Saturday, December 03, 2011

Still pregnant!

Just dropping by to say that I'm still pregnant even though I am 9 days past my due date!  Come on baby, let's get this show on the road!

Sewing and knitting update:
  • Maternity Sorbetto:  sadly never completed.  I realized I needed to get going on some baby sewing projects if I wanted them to be done before she got here!
  • Baby hats for Cate (my baby):  I knit two pink hats!  Link to Ravelry page here.
  • Bonnet to match Twinkle cardi:  Completed but ENORMOUS!  I think it might fit her when she's one or maybe two.
  • Coming home dress:  I made a "practice" dress so I could get some practice on some of the techniques I hadn't ever done like making pleats and a lapped button closure on the back.  Then, I decided I really liked the practice dress and so now it is the coming home dress.  More details on that soon, I hope!
  • Booties to match the Twinkle cardi:  Just started these a couple of days ago.  I wasn't going to make them because I didn't think I would have time, but it seems that I do have time. :)  They are Christine's Stay-On Booties.
  • Socks for Mom for Christmas:  I started a pair of worsted-weight socks for my mom for Christmas.  They are the Serpentine Socks from Socks from the Toe Up by Wendy Johnson and I have 1 completed and 1 just past the heel.
  • Curtains for the nursery:  I'm making simple panel curtains for the nursery, lined with black-out material.  I have one panel done.  The second panel is a big priority, and then maybe I'll make a valence sometime in the next year or so.  :)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Why, hello there!

It's funny, whenever I take a spontaneous unintentional impromptu break from the blog, I continue to think of blog posts while I'm on break, I just somehow don't accumulate the activation energy necessary to actually write them. 

Probably the worst part about not blogging for awhile is that I end up not commenting on other people's blogs because I know there will be a link to my blog and I don't want a month-old post to be what people see when they click the link.  That is Bad Form, people.  I firmly resolve to eradicate that bad habit because commenting on other people's blogs should be about giving them some comment love, not about what people will see if they click the link back to my blog (and, really, I can always not include the link, right?).

Okay, now that I have that confession out of the way let's get on to what I have been doing since the last blog post, lo those many weeks ago.

First, there has been baby stuff.  Birthing prep classes, a baby care class, and a breastfeeding basics class (because breastfeeding, while natural, is not necessarily intuitive).  Doula interviews (birth and postpartum).  OB visits.  Nursery stuff.  Reading books about giving birth and babies and how not to go crazy in the first couple of weeks.  So, yeah, lots of baby stuff.  I'm a little tired of baby stuff, really.  Yesterday, I read an entire Sherrilyn Kenyon book from cover to cover and man it felt good.

There has been a little crafting but it has all been--you guessed it--baby crafting.  Here are two simple hats I made for my about-to-be-born-any-day-now nephew:

Do you like my little model?  Here he is sans chapeau.

What is he?  He is a Saccharomyces cerevisiae plushie.  S. cerevisiae is a species of yeast that is commonly used to make bread and beer.  It is also a species that is very commonly studied as a model system in biology and one that I used during my thesis work.  This plushie is a crafty rendition of an electron micrograph of a S. cerevisiae cell (OMG guys, I just found that link and now they have mini yeast plushies in a petri dish--squee!).  There are other microbe plushies, too, along with various cells of the body (ie a nerve cell).  Perfect for your friendly neighborhood science geek.  Or anyone with a rather eccentric sense of humor.

I have also almost finished the bonnet for baby Cate's coming home outfit (I am in the midst of casting off!).  I think it, like the sweater, will be a little too big for a newborn, but that's okay.  There has been almost no sewing whatsoever and rather than finish the clothing projects I had started I need to get going on some curtains with blackout lining for the nursery!  They will be very, very simple curtains (basically large rectangles with some ric-rac trim) because I don't really have time or energy for anything else!

So, that's it for now!  The baby is due in 30 days (more or less) so I've only got a few weeks until the craftiness stops dead in its tracks for a maternity hiatus (hopefully not a very long one!).  There's probably no way to get everything done but here is my list of things I'd like to accomplish before Cate appears:

1.  Curtains for the nursery
1.  Booties for coming home outfit
2.  Dress for coming home outfit (which will necessitate a muslin/practice dress before I cut into my real fabric)
4.  Maternity Sorbetto
5.  Maternity denim skirt that I already have 3/4 done (seriously, I just need to hem it).
6.  Sewn knit baby gowns that I have already started.

Wish me luck!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Busy Building Baby's Boudoir

The lack of posting has been mostly due to the fact that my in-laws came all the way from Boston to help us get the baby's room in order.  We didn't manage to get it completely in order, but all of the heavy-lifting got down and that was the important bit.  The rest J and I can do ourselves.

Most of the actual home improvement work was done by J and his father.  Over a period of four days, they put up some shelves on the wall in the living room (in our new office space), moved the desk from the baby's room to the living room, put shelves on the wall in the baby's room, moved bookcases in the baby's room (most of our books will still be in the baby's room since we don't have any other place to put four 6 ft tall bookcases) and earthquake-proofed them by strapping them to the wall, and painted the accent/mural wall (two colors:  green for grass and blue for sky; I've got flower and butterfly wall decals to decorate the wall with), and, finally, put together the crib and the new Ikea chair for the baby's room.  This was all the more amazing because my FIL has cat allergies and so could only spend four hours a day in the apt. before the cat dander overwhelmed the allergy medicine and his eyes started watering!

While J and his father were bonding over construction, my MIL and I were shopping.  We got a car seat, stroller frame, clothes, crib mattress, bedding, changing pad, and all kinds of baby paraphernalia, mostly necessary (ie bottles), some not-so-much (ie cute dresses).

We still need to touch up the paint on the mural wall, put up the decals, put the crib against the mural wall, finish painting the dresser, put together the baby's bookcase, and put up pictures and other decorations.  Fortunately, we have a month and a half to do it, so I'm certain it will be done by the time the baby makes an appearance!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Finished: Twinkle Cardigan

My first finished handknit for my baby!

Figure 1:  Twinkle Cardigan
Pattern:  Twinkle Cardigan.  A rewritten vintage pattern offered free on Ravelry.
Yarn:  Cascade Heritage 150 sock yarn, 75% merino wool, 25% nylon.
Buttons:  I found the perfect buttons on Etsy (shop:  ABandC)!  They are vintage glass buttons and are so adorable I can't stand it.
Figure 2:  The cutest buttons ever.
Modifications:  Instead of threading a ribbon through the eyelet row around the collar in order to tie the cardigan closed, I added three buttonholes in the button-band area.
Ravelry notes:  here

This cardigan is the first piece in my baby's coming home outfit.  It will be joined by a yellow dress with a white peter pan collar (I had already planned the yellow dress so I was thrilled when I found the white buttons with the little blue and yellow flowers!) and (hopefully) a knit baby bonnet and booties in the same yarn as the cardigan.  The next priority in this little layette is the dress, then I'll work on the bonnet and finally the booties.  I'm working on it all in order of importance (to me) so that if I run out of time, I'll have the most important pieces done.

The cardigan may actually be a little too big for a newborn, but I made it and by golly, she's going to wear it home from the hospital if I have the roll the sleeves up to the armpits and tie a ribbon around her waist to keep it from falling off!

I'm really very proud of this little cardigan and I can't wait to see my baby in it.  It's a pretty easy knit, really (top down construction with no seams) but I'm really impressed with myself all the same.  

Figure 3:  One more shot!

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Post-baby sewing dreams

Did everyone have a good Labor Day weekend?  My husband and I did nothing of consequence.  Well, I did a little fabric shopping and we made a valiant but failed attempt at hanging some shelves, but other than that, nothing much happened.

I've been thinking about the things I want to sew post-baby (you know, with all that free time I'm bound to have while caring for an infant).  I really got into reading sewing blogs for the first time last spring. Garment-sewing, that is. I have been reading a few craft blogs that had small project sewing and some sewing for kids for probably almost a year. I don't remember how I got into it, exactly, I think I followed a link to a link and started reading Gertie's New Blog for Better Sewing and Casey's Elegant Musings and sort of branched out from there.

At any rate, reading sewing blogs really inspired me to sew for myself and I saw a number of fabulous patterns that I desperately wanted to sew, but I had a little thing that was keeping me from starting those patterns, a little thing that is growing bigger and bigger every day! I could sew to my pre-pregnancy measurements, I suppose but there would be no way to check the fit and who knows if I'll ever get my pre-pregnancy body back (I've heard my boobs will never be the same, for instance) or if I do, how long that's going to take. So, for now, I enviously look at the brilliant garments people have shown and I jealously sigh over the sew-alongs I'd love to participate in, and I dream of the clothes I hope to make one day.

Here are just a few of the patterns I've got in my mental queue:

  • Violet shirt by Collette: A sweet button-down shirt with a peter pan collar. It's specifically labeled for beginners and I think it will be a great way to improve my fitting skills with a blouse that's a little more complicated than the Sorbetto.
  • Ginger skirt by Collette: A fairly simple A-line skirt with three different waistband options. I've made a couple of A-line skirts, but none with this type of waistband. I'd also like to try the option of cutting a striped fabric on the bias and making a chevron pattern. Sunni from A Fashionable Stitch has tips for sewing on the bias and inserting a zipper into bias-cut garments from her Ginger sew-along.
  • Peony dress by Collette:  This is part of their Fall 2011 line.  A simple dress for beginners!
  • Oolong dress by Collette: Are you sensing a pattern here? I do like the Collette patterns! This is a bias-cut dress with a ruched bodice. There are no closures to deal with, but I understand that sewing bias-cut fabric can be a little tricky.
  • Lonsdale dress by Sewaholic: This is fun, summery dress with an interesting neckline. It would require wearing a strapless bra, but I'm willing to put up with that to wear this dress. Tasia did a sew-along for this dress so I have something to refer to if I get stuck.
  • 1940s Swing Dress by Sense and Sensibility: This is just what the title says it is. It has a cross-over bodice and a gored skirt. Casey's Elegant Musings did a sew-along for it so I have a decent amount of reference material to help me make my own.
  • 1950s Collar Confection Blouse from Decades of Style: This is a reproduction of a vintage blouse pattern with a fitted waist and a fun collar. A much more complicated project to be done after I have a couple of (successful) shirts under my belt.
  • Plain and Simple Princess Shirt by HotPatterns: This is a plain, simple, princess seamed button-down shirt. It'll be great to have in my wardrobe and useful for learning to do an FBA on a princess-seamed garment.
You may have notice there are no pants in this list. Pants scare of me (I've acquired a horrible penchant for puns recently, so sorry to put you through it). They seem so complicated! It's a whole different set of measurements to get right. I'd like to try them someday, maybe starting with a really simple pattern with a side-zip (like this one from Hot Patterns).

You may also have noticed that none of the patterns listed are from one of the big 4 pattern companies (Simplicity, Butterick, McCall's, and Vogue). I like the idea of supporting independent pattern makers. They are mostly small businesses run by amazing women who had a vision and the courage to carry it out. It's the kind of thing that's worth supporting in my book. That's not to say I'll never sew a big 4 pattern again (I've got a couple of baby patterns from Simplicity and McCall's in my Not-For-Me queue), just that I want to support small businesses when I can.

So, that's my apres gestation wishlist.  I'm imagining that's a good year's worth of sewing there, given that: 1) I'll have a baby to look after (and I hear they are sort of high maintenance) and 2) I'll have a baby to sew for (all the cute little dresses and rompers and dresses and ruffled diaper covers and dresses!).

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Maternity Sorbetto FBA: Take #2

So, in my first post on modifying the Sorbetto pattern, I mentioned that I was using the book Pattern Fitting With Confidence as a reference.

Fig. 1.  She doesn't look very confident, does she?
 In order to add room for an ample bust, the book suggests increasing the size of the bust dart and adjusting the length of the front in order to compensate for the increase in the size of the dart. Well, I tried that method and it did not give me enough room. In fact, after that modification, I still needed to add at least 2.5 inches overall to the bust area just to get a fitted bust and another 1.5 inches for ease. I'm tempted to say that the Pattern Fitting with Confidence bust adjustment was a complete....bust (ha.ha). Perhaps it works for small increases or maybe I did something wrong? I dunno. Additionally, the book does not give you instructions on how to add more room if you find that your first adjustment is not sufficient. Presumably, you make an even larger dart (because that worked so well the first time), but by how much?

So, I decided to try the "slash and spread" method of increasing the bust size which pretty much seems to be the method of choice on every sewing blog I've ever read. What this method has going for it is that I can make the adjustment based on the size of the gap that resulted from slashing my muslin in the bust area.

However, I think that, rather than attempt to incorporate the changes from the muslin into the front pattern piece, I'm going to just start over. There are a couple of reasons I think this is the way to go. First, because I need to add ease overall in that area (front and back). I think the best way to do this is extend the side seams at the bustline on both the front and back pattern pieces. The second reason is I want to determine if the slash and spread method FBA will give me the right fit in the bust from the very beginning. I think this will be useful since it seems that the slash and spread FBA will be my method of choice in the future and it would be good to know how well it works.

So, following the instructions from here, I spent about 3 hours making pattern alterations Wed. night. For real. I can only hope that things will go faster the second time I try to do an FBA!

Fig. 2.  My pattern adjustment tools.  Not shown:  tape.  Lots and lots of tape.
 At any rate, the first thing the instructions tell you to do is a tissue fitting. I have never tried doing a tissue fitting before, but there's a first time for everything.

To do the fitting, I traced the original pattern onto tissue paper. I traced out a size 10 in the shoulders and armholes, a size 14 in the side seams until the waist, and blended to a size 18 at the hem. I pinned the dart closed as if I had sewn it and pressed it down, pinned the pleat out of the way so I could see where the center of the front was, and pinned the front and back together at the side seams and shoulders, then tried it on in front of a mirror. I didn't take pictures of the tissue fitting because of that whole not wanting half-naked pictures of myself on the internet thing. The result was that the center of the pattern was offset from the center of my torso by 2 inches.
Fig. 3.  An artist's rendering of my tissue fitting.

So, changes made to the pattern:
  • Full Bust Adjustment. Using the slash and spread method, I increased the bust by 2 inches. This increased the dart, lengthened the pattern, and increased the waist by 2 inches.
  • Changed the dart position. After the FBA, the dart was no longer pointing to the apex. The dart was also no longer horizontal but sort of pointing downward. I tried to follow the instructions for changing the dart, but I needed to rotate it to make it horizontal again. The result is that I'm not quite sure I have the dart right and I think I may have lost a little room in the side seam? I dunno. I figured I'd go to the muslin stage and see how it turned out.
  • I also added six inches length to the center front to make sure my belly was covered. I curved the hem to the original size 18 hemline at the side seam.
  • I had to add 7/8 in. in length to the back side seam to get it to match up with the front side seam after the FBA. Then, I added 1 in. in length to the center back and curved the hem to the newly drawn hemline at the side seam.
Now, because I blended to a size 18 from the waistline to the hemline and I added 2 inches to the width of the waist while doing the FBA (more on that in a second) and I'm only sewing the pleat down to just past my bust, I believe I will have ample room for my big belly with a little room to grow, even. So, I didn't need to do a special adjustment to make this a maternity top.

Fig. 4.  You too can wear a tent!
Which brings me to my next point, what would I have done if I wasn't pregnant? The waist would have had 4 total inches added to it (since the pattern piece is half of the front, the total added is 2 in. x 2)!!!

 That's really not going to work post-pregnancy. So, how does one fix that? Do you put in a second dart at the waist?  I don't think that would look right on this particular pattern since it is meant to be only slightly fitted.  Do you somehow close that area up?  Take the extra out of the side seams?  Part of the point of doing an FBA (I thought?) was to add room to the bust and nowhere else to avoid making something that fit like a muumuu.

At any rate, after making all of the changes listed above, I pinned the tissue pieces back together and tried it on again.  It seemed to fit, so I'm going forward with the muslin.  We'll see what happens when I try this in fabric!

Fig. 5.  Behold!  The Frankenpattern!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Hold the phone--new patterns from Collette!

So, so excited to see the fall offerings from Collette which are now available for pre-order. I am particularly excited to see the pattern for the Jasmine blouse which has a simple shape that I think I can modify to be a maternity top! Woot! I think I'll be making the 2nd view (shown above) which has a simple tie in the front and not a bow (bows and ruffles in that area often make my bust look overwhelming, although maybe it would help balance out the big belly?).

I also like the Peony dress which will be going on the post-baby wishlist (more on that another time). The Clover cigarette pants (also shown in the image above) I am not so enamored with. Skin-tight pants do not look so good with my thunder-thighs. Would love for them to come out with a simple, straight-legged pant. That would be awesome.

Instead of saving the image straight off the website, I did a screen capture. Does that address copyright issues? I'm leery of taking the photo directly from the site, but I feel like if I do a screen capture, it's now my photo of their photo and therefore okay to show.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Learning to slow down

Hand-basted sleeve/armscye seam

The other day, I cut out a newborn-sized baby gown (McCall's M6103) from a cute little green knit with pink ladybugs on it. The pattern seemed to be very straightforward--front, back, sleeves, drawstring hem at the bottom that I'm putting elastic in instead. However, I ran into trouble at the very beginning (!) while attaching the picot-edged elastic to the neckline. The machine didn't seem to want to feed it through and would get stuck and just stitch in one spot for awhile. Also, even though I pinned the bejeezus out of it, in some places I was sewing on just the elastic (that is, not attaching it to the fabric). I wasn't sure how to solve the feed problem, but I knew it would be easier to make sure I was sewing on the elastic + fabric if I hand-basted the elastic onto the neckline first.

I dunno, I seem to have this psychological/pride issue with basting. I have this sense that I should be good enough at the machine to not need to hand-baste seams together or trims to the garment. Why I think this, I don't know, considering that I'm a relative beginner at sewing. When I point that out to myself, I then say to myself that I should practice, practice, practice to get better, not use hand-basting as a crutch.

I maybe need therapy.

At any rate, I realized that could: A) stitch and rip out and restitch and rip out until I became so frustrated I gave up on the entire project OR B) I could just hand-baste the elastic on the neckline and then machine stitch it and move on with my life. I decided to go with choice B. And, of course, the hand-basting did make the machine stitching a lot easier (as did pulling on the elastic slightly while I stitched) and it wasn't very much trouble to take out the basting stitches afterward. So, lesson learned. Then, I turned to the sleeve where I encountered another point of stubborn pride: easing in fullness.

Easing is when you sew one piece of fabric to another piece that's shorter. So, there's more fabric on one side of the seam than the other. The instructions usually just tell you to attach the sleeve (it may suggest basting first), easing in the fullness, which is something I've tried to do on other garments via pinning with limited success. It always gets bunched up in one spot or I get little tucks in places when it's supposed to be just a smooth line. I think one way to avoid this problem is to stitch a gathering stitch along the longer piece of fabric and gather it evenly, then pin the sleeve to the armhole, then hand-baste to make sure I've got it the way I want it, then machine stitch it. But, again, I have avoided using this method due to pride.

Actually, it's not just pride that keeps me from gathering and hand-basting and such, it's time. I am not much of a process sewer (one who sews just for the enjoyment they get from stitching), I'm more of a product sewer (one who sews primarily because they want the finished project). So, I'm not a fan of going slow or doing things the long way. I want shortcuts. But, I've finally, finally come to accept that if I want a good quality finished product, I need to do whatever it takes to make that happen even if it means doing things the long way (like hand-basting picot-edged elastic to a baby gown).

So, I'm trying to slow down and enjoy the process more, like how soothing it was to do the basting by hand, actually.

Maternity Sorbetto Muslin Fitting

So, aided by my trusty helper (I can trust that he will always stop whatever he is doing and come lay on my sewing) I cut the modified Sorbetto pattern pieces out of muslin and machine basted them together. I didn't bother putting the binding on the armholes or neckline because they're not necessary for fit and that's all I'm looking at right now. I didn't hem it either, just sewed a basting stitch where the hem would fall after being sewn so I would have some idea where that would be. I did sew the pleat down to just past the bust, pressed it, and basted it at the top to sort of anchor it down.

So, the first issue materialized as I was sewing the side seams.

Evidently, despite my efforts to curve the hemline back to the tip of the original side seamline, the back is still shorter than the front. So, I'll adding length to the back for sure.

Then, I tried the muslin on.

It looks surprisingly good, given all of my adjustments and the fact that I'm a novice at pattern adjusting!

The good stuff:
  • The belly area doesn't look as tentish as I feared after cutting out the modified pattern (which just means that my belly really is that big now *sigh*) although there's definitely room for my belly to grow so I will be able to wear this top for awhile (I live in the SF Bay Area, so we will be having sleeveless top weather for awhile yet).
  • I like where I ended the pleat. It gives definition to the top of and offers something to draw the eye away from the big honkin' belly below. For the real deal, I may embellish the pleat more, maybe with buttons or a little bit of lace or ribbon down the sides of the pleat? I don't know, we'll see what inspiration grabs me.
  • By not sewing the pleat all the way down the front, I did get extra room for my belly, so that little bet paid off.
  • The bust darts are at the right level, pointing straight at the "apex" of my bust (I guess it's not common in sewing to just say "nipple").
  • For the most part, I like how the shoulders, neckline and underarm fit which tells me that starting with a size 10 in that area was a good idea.
The not-as-good stuff:
  • Well, obviously, I need to add some length to the back so it will match the front
  • I'm going to add length to the front, too. I like the length exactly how it is without the hem. So, I need to add the amount of the hem (5/8 inch) to the front before adding length to the back.
  • There was a tiny amount of gaping under the arm that I pinched out.
  • The upper back feels a bit tight just above the waist. Now, this could be due to problems in the bust, but I don't think so for reasons I'll get into later.
  • The bust darts seem a little long, ending almost at the apex. I might make them about half and inch shorter.
The major issue:

  • It is way too tight in the bust.
So, the biggest modification I need to make is to add room in the bust. I first tried removing some of the stitching in the pleat so that it was shorter and left more room for my bust. But, I didn't like how that looked (there was a distinct increase in tentness) so I resewed it. So, in order to figure out just how much to add to the bust area, I needed to slash the middle of the top, to see how much it spread apart at the bust. But, of course, I had this pleat there and as soon as I started slashing, the pleat was going to have all of this extra fabric flapping around. So, I sewed down the sides and middle of the pleat in order keep it tacked down during the slashing.

I didn't take a photo of this part because I'm not keen on putting pictures of me in my bra on the internet. So, trust me when I say that I there was a gap of about 2.5 inches in the bust area after slashing. Now, I assume that if I do an FBA to add 1.25 inches (since the pattern piece is half of the front, I need to use half of the total gap distance), I will end up with a fitted bust. However, the pattern is supposed to have about 3 inches of ease (I figured this out by looking at the pattern size chart and comparing the finished measurements of the bust to the sewist's bust measurement). That's 1.5 inches of ease for the front. So, I'm trying to decide if that means I should add 0.75 inches to the side seam at the bust and do an FBA for 1.25 inches or should I do an FBA that adds 2 inches to the bust (1.25 + 0.75) in order to get the proper fit?

The upper back was still a bit tight after slashing the front so I think that I need to add some width there. Again, there should be 1.5 inches of ease across the back and at the moment, it's skin tight. So, I need to add 0.75 inches to the pattern piece (which is 1/2 of the width of the total back). I'm guessing that means that I simply need to go up a size or two in that area to get the back right.

So, more pattern modifications and a new muslin are in the works (also a trip to the fabric store because I am fresh out of muslin). Hopefully this new round of modifications will fix the current problems without creating new ones!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Sorbetto modifications

It's starting to be all baby all the time here at e-beth knits, so I thought I'd throw in something that is only a little bit baby.

Ever since the Sorbetto pattern was released, I've been wanting to make one. It's a pretty simple, slightly fitted slip-on top (no closures) with a box pleat detail in the front and the armholes and neck are finished with bias tape. I've resisted making the top until now because, of course, I am currently not at my regular body size/shape. For instance, my stomach now sticks out further than my boobs. This is a little weird considering it's been about 25 years since anything on my body has stuck out further than my boobs.

But, I have an overwhelming urge to make myself a top, so, I decided to try and modify the Sorbetto to make it a maternity top. Considering that: 1) I've yet to make a top that fits me and 2) I'm completely new to pattern modification, I may well have bitten off more than I can chew. Nevertheless, I sat down at the table with my Sorbetto pattern, and my various pattern-adjusting accoutrement. These included: freezer paper for tracing, a tracing wheel, pens and pencils, a curved ruler, a calculator, a notebook, tape, push pins, and a cardboard cutting mat.

So, first up, I had to decide what pattern size to use. I decided to tackle the back first since I didn't need to adjust for boobs or belly. According to my upper bust measurement, I should use a 10. So, I started with that. I want to keep the back fitted and not baggy (to minimize the "tent effect" so prevalent in maternity tops), so I decided I would try cutting the back piece as though I wasn't pregnant and adding all of the extra inches to manage my belly to the front piece. Therefore, I measured my back across my natural waist approximately from side seam to side seam and decided I need a 14 there, so I basically drew a line that went from the size 10 line at the armhole to the size 14 line at the narrowest part of the pattern. Then, I drew a line from there to the size 18 line at the hem to account for my hip measurement. Then, I traced the pattern onto the freezer paper. Finally, I wanted to make the hemline curve (because I am making the front hemline curved so that I can add extra inches in the middle to cover the belly), so I extended the line for the center back (to be placed on the fold) 1 inch and used my curved ruler to draw a curve to the original hemline at the side seam. That was all pretty straightforward.

Next, I tackled the front which was not at all straightforward. I started with a 10 on top (shoulders and armholes) and then I did a Full Bust Adjustment. I used the technique in Pattern Fitting With Confidence by Nancy Zeiman which is unlike anything I've seen on the web, but I figured I'd give it a try. Essentially, she has you increase the bust dart according to cup size and increase the length of the front to account for the change in dart size. So, I traced a size 10 and cut it out, then followed the FBA instructions from the book, and cut that pattern piece out. That was all relatively easy. Then, I ran into something of a wall. Briefly, moving the side seam out by three inches at the waist gave me something that looked like the bust and the waist couldn't connect without creating some funky shape. I decreased the amount I added to the waist by half because I thought that if I didn't sew down the center box pleat past the bust, I would end up having extra room from that. Eventually, I was able to draw a line I thought might work for the side seam. Then, I wanted to add length to make sure it covered my belly. I added 3 inches to the center front and curved the hem to the original hemline at the side seam. Hopefully, this means that the front and back pieces will line up. Having made all of those adjustments, I cut this final pattern piece out (I numbered all of my drafts of the pattern, btw, and wrote on them what adjustments they incorporated so I could keep them straight)

Bottom line: the front pattern piece doesn't much resemble the original Sorbetto front pattern piece any longer. Actually, it looks amazingly tentish (is so a word!) which is something I've been trying to avoid with maternity wear (I feel like a blimp already, I don't need an immense, baggy shirt to emphasize that fact). So, I'm not at all convinced this modification will work at this point, and even if it does work and everything fits, I'm not sure I'm going to like how it looks on me. But that's why you make a muslin, right?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Embroidery Practice

As I mentioned in my "Updates" post, I purchased the Daisychain ABCs Embroidery Sampler from Posie Gets Cozy earlier this summer. I loved the look of the finished sampler and it seemed like it would be a lot of fun to stitch up. However, when it arrived I felt a little intimidated by it. It involved quite a number of different embroidery stitches, most of which I had never done. Also, it was crewelwork, which means that instead of using cotton embroidery floss, you use wool yarn, something I had not worked with in embroidery. Now, I understand that the original purpose of a sampler was to practice your embroidery stitches, but since I wanted to display this in the baby's room I really wanted it to look nice and not like somebody's first attempt at crewelwork.

So, I decided that, as a first step, I would practice the new-to-me embroidery stitches on something a little less dear. To that end, I went to the Embroidery Basics series put together by Mollie at Wild Olive. I particularly wanted to see how she did the stem stitch because I anticipated having a little trouble with it since I am a "stabber" when it comes to embroidery, not a "sewer." With that post, there was a free practice pattern (pdf) designed by Mollie so you could practice your stem stitch. I downloaded the pdf, transferred the design to white muslin using a micro-tip marker, and got to work.

Using this cute little pattern, I practiced chain stitch, backstitch, stem stitch, long and short stitch, satin stitch, fern stitch, and horizontal flat stitch:

The horizontal flat stitch is not represented in the Daisychain sampler, but one that I found in a book* while looking for instruction on fly stitch (which was not part of the Wild Olive series and I didn't quite understand the stitch diagram that came with the sampler). The book suggested horizontal flat stitch specifically for leaves, so I thought I'd give it a try. Unfortunately, you can't really tell the difference between it and the satin stitch in this photo, but it does look different in person. Also, you can see that I did the stem stitch two different ways--the traditional "sewing" way and a modified way found on the Wild Olive blog that I felt much more comfortable with and produced (in my opinion) a neater stitch.

So, after completing this practice piece, I decided to start on the Daisychain sampler itself. So far, the work has gone well, though working with the wool does take a bit of getting used to. In particular, it's very difficult to thread the needle and I find myself not wanting to rip out stitches that are wonky because it's such a pain in the butt to get the needle rethreaded. I'm using a needle-threader now, even though I had always considered needle-threaders a tool for the weak. :)

Returning to my little leaf sampler, even though it is a practice piece, I find that I'm kind of attached to it and pretty proud of the way it turned out. Therefore, I'm thinking about doing a couple other nature-themed little samplers and displaying them together somewhere in some simple hoop frames. There are lots of free embroidery patterns online, I'm sure I can find something that goes nicely with my little leaves.

*The Good Housekeeping Needlecraft Encyclopedia, ed. Alice Carroll, 1947. I picked this up at a used book sale a number of years ago.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Twinkle cardigan

Twinkle Cardi sans one sleeve

So, back before I knew the baby was a boy or a girl, I started the Twinkle Cardigan (Ravelry link). This is a vintage pattern that was rewritten and is a free pdf download on Ravelry. I decided to go ahead and do the original eyelet pattern in the body and sleeves of the sweater (the knitter who rewrote the pattern uses stockinette for the body and arms but included the eyelet pattern in case we wanted it) because it would make the knitting more interesting and I didn't think it was too girly for a boy (which, at that time, I was convinced we were going to have). The yarn is Cascade Heritage Sock yarn which is a lovely sock yarn at a reasonable price and perfect for a baby sweater.

The pattern calls for a ribbon tie at the top as a closure, but I decided that buttons were more practical and safer so I added buttonholes.

Since I'm just a few knitting hours from being done with the knitting, I should start thinking about the buttons. Here are a couple options I'm considering:

Yellow polka dot buttons (from Super Buzzy)

Red apple buttons (from Super Buzzy)

I've been looking on etsy, too, in the vast, vast realm of "vintage buttons." Most of them are far too big, but every so often I find some smaller ones that might work. I'm probably going to have to bite the bullet and just buy a few different ones and then see which ones work the best.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


So first, an update on the pregnancy. We are having a girl. We are very sure we are having a girl because we had amniocentesis done and chromosomes do not lie. The amnio was actually quite horrible due to the bedside manner of the doctor but, I'm glad we did it. I wish I could say that I was one of those women who seemed to glow and find inner peace through pregnancy, but the truth is I hate being pregnant. I love that we are going to have a baby, but I could do without this whole pregnancy business. I'm tired, cranky, emotional, uncomfortable and I pee a little when I sneeze. And I have several months to go. Also, I have been diagnosed with a low-lying placenta which is known as placenta previa. The condition may correct itself with the continuing expansion of my uterus but until then, I am on a sort of restricted movement. I don't have to stay in bed, but I can't exercise or lift anything heavy and I'm mostly supposed to be taking it easy. I've already had one incident of spotting, but that stopped when I stopped moving bookcases (this was before we knew about the placenta previa). If I have another, I could get put on bed rest. If the condition doesn't correct itself, then I will have to have a C-section. :6

So, that's the health report. Now, onto the craft report.

The craft goals I started out the year with pretty much got thrown out the window once I found out I was pregnant. First, because I was tired and miserable and spent most of the first trimester sleeping (for real, I'd have a 6 hour nap during the day and then sleep 12 hours at night). Then, because I started thinking about baby stuff and pretty much haven't stopped.* There's a lot to do in the apt. to get it ready for the baby and lots of stuff to research and buy and so on. But, I've started to remember why I love to craft so much and that is: it helps keep me sane (literally). I've been neglecting my knitting and sewing in favor of reading blogs about knitting and sewing which is really not the same thing at all (though they are inspirational). But, sitting in front of the computer is easier than paying attention to my knitting or figuring out what I'm going to sew, especially if I'm thinking about sewing for myself. Easier, but not as fulfilling. So, I'm slowly getting back into the habit of doing a little crafting every day and I decided I should put together a list of craft projects. I decided to do it on ye olde blog because it makes me feel a little more accountable and maybe that means I'll actually keep working on it, which (as I keep telling myself) is good for me. So, here's my list of craft projects I want to do:

*Twinkle baby cardigan. This is a free pattern on Ravelry which I started knitting in May. I modified it slightly to have three buttons in the top half instead of a tie closure at the neck and I decided to use the simple eyelet pattern from the original vintage pattern. I've knit the body and 3/4 of the first sleeve.

*Daisychain ABCs Sampler from Alicia Paulson of Posie gets Cozy. I purchased this as a limited edition embroidery kit (you can no longer buy the kit, but you can still buy the pattern). The kit came with all of the wool, two needles, instructions, and the pattern silk-screened onto some beautiful fabric. I got the kit a month or two ago, but I put off working on it because my embroidery skills were lacking. I've done a bit of practicing and now I'm ready to get started. This project will be put in the baby's room after being framed.

*Baby gowns. I bought this McCall's pattern at JoAnns a month or two ago along with some cute baby print fabric and I want to make a few of the items, starting with some gowns. I like the idea of baby gowns because I really see no need to go through the hassle of trying to get the baby's legs into the legs of a sleeper. Babies are squirmy. It's hard enough to get their clothes over their heads and their arms in the arms whatever you are putting them into. Why fight with the feet if you don't have to? I haven't started on this at all yet, but hope to sometime this week.

*Sorbetto top. Colette patterns put out a freebie top pattern called Sorbetto a couple months ago. It's not a maternity top, but I think it could easily be converted to one. It looks to be a very simple top. My plan is to do a Full Bust Adjustment** and then enlarge the waist to cover my belly. I'll be making a few muslins (practice garments) before I end up cutting into the fabric I really want to use (which I haven't bought yet, actually).

*Baby hats for my new nephew. My sister requested green baby hats for her baby due at the end of Oct. I guess that's only color she's missing! So, earlier this week, I went and bought some green yarn to whip up a couple of baby hats.

I have a bunch of other things I'd love to make, of course, but I'm trying to keep my list reasonable, so I'm going to concentrate on these for now. Hopefully, I'll have some progress shots to show soon!


*This eventually made me batshit crazy, so I've decided to work on baby stuff only 4 days out of the week.

**So, something that I've learned (and has been very enlightening) is that tops and dresses (ready-to-wear or patterns) are drafted for a B cup. I am so, so very much not a B cup so that's why I have difficulty finding button-down shirts that fit me. Colette is unusual in that they draft for a C cup. I am also not a C cup. I'm a DD or E depending on the bra. The way to add room in the bust without increasing the size of the rest of the garment is to do a Full Bust Adjustment. I've never done one but it's about time I learned.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Working on a big project

I've been thinking about this blog lately and whether I want to continue it considering I only seem to post about once every two months or so. Ultimately, though, I think it would make me sad to get rid of it since I've had it for so long. Actually, I've been wanting to write some posts for awhile now, because I have a lot going on craftwise, but I've been delaying that until I was ready to share my news.

I'm pregnant!

The baby is due around Thanksgiving and J and I are very happy. Or, rather, we are very happy that we will have a baby in Nov., right now I'm not so happy because I really don't enjoy being pregnant. Seriously, I don't understand what all of the fuss is about. It's not magical or anything. It's not like I'm the first woman to ever get knocked up. And it's pretty damn uncomfortable in a lot of ways. Frankly, the first trimester I was absolutely miserable. I'm feeling better now, but not "glowing."

So, this means that the craft projects I'm interested in all have something to do with the baby or being pregnant. As a knitter, I'm contractually obligated to knit my baby a sweater. I've started with the Twinkle sweater (Ravelry link). It's very cute, but I think the next one will be made with heavier weight yarn (this one calls for fingering weight) because it seems like it's been taking forever! I will, of course, have to make the Elizabeth Zimmerman Baby Surprise Jacket. I actually tried knitting one of these a couple months ago, but my head was in such a fog early in my pregnancy that I ripped it out four times before I got more than 30 rows in. Not because I found the pattern confusing (although some of it does seem rather confusing) but for pretty stupid mistakes. Such as casting on 20 fewer stitches than what was necessary. For real.

But, more than baby sweaters, my mind has been on maternity clothes. The selection in stores is fairly ridiculous. Limited, ugly and/or overpriced. So, I was thinking I'd sew some of them, but the maternity patterns available are also mostly ugly. Apparently, pattern designers think that pregnant women would like to wear plain, square sacks for several months. So, I've been looking at regular patterns and seeing if I can alter them to be suitable for pregnancy.

So, that's what I'm up to these days (and will be for the next 6 months). Incubating, knitting, and planning sewing projects.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Short update!

I've pretty much given up knitting for the moment. My brain does not seem to be in the right gear for it. Every time I start a project, I end up ripping it out due to some glaring error (most noticeably, casting 20 few stitches for a project). So, instead, I have been focusing on sewing. I've got some material for simple gathered skirts and I'm eager to try some of the new Lisette patterns and tackle a shirt or two (maybe Violet from Colette? we'll see). Nothing to show for now, though!

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Girding my loins

I am about to embark on a quest fraught with peril. One that may take all of my strength and endurance. One that may push me to the brink of hard-won emotional stability. One that will potentially reduce me to tears.

I am going to The Mall.

I am going for Shirts. This is usually easier than the Quest for Pants which, like the quest for the Grail, usually ends in failure and makes good fodder for a Monty Python movie. The Quest for Shirts often goes well because I chicken out and buy knits. Today, however, I am looking for that mythical creature, the Button-Down Shirt that Fits My Waist But Still Buttons Over My Bust.

Evidently, in the fashion world, tops are designed for B cup breasts. My breasts are most decidedly not B cups. I'm not sure they were ever B cups. In my memory, I went directly from having no breasts at all to having C cup breasts. I am now a D cup. I was in denial of this fact for a long time, continuing to buy C cup bras. I have now accepted the truth and embraced my D cupness even though it makes it a little more difficult to buy bras.

My difficulty in finding off-the-rack shirts that fit me properly is one reason why I would like to be able to sew my own clothes. However, I am confounded by the fact that the sewing pattern industry takes its cues from the fashion industry and only offers patterns in B cup size. I have heard of this magical procedure known as The Full Bust Adjustment one can make to patterns but I am unschooled in this knowledge and online tutorials have not helped (I think they assume too much knowledge in how to construct garments).

So, off I go to find my Button-Down Shirt that Fits My Waist But Still Buttons Over My Bust. Have no fear, if I find myself in a precarious state, I will seek Sanctuary in The Land of Sweet Comfort.*

*Better known as the Godiva Chocolates store.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Quick Sewing Project

The other day at knitting, I reached into my knitting bag to pull out the second bootie to knit and instead pulled out a tangled mess of yarn and needles. I was able to get the bootie free and worked on it, but I knew I had to do something about the yarn monster in my bag when I got home.

After reading Jodi's post, I was inspired to make some drawstring project bags. I made four bags, one for each project that I've been carrying around in my knitting bag. I followed this tutorial at Skip to My Lou pretty faithfully except in terms of the size. I made several different sizes for differently sized projects. The sewing isn't perfect in some places, but overall, I think they turned out quite well and they suit my purpose.

Some thoughts:
  • I used random bits of fabric from my rather small fabric stash, some leftover from other projects and some from projects that never got off of the ground. One thing I noticed is that the fabric I purchased from quilting shops (either online or locally) was sturdier and easier to sew with in places than fabric purchased from a big box store. I have yet to become a fabric snob, but I can see the advantages to purchasing higher quality fabric.
  • If I was making these as gifts (and I might because I know a lot of knitters!), I would line them and maybe use decorator-weight fabric or interfacing to make them sturdier. My metal size 1 and 2 needles will be poking through the fabric for sure. I'm not too fussed about that for myself because the biggest reason to make them was to keep the yarn separate. Also, I usually use circulars instead of dpns so it's more difficult for the needles to completely escape after poking their way out of the project bag.
  • I bought a pinking wheel for my rotary cutter for another project and I am looooving it! So much easier than pinking the seam allowances later after sewing the seams.

Friday, February 04, 2011

A little more realistic in February

I think I was a little too ambitious in January. You know how it is, the start of the new year, the urge to get things in order, set goals, stop procrastinating and find some way to make Christmas not be crazymaking this next year. What I always forget is that I have seasonal affective disorder and Jan. and Feb. are the hardest months of the year for me. While the days are getting longer, there are generally more clouds and precipitation than in other months. So, I need to decide what's most important to me and schedule a limited number of things to do. So, I'm re-evaluating what I want to do on a monthly basis.

Let's start with the Embroidery Sew-Along. I loved my project last month. I had forgotten how satisfying I found stitching. The project for this month is pillowcases. There are two types of pillowcase designs in the book; I'm going to do the satin-stitch initials. I'm going to make one pillowcase for me and one for J. My dilemma is figuring out what pillowcases to do them on. I want to get new pillowcases, but should I get ones that match my current bedding (which I'm not crazy about) so I can enjoy them now or should I buy ones that would go with my dream bedding, realizing that 1) my dream bedding may take a long time to materialize (since I want to make a queen sized quilt) and 2) I might change my mind about what my dream bedding will be before I ever get to use the pillowcases. I'm leaning toward the dream bedding and making that one step toward having a bedroom I really love.

Year of Stash Socks. I started this knit-along not because I have a large stash but because I wanted to have interesting sock patterns picked out for me. However, I'm not really sure I have the time for this knit-along right now. I didn't even finish last month's socks and this month we are doing mittens which I'm not so into making right now given I live in CA. Maybe I'll just put this on hold and see how I feel about it in March. I still would like to finish the Jan. socks, though.

Christmas. I still think it's a good idea to work on Christmas gifts throughout the year instead of cramming it all into Nov. and Dec. Especially since my family usually celebrates Christmas early and I often have to ship gifts, requiring me to be done by the beginning of Dec. But, I think I'm going to put it on hold for the next couple of months until I get more energy.

Stitch by Stitch. I still want to work my way through this book. But, again, I might put this off for another month or so. I do have material for the napkins which are one of the first few projects, though.

The thing is, while it's great to have a plan for what to make, I need to feel like I have enough flexibility to do whatever project I feel inspired to do. And then, there's non-Christmas gift-knitting. It seems like everyone is having babies. I'm really enjoying the baby booties I'm knitting, maybe I should knit a few pairs of those until they become boring and then I'll have a stash of baby gifts.

So, that's what the plan is for this month: embroider pillowcases, finish Jan. socks, knit baby booties, sew napkins.

January Round-up

I had a large number of goals for this month in terms of crafting. Here's what I actually got accomplished.


  • The Year of Stash Socks knit-along on Ravelry--St. Brigid's Canomoyle Socks (Rav. link).

  • One half of one sock in Cascade 220

    I'm about ready to start the heel. It's not that I don't like the sock or the pattern, I just get distracted by new, shiny things!

  • Embroidery Companion Sew Along--Days of the Week teatowels.
  • Saturday and Sunday pictured on my oven handle

    These were pretty fun. The pattern wanted you to enlarge the template 161%, but I didn't want images that big. For the towels, I got plain white toweling from Moda, hemmed them, then sewed strips of gingham fabric to each one to make the checked stripe. I used two strands of DMC cotton embroidery floss (note to self: color #322). I only did Sat. and Sun. but I have enough toweling to do all of the days of the week if I get ambitious. I really like how these turned out, so I might do it. Very satisfying for my first embroidery project!

    Then I made a few things that were not part of my goals for Jan. Last weekend I hosted a baby shower and made the decorations:

    The honoree, E, is having twins (!) a boy and a girl, so I went with a gender neutral color scheme: orange, green, and yellow (hey, I just noticed most of the food fit into that scheme, totally not planned). I made the banner, little cupcake picks that said twins, some tissue paper flowers and some yarn pom-poms. E is in my knitting group and the party was for knitters, so for a shower activity, we made these:

    I've got one done and the other just needs a cuff. Then I need to make the i-cord ties. I just used leftover sock yarn. They take a little over 20g of yarn.

    I have very little handmade dishcloths. I've decided I need to fix that.

    Finally, I made these wool soakers (pictured below on top of the afghan my mother made for my wedding gift) for another person in my knitting group who had her baby a couple of weeks ago and is using cloth diapers. It's the Curly Purly pattern. They knit up pretty quick in this beautiful yarn, Shepherd's Wool which is soft and dreamy. I knit the small size for both, one with butt shaping and one without. Hopefully she gets some good use out of them!

    Saturday, January 15, 2011

    New Kitty!

    Today, we adopted a new kitty!

    We got him today at an adoption fair for Pets in Need held at our apt. complex. He's a youngster--8 months old. He came with the name Lorenzo. We're not sure if we'll be keeping the name or not. So far, he has started to get the idea he should use the scratching post (for which he got a treat) although he has also scratched at the carpet and he used the litter box so he's acclimating very well. Actually, he's been pretty laid back the whole day. He likes to lay on John on the couch which I find hilarious because J is not into pets. J studiously ignores him but Lorenzo doesn't seem to mind. :)

    As for crafting, I think I'm going to have to re-evaluate how much I can get done in a month! This month, I had planned on doing the following:
    • Year of Stash Socks knitalong: St. Brigid socks.
    • Embroidering Companion Sew-along: Days of the week tea towels.
    • Christmas: Pembroke Vest for nephew H.
    • Stitch by Stitch: One project a month in order.
    So far, I have:
    • Gotten the yarn for the knitalong
    • Gotten the book and the toweling for the sew-along
    • Nothing on the vest
    • Bought some onesies for the applique
    So, um, I've got all of the materials, but haven't done any of the work on any of this, and, the month is half over. However, I have made 1.9 wool soakers for a knitting group friend who will be having a baby any moment now and is going to be using cloth diapers, so at least I have accomplished something, even if it has nothing to do with any of the goals I set for the month.

    So, being realistic, I think I might be able to get one sock (worsted weight yarn), one teatowel and one onesie done.

    *I'm not sure if I mentioned it on the blog, but Ghiradelli died before I left Chicago. I still miss big guy. :(

    Tuesday, January 04, 2011

    Dusting off the old blog

    I've been thinking about blogging a lot lately (as in, "Maybe I should get back into blogging"), but wasn't sure I wanted to make a commitment to it. And then, I wrote a couple of notes on Facebook (one about seeing Harry Potter 7.1 and another about books I read in 2010) and I realized I miss having an outlet for my thoughts. So, here I am dusting off the blog after a year of dormancy. I don't know how long it will take me to get back into the swing of things, but my goal is to post at least twice a week.

    I should probably catch people up on what I've been doing (assuming there's anyone out there who still has my blog in their feed reader and sees I suddenly have a new post).

    I finished my PhD and graduated in June. Can we get a Hallelujah? It took 10 years, but I am finally, finally Dr. Montegna! However, despite having this advanced degree, I still have no idea what I want to do with my life. I'm currently considering teaching and doing some exploration into that. Secretly, I hope I get pregnant and become a stay at home mom for awhile. In the meantime, I'm relaxing at home, teaching catechism on the weekend, reading, and crafting. It's a hard life.

    I continue to go to my knitting group as often as it meets (usually 2 days a week, but we've cut back to one day a week over the holidays). I have done plenty of knitting but haven't taken many pictures of my projects nor have I really been keeping track of them on Ravelry. That's something I'm hoping to improve upon this year. I've also been working on sewing projects for myself and my gaggle of nephews. My new favorite medium is felt. So. easy. to. work. with.

    I knitted gifts for nearly everyone this Christmas. Socks for my mom and MIL, hats for BIL, FIL, UIL (uncle-in-law) and a scarf for my SIL. My FIL still wears the scarf I made for him 10 years ago! Such dedication to a handknit should be rewarded so I need to find the perfect gift to make him next year. Socks, maybe? Or even...a sweater????

    I had planned to knit sweater vests for three of my nephews and a sweater for the fourth but ran out of time. I have actually knit all of the pieces for the sweater, but I want to redo the tops of the sleeves. I had blocked them and realized they were different sizes as I did so. I frogged back both of the tops (since they were both wrong) and reknit using the same yarn. There is a very, very clear demarkation between the original knitting and the reknit stuff. The original knitting looks beautiful and perfect and the reknit portion looks wonky with ugly stitches. I had thought blocking would even them out but I was wrong. So, I'll be frogging them yet again and knitting with fresh yarn. I know I could use the frogged yarn if I made it into a hank and then washed it and dried it to straighten it back out but I don't have the patience to do that. I do have more than enough extra yarn, though, so that's the route I'm going.

    I've signed up for some craft-alongs for the new year and set myself some schedules I'm hoping to follow. They are:
    • The Year of Stash Socks knit-along on Ravelry. The organizers pick two patterns per month and we knit from our stashes. Alternatively, you can knit a plain vanilla sock if you so choose. I don't have that big of a stash that it needs to get under control (in fact, I had to buy yarn for the first month because I didn't have a superwash worsted weight yarn for the pattern), I just wanted to join a sock club. For Jan., I am doing St. Brigid's Canomoyle Socks (Rav. link).
    • 2011 Christmas Once a Month. This is a schedule of my own devising. I'm working on one Christmas present a month this year in the hopes that I will not be frantically working on Christmas presents in November and December. First up, the Pembroke Vest for nephew H.
    • Embroidery Companion Sew Along. This is based on the book Embroidery Companion by Alicia Paulson. The first project is the Days of the Week teatowels. I've done a fair bit of cross-stitch but almost no straight up embroidery and have always wanted to try it. This seemed like a good opportunity to start.
    • Stitch by Stitch. This is my own thing. I received the book Stitch by Stitch by Deborah Moebes for Christmas and am going to try to do at least one project from it a month. The book is a real learn-to-sew book. It assumes you know absolutely nothing. It even gives you patterns for paper templates to practice sewing curves. The projects are meant to be done in order as each one is building a new skill and taking advantage of skills you have built from previous projects. Having sewn a few skirts, I'm not a complete newbie, but I think doing these projects will teach me a lot about how to sew with more polish. It comes with patterns for the garments (which are towards the end of the book), but I'm a little concerned about them, because I would need to lose something like 30 or 40 pounds to fit into the largest size. While I would like to lose that much weight I'm really hoping to be pregnant by the time I reach those projects. Maybe I'll sew them for someone else? (Like my mom who is thin.)
    That's a lot of crafting! And, I confess, the only thing I've started is the vest. I don't even have the book for the embroidery one! (Note to self: buy embroidery book tomorrow.) Also, I have some friends with babies due so I want to knit for them, too. I guess I'd better get started!