Friday, February 28, 2014

Spring and summer plans for L

It's been a busy and productive week! Between the peaceful hum of my sewing machine, the rhythmic clicking of knitting needles, the pitter patter of little feet running to play, the sound of pencils being sharpened, the clinking of paintbrushes against the edge of a cup of water, little L learning to say "kiwi", "pas bien" (not good, in English), and the smell of freshly baked bread, the week has just simply whizzed by.

Many projects were finished this week: a starry-eyed slouchy hat for my brother, an apron for me (I finally got to it!), some painting and drawing projects, and my smocked cardi! But now I'm looking ahead! What next?

I often like to draw out ideas of what I want to make, especially when it comes to little L's clothing. It's just so cute! I've set myself the goal of making him as much of his clothing as I can without having to buy it. Shoes, of course, are exempt.

In the sewing projects that I have planned for him, almost all are going to be made from Oliver + S patterns: A nature walk pullover, nature walk pants, cargo pants, sailboat top, raglan t-shirt, art museum pants, sketchbook shirt. I'll adapt some of the patterns to make them short sleeved or shorts. The dotty shirt is actually from a Japanese sewing pattern book for girls but I thought it could be good for boys too, and the undies, well, I haven't found a pattern yet. I better hurry though because potty training is coming soon!

A lot of Oliver + S, right? Well, to be honest, I only started sewing seriously about two and half years ago (which is when I got my sewing machine!) and most of the things I learned, I learned through using these patterns. The finished garments are beautiful and I learned so many techniques. As of yet, I have not tried other pattern companies for kids but I am sure there are plenty of wonderful ones out there and I'm hoping to try some out in the future!

Knitting, knitting! I have a couple knitting projects too. We live in an area in France where it can be a little chilly in the summer (depends on the summers), so having a lightweight sweater is actually a really good idea. For that purpose, I'll be using Solenn Couix-Loarer's pattern Softly (you). And last but not least, socks! I love making socks but I'm not sure about the patterns just yet...but they will be made!

There is much to be made and I hope to squeeze in a few projects for my husband and myself in between working on L's things, not to mention the fact that it's birthday season in our family, so giftmaking is high up on my list of priorities. Speaking of gifts and birthdays...better get knitting for Dad!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Awaiting buttons and work in progress


It's almost, almost done! Done with the knitting, the weaving in of ends, blocking. It just needs its buttons and hey! There we go! I'm thinking something mother-of-pearl, something slightly understated but that will still catch the eye with a little glimmer.

I'm so pleased with the way the smocked pattern turned out. The pattern is Pretty (me) by Nadia Crétin-Léchenne from the collection Emmitouflage(s). I think it should fit rather well (I swatched and swatched and the dimensions seem right) but I'm waiting to sew on the buttons so I can wear it for the first time to be sure!


Since I finished all I could do excepting buttons on my cardi yesterday, my hands were absolutely itching to start a new project. I knew a couple of things. First of all, I wanted to make another hat for my teenage brother. The one I made him for the holidays hardly leaves his head, so I thought another might be quite welcome. Secondly, I wanted to use some leftover yarn which led me to pick Stephen West's pattern, Starry-eyed Slouch. I'm liking the way this is turning out so far and I am so glad to finally put these odds and ends of yarn into something wearable!

Friday, February 21, 2014

A me-made wardrobe... x 3

I ended Monday's post with a note about my husband floating the idea that I make all his clothing. I feel so flattered and overjoyed that he is comfortable enough to wear what I make him (he has been wearing that vest quite a bit. Youpee!) and thinks my skills are up to it (knitting and sewing-wise). But his comment got me really thinking about this: a me-made wardrobe...x 3?

Eek! Yes, that was my first reaction. An eek of excitement and a bit of anxiety too, no denying that! Baby steps, Alexandra, baby steps. I've been making many garments, knit and sewn, for our little boy, L, since before his birth, and in our home he is the one who has the most me-made garments by  a longshot: sweaters, hats, mittens, socks, shirts, pants. I have a few shirts (4), two sweaters, and  two pairs of handknit socks. My poor darling husband currently only has his vest and a handknit scarf my mother made him (he had other small knit accessories such as hats and mittens but they have an inexplicable habit of running away, or more accurately getting lost, and unfortunately, a couple pairs of superwash socks felted). There you have it: our current me-made situation. Much to be done.

As I'm sure is pretty clear, I'd like to have more of our clothing be me-made. I so enjoy the process of knitting or sewing. Spinning and weaving also call out to me. But it is more than just enjoying the process, knitting for the sake of knitting or sewing for the sake of sewing, although I very much doubt I would want to do this if I didn't find it so enjoyable. It is about wanting to participate at a very basic level in the production of our necessities. For me, going to the store to buy clothing already made does not satisfy this need to get involved in the production. This makes sense to me but I understand that it might not for others, and that's ok. I do also ask myself where I should place myself in the production of a garment. Should I produce the yarn myself, spin it, weave it, dye it?

It is quite overwhelming to think of making a whole wardrobe all at once, not to mention three. We all three of us have good clothing that was store-bought, and even though I would like to open up our closet and see only handmade garments there, I feel it is also important to respect the time, materials, people, energy, and cost that went into producing those store-bought items. Rather than chucking it all, I would rather let it go through its normal cycle of wear to reach the point of needing to be recycled and replaced. (Offhand, I can think of a few sweaters of mine that I can refashion to make little sweaters for little L.)

Ah, so there are my thoughts on a subject that is very dear to my heart, a project that I believe to be somewhat of a way of life.

One thing, or in this case, garment at a time. Baby steps.

Monday, February 17, 2014


 "Skye" by Brandon Mably (Rowan 52)

A new year, a new project, the first of this new year, and a very first vest (or sweater of any kind) for my darling husband.
I could go on and on about the beauty to be found in the Rowan 52 magazine but I'll be succint and simply say: stunning, arresting! So many of the patterns of the Hebridean pattern collection called out to me. How about "Bute" or "Orkney" and of course "Skye"? Making a sweater for my honey was high up on my list of things to do, so enter "Skye".

Sure, I've made many a sweater for our little boy but those were, tiny! (and even now, I'm only making size 2T's for him!) So, a man's sweater? Huge! Daunting! And would he even wear it? "Skye" was an incredible compromise. No sleeves (yay!) and extremely rewarding and visually effective colorwork.

I made the XS size and followed the instructions to the letter except for the neck edge and the armhole edges where I somehow didn't really absorb the instructions. I had seamed everything and because of that I ended up knitting the armhole edges and the neck in the round (Note to self: read patterns carefully instead of assuming, especially when it comes to finishing).

Oh, and an important note too: thank goodness I had ordered an extra ball of the beige, Buttertubs ,otherwise I would most defintely not have had enough. I do have leftover skeins of all the others though - do I foresee a miniaturized version for our little one next winter?

I am so pleased with the vest and the fit too, especially since I did the back and part of the front whilst visiting my family and the interested party was not there. I thouroughly enjoyed myself making this as it was pretty simple shapingwise but had the very entertaining systematic colorwork - reaching the next color change became quite addictive. Oh, those colors! It fits him beautifully and I take it as a good sign that he's worn it three days in a row to work and is asking for more handknit sweaters, and a homesewn burgundy shirt to go with the vest. In fact, he even floated the idea of me making all of his clothing. (More thoughts on that later but for now...yay!)