Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Summer Lovin'... Sort Of

I decided this year I was going to take part in Luvinthemommyhood's Tops, Tanks and Tees Knit Along. I knew I wanted to knit Jane Richmond's Gemini and I knew I had some pretty DK weight in a silk, linen, rayon blend that would probably work. I couldn't wait to cast on!

Photobucket Pictures, Images and PhotosI swatched ahead of time so that come April 24th I could dive right into knitting. It went along fairly smoothly pattern wise. Yarn wise was another story. I was using the long since discontinued Chanson from Grignasco, and was worried about my yardage to begin with. Then there were knots upon knots in almost every ball. Only one out of my eight wasn't knotted at least twice. So frustrating. And soooooooo many ends to weave in. Not to mention my knitting time was fraught with anxiety over playing yardage chicken.

As it turns out I had no need to worry. I had a bit left over from that last ball and it just so happens I should've made an entire size smaller. I have no idea what went wrong. Not a clue. I did choose a size with only 2" negative ease instead of 4" negative ease as suggested in the pattern. I don't really like tight clothes, but did still want a semi fitted top. You can imagine my horror as I cast off the last few stitches and finally got a really good look at my sweater. It said "Too Big" all over it. Then I tried it on thinking maybe it just looked deceptively large.

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Nope. Nothing deceptive about it. It's a lovely, flowy, slightly A-line top. What the heck? It appeared to fit like a dream when I tried it on just after separating the sleeves. Now, don't get me wrong. I can embrace the fact it's not like I envisioned. I'm ok with loose and flowy. What I'm not ok with is a neckline that stretches as I'm wearing it so that suddenly I'm looking like I'm trying to pull off an Jennifer Beals/Flashdance look. I retired that off the shoulder, slouchy look somewhere around grade eight for good reason. There is no way I want to bring it back now in my 40s. Yikes!

So! I need to come up with a solution. My choices seem to range from ripping the whole darn thing out and starting over (the horror!!!!), attacking it with my sewing machine and a pair of scissors (which makes me want to run and hide under the bed just thinking about it), crocheting decreasing rounds at the neckline to snug it in (clearly the least painful option so far) or tossing it in the box with my other knitting fiascos I've had over the years (so sad because I really do love the colour of my yarn). Right now it sits on my dresser where I can glare at it while I decide it's fate. Which would you choose?

Channel Your Inner Elvis

I spent half of last week thinking about cupcakes. Not just any cupcakes. Chocolate cupcakes. Chocolate cupcakes kicked up a notch. Chocolate cupcakes involving bananas. And peanut butter... (sometimes my mind has a lot of time on it's hands apparently)

This weekend that vision became a reality.

I started out with my usual chocolate cake recipe, but changed it up a teensy, tiny bit. Then I made my usual chocolate buttercream, but changed it up a bit too.

Success. Sweet, sweet success!!!!

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Are you thinking about cupcakes now? Here's the recipe if the little voice in your head is now telling you that you need to channel your inner Elvis and dine on some chocolate banana cupcakes with chocolate peanut butter frosting.


2 cups flour
1 2/3 cups white sugar
3/4 cup butter or margarine
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup cocoa
1 1/3 cup milk
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
3/4 cup mashed ripe banana
1 tsp vanilla

Pre-heat oven to 350F (170C)

Combine all ingredients into mixing bowl, beat with mixer on medium speed for two minutes until creamy then divide into muffin tins lined with cupcake liners. Bake for approx. 20 minutes

When cool finish off with the pièce de résistance - chocolate peanut butter buttercream (unless of course you are serving these to anyone who may have a nut allergy. Just stick with chocolate instead. It'll still be great. I promise. After all cupcakes should be enjoyed happily and safely by all)

Chocolate Peanut Butter Buttercream

1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter or margarine
3 TBSP peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
2-4 TBSP milk
4 cups icing (confectioner's) sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder

Mix all with hand mixer until creamy and smooth.


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Bath Time for A Little Friend

The other night Baby Boy's Flannel Friend was the unfortunate victim of a wardrobe malfunction that left Baby Boy, his bedding and his flannel friend soaked. That's the last time I buy a brand of disposable pull ups just because they're on sale so much cheaper than our usual brand. Apparently there's a reason they're so much cheaper! Nothing like a late night complete change for a sad and soggy toddler.

Anyways, poor Flannel Friend needed a bath in a big way! Surface washing was not going to even come close to fixing what ailed this little guy. So yesterday he got one. You can't just throw them in the washing machine and dryer, they need a bit more special treatment than that given they are stuffed with 100% wool. Felting the stuffing would lead to a very sorry looking (and feeling)friend. So here's how we do it here at our house in three easy little steps.

1) I filled the kitchen sink with lukewarm water and added some detergent - use whatever you like as long as it's not too harsh, what you would hand wash your wool sweaters in is fine. (ahem, confession time... I used a squirt of Dawn dish soap)

2)Then Baby Boy's little friend was placed in the soapy water and gently swished about. You don't want to be too vigorous with your swishing because too much agitation can cause the wool stuffing inside to felt and get lumpy.

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Rub a dub dub, Flannel Friend's in the tub

3)Once you feel bath time has been long enough, you need to rinse well to get all traces of soap out. To do this I ran clear water over him, gently squeezing as I went until the water ran clear with no bubbles. Then he went outside to the deck to sunbathe (more commonly known as air dry).

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Basking in the sunshine

And there you have it! Easy as one, two, three.

A fresh, clean, smells much better than it did friend all ready for bedtime snuggles again!

By the way, if anyone is interested in ordering a Flannel Friend for themselves or a little person they know, please don't hesitate to contact me and we can discuss details. I am always happy to do custom orders and turn around time is about a week or less (not including the time it takes to ship through the post)

Friday, May 10, 2013

Drumroll Please...

So here we are, Friday night and Giveaway Day is done.

I have had so much fun reading everyone's comments this week. It's been great hearing what your favourite childhood toys were. A common thread for many of you seemed to be that your favourite was something a loved one had made for you.

Reading all your comments inspired me to venture into the deepest darkest reaches of the storage area under our basement stairs to find my very own favourite childhood toy, Pinky.

Finding her wasn't easy... Let's just say I know what spring cleaning chore should be at the top of my list!!! Happily, though eventually I found her. She looks a little worse for wear, ok. I'll admit it. She looks a whole lot worse for wear, but let me tell you she saw a whole lot of love in her prime.

My Mom made her for me for Christmas - I think when I was a year and a half old (so she's about 40 years old now!) She was my comfort, my companion, my very best friend when I was little. I loved her so much I loved her face right off and Mom had to re-embroider it on. I can still remember the horror of realizing I'd forgotten Pinky in my cubbyhole one day in Kindergarten. I was certain tragedy would befall her overnight. Funny how some memories stick with you like that.

Pinky's not much to look at now in her stained, threadbare condition, face and hair mostly gone, but finding her this afternoon brought back such happy childhood memories.

Unfortunately I couldn't find a photo of Pinky in her newer days - I assure you she was as pretty a doll as ever was made with her bright yellow yarn hair, blue eyes and rosy pink body - but I thought I'd show you her in her well loved state.

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
A very well loved Pinky

Anyways, before I ramble on much longer, I'm sure you're all waiting to hear who has won the little Flannel Friend!

I had started out thinking I'd write everyone's name on a scrap of paper, throw them in a hat and have the boys pick one, but it was getting close to bedtime, the boys were getting tired and I figured it may somehow dissolve into a meltdown, so I tossed that idea out the window and used modern technology instead. I googled "random number picker" and clicked on through to the first hit.

Voila. Drumroll please...

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
We have a winner!

The winner is commenter number 27!

Kelly said,

Oh my word! That doll is so sweet! My favorite toy growing up was probably the doll my mother made for me. I named her Deborah and dressed her in my baby sister's cast-offs. :-)

Congratulations Kelly! I'll be sending you an email shortly so that your Flannel Friend can go out in Monday's post!

Thank you everyone for participating and thank you very much for all your kind words about my doll!

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Here We Go a Washi-ing...

I finally buckled down to making my Washi tunic last week. I don't know what it is about cutting out and piecing together PDF patterns that causes me to procrastinate so much. Especially when it's a pattern I really, really do want to make!

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Washi Dress and Tunic
I'm a bit late to the party. I've wanted the Washi Dress and Tunic pattern from Made by Rae ever since she released it in 2012. I wasn't sure though - it looks great on Rae, but I am not shaped anything like Rae, so I was kind of worried it would end up looking maternity-ish on me and the last thing my mental health and well being needs is to be asked when I'm due. So I put it off waiting to see what it looked like on others first. Months and probably a hundred blog posts and reviews read later, I decided to go for it!

I'm glad I did! It's a great pattern and the final result is cool and comfy! I guarantee it's going to be getting a lot of wear this summer!! I like the way the shirring along the back snugs everything in. In terms of instructions, they're really thorough, and if I'd read them before starting the pattern instead of after I was finished I probably would have put the pleats the right direction, facing in instead of out. Oh well. Next time. (and there will be a next time...).

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Washi take one!

I did do two muslins of the bodice first to get a fit that was just right for me. In the end I just needed a wee bit more length in the bodice. Probably not entirely necessary, but I like my empire waists to be a touch lower than what most patterns accommodate.

I love the fabric I chose for it. I've wanted this fabric forever too! It's Michael Miller Sanctuary Orchid Feng Shui that I purchased from Sew What Fabrics in Alberta.

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Cool as a cucumber in my Washi... Partly because it was about +6C when this pic was taken

Next on my to do list of sewing for me is my Jamie Dress! I just need to wait until I can get to the city for some lining fabric and a zipper. I'm also waiting for my Honey Blouse pattern to arrive in the post!

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

I'm Late! I'm Late for a Very Important Date!

There is a certain greatness to my lateness.

http://sewmamasew.com/Somehow until late, late last night it escaped my attention that the Sew, Mama, Sew! Giveaway Day (which is actually running all week until Friday) was starting. Sorry about that!!

Last summer I took a notion into my head that the Baby Boy and Little Toddler man needed a special little companion and set to work making them each a regular sized Waldorf-inspired doll. I was hooked on the doll making. So at Christmas time I made a little flannel friend for our great niece, and suddenly found myself even more hooked! Making them for the boys, and some friends' babies, these little babies were so much fun!

I love the feel of the wool roving I use to make the inner head, it's so soft and fluffy, but quickly becomes a cohesive firm ball with a wee bit of coaxing (and now the aid of a felting needle. I love using a felting needle, especially now that I've stopped inadvertently stabbing myself with it - that was a bit of a steep and painful learning curve! Ha ha!). It seems sort of like magic the way it comes together. Then the outer head goes on, the little body that gets lightly stuffed and then the best part of all - the finishing touches! The hat and sometimes "hair", a jaunty little ribbon bow (that was (BF)G's idea!), and the embroidered face. I adore these little "flannel friends".

They are just the right size for little hands to hold and carry easily. They fit perfectly into your purse or diaper bag for outings. And they make a good bedtime companion as Baby Boy could attest too - he was clutching his in his chubby little toddler fingers as he fell asleep last night.

So now for the nitty gritty of it all! How would you like a flannel friend for a little someone you know?

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Little Flannel Friend

I'm giving away a handmade flannel friend here on the blog! The flannel friend is approximately 8" tall from bottom to head (not including the hat) and is made with pure wool roving stuffing, cotton interlock and cotton flannel. Flannel friends are best surface washed with gentle soap, but if more thorough cleaning is needed you can give it a "bath" in the sink by hand like you would your favourite hand knit sweater and let it air dry.

The contest is open from today until 5pm (PST), Friday, May 10, 2013. To win please leave a comment letting me know what your favourite toy was as a child (and your email address so I can contact you if you win). Winner will be chosen randomly from all entries. Contest is open to all readers, but one entry per person please! Good luck!

When you're done here you should head back on over to Sew, Mam, Sew! To check out all the other amazing giveaways going on this week!!!

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

When Life Gives You Lemons Make Pajamas... And a Cowl

I thought I would stop in and catch up with a quick post today!

As I mentioned in my last post I had quite a few projects on the go.  The Simplicity blouse turned out a disaster. Instead of an airy summer blouse I realized what I had was an airy summer pajama top. But when life hands you lemons (or in this case an err in judgement when choosing fabric) you make lemon aid.  Or pajama bottoms. I made the bottoms. They're simple cotton capris length with inseam pockets and a contrast band at the bottom to match the top.  I also added some shirring at the bottom of the top to practice for my upcoming Washi tunic.

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Pjs - unmodeled because posting a pic of my self in my jammies is just too weird

A quick word about shirring.  Save yourself a whole lot of anxiety, hair pulling and gnashing of teeth. Go buy Gutterman elastic thread before you begin. Heed my advice. I have learned the hard way.

So blouse/pajamas aside I've been motoring along on my knitting. My vest is currently in time out for bad behaviour, my Augusta Cardi is coming along quite nicely, I'm 11 1/2" into my Gemini (and nervously playing yardage chicken with yarn that is so full of knots that I'm quite certain is losing me precious yards with each ball) and my Amerind Cowl is finished!

I knit Amerind for the Sexy Knitter KAL. I have known of designer Sarah Wilson for years (I've had her Stargazer printed off since forever!). A few months ago she came back on my radar when she had a pattern giveaway on Ravelry. I ended up with my freebie and then bought two more of her patterns with the coupon code she offered along with the free pattern.

She has some stunning patterns and a great philosophy on women and self image. I highly recommend checking her site and group out.  I finally decided to join her group, then I saw she was hosting a knit along. My yarn had just come in from Little Knits so I cast on right then.  I really enjoyed the pattern. It was simple enough that I could easily keep track, but interesting enough to keep me going. I even learned another new trick! I have shied away from provisional cast ons in the past because the instructions left me confused, but this one, Judy's Magic Cast On, is so easy to learn!

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Amerind Cowl

The yarn is the now discontinued Queensland Collection Kathmandu Aran, which is a merino, silk, cashmere blend. As I mentioned, I ordered it from Little Knits. It was a ridiculously inexpensive price and the colour jumped off the screen at me. I knew I wanted it for my cowl.  After ordering I checked out the comments on Ravelry and was dismayed that there were so many negative reviews of it.  I consoled myself that at least it hadn't been expensive.  But then I got my yarn and it was beautiful.  A lot of the complaints were that it was too rustic - scratchy and full of vegetable matter. What I experienced was  quite the opposite, luxurious colour, with a soft hand, no veggie matter at all and great stitch definition.  I wish I'd ordered more.

I really love my cowl. And if this darn chilly weather doesn't head on out I may be getting some use of it over the next few days!

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
So cozy!