Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Knitting!!!!!

Wait, what?!?!  Knitting content on a blog named "Prairie Girl Knits"?   What is this sorcery???

It's been so long since I've been able to show off a finished knitting project here on the blog and today I have two!
Golden Hours Shawl photo 1

The first I want to show off is The Golden Hours Shawl from Andrea Mowry of Drea Renee Knits.  I started this shawl back in the deep dark days of January.  Of course I was thinking a worsted weight shawl would fly off the needles and I'd be cozy warm in no time for the rest of winter.  I was excited to start and chugged along at a good pace at the start, but then, as seems to be par for the course lately, I found it to be a struggle to keep going. I wanted the shawl but the knitting took significantly longer than anticipated.  Once thing I did do was to weave in the ends as I went so it wouldn't be such a daunting task upon completion of the knitting and boy was I glad when I finished the cast off to only have a few ends left to go.

Golden Hours Shawl photo 2

I actually finished this shawl mid-April on the drive into the city for the little boys skills camp morning put on by the Blue Bombers.  The boys had to be on the field at 8:30am, there was still snow on the edges of the field and a crisp breeze was making the 0 C temps feel even colder.  I was ever so glad to be able to throw my shawl on as an extra layer of warmth while I watched from the stands.

Wrapped up in the golden hours shawl

... and then it took me more than a month to actually block it.

Despite my struggles, The Golden Hours is a straight forward, easy to knit pattern.  I chose to use stash yarns for mine and I love how it came together. The teal blue came from my Mom actually, left over from a sweater she knit a few years ago (that also came home with me!).  The purple was a random skein I'd picked up at the LYS at some point and the light blue/green was very old stash from about ten or more years ago.

The Golden Hours Shawl full wingspan

My other newly finished project is the Dubois hat by Andi Satterlund of Untangling Knots.

Dubois hat WIP

This one I started in February as soon as the pattern was released.  Being a hat I honestly assumed it would take me no more than a week to knit.  I wildly underestimated how long it would take, and had to completely rip it out and start again a month ago because between my lagging knitting mojo, my inability to focus and a pattern that had a few different cables going on left me thoroughly lost where I was and a with a whole lot of mistakes.

The Dubois Hat

I felt pretty discouraged that I had to rip it out, but once I got going again it went much easier.  Still slow going, but at least with no confusion and the cables seemed a lot more intuitive the second time. I cast this one off on Saturday evening and set it to blocking first thing on Sunday morning! (having, of course, learned my lesson with the shawl blocking procrastination! LOL) I'm going to really love the warmth of my Dubois and it'll be so nice to have a fresh new hat to make life more bearable when the temperatures plummet again next winter!

The Dubois Hat top view

I'm going to continue to try and knit regularly.  My favourite "along"  the Untangling Knots Outfit Along, has been announced recently and will start June 1st.  Instead of having an "official" set of patterns - although we were always welcome to choose our own anyway - this year's OAL theme is Works in Progress.  I don't have any sewing WIPs, but I have my Populuxe Cardigan that just needs sleeves and my Mary Mead Cardigan that is part way through the body.  Both cardigans were started during previous Untangling Knots knit alongs over the past year so I'm hoping to finish both during the OAL.  I'm not sure what the sewing component will be yet, but likely a dress of some sort.

Here's hoping for more frequent wooly posts in the future months to come.  I'm really hoping that these two finished projects will really kick start my mojo back to where it once was.  Maybe I'll even start spinning again one of these days...

Monday, May 13, 2019

Samara Pants

I've been very much on the fence about palazzo pants and culottes.  While the rest of the sewing blogger universe has been rocking them for ages, I've been very hesitant if I'd like them for myself.  At first the answer was "Nope.  Not for me."  But then Kennis did what Kennis does and came out with the latest Itch to Stitch* design, the Samara Pants.



Pants make me nervous.  Let's be real here for just a moment.  There are a lot more potential fit problems with pants than I care to think about most days.  I know I can make pants.  I've made jeans for goodness sakes and my Lander Shorts of last summer turned out pretty well.  Still... the thought of pants.  Eeeek!  Plus I've been so busy lately, I was worried whether or not I'd have time for sewing pants. But with the disclaimer that you could shorten the Samaras to any length you chose, the suggestion that they were easier to fit thanks to the flowy style of them, not to mention the promise that they were a quick sew, I was starting to be tempted to give it a go.  I was still wavering up there on my pants making fence, but then I started thinking about a cropped pair... a floral cropped pair at that and there you have it.  I was in hook line and sinker.

For my first pair, that I hoped would be a wearable muslin, I used a drapey rayon poplin.  What my overtaxed and overtired brain didn't alert me to at the time was that my poplin had stretch to it and not just an insignificant amount of stretch at that.  I sewed them up minus the zip and waistband and tried them on.  They fell off.  Oh the disappointment and the "see, I told you pants were too much work" self talk going on in my head.  Then I remembered that stretch would make a difference to fit and that with stretch I'd probably want to size down.  It's not like this is my first fabric rodeo.  How do I forget these things?

The good thing was, despite the loosey goosey nature of my stretch Samara's, I could definitely see what I needed to tweak - a swayback adjustment of 1/2", a touch longer hem and smooth out the side seam just a touch where I blended it between the size 18 waist and the size 16 hip.  That was it.  Nothing else was needed.  I was confident enough that I decided it was time to abandon the stretch pair for the time being with the intention of taking them apart and making my adjustments at a later time and move straight onto the good fabric.

But first I had to find the good fabric I had in mind.  I bought the floral rayon from Minerva Crafts two summers ago with intention of making a dress, but hadn't bought enough so it had gone into stash and my stash was relocated from the sewing room into bins in the crawl space a few months ago when we cleaned up the basement.  Now, don't get me wrong.  I love the clean, clear space to work in, without having to manouever around bins and haphazard piles of fabric spilling out all over the place, but getting in an out of the crawl space under the stairs is a pain in the butt.  Trying to dig around bins even more of a pain.  But I was smart.  Most of the bins got labeled when they got put under the stairs.  So I plunged headlong into the crawl space and straight for the bin that the rayon should be in.  Thankfully it was a bin close to the door and fairly easy to access.  The fabric was not there. So I shimmied and wriggled my way further in amongst the bins and checked another.  Nope.  And another.  No.  And another...  Finally I had to drag all the bins out into the sewing room and check.  Nope, nope and nope again.  Eventually after wasting more than an hour searching  I checked the first bin again for about the third time.

Spoiler alert: I found the fabric.  In the bin.  Right where it was supposed to be.




Some bad words were said as I repacked the bins into the crawl space and then finally I was able to start on the second pair.  Cutting them out and sewing them took a fraction of the time that hunting for the fabric took.  They really are that easy to go together.  A couple back darts, a few seams, a zip and a waistband and they're done.  I tried them on before closing up the waistband and hemming them and they were so comfy.  I was happy to see that my tweaks I did were all that were needed.  I'm going to love wearing these floaty Samara's in the heat of the summer!  I paired my floral pair with a Cartagena Cami, but I'm planning on making a black Isidro to make it a bit more work appropriate. My mind keeps wandering to making a matching cami or top of some sort that I could then wear with the pants as a sort of "faux jumpsuit" look.  (Who am I?  First palazzo pants.  Now jumpsuits?  What is happening???)

After finishing up the floral ones, I did go back and re-do the first pair.  I think they'll be in high demand this summer too.  I love wearing skirts and dresses, but they are just so impractical on windy days.  I think the Samara Pants will be the perfect solution! For the blue pair I paired it with my Plitvice which makes it easily work appropriate with the ditzy floral print, but am thinking I'll make either a Cartegena or Isidro in a bright bold print just to punch things up a bit.


If you'd like to get a copy of the Samara Pants, now is the time to take advantage of the pattern release sale!  It's currently 20% off over on the Itch to Stitch site and don't forget even with the discount you can still take advantage of the bundle pricing discounts if you've had your heart set on a few.

As for me I'm feeling bold after my Samara Pants success and I'm now eyeing up ALL the pants patterns!

Monday, April 29, 2019

Jurassic Hoodies

It's been a long time since I've done much sewing for the little boys that didn't involve a Halloween costume or Christmas Eve pjs, but I've had this dino fabric sitting in my stash for almost a year now.  It was a pre-order from Saskatchewan based Blended Threads last spring and since the boys were obsessed with anything Jurassic Park/World this seemed like the perfect fabric for them.  I meant to make them hoodies last year and then got distracted by a million other projects and left it sitting in my fabric bin thinking I'd get to it "next".

Well, I finally got to it just before the Easter weekend. Now I should do something with the batman, hockey, wildlife, etc lengths of fabric I've bought for them over the last two years too... When I mentally take stock of all that fabric I've bought with all the best intentions I realize how really bad I am at this "stick-to-it-ive-ness" thing when it comes to plans.  LOL



Baby steps.  We'll go with that.  One fabric at a time... So starting with the dino fabric, which is the same great quality as all the fabrics I've bought from Blended Threads, I decided to make the New Horizons*  Summit Peak Hoodie.  The Blended Threads Facebook group had recently done a Summit  sew along and I was feeling pretty inspired by all the great hoodies I had seen during it.

Having not made any kids patterns from New Horizons before, I thought it would make sense to make the 12 and try it on both boys first and see how the sizing looked before making the second one, figuring it would be easy to go up a size or down a size depending on which kiddo that the first one didn't fit. In the end it fit both of them pretty well, so the first one became Baby Boy's and while it's a touch long on him, it actually fits really well.  I also made a size 12 for Little Man, but added length to it, because although he's slender, he's long and lanky, gets taller by the minute and if it fits him around, it's almost guaranteed to be short on him in no time at all.


I had two metres of the dino fabric and then a yard of the charcoal grey from The Fabric Snob and a yard of the khaki green from Midnight Mountain Fabrics.  Both are a cotton/lycra blend and both are the same nice quality as the cotton/lycra dinos.


I had initially planned on doing both the hoodies with the green, but then decided to go with the grey partly because I was worried I'd be cutting it close with the amount of fabric (I think I figured I'd be short by about half a waistband if I remember correctly) and having a slight difference would save a whole lot of "HE'S WEARING MY HOODIE" type arguments.



I love how the hoodies turned out.  More importantly the boys love them!  Being cotton/lycra they've been perfect for the on again off again spring weather we've been having too! They were really quick to sew (always a bonus!).  The instructions were really straight forward - I did do a bit of head scratching at first over the pocket, but then watched a quick YouTube video on how to sew it, and after I watched it of course the instructions seemed perfectly clear and I have no idea why I was confused in the first place.  I think it was a case of over thinking things too much.  I put eyelets in the hoods for a draw string, but haven't managed to actually thread one through yet.  I should really do that one of these days.  (I was just planning to cut a strip of the solid CL and yet somehow as simple a task as that is, I haven't quite got around to it... )



I do have all three of the Summit Peak Hoodie patterns so want to make the adult sized versions too.   I want a pullover hoodie for myself and have quite a nice stash of floral french terry I could use (my french terry Halifax hoodie, that I'm pretty sure I never blogged about, is one of my most worn tops - in fact I'm wearing it today as I type this - so I'd love another design in french terry!).  For my husband, I think I'll do the zip up version and need to order a suitable cotton lycra or french terry for his.

First things first though. I'm in the middle of a pants sewing endeavour right now and must focus on that before I dive headlong into any new projects.  Someone get the mental blinders on me quickly so I don't get distracted by all the other ideas floating around my head...







Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Isidro

So, after taking a bit of a break from pattern testing I dove back in recently and I'm happy to report that during my hiatus nothing has changed with Itch to Stitch* designing and pattern drafting.  It's still the same amazing quality as always, with the same careful attention paid to every detail!  I'm always so impressed every time I sew an Itch to Stitch pattern.

This time around I tested the Isidro top, which is releasing today, and I'm telling you that this is a top you will definitely want need in your wardrobe all summer long and can tell you one of the testers, who lives in the Southern hemisphere, and I were just chatting in our Facebook group about how Isidro layered with a cozy Aveiro cardi would be perfect for getting you through the colder months as well!


Itch to Stitch Isidro


Let's get down to all the important details!  Isidro is a simple little knit top that features gentle gathers at the centre front of the neckline.  It can be a sleeveless top finished with bands along the armscye or you can add sweet gathered butterfly sleeves.  I love the practical layering potential and perfect for warm weather sleeveless version, but I also love the feminine touch the gathered butterfly sleeve too which feels like a dressed up version of a comfy summer t-shirt!  The best part of the butterfly sleeve is that the inside of the armscye also uses the same bands as the sleeveless version giving it such a polished finish.



My first version was made from a random clearance purchase - pretty sure it was from Marshall's Northwest, but maybe from Fabricland - it's of unknown fibre content, and quite thin but despite it's thinness it has a bit of structure too it.

Itch to Stitch Isidro Photo 2

The pattern was so quick to sew up - which in my books is always a bonus when I'm busy going in a million different directions at once.  While it's nice to be able to sew something a little more involved when I have the chance, there is something definitely satisfying about an instant gratification project that can be sewn in a fairly short chunk of quiet time!  As per usual too, the fit was pretty much spot on for me.  My standard 1 1/2" added length to accommodate that 10" waist length I possess and a bit of blending sizes at the hip and I was good to go!

My second version is made from a tri-blend jersey I picked up from the "affordable knits" section of The Fabric Snob several months ago likely on sale as well (I'm nothing if not thrifty! LOL)


The fabric is very soft, and has a lovely drape to it, which made it perfect for the butterfly sleeves I thought!  I can't seem to get enough of fluttery sleeves these days.  They really are my favourite!


I have so many more versions I want to make because I really think this will be a wardrobe staple for me!  If you want to get your copy of Isidro while it's on sale for the release week, head on over to the Itch to Stitch site!  It's 20% at the moment and I think you'll find you're just as happy with it as I am!  I highly recommend it!

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

Pasta Pomondoro with Italian Sausage

Well, this is a bit different!  It's been approximately forever since I posted a recipe (and I'm still definitely no food blogger/photographer by any stretch of the imagination), but given how long it took me the other day to find the piece of paper I jotted down the ingredients on years ago, I thought it might be handy to just pop it up here on the blog.  If for no other reason, I will be able to find it again next time I want to make it.  I'd forgotten how tasty this dish is until I was grocery shopping with my husband the other day and he reminded me of it and asked if I could make it again soon.  Its pretty quick and easy so I made it on the weekend after we'd had a busy day running around doing errands.

The "recipe" is something I came up with about 15 years or more ago after having a similar dish in a restaurant.



Not sure why I was using 1/4 cup of oil at the time - that seems really quite excessive! So we'll just ignore that and carry on and I'll tell you how I made it the other night!

Ingredients:

1 package of Italian sausages, mild or hot
Angel Hair (Capellini) pasta

2 TBSP Oil
1 white or yellow onion (medium sized), chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 red pepper, chopped
1 28 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 cup of chicken broth
2 TBSP Balsamic vinegar
red pepper flakes (to taste - I just did a light sprinkle)
2 TBSP basil (I'm really liking the organic freeze dried basil in a jar right now while the herb garden is still buried under eleventy billion feet of snow)
salt and pepper to taste
small can of sliced black olives
1 TBSP capers
grated parmesan cheese


Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 375*F
Poke sausages with a fork so the grease drains out when cooking, then place on rack on a pan (or on  a broiler pan) and bake in oven for approximately 25 minutes or until fully cooked.  Remove and let cool slightly then slice into pieces and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat oil then saute onion, garlic and red pepper together until soft.  Then add in the sausage pieces you set aside earlier.  Add the remaining ingredients except the parmesan cheese, turn to low and let simmer until it reduces.



In the meantime, prepare the pasta according to package directions.

Once the sauce has simmered enough for your liking (really it's all preference and how patient and/or hungry you are - there's no right amount of time or amount it needs to reduce if you want it a bit runnier, leave it less time, thicker and leave it longer.)

To serve you can top the pasta with the sauce or you can mix it all together in the pot first - I've done it both ways!  Garnish with parmesan cheese and enjoy!  Leftovers freeze and reheat well too by the way!



Friday, March 22, 2019

I Do Love a Great Floral!

As I'm sure you all know by now, I really do love a great floral print.  I'm more than a bit obsessed with them as a matter of fact.

My latest floral make is an Olympia Dress* from Love Notions patterns!  It's a fairly straight forward pattern featuring a shawl collar and several different options for skirt and sleeve length options.  My Olympia Dress is also my most recent make for the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network and is being featured on the blog today.


I hope you'll hop on over and take a look at my full post there, and while you're there take a look in the shop at all the gorgeous new florals they've just brought in for spring.  I'm trying hard to resist, but I don't know how long I'll be able to hold out before I order more... I'm really wanting a few more Olympia dresses in my wardrobe for spring and summer. Also I would like to recommend having a look at the other projects up this week on the Minerva blog - there are some absolute beauties there from the other network sewists!!

It's been a crazy busy, exhausting week at work with our annual Scholastics Book Fair, but now it's Friday evening, the sun is shining and the snow is melting and best of all as of 4pm this afternoon I'm officially on Spring Break until April 1st and have quite the little sewing queue floating around in my head for next week.  Tops, and pants and dresses oh my!!!

In all fairness the plans and the reality may end up being two very different things, but I hope to be back here soon with at least some new projects to show you!  Have a great weekend and happy crafting until next time!


Saturday, March 16, 2019

Knitting or The Lack There Of

I've been in a bit of a slump with my knitting.  I think I may have casually mentioned on and off over the last several months that I've lost my "mojo".  I don't know what or why it is. It's not that I don't want to be knitting.  I most definitely do! I see patterns and yarn and think, "Oooooooh!  I should knit that!" but somehow that thought never seems to make it much past the thinking/dreaming stage into the cast on, knit and finish stage.


I did finish a Bankhead hat (a Christmas gift for my husband - modelled here by not so little anymore Little Man) - that one was a bit more exciting because I had picked out the fibre from Prairie's Edge Wool Farm and spun the yarn especially for the hat for him.  Maybe that's the key... all things should be knit from hand spun.  But here's the kicker...  I've not spun anything in months either! Even my spinning wheel has sat idle in the corner with a bobbin only half full.


The only things I've finished other than the hat since completing my Waters Tee last summer was the mittens that I made for Christmas for the big kids.


Some would argue that six pairs of mitts and a hat equals plenty of knitting over the span of eight months.  And I would probably agree, except that normally I am always knitting.  For the last twenty years I've knit a lot and the last fifteen years have been constant.  If I was sitting down for any reason (except obviously driving a vehicle) my needles would always be clickety clacking away.  Is it ridiculous to feel that knitting is like a part of my identity? Part of who I am? But this past while I've found myself knitting a row or two and setting it aside. Or not picking it up at all.  And it's a weird feeling of both not knowing why or what to do with it and a feeling of almost guilt that I'm not doing what I should be doing. (which is more than a bit crazy I do realize!) I do know that I was under a huge amount of stress earlier in the fall and I've been tired a lot lately as a residual result of that stress combined with a busy home life and a great, but busy job and that probably plays into it too. It feels silly that my blog name is "Prairie Girl Knits" and I've not given knitting much more than a casual mention here in approximately forever.

I have cast on a few things... I have two cardigans on my needles - a Populuxe that actually I forced myself to work on to the point that it only needs sleeves and a Mary Mead that got an upper back and upper right front done only before I put it aside.  I also have a Dubois hat that I cast on in great excitement the day the pattern was released and then left by the wayside when the cables started getting challenging to keep track of where I was. (And before it's suggested that maybe it's the patterns, I can assure you that it's not.  I adore the patterns, and really want to be wearing them, so I know it's not that...)



Should I even mention the three quarters of the way through Polarity shawl? Maybe not... that one I started back when in February 2017 when the knitting mojo was smiling upon me and it languished only because I kept getting distracted by new patterns I wanted to work on.

There is a glimmer of hope though that maybe, just maybe, my desire to knit is finally coming back - it's been a slow process, but I think that a slight whisper of it is there.

Inspired by a shawl my mama knit this winter for herself, from yarn I had spun for her, I decided maybe I'd like a big squooshy, cozy shawl of my own too.  I chose a different pattern, and commercial yarn for mine, but it's the first thing in a long time that has seen actual slow but steady progress and might stand a chance of getting finished!   The Golden Hour shawl by Drea Renee Knits might be just the thing to get my knitting groove back!



As for the Dubois hat, the Polarity shawl and the Mary Mead and Populuxe cardis?  Well... we'll have to see what happens.  I think I'm just going to try to focus on The Golden Hour for the time being and see where that leads me.  Maybe once I get back in the swing of things, and it becomes to feel more of a natural process again, I will be able to finish up those languishing projects.

I do know that this is supposed to be a hobby; my method of relaxation.  There should be no guilt or anxiety over how much I'm knitting or not, so I think I'm also going to focus on letting go of that. Goodness knows there's legitimate stress and anxiety aplenty in life that I don't need to add to it with misplaced guilt over something that should simply be done out of sense of joy.