Saturday, February 6, 2016

February Knitting and Sewing Links

February used to be a real bore, a time to catch up on unfinished projects, or just wait out the last of Philadelphia winter. No so any more, here is a short list of knitting and sewing activities to fill your late winter schedule.

Anna Vest Knit Along. Still on the fence about knitting the beautiful Anna Vest with other Fringe Assoc. fans in the Anna Vest Knit Along. It would be a great winter layer over my closet full of Archers knit with this Underhill Farm undyed wool/mohair. It's beautiful yarn and I got the gauge on the first try. Yay! But (and it's kind of a big one) I might not have enough, and can't get more. I'm weighing the likelihood of running out of yarn with the cost of buying the pattern book. Anyone else planning to knit along who might be able to sway me in that direction? #annavestKAL

Woolful Podcast  - I totally missed the deadline for "man on the street" this week, but I am really excited about the question. The interweb encourages you to keep each little skill in a tiny box by itself, but there is little distinction between knitting and sewing (or embroidery, or dyeing...) when it comes to a handmade wardrobe. I'm happy to see more people blurring the lines. The guest this week is Anna Maria Horner, so if you sew and have never listened, now is a great time to check it out.

I might be the last knitter alive to not have a Featherweight Cardigan. I've got some bigger projects on my to-knit list, but I keep putting up mental road blocks ( knitting for others, knitting for the SweetKM shop, yarn selection anxiety, to name a few) to making them. I'm hoping the Featherweight will give me some momentum and help me identify which of those bigger projects will best serve my closet. 
Secret Valentine Exchange. Not exactly knitting, but I knit for mine so I'm filing it under this heading. Mine is in the mail. I hope showing it here doesn't spoil the surprise for anyone (surely no one can guess their Secret Valentine!?). It's very similar to last year. Call it a cop out, or going with my strengths! This is the Shape Shifter Scarf, knit with Classic Elite Soft Linen.  #2016SVE

Galley Tunic Sew-Along. I am a member the very distinguished panel spearheading the the Liesl + Co. Gallery Tunic Sew-along over on the Oliver + S blog. I just got my fabric in the mail and I can't wait to get started. I expect it to be a whole lot of fun, and a universally flattering finished garment. You won't want to be left out. Consider this fair warning, ransack your stash, hit your local sewing mart, fill your virtual shopping cart, get your ducks in a row cause the sew-along starts February 15th. #lieslandco
Petit a Petit + Family.  My first post as a Petit a Petit team member was a sewn pixie bonnet tutorial, you can get the Blizzard Bonnet pattern here. Be sure to check out the other posts, lots of creative ladies sharing lots of great ideas. Celina has been adding video portraits to her posts, making them extra beautiful and dynamic. Tag your makes #petitapetitblog
Sew It Project. I am a huge fan of small goals. Sometime I write things on my to-do list just so I can cross them off. Project Sew It from Petit a Petit is just that kind on goal. Sew one thing for yourself this month (just one!) and share it with us at #sewitproject on instagram or in the Petit a Petit Facebook group. If you're a knitter hoping to expand your handmade skills, this is a great time to jump in. Just make one thing! Now, go put that on your to-do list. #projectsewit

Best Sewing Blogs. Have you voted for the Madalynn Best sewing blogs yet? I feel a bit dubious about these things, but then again I'm usually not on the list. Thank you to whoever nominated me, it's a thrill. I'm category #30 "Best New Blogger". Lots of my other favorite ladies are on the list Meg from Cookin' and Craftin', Jo from Jo Sews, Sarah from Fabric Tragic, Brienne Moody, Nicki from This is Moonlight, and lots of other well known sewists who don't need a shout out from me.  Hustle on over and support your favorites! (link to form)


Perhaps you've noticed I've cleaned this place up a bit. I've added tabs across the top to highlight the knitting tutorials and sewing tutorials I've made in the past. If you've made any, please share! #sweetkmpatterns

Monday, January 25, 2016

Buffalo Check Country Earflap Hat

First order of business: today is my first post for Petit a Petit + Family. I'm sharing a pattern for a sewn pixie bonnet called the Blizzard Bonnet. I must knit a million pixie bonnets every Christmas, how did I not think of sewing one sooner?! Cute. Fast. Seasonally appropriate if your city got slammed with 22" of snow over the weekend. Go check it out.
In the spirit of fairness, and toasty ears, I made J a hat too. You can never have too many in the dead of winter when things get lost between home and school, or coat closet and front door. This bright buffalo check is not likely to be mistaken for someone else's in the school coat room. So, new hats for both kids made with the last odd pieces of Robert Kaufman Mammoth Flannel in Red Buffalo Check left over from my Tamarac Jacket. I can't rave enough about this flannel, sturdy and soft all at the same time. Perfect for outerwear. I used what sherpa fleece I could get at Joann, but I don't recommend what they have on the shelf. The quality is pretty poor and not equal to the flannel. I recommend the Shannon Fabrics Sherpa from It is thicker and warmer, but still acrylic so it's won't retain moisture from melting snowball fights. 

The pattern is the Country Earflap Hat by Worthy Goods. This hat is fun to sew and fun to wear, possibly explaining why this is my fourth one. I used black corduroy from my local fabric shop for the bias binding, and the underside of the brim. The pattern is not written for bias binding but I wanted the detailing to have something in common with the Blizzard Bonnet. 

Maybe you noticed that the mittens match. If the kids ever go back to school I will have the mitten pattern to share, too. 
Things are getting out of hand. I think it's time to go home. 
Pattern: Country Earflap Hat by Worthy Goods
Main Fabric: Mammoth Flannel by Robert Kaufman
Lining Fabric: Shanon Fabrics Sherpa Fleece from
Bias Binding: Self Made with Black Corduroy from Fleishman Fabrics on Fabric Row

Pixie Bonnet Pattern in all the same fabrics on Petit a Petit and Family today!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Gingham Archer

I made a brown shirt, and while it may not seem like much, I am going to share it with you because it is an important step toward a button up shirt that fits me like a glove. This shirt does not fit me like a glove, but in the evolution of button up shirts it has brought me from button-up-shirt-homo-habilis to button-up-shirt-homo-erectus. We are well on our way to button-up-shirt-modern-man. This is the Archer View A from Grainline Studio

I am rather curvaceous (i.e. pear shaped). My bust is two sizes smaller than my hips by most sizing standards. As I know that standard is as standard does, I don't let the discrepancy bother me. I own one ready to wear button up that I like and is relatively flattering. My first Archer was a view B which eliminated the tricky fit at the hips issue. But I find that Archer to be a bit large in the shoulders. This Archer view A is a 4 at the shoulders, graded to an 8 at the hips, then let out as much as possible at the bottom edge of the hem. Spoiler alert, I should have graded to a 10 at the hips. The worst part is that I made a 4/6/8 Archer View A last winter, made the exact same alteration at the hip, and didn't learn a thing from the experience. It would seem impossible to sew between those sizes and not end up with a proper triangle, but as I have that ready to wear shirt that I like (and an oversized dose of self confidence), I'm going to persevere. 
I bought this fabric from Mood over 2 years ago, so I'm sure its long gone now. It's cotton shirting with a subtle purple undertone to the darkest squares of the gingham. I bought it with the Archer pattern before I had the guts to actually take on a project this complex. The fact that I no longer consider this a complex project gives me warm fuzzies about my journey up the sewing learning curve. 
I've made 6 to 7 collared button up shirts, and this is the first one with a legit top buttonhole. I usually fake it in some way because my old sewing machine just wasn't capable of a buttonhole on such a narrow stretch with varied layers of fabric. Let's face it, a collar stand is rough terrain. New sewing machine, no more faking. 

While we're on this picture may I draw your attention to the perfectly matched pockets (used the Alder pocket). I may not impress you, but I sure impress myself. (Please accept this as sarcasm rather than narcissism.)
This top button gem is lifted from a ready to wear shirt. When faced with the vast expanse of brown and tan I felt the need to add a little something. So I added one teal buttonhole and button thread.
I'm gonna be reckless and say this plain brown shirt will look great under the Snoqualme Cardigan just out from Brooklyn Tweed. Every knitter with a pulse just reconfigured her must-knit list to accommodate this sweater, and I am no different. I hate to lead anyone to believe I will actually make the sweater (I know too well how I operate, and that sweater is a serious time investment).  If I do, this top will be faded and thread bare by the time I finish, but a girl can dream. 

The End.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Sewing for Dolly : A handmade wardrobe for a Waldorf doll.

One week until Christmas and I've still got two stocking to finish, cookies to bake, and a skirt to make myself for Christmas Eve. With the Christmas insanity deadline looming, and a mid-December birthday to sprinkle magic all over, it seemed like a good idea to document every single article of doll clothing I've made in the last year. Documenting old projects is a great use of limited time (smiley face with crazy eyes)!

This is Dolly. Since Dolly moved in with us last Christmas L and I have been working on her wardrobe, making Dolly outfits out of the scraps of L's dresses. Nothing against the more popular doll collection that many little girls will have under their tree this year, but I prefer this doll for now because she is easier to take care of. Her yarn hair doesn't tangle easily, and she's easily dressed because her firmly stuffed limbs still bend. I also appreciate that she doesn't come with a ready-made narrative and props (or a glossy catalogue to aid my kid in developing her shopping habit). L and I like to make things, with this doll as our muse we can make her whatever we want. This simple doll fits our family, and is the perfect project for scrap fabrics. L cuts holes in them, scotch tapes them, or ties them in knots to make a constantly shifting wardrobe for Dolly, and I sew little things out of whatever is left. Here is a recap of my contribution to Dolly's handmade wardrobe inspired by the clothes I make for L. 
The one and only quilt I've ever made. The chambray is from L's second Long Summer Sundress. The pillow has a different colorway on each side. The purple colorway is from the first dress I ever made for L. Both quilt and pillow were made to fit the doll bed J made her a few years ago. 
Left: Coat made with scraps from the 2014 Halloween Kitty. The scarf and beret is improvised with Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Worsted in Papaya. Right: This the most recent make. The top is based on the quilted heart Cocoon Dress, and leggings fabric is from a raglan dress. The boots are red pleather from L's cowgirl costume, and are the closest copy I could make of L's red boots with materials I had on hand. The outfit took an hour and a half to make the boots took days. More detailed photos of this outfit are in my Kollabora post.
Left: Based on the self-drafted rainbow ruffle dress, and a sweater that I haven't blogged. Right: Based on a Ice Cream Dress and leggings.
Left: A doll sized version of the first Long Summer Sundress. Right: A tunic made with scraps of some capri pants, and pieces from her leggings.
With all of these pretty things to wear you will still find her most often naked with crazy things in her hair.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Maker Gift Guide : Newbie Knitter

Winter is the best time to learn to knit. When the weather is frightful there is no better place to be than tucked up on the couch with a bit of wool. Start your newbie knitter out right with some beautiful supplies selected to help the most clueless maker figure out what all the knitting fuss is about. 

1. & 2. Books - There are nearly as many knitting books as knitters. For a beginner I would suggest a basic instruction manuel. I love the Vogue Knitting book, its got basic techniques, a small stitch dictionary, and basic fit information for garments. It's a great reference book. The Stitch and Bitch Knitters Handbook covers all the basics of knitting from casting on to finishing using clear illustrations. Either book will demystify knitting for a beginner.

Classes - Knitting is more fun in community. Buy your newbie knitter a class at a local yarn shop where she can bounce ideas off of other makers, and ask for help from an expert. If there are no yarn shops around, give a virtual class. Sites like Craftsy have some great a la carte offerings for beginners. The Learn to Knit Series would be a great gift. Or a few months gift subscription to Creative Bug gives your maker access to lots of bite size video instructions, one technique at a time.

3. Wool Wash - Blocking is an essential part of a successful knitting project. Nobody likes to wait for their finished garment to dry, but some fresh smelling wool wash goes a long was to making a chore into a luxury.

4. - 7. Beginner Knitting Kit - Kits are a great way for a new knitter to focus on building skills one at a time. Purl Soho Kit 4 - Wool and the Gang Kit 5 - Wool and the Gang Kit 6 -  O-Wool Kit 7

8. & 9. Small Notion Pouch - Even the beginner needs a little pouch to keep small supplies (like scissors, stitch  markers, and tapestry needles) safe. This little zip pouch is great for keeping small notions separate within a larger project bag. Maker Maker Pouch 8 - Bookhou Pouch 9

10. & 11. Nice Needles - Most kits don't come with needles because gauge varies from knitter to knitter.  Supplement the kit with a few sizes of needles appropriate for the yarn weight. The easiest beginner needle is wooden and straight like these beautiful Brittany Needles (11). The slight texture of the wood needles keep stitches from slipping off accidentally, and straight needles make it perfectly clear which way you are working. For a more advanced knitter I recommend the (10) Knitters Pride Dreamz 16" fixed circulars. They are my favorite needles at the moment.

10. Project Basket - Once you get a few projects under your belt, things will start to pile up. Keep works in progress neat and tidy in a project bag or basket. I've had my eye on this natural Bolga basket for some time (ahem! Is my husband reading?) For taking a project on the go I like a fabric bag that can close to keep all your bits and pieces safe when you're walking to the park, or waiting for the bus.

More gifts for knitters are on the Newbie Knitter Pinterest board.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Cocoon Dress No. 2

Cocoon dress no. 2. I had more ambitious plans for this fabric, my sewing time, and December in general. This dress is so easy it kind of made itself, and I just let it happen. L wears her quilted heart version all the time. It is a sweatshirt, it is a dress, it is an effortless outfit all in one simple piece. In December when holidays and everything associated with them  just sort of suck you in, it is good to keep something simple. This dress is simple.
I wish I could remember where I got this fabric. It is probably from a local discount store, but I'm not sure. It is a cotton french terry. It's my first time sewing with french terry and it is much more delicate than sweatshirt fleece, but seems a bit nicer to wear. I went with the same long sleeve and banded neck modifications as last time. I will certainly make this pattern as directed at some point, but I am happy with this snugger version for now. It's made even snugger by L's instance on wearing her heartwarmer (and sometimes all 3 of them at once) as a scarf like a big kid. I promise you it was not that cold on the day we took these photos, but a little extra hand knit never hurt anyone.


Dress Fabric: Cotton French Terry
Dress Accent: Jersey Knit
Scarf Pattern: Bless Your Heartwarmer by SweetKM
Scarf Yarn: Creative Focus in Lavender Heather by Rowan Yarn

Friday, December 4, 2015

Maker Gift Guide : Creative Kids

Anyone who knits (or sews) with little ones around knows that they will not be knitting (or sewing) alone for long. Our kids have progressed from finger knitting, to the french loom, to knitting needles of their own. Crafting for kids is nice, but crafting with kids is so much better.

I am not a huge fan of craft kits with a prescribed end result for kids. They should have the freedom to make a hot mess of things, and see where it leads. A basic kit is a great starting point for learning a new technique that the kid can use as inspiration for their next project. 

Each year I like to give my little makers one craft tool or supply of their very own in a Mama-made craft bag where they can keep all their stuff together (and off of the floor). Here is an example from Christmas past.  Below is a run down of the types of gifts I have in mind for my little makers this year. 

1. Drop Spindle - Knitting with a lovely wool yarn is awesome. Making your own yarn is even better. This is a great way to get little hands involved in as much of the production process as possible. 

2. Tiny Scissors - These are not technically kid scissors. They are reasonably sharp, but so tiny a kid would be hard pressed to get into much trouble with them. The fun selection of colors make them a great addition to a kid's craft kit. These are the scissors we take along in the car to snip the ends of our finger knitting. 

3. Softie Kit - This bird softie kit is a great introduction to hand sewing. The basic ball shape allows for a lot of customization and flexibility. Kids can easily make up their own designs after they work out the one provided in the kit. You can include some extra colors of wool felt to create an opportunity for improvisation. Here is a great source for 100% wool felt. 

If you think your kid is ready for machine sewing I love this crayon folio kit from Gingercake Patterns. This is a great beginner pattern because it is all straight lines and square pieces. It's a gift a bigger kid can make for a smaller sibling for friend. 

4. French Loom - For the kid who has graduated from finger knitting, but isn't quite ready for knitting needles, the french loom lets the littlest maker get in on the yarn action. Kid's can make necklaces, bracelets, or doll accessories easily with the french loom and some spare yarn. 

5. Knitting Fork - For the long drive to Grandma's house. Along the same lines as the french knitter, this knitting fork is perfectly sized for little hands, and is travel friendly.

6. Lap Loom - Looms are smoking hot this year, and there are plenty of kits available for young and old. From this basic starter model to the beautiful hand-crafted kit from Sugarhouse Workshop (complete with naturally dyed yarn), there is something for every budget and taste. There will definitely be one under our Christmas tree this year. 

7. Embroidery Kit - When my daughter heard Rebecca Ringquist describe embroidery as drawing with thread on the While She Naps podcast, her 5 year old mind was a little bit blown. A kit is a great way to get a kid started in the basics of embroidery. 

For bigger kids the Drop Cloth Samplers are a great way to lean embroidery basics. They are kind of like a coloring book for needle and thread. 

Any of these kits wrapped in a craft bag would make a great gift. I like to add a few scraps to sweeten the deal. You can find more gift ideas for creative kids on the gift guide pinterest board

What are you giving your little maker this year?