A foundation row of 170 stitches sux. It took willpower and stamina, but I powered through it. Another plus to this pattern is that it calls for an M hook. I don’t have an M, so I used my N. Big hook = fast. Fast = instant gratification. More or less.

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I wore the scarf for the first time on Sunday and I liked it so much, I kept it on all day. I might need to make another one. Or two.

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Tell ya what, peeps: Single parenting? Not for this girl. Mr. Gren just completed four weeks of Corrections Office Academy last Friday (Congratulations, Mr. Gren!) and there was much rejoicing. [Yay!!] He was able to come home on weekends, thank goodness, or I might not have any hair or sanity left now. To all military families and anyone else who has to do the single parent gig for whatever reason: mad props (or, for you, mon frère — mad promps). Going into it, I had the endearingly naive idea that I’d be able to keep up with blogging.

Bwahahahahahahaaaaa!!! When will I ever learn?

Miraculously, I did manage to complete a few crafty things and now that Mr. Gren is back home in his semi-official position as Munchkin Wrangler, I can tell you about them!

You may recall that I had begun knitting a little wrap sweater for Sprinkaan several weeks before he was born. This was my first real knitting project. Ever. In my life. With real needles and a pattern and angst and stuff. Yeah, that’s right, knitting is not quite relaxing for me because the entire time the project is just mere millimeters away from disaster. Does that make knitters more daring than crocheters? I don’t know, but I kinda like the safety the hook provides. Besides that, if I screw up in crochet, I can fix it; I can’t fix knitting errors yet. If I had dropped a stitch, I probably would have had to start completely over and the likelihood of that happening: Pshhh. You so funny. So this whole baby sweater was a bit of a do-or-die moment for me. A very long moment.

The pattern I chose was a baby wrap kimono sweater. I needed something super basic for my inaugural knitting project and this pattern fit the bill. It used only knit and purl stitches (I can do that!) and had simple decreases and increases (I figured out how to do that!). It was worked side to side in one big flat piece. I wish there had been pictures of what that looked like because I was having a hard time visualizing how all these flaps were going to turn into a sweater. So I took pictures of it while it was blocking out — for posterity and any other novice knitters who might want to see what the finished product will look like. To me, it kinda resembles an animal pelt stretched for tanning.

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In a noble attempt at stash-busting, the yarn I used was leftover from a baby blanket I crocheted for my nephew when he was a newborn. He’s 10 now, so this yarn has been kicking around in my bin for 9 years too long. It is a Bernat baby yarn. Kind of crinkly with green and yellow strands woven together, plus a little white shimmery strand. So here I am, knitting along, knitting, knitting, knitting. I get to the second shoulder and… I ran out of yarn. Like I said, this yarn was 10 years old, so there’s not much chance I’m going to find the same yarn, much less the same color. And forget the same color lot! Besides, buying more yarn really defeats the purpose of stash-busting. I dug through my bins and found another green Bernat crinkly baby yarn, minus the yellow strand. “It’ll be close enough,” I told myself. Also, the light in my living room was dim. Come daylight, I found that the new yarn isn’t as close to the old yarn as I had thought. But you know what? Too bad, so sad. It’s on there and it’s staying on there. If anyone happens to wonder aloud to me why one sleeve is a different color than the rest, I will tell them it’s a design element. So there.

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The little sweater is not without other imperfections, either. There are random floating rows of purl stitch where there should be knit. “Look, Baby Sprinkaan — this is where one of your siblings had dire need of me and when I came back, I couldn’t remember what I was doing.” Ah, memories.

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I’d say I finished the sweater none too soon. Sprinkaan is a little log of a baby and probably won’t be able to wear the sweater for long. But who knows, maybe if I move the buttons over, we can buy a bit more time in it and Sprinkaan’s little tiny T-rex arms will have a chance to grow into those long sleeves.

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The last of the Christmas gift round-up! This was another Rana project and definitely not something I would have done with the younger kids. Finding homemade gifts for men can be tricky — it’s easy to find all kinds of cutesy, frilly, girly projects, but something that a man might want or find useful can be a real challenge. Rana had pulled one of her uncle’s names for this last one. Knowing that this uncle uses a wood stove to heat his house, when I found this project for pine cone fire starters, I thought that this was something we could do.

First things first: you need pine cones. Pine cones are plentiful on the other side of the state, but over here on the Western side of the mountains, mostly all we get are fir cones. Fir cones, while bountiful, are worthless, acidic clumps of mush. Some people have to rake leaves from their lawns; we get to rake fir cones, or else they burn up your grass and you have no lawn. Actual pine trees are in sparse supply around here, so in order to get the aforementioned pine cones, we used several of those cinnamon-scented pine cones they sell around the holidays. One advantage to this versus foraging for cones in the wild is that the cones are already dried and opened up.

Other supplies you’ll need are wax (we used an old candle) and wicks (cotton yarn). The basic idea is, you put a wick on the pine cone and coat it in wax, then you chuck the whole thing into the fireplace to get your fire going. We melted down a white candle in our pseudo-double boiler (tuna can in a pot of water). Little known fact: tuna cans float. That made the whole cone-dipping process more exciting. Bobbing for pine cones.

Rana did make a cute video for this, too, but Konik is yelling at me in the background while my mom tries to shush him. Oh well.

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I had visions of the cones looking as though they had been frosted with snow. Unfortunately, white wax doesn’t look white unless it’s in a solid chunk, so our pine cones just looked kind of greasy. Hm. Another one of those “live and learn” moments, I guess. Even if they didn’t turn out as pretty as we had counted on, we hope that they are at least functional!

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