Still plugging away

I’m not going to finish the rainbow afghan this month. There, I said it. Things conspired, as they do. We went away for a couple of days, then there was the week leading up to Easter… I got behind on a few things, granny squares included. I have 78 more squares to go and, even though I tend to be overly ambitious and get myself in over my head, even I can admit that I am not going to finish all those squares in two days. Not to mention weave in ends and then sew all the stupid things together (why did I start this project again?). So this UFO is going to have to bleed over into May.

50 squares

50 squares accomplished thus far

Easter 2014: A Dress Odyssey

It is a well-known fact that there is exactly one week between Palm Sunday and Easter. It happens every year. Palm Sunday. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Easter. I know this in my head. The crafty portion of my brain is, however, disconnected from logic and basic chronological concepts (maybe this is why I couldn’t tell time until junior high? Even now, my grasp is tenuous at best). Last week — Palm Sunday — I thought, “I should make the girls Easter dresses! I’ll choose a simple pattern; it won’t be too hard. I can sew two dresses in a week.”

What a week it was.

Monday: After dropping the girls at school, the boys and I hit the fabric store. Sprinkaan slept, and Konik was engaged up until I changed my mind about the two bolts of fabric I had been carting around with us. Then I split my time between choosing new fabric that I liked better and playing hide-and-seek with the boy who had had his fill of fabric. “I wish you would have just left me in the car!”

Monday is my laundry day, so I got the fabric washed and dried while I traced off the pattern pieces for Granota and cut out the larger size for Rana. All in all, a pretty productive day.

The pattern I chose

The pattern I chose

Tuesday: This was to be my big sewing day after taking the girls to school. Right out of the gate, Tuesday did not go as planned. I had all the kids ready to go, piling out the back door as I pushed the garage door opener. When I came out, I found the kids standing in front of the open garage door with confused and helpless expressions.

 

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Houston, we have a problem

It was jammed and I couldn’t get it open more than about a foot and a half. Looks like we’re walking to school today, kids! Except that, I had allotted enough time for driving to school, not walking, so we were definitely going to be late. Also, Granota had a field trip first thing that morning. I ran inside to call the school and was surprised to be greeted so enthusiastically by the school secretary until, as I regaled her with the trials and tribulations that had beset us, she paused and then informed me that I had called the girls’ old school. We laughed and I assured her that we would not be walking the 20 miles to that school. I called the current school, told my story again and this secretary told me that the buses for the field trip would leave at 9:00, could we make it? “I think so!”

Before we could leave, I had to get the stroller which… was in the car which was stuck in the garage. So I performed a little Indiana Jones homage, belly crawling under the garage door to get it out. Then four kids and I hustled our hind ends to that school! We arrived just as the kindergartners were lining up outside for their field trip. Whew! I gave Konik a piggyback part of the way home while I pushed the stroller (and later perched him on the handlebar). By the time we got home, we were both beat and sewing was the last thing on my mind. Whether it was from that unplanned jog to school or what, Konik got sick later that afternoon, throwing up everywhere. No sewing that day.

Wednesday: I still didn’t trust Konik’s belly, so I was keeping a close eye on him; Rana woke up with a fever, so I decided to keep her home from school. But when I went to take Granota, once again, the garage door got stuck despite Mr. Gren having fixed it the night before. I told her that she would just have to stay home, too, that day. The difference between Tuesday and Wednesday: Tuesday was warm and sunny; Wednesday was rainy with two sick kids. The two sick kids perked up by lunchtime, but it was still raining, so they were all stuck inside. No sewing that day, either.

Thursday: We got smart and parked the car outside the night before so there would be no issues getting children to school. I got about a third of the way through Granota’s dress. It occurred to me that I haven’t really sewn anything in months. I felt rusty and slow.

Friday: Panic was beginning to set in. I had to get these dresses done. I finished Granota’s and, miraculously, things were moving a bit faster with Rana’s. When Mr. Gren left for work that night, he asked me how late I was going to stay up sewing. “Until I start making mistakes,” I replied. One thing that I figured was pretty mistake-proof was putting in the gathering stitches, so I took every piece that needed gathering and did that. By the time I went to bed, all the individual pieces were ready to be put together.

Saturday: Whether it was having made the pattern once already or just another Easter miracle, I was able to finish up Rana’s dress in just two more hours. I sewed the buttons on both dresses right before I went to bed. Down to the wire! I still excel under pressure, Mom.

Easter Sunday:

In the tradition of family Easter photos the world over, Rana hams it up, Granota looks stiff and unnatural and Konik wonders what's going on.

In the tradition of family Easter photos the world over, Rana hams it up, Granota looks stiff and unnatural and Konik wonders what’s going on.

The fabric for Rana’s dress was called “rose sorbet” and Granota’s was “spring medley.” Cheery, no? It’s hard to see, but there are little rick-rack-bordered patch pockets on the dresses. (I did not make Konik’s suit — it’s on loan from my dear friend, V. Thanks!)

More Easter ham

More Easter ham

Yoke detail with rick-rack and ball buttons.

Yoke detail with rick-rack and ball buttons.

All four chilluns

All four chilluns

I did make the suit that Sprinkaan is wearing; Konik wore it for his first Easter! It’s a little blue and white seersucker overall and jacket.

Sprinkaan in his big brother's Easter suit. Making it look good!

Sprinkaan in his big brother’s Easter suit. Making it look good!

And a close-up of the baby, because he’s adorable and photogenic and actually smiles for his pictures.

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What I learned last week is that I can, in fact, sew two little Easter dresses in six days, however, it’s not really enjoyable and I could benefit from a little planning ahead. Easter 2015 is April 5th (you’re welcome), so I ought to start March 5th, to accommodate sick children, garage door mishaps and whatever else might come my way. I might even have time to sew something new for myself! (Hush, Jennifer, that’s just crazy talk)

UFO #2: Peasant blouse

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!

UFO —> FO #1: Retro baby booties

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.

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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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