Tuesday, April 1, 2014

New Pattern: Lucia Hat

Here's something nobody told me in college: your twenties suck. They can be fabulous and exciting as well, and you can grow from your experiences in surprising ways. But if you're doing it right, your twenties suck. Most people I know learned some hard lessons about loneliness and responsibility. I sure did.

A friend and colleague of mine in her twenties is now learning about mortality. She is fighting breast cancer. There's a plan in place for her to win, but no part of that plan is enjoyable. She's rising to the challenge with incredible aplomb.

There have been some sucky things in my life in the last few years. I am grateful that cancer hasn't been one of them. Now that I'm in a different place, I need to look for ways to show kindness to others.

Also, I'm a knitter. Making chemo caps is what we do when someone we know goes bald.

I was able to whip up a cap in a week. It would take only a day or two without a little human to care for, I think. I named it the Lucia Hat, after my friend's sweet kitty. Because it is simple, and because it's something that I hope other knitters will make for those who need it, I'm making the Lucia Hat a free Ravelry download.


Friday, March 28, 2014

Dream Sweaters

I had this notion that when I return to work in a handful of weeks, I'd need some cardigans to go with the nursing tops I've acquired, to make them more workplace-ish. And less obviously what they are.

Oh, time. Oh, having two hands available. How I miss thee.

Instead, I would like to put down, for the record, the top five sweaters I would make if it were possible to care for a wee little one and finish a sweater. (By the way, I have finished a hat. But that's for later.)

  1. Lyssia by Marnie MacLean. Butterflies make it perfect for spring and summer. It's feminine without being too frilly, and by the way - butterflies!
  2. Dahlia Cardigan by Heather Zoppetti. The lace covering the back is gorgeous, and the loose opening is perfect for avoiding wet spots on the fronts, or "bleakage," as Mr. MGY calls it. (Boob + leakage = bleakage.)
  3. Sportster by Melissa Wehrle. I've been wanting an asymmetrical zipper cardigan for a year or two. I wish now were the time to make one!
  4. Adam's Rib Cap Sleeve Top by Carol Sunday. I love short-sleeve cardigans for the office in the summer. The front looks like it could have a flexible closure - more than one button to choose from, perhaps? - to accommodate a shape that is a bit in flux.
  5. Vogue's Ruffled Cardigan by Faith Hale. I love ruffles, and the cap sleeves would be ideal. Note the presence of errata.
What cardigans would you suggest?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Except for Several Very Satisfying Work-Related Things

This title comes from Tina Fey's Bossypants, in which she calls breastfeeding "the most gratifying thing I've ever done," with the footnote, "Except for several very satisfying work-related things."

Baby arrived. She is pretty neat.

She was 10 days late. In lieu of a birth story, let me instead tell you that after the baby was out and we were attempting to do that coo-and-cuddle routine with her, the obstetrician pronounced with pleasure that this was a "very straightforward delivery." A few moments later, I asked the nurses, "Who in the hell are these women who keep coming back to do this over and over?"

In other words: it appears that I had it relatively easy. Relatively easy says, "DAMN. You do not want it hard. One-and-done, baby!"

"Fortunately," I now say with quotes for ironic emphasis, you can read other posts on this blog to see that the point is moot. Score.

Perhaps the worst ordeal of my pregnancy was how challenging it was to decorate the nursery. Listen, I get that the nursery is just a room and now that the baby's about a month old she still can't see much and really doesn't care as long as somebody feeds her within 12 seconds of when she first moves her fist within a mile of her mouth. And I get that it's all kinds of superficial.

The nursery, however, was the thing at which I threw all my insecurities and guilt and residual aggravations over how difficult it was to bring Squirt (no, not her real name, and yes, I think I did have to say that explicitly) into existence. The nursery was the forge in which we used our marriage to pound out a new identity for our family. It was the garden in which we paused to heal our remaining hurts before Squirt arrived. It was the metaphor to end all metaphors.

It also didn't work. Totally still working through those issues. Step at a time, people.

But, we got a killer nursery. When it was finished, we said to each other, "It's almost a shame to put a baby in here."

For instance, one morning I was changing Squirt's diaper. There was a lot of poo. Okay, sure. Then as I was wiping her off, she peed everywhere. Alrighty. Then, she sneezed, and poo flew out her butt, across the changing table, and onto the side of the really nice dresser that we negotiated over.*

Ick aside… that's kind of awesome.

Here are some pictures I grabbed not long before Squirt arrived, plus a few from our photographer friend who dropped by to take some newborn shots a couple weeks later in exchange for a bottle of whiskey. You'll know the difference because the good pictures are hers.

A closer shot of the pinwheels and fabric circles. Check out the tutorial from Martha Stewart for the pinwheels: very easy. We tacked them into the wall rather than onto a stick.

Print from Mint Peony Designs.

A Faribault blanket that Mr. MGY discovered on a recent work trip to Minneapolis.

Mr. MGY also painted the walls. He is remarkably meticulous as a painter. I'll try to look up the color and post it in the comments at some point, but I'm running out of time before Baby Bomb goes off.

Oh, and the baby. Okay. One picture, but just one:

"Nom, nom, nom."

* He got the dresser, and I got the curtains with the red pom-pom fringe instead of the pink fringe. (He later cleaned some pee off the dresser, and insisted that this was worse than poo because you can't see where all the pee has gone.)

Sunday, January 26, 2014

StashDash part 9: Baby Moccasins

Also known as, Things That Will Fall Off and Possibly Get Lost Within Five Minutes, courtesy of The Purl Bee.


40 yards of stash, gone.

A chance to use some of that scrumptious Fibre Company Road to China Light I have left over from my Rockabilly Soft design.

And they're cute.

I have some me-sized slipper soles I picked up a few years back at Hobby Lobby, and I want to make a coordinating pair of Mama Moccasins. Only problem: in the rush of last-minute cleaning we've been doing, I can't find the damned things anywhere. This is why I never clean, dude. So strike that adorable photo op, right?

At present, it's moot, because still no feet to fill the baby pair.

I'll say something on this blog at some point after the next generation decides to show up, but Mr. MGY and I are gun-shy about putting too much out there on the internet about a kiddo who isn't yet able to say whether or not she'd want that. Only mentioning this because there are a handful of people I know IRL who are following along here to see when kiddo makes her arrival. So - not here yet. I'll say something. Eventually. But I don't think I'll be putting the whole gooey story on this blog. If that's disappointing, then I encourage you to go over to the website that rhymes with Snaby Snenter . com and look at the videos, some of which feature women who, unlike me, have no qualms about putting childbirth shots of their private parts on the internet.

To each. Her. Own.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

DIY Tutorial: baby washcloths and burp cloths

It's pretty nervy of me to post, of all things, a sewing tutorial. Knitting? Fine! Crochet? Sure, okay. But sewing? I could dedicate a whole other blog to my sewing mishaps and poor encounters with sewing books, teachers, stores, and patterns.

Then again, maybe that's the best qualification of all: I persevered, and I figured out that yes, even I can sew something! And it turned out well!

It turned out so well, I couldn't stop.

This week, I've made a whole stack of washcloths and burp cloths:

There's even more than what's shown here! And all for not much money. If you're smart with your JoAnn coupons, you can get some excellent deals. All the material used for the above cost me less than $10. Considering that these washcloths (and burp cloths) are higher-quality than what you'll typically find pre-made in the stores, it strikes me as a great deal.

Materials to make three washcloths, or two washcloths and a burp cloth:

sewing machine
1/3 yard of cotton flannel
1/3 yard of terry cloth
coordinating thread
sewing machine
your preferred method for cutting, trimming, measuring, etc. - (rotary cutter and mat, scissors, your teeth, whatever)

Let's start with the washcloths.

Step one
You need a square. I recommend 10" x 10", which will turn out as a 9" x 9" finished washcloth.

I would really like a rotary cutter and one of those self-healing mats, but I don't have those yet. Instead, I make my own paper patterns with wrapping paper. (I used some scrapbooking supplies to make sure it was perfectly square. Try a T-square or just trace an existing piece of paper if you need help getting it square.)

Cut out the paper pattern using paper scissors and pin it to your fabric. Cut the fabric around the edges. Do this once for your terry cloth, and once for your cotton flannel.

Step two
Pin the two pieces of fabric, wrong sides together. (Terry cloth doesn't really have a wrong side, but you get my drift.)

On one side, use two pins to mark what will be a gap when you start to sew. For a washcloth this size, make it two or three inches.

Step three
Sew around the edges, remembering to leave that gap open. I used a 1/2" seam allowance.*

Step four
Trim the corners.

Step five
Turn the washcloth inside out. Use a pencil, chopstick, or other suitable pointy thing to make sure those corners are really corners and not bunchy messes.

At this point, some people might choose to press the edges; I chose not to, because it's a washcloth. Either way, look at the gap that you left when sewing together the two sides. Either press or pin the fabric into place so that the rough edges are tucked inside at the same seam allowance.

Step six
Sew around the edges. I used a 3/8" seam allowance.* Remember to backstitch at the end to secure your thread.

And you are done!

(In one sewing blog post I read, the author said, "And walla!" Which, bless her heart, made my insides curdle. Jerk-snob that I am, please know that the spelling is "voila," and you do pronounce the "v".)

I made five of these before I started thinking, "Hmm. Hmm?"

I thought we might need some burp cloths. And I had enough length in my fabric left to do one of those.

To make a burp cloth, adjust your dimensions. I cut a paper pattern that was 8.5" x 18". (Why 8.5"? Because that's a piece of standard printer paper, which made squaring off the paper easier. And the 18" seemed right for my shoulder.)

From there on, it's pretty much the same. I decided to teach myself a slightly new skill and go for some rounded corners on the burp cloth. To do so, I used a drinking glass (highball, to be exact) and traced around the base at each corner to get a nice curve:

I think some people do that directly on the fabric, with a rotary cutter.

If you choose to have rounded corners, remember that instead of trimming the corners before turning it inside out, you'll cut notches into the curve, like this:

Have fun mixing and matching fabric patterns!

I've already gone back to the fabric store and spent another whopping $10 to buy enough fabric for several more burp cloths, washcloths, and even a bib or two.

No go forth, and make terrifically awesome baby shower gifts, or charity gift bags, or supplies for your own offspring, or heck: pamper thyself. Happy crafting! These really are a blast.

* Me and seam allowances: I'm not good with the narrow seam allowances. 3/8" was kind of an achievement for me. Go narrower, if that's what you'd like to do.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

StashDash part 8: Gone Home Hat

I intended to make a hat to match the Milk Infant Top I made a few weeks ago, to be part of the baby's going home outfit. But because I chose not to swatch (eh? eh?) I wound up with a hat that is about 13 inches in circumference. Good heavens I hope it's too large, or I'm in for an interesting time.

It used about 70 yards, and instead of a Going Home Hat, I'm calling it a Gone Home Hat, in the hopes that the hat will not fit for at least a few weeks. Every girl ought to be stylin' when she heads to the pediatrician, right?

Plain and simple: picot edging on the turning row of the brim, and then stockinette the rest of the way. Ought to have added another row before knitting the hat to the CO edge, but heck. I think it's already not going to fit, what's a slightly turned-up picot edging going to matter?

No worries. If she never wears it, somebody's bound to have a baby girl born in the fall. 70 yards, gone!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

StashDash part 7: Early Fans You Should Make Them, Hmm?

I finished this potentially useless but cute and enjoyable project recently:

It is a Yoda Baby Bottle Cover, which is a free pattern. It used around 55 yards. It also brought up a rather serious parenting question in our household: Should we acknowledge from the beginning the existence of episodes I, II, and III, and be open and honest with her about that difficult time? Or should we wait for her to discover them on her own, and run the risk of losing her trust, but at least we will have had those few years of innocence when all she knew were episodes IV, V, and VI?

My position is that you should tell her that the first three episodes were made, but explain our reasons why we don't watch them and why we don't think she should watch them. When she's old enough to handle the disappointment, we'll let her decide for herself if she wants to expose herself to these kinds of upsetting experiences.

I think the trick to this pattern is that you have to have the right kind of bottle for it to look appropriately Yoda-like. A coworker was cleaning house and sold us a huge bag full of these 9 oz. Tommee Tippee bottles (good heavens, why do baby things have to have such ridiculous and patronizing names?) for wicked cheap (yes, they've been re-sterilized). They are squat enough to mimic the jedi master with appropriate lumpiness.

Also? This yarn came from the dining room. (I've got a few boxes in the baby's closet, the rest has been appropriated as insulation for our front dining room windows.) I feel like the yardage should count for double.