Knitting, my holiday hobby

One complaint — perhaps the only complaint — I have with sewing is that it doesn’t exactly lend itself to holiday socializing. You can’t really put your machine in the living room when the whole family is over and chug away at projects while everyone else talks and eats chocolate covered pretzels. For one thing, if I try and talk too much while I’m sewing I usually mess something up. For another thing, the chocolate always ends up all over my project. And then there’s the issue of machine volume, which for some machines (like my serger) is enough to put everyone off conversation altogether.

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We go up north every fall with a bunch of Mr Rae’s friends and their spouses and families and each year I try to take a knitting project with me. This year I started this cute little sweater for Clementine and continued working on it in Florida last week, and now this week in Seattle. As you can see it’s still in the works. It’s fun to create something handmade without having to shut myself in a sewing room.

I’m not a full-time knitter. One disadvantage of restricting knitting to just a fall/holiday hobby is that I basically have to teach myself to knit again every year. Purl Bee‘s tutorials (right sidebar) help me with this, but it’s kindof like riding a bike; once I pick it up and do a few practice swatches, it starts to come back.

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One thing that has really helped me is when I ask for knitting patterns for Christmas or birthday gifts, I also try to ask for the YARN to make the project too. This really makes a huge difference for me when it comes to starting a project. If I have to go out and procure the yarn it’s way less likely to happen. I get so confused at yarn stores.

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This particular pattern is the Yoked Cardigan by Knitbot and the yarn is this Plymouth Tweed. Maybe someday I’ll get around to putting it on my Ravelry page (not even going to link it, it’s so pathetic), but sometimes I just get sick of keeping up all of my social media sites, don’t you? I really like this pattern though because it’s knit top-down on circular needles, so there are NO SIDE SEAMS. The thought of not having to stitch it up at the end is divine. I’ll be sure to show you how it turns out.

I also have this Jane Richmond pullover pattern(shown above) that I really want to make, but no yarn yet. So we’ll see if that happens this year or not. And then there’s my “Someday when I’m a knitting superstar” board on Pinterest where I dream about all the fabulous things I would knit if I had the time/ability. Here’s a few current favorites:

Source: ravelry.com via Rae on Pinterest

Source: needled.wordpress.com via Rae on Pinterest

Source: ravelry.com via Rae on Pinterest

Source: quinceandco.com via Rae on Pinterest

How about you? Is there a knitting pattern on your brain right now? Is it started or just a daydream yet?

By the way, I really do enjoy sewing and socialization together when it’s in the form of a SE Michigan Crafter Meetups (and there’s another one coming up, just next week: December Meetup!). There’s a big room full of machines and a bunch of crafty people and snacks, so it’s tons of fun. If you’ll be around SE Michigan next Thursday night, let us know you can come!

Cow girl

This is what she wore to Trader Joe’s the other day. You know, for our less-than-36-hours-at-home-before-we-get-on-a-plane-again shopping trip. Hey, we had to eat. And what do you say when your child asks to wear her (handmade) Halloween costume to the grocery store? YOU SAY YES, is what.

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So if you saw a little cow pushing around a mini-cart this past weekend, that was Clementine. And if it weren’t already obvious: the blond boy bumping into her with his mini-cart? Elliot.

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Sidenote: This fit her two years in a row. I was very excited about that.

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Is it too confusing that there are Halloween costume pictures on my blog the day before Thanksgiving? Sorry!!!

Posted in holidays
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Just gonna rub it in a little bit more

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Yup a bunch of you guessed right, we’re in Florida! Mr Rae’s parents rented a house in Clearwater Beach for the whole family (parents, siblings/spouses and kids) and it’s been really fun and warm. But it’s almost over, and then next week it’s off to Seattle for Thanksgiving to spend time with MY family. I tell you we are just a bunch of jetsetters this year. I did a little mental tally: this year I have been to San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, New York, Florida, and (next week) Seattle. That’s waaay more travel than normal for me, plus the first four were long weekends without kids (woot!) But Mr Rae wins hands down with so many trips out to New York and San Francisco in the past year I’ve lost count (he’s got a tech startup). Anyway. What was I talking about again? Oh yes. Florida! We spent a lot of our time here in the sand:

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And we took a side trip to Busch Gardens on what ended up being the hottest, most humid day we had all week.

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While we did enjoy the park a bunch, I have to be honest here: with a 2- and a 4-year old, I didn’t feel it was really worth the $$$ to get in. Elliot was a little disappointed that he couldn’t go on most of the rides he picked out on the map.

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But there’s a cute little area for preschoolers called the “Sesame Street Safari of Fun” so that’s where we spent most of our time:

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And they definitely had fun. But we joked that the four times Elliot rode on the Air Grover mini-coaster costed us roughly $50 each. And then there’s the issue of Ms C’s nap-time, which happens every day, whether we like it or not:

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So that was the end of our visit. Maybe we’ll wait until they’re each old enough to ride the big coasters before we go back. It’s a really great park…I just don’t have kids who can really appreciate it yet. They’re just as happy to play in the sand.

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Hope you’ve enjoyed the pictures of our trip! Glad I have a visual reminder for next week when I’m shivering again.

Posted in travel
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Flower Garden Dress

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At the very first SE Crafter’s Meetup ever last November, Emily brought some extra knit fabric along for me to take home (woot!). One of the knits was this amazing border knit that she had found for a bargain somewhere (and now I’m forgetting again Emily, was it Hancocks?). I loved this little garden of flowers along the border, especially these snails…

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I knew with such a detailed print that I needed a very simple pattern to show it off. I’ve made quite a few skinny tees for the kids lately just based on their measurements, so I just added a skirt to Clementine’s tee pattern to make the dress. Same idea as adding a skirt to a baby one-sie, really very simple. And I’m so happy with the result!

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And how many of us played with this same Fisher Price train, I’d like to know? Ours is still holding up well, 30+ years after it was first given to me when I was her age. Love this thing!

Pink Voile Tunic, for me

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Another project started in New York at the Heather Ross workshop, made with Anna Maria Horner’s Little Folks voile (also used for this Pierrot top for Clementine) and a variation of this basic pattern, just a very simple design I came up with that I’m starting to grow very attached to.

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I wanted some little pintucks to play with the plaid a little bit (maybe this isn’t technically “plaid”…but you still get what I’m talking about?), it breaks up the pattern just enough to be interesting without being too distracting.

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I can’t think of anything else to say about this tunic. Which is odd because normally I just blather on and on until I realize I’ve been puttering away at the same post for 3 hours and have to cut myself off.

Consider this a (brief) respite.

Another Dip in the Photo Pool: Charlieeeeeeeeeeeeee!

I’m loving all the new Charlie Tunics and Dresses that have appeared in the photo pool lately. Here are just a few of my favorites! Seriously, this Minnie Mouse is killing me:

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1. charlie tunic dress, 2. Tula Pink tunic 2, 3. Evelyn as Minnie Mouse, 4. Subject Charlie Tunic

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1. sewing september 025, 2. Sz 4 Charlie Tunic ELM_6065, 3. Untitled, 4. DSC_0109.jpg

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1. Charli(z)e Tunic, 2. Charlie Tunic (3), 3. new beach clothes, 4. Gingham Charlie tunic

In other news…

NEW CHARLIE POOL! I realized that we didn’t have a dedicated Charlie photo pool yet (oops) so I thought I would remedy that situation, stat. Now you don’t have any excuses not to share your great Charlie photos! It’s here: www.flickr.com/groups/charlietunics

NEW BACKPACK PATTERN! The new version of the toddler backpack pattern is now available in the pattern shop. You can see the changes I’ve made and learn what to do if you purchased the older version of the pattern but still want the updates right here.

CHARLIE DRESS? I am just now starting on the Charlie Dress pattern pieces *looks sheepish. ducks*. Everyone who emails me about this wants to know: a) when will it be ready? and b) how much will it cost? I don’t have answers to either question yet, but I do know that it will most likely be sold as an add-on pack to the original pattern. If there were two of me it would already be available. Hope that helps?


HANDMADE CHARLOTTE AT ANTHRO: I’m so excited for my friend Rachel at Handmade Charlotte! We met in person a few weeks ago at the Weekend Sewing Workshop in NY and she is a supercool individual and so much fun in person. Anthropologie is currently selling her mini-collection of children’s garments and it is super-cute (pictured above and below). LOVE that peacock coat. Anyone who has ever made handmade garments to sell knows how completely amazing this is. Congratulations Rachel!!!

Posted in charlie
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Moon coat for Elliot

One of the projects I worked on at the Weekend Sewing workshop a couple weeks ago was an Oliver+S Schooldays Jacket for Elliot. The moon fabric is from the Far Far Away II collection by Heather Ross, and the flannel inside is by Robert Kaufman.

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When Elliot is riding in the car he gets really excited when he sees the moon. He’ll point out the window and yell, “there’s the MOON!!!” It’s cute. What really kills me is that when we turn a corner and he sees the moon again a few minutes later he’ll yell, “ANOTHER MOON!” It’s as if, in his little universe, there are more moons around every corner. And of course this fabric just confirms the unlimited nature of the moon.

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This pattern (like all Oliver+S patterns) is really great! Even though sewing this coat is a somewhat involved/lengthy process, I like that Liesl breaks it down into really easy-to-follow steps, and the outcome is a really professional-looking finished garment. I made the coat exactly as specified by the pattern, with the exception of the button tabs, which come out of the side of the center panel rather than across it. I honestly liked the idea of using horn buttons for a duffle-coat effect better but then got too lazy to go out and find them and just settled for it this way because it seemed easier. I used magnetic snaps for the inside fasteners, and I like that it’s easy for him to put the coat on by himself as a result.

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He really just can’t help hamming for the camera.

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New backpack for Clementine!

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Toddler Backpack Sewing Pattern – $8
BUY NOW

Tonight I’m winding up the “Back to School Wardrobe” course I have been teaching over the last couple of months with Karen LePage at Blue House in Ann Arbor. We’re having a “show and tell” at a local restaurant and I cannot WAIT it’s going to be so much fun. We had a fantastic group of women who have been sewing up a storm and have been so much fun to hang out with. There were five projects over five sessions (a basic pant, Tee for Two knit tee, Charlie Tunic woven top, the Toddler Backpack, and the Reversible Jacket from Sewing for Boys), so as you can imagine it was a rather ambitious curriculum. One of the fun things about teaching classes with your own patterns is that you get to revisit them again, and every week in preparation for our class Karen and I would make a few samples to use as demonstration and make sure we knew what we were doing. This little backpack was used as a sample for the class, but now it’s finished so Miss Clementine has been proudly carrying it around.

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These prints are from the Far Far Away II line by Heather Ross . The cotton/linen canvas with the girls and the horses is (I’m not sure, can see this in the pictures?) a pale grey with orange and coordinates with the lighter-weight orange floral linen blend from that line so well. A half yard of each fabric is really plenty for one backpack, so I think the backpack is a nice way to feature the print. I ordered a yard and am terribly conflicted now with what to do with the rest of it. So many ideas, ack!!! A few of my sponsors still currently carry all or part of this line, so I would love it if you would shop with them (they’re linked from my sidebar) if you decide you need some.

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The Toddler Backpack was the very first pattern I digitized and began to sell back in 2009 at the prodding of readers, and as I combed through it again I realized it needed a facelift. So Elli (my seester and design-software-extraordinaire) and I are currently re-working the pattern a little bit: improving the section on the larger (school-aged) version of the backpack, which is very easy to make but needed some clarity in the instructions, changing the type-Os and adding a section on lining the backpack, something I have always wanted to do. I lined this version and found it to be quite easy to do. Here’s a little peek at the lining, which I found harder to photograph than expected:

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We’ll be putting up the new and improved version of the pattern soon so I wanted to put the word out on the street that the current version of the pattern will only be available for a little while longer at its current price ($6). The new version of the pattern will include (in addition to the original pattern pieces and updated instructions), a new printable summary sheet, improved instructions for making the larger school-aged version of the backpack (to fit a binder and letter-sized papers), and a new section on lining the backpack and will be sold for $8.

UPDATED: The new version is available now in the pattern shop; you can also read more about the updates here.

If you’re interested, Karen and I are thinking we might offer the kids’ wardrobe course again next winter, maybe in January or February. Let us know if you’re thinking about this as it definitely helps to know how many people might be interested.

And speaking of Heather Ross, did you see that she is offering the always-awesome Blueberry Hill workshops again next summer? AND a new Fabric Design workshop in New York next spring? I don’t know which will be more fun, but I do know they sell out fast!!!

Finally, we’re having another one of our Crafty Meetups here in Michigan on Thursday night at Makerworks — it’s rollicking good fun so if you can join us, let us know on our Facebook page or November Meetup page (more information there as well). If you don’t “do Facebook,” just send me an email (click on the contact nav button, above). If you can’t make it this week, our next meetup will be Thursday, December 1. Hope you can join us!