Sunday, March 29, 2015

Uniformity

As is prone to happen, uniforms having been decommissioned are being called up once more to serve another tour of duty, but with a new mission. Can you guess what this will be?

Friday, March 27, 2015

Sheet dress... I hate zippers

New dress, left
previous dress, right
Both repurposed bed
sheets.
I've been reading negative reviews here and there of other crafting merchants, and it's getting to me a bit. Now I scrutinize my projects, nit picking till I no longer feel they're worthy of value to anyone other then my own children, who love their twirling dresses. A fellow angoras rabbit, spinner, knitter, and crafting enthusiast (who passed away last year) once told me to stick to making things I'll be able to use myself, because nothing ever sells very well. She made some lovely hand spun, angora wool hats, gloves, and sweaters and they would sit on her little website for ages. I try and keep her advice in mind when prioritizing my sewing and knitting projects, because it's very sage. My kids will grow up wearing a lot of handmade.

Not being prone to giving up entirely or wallowing in failure, I've decided that I could certainly use some instruction on sewing zippers. I've sort of winged it for years, but honestly, hate how they always look, and am certain there's a better way, I just haven't figured out yet. My attempts a hidden zippers never work out the way they should. The instructions on the zipper package just don't make any sense to me. I'm going to have to google this and see if I can find some tutorials online or something. I get frustrated with folks who never try or choose to turn away from the lessons they could learn. So what if that first knitting project looks awful! Try again, and the next will be better.

 There's also got to be a way to keep more seams tucked and hidden. On my dress I have almost all the major visible fabric seams turned and topstitched, but not all of them. Like the shoulder sleeve seams, and the bodice to skirt, while all on the inside, are still finished off with a tight zig zag because I couldn't figure out a way to have them hidden. A lot of garments just utilize the finish of a serger for these sorts of things, but I don't have one of those, so I zig zag the edges.


Saturday, March 21, 2015

Recycled sheet dress

This weekend's sewing project is operation clear out the sewing closet supplies by doing the project stacked up in my mind. Two worn out sheets are being turned into a dress. The purple Egyptian cotton sheet will be the lining and the butterfly print cotton sheet will be the outside.

Cutting fabric is kind of tedious, but perhaps the most important step. Tomorrow we'll see how much I can get done.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Baptism Gown in a new medium

Usually I knit these with my yummy stretchy cotton, but alas, I couldn't find any in white. Instead I decided upon a 50/50 Merino/ Bamboo sport weight blend called Galileo by Knit Picks. Both being very fine and silky straight fibers, there's not much crimp, and the only elasticity is created by the ribbing effect of the cable patterns. Befitting a spring time baby, this is short sleeved, and hopefully won't be too hot or heavy. It's no lace knit, but it's certainly not worsted either. I purchased 6 skeins for this project, but only used four. I could make booties or a hat, but neither would be worn. My last Baptismal gown had a matching hat, but it was worn for like a minute and was practically a waste of time and energy.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

My Bernina is back!

It's like a brand new machine! Excepting that it's actually quite vintage, it's running smoother than ever. Before I dove into my major wrap conversion project, I did a quick recycle t-shirt into bamboo lined, side snap, fitted diaper. I forgot to give the Lastin a little more clearance on the legs (which would make a cute little ruffle around the edge). Opps. It's still works, just not as cute. While the boys bathed I used my little snap pliers to add snaps to the diaper and the suck pads for my new soft structured wrap conversion carrier... which is a one-of-a-kind (Ooak).

Recently, I went through my oversized diaper stash to decided to cull the herd. I could literally diaper triplets at any age! I plucked out diapers I hadn't even used for the last baby and some I decided I wouldn't be using for the next, and began listing them for sell on a diaper trading site linked on Facebook. First I sold things in smaller, but like groupings and lost a lot of money on shipping cost. Some of the packages I shipped cost me more than I had charged total. To keep things simple I included shipping in all my listings, making many of them practically free for shipping (or in some cases it didn't even cover that). So I decided to make even more cuts and listed some or my more prized items, like all my newborn kissaluvs, and most of what remained of my Clover collection...neither of which have seen much use since child number 4... as 5 was too crabby to let me do anything and I turned to disposables for a good amount of time. Then 6 had health issues that caused me to stop using cloth for a considerable time. So honestly, I thought it was prudent to pass them along. Still not wanting to just "give them away" I listed them for a price I felt was fair, but not quite a bargain. If they didn't sell, it wasn't going to break my heart, because they were still good and I "might" still use them. Perhaps they would be the perfect diaper for number 7? 

Anyway, despite my best efforts, nobody left any feedback, though some would e-mail me privately and indicate that they'd received their packages. It didn't bother me, till I had one gall contact me over my Clover diapers. She didn't like my price, wanted me to come down. I really just wanted to pass on her since she seemed to be very nit picky, and I just had a feeling she wasn't going to be happy with them.  I disclosed they were used. How old they were, and that they were indeed stained, though in my opinion still useable and elastic in good condition (because they're adjustable, the diaper will fall apart long before that elastic will be totally useless. I posted pictures inside and out, and hid nothing. I even sent a long letter describing my washing and household allergens for the entire lifespan of the diapers.  Still, she insisted, and insisted again she wanted them. I even knocked the price down when my washing machine needed to replaced and (it forced me to just let them go). So I sold them to her, shipped them off, and got on with life. A couple days after they were scheduled to have arrived, she writes to tell me how disappointed she is and wants a full refund, ect. I just had a feeling she was going to do that.  But how do you turn down a buyer...just cause you have a feeling they're going to come back and bite you in the butt? You really can't and not be decried as unethical or unfair or something. You can't say, "I just have a feeling you're going to be a pain in the..."

Seriously, they're just diapers, and if I don't use them I'm going to give them away to either a cloth diaper charity or see if one of my friends wants them.

The whole experience has caused me to think about all of my sewing and knitting projects in terms of my goals. While it's kind of exciting to think about maybe going back into business and making things for folks. I enjoy making things that I KNOW folks will want and will enjoy. However, I'm not thick skinned enough to digest the critics. And frankly, I've noticed that even truly awesome products receive a lot of hate from some folks. And sometimes these select few are down right mean and try to actually harm the seller/ maker. Very little credit is given to the time and energy the maker spends and puts into their product. It's usually so much more complicated than anyone realizes. And well... I could wax on and on about this all day.

For now I'm just making my wrap conversions because I'm curious. I want to know how it's done. Like a kid and a toaster, I want to take it apart and see how it works :) I don't know how many times I've read someone comment, "Oh I wish (said carrier maker) would make a wrap conversion," or "I wish they still made their straps puffy like they used to," or see them clamor for certain fabrics and such. I like seeing the various wrap conversions out there right now, and look to see innovations and hear what folks find comfortable. And of course I like trying to figure out ways to have it all in one carrier. I've done this with knitting, diapers, clothes, and many things. Usually, I do not churn out the perfect replica nor the new improved model. My stitches aren't perfect (my machine can only do so much) and I'm only so patient. I'm human and I have limitations. However, I'm going to keep trying. I'll enjoy my successes and learn from my mistakes, which is always better than never trying at all.

So with this second wrap conversion I learned that a bamboo cotton blend Ellevill is a very scrumptious and silky soft fabric. It has a bit of stretch to it which makes it very comfortable in the body and arm straps of the carrier. However, as a waist belt, it's a bit too stretchy and doesn't hold the firm foam padding in place nearly as well as the silk cotton Natibaby wrap (which was significantly thicker). I think that a quilted waist belt might have looked and functioned a lot better with this wrap. For this wrap I changed a few things.
1. Moved the arm strap buckles so that the buckle will stay on the padding even when the straps are adjusted. Sure they're one way adjust, but I like this better and find it easier if trying a side hip carry or crossing the straps.
2. The chest belt strap are sew with the webbing folds under, reversed from what I did with the last carrier, as it just looks nicer.
3. The hood has one seam, almost in the center of the inside (again my sewing is very human, sometimes things come out a little off center and I'm not going to rip out the seam in fear of destroying the fabric along with it). And I decided to add a little strip of lastin at the top sides of the hood to give it a little contour. Lastin is very stretchy and soft!


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Preteen Wool turtle neck dress

This one took about a month to complete. I'm mighty proud of the fact that I only had to tuck in three yarn tails. I hate seams, and there's not a single one in this dress. My next project will have at least two, :(  as I've not come up with a way to avoid them with the method I'll be using. There's got to be a way, I've just not figured it out yet. ;)  
While this may look a little "huggy" my experience with this yarn is has been that it will relax some after the first hand wash and might not continue to hug quite so snuggly.... at least that's my modesty seeking mama hope. It's a natural wool color, but it may return as a dye project in the future, as I've told my girls they can dye them if they so choose with any Kool-Aid they prefer.


Friday, February 20, 2015

And after that...Girasol Rainbow Wrap Conversion

Okay...I'm making myself stop after this one... or at least I won't buy anymore for myself after I finish with this rainbow beauty. It's becoming an obsession.

This weekend I'll be knitting...but I really wish I could be sewing!

Update:... I've changed my mind. This s such a delightful wrap, and now that I know a few tricks in how to make it work, it won't be getting cut up anytime soon. Besides, my machine is going to be in the shop for at least another week. The positive side of that is the repairman really seemed to know his stuff and his diagnostic seemed spot on with what I was expecting after I read the service manual. So I'm hopeful that he's going to get it up and running as good as new, and it will be worth the wait indeed. That machine has been ailing for years, but even so it still sewed much better than any new machine I've had my hands on. They just don't make them like they used to. My Bernina 731 is all metal, and solid as a tank!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Next...Ellevill Paisley Vanessa Soft structure carrier wrap conversion

Even though my sewing machine hates me, and is now in the shop (please be cheap and easy to fix) I've begun another wrap conversion attempt. While not the most esthetically pleasing, my 3 year old loves to be in the "blue carrier" so much, that I've got a serious itch to try this again and see if I can do even better this time around. After I went back and altered the straps I found the sweet spot with my big fluffy straps, which I adjusted so the padding goes under the buckle. It makes carrying the 35+ pounder feel like next to nothing.

I picked up this wrap remnant from a mama on Facebook (my new buy, sell, and trade market place), which had been cropped to be converted into a ring sling. My half was almost, but not quite enough for all the pieces I will need. As soon as I saw it, a dress fabric I once used popped into my mind, and sure enough I had a yard in my stash. Thus it became clear I needed to make the exterior side panels with this thicker floral print cotton canvas, to give the flimsy bamboo/ cotton Ellevill more structural integrity, as this paisley wrap is not as thick as the Natibaby Dandilion wrap had been. Since this will be a smaller carrier I feel it will be alright, as a much lighter load will be carried by it. All interior fabrics will be the soft wrap, and the key strap points will be anchored into the canvas fabric.

Getting to work on these little projects makes me feel more... excited... happy... productive! Accomplished....

Also, I just cast off the hemline (but there's no hem) of my oldest's daughter's wool knit dress. Tomorrow I'll begin the sleeves. After that one is complete I'll need to sneak in a baptism gown.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Wrap Conversion

I'll start by saying my sewing machine did not like this project. I broke more needles than I could keep count of sewing this soft structure carrier, and there were things I wanted to do that just weren't going to happen with my machine. Finally, since hatching the notion to convert my wrap, it is done!
I even had enough wrap left over to make a ring sling , though not enough for a padded shoulder, but with fabric this thick, it's not necessary.

The wrap was Dandies by Natibaby, size 6. Now it's a toddler sized soft structured carrier conversion with plus sized straps (so dad can wear it too) and an adjustable panel (for my tall torso kids with short inseams). Yes, that's solarveil in the center. Admittedly, even though I adjusted my Personal Fit adjusters up an inch from the carrier I mimicked, the hood is essentially useless when the PFA's are cinched all the way down (which I have to do for me. But since this carrier's body panel is so tall, I don't think I'll ever actually use the hood for head support. Perhaps we might use it for shade...or not. I'd have to rethink that aspect of it should I ever take on a project of this magnitude again.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Woolie Sweater Dress

 We're all really happy with how this dress turned out. With no seams, knit entirely in the round, from top to bottom using circulars from the turtle-neck collar, down in a yolk sweater method, and finally the sleeves were completed using double points, leaving only three yarn tails to tuck.

So I just cast another turtle neck collar onto the small circulars and will try again for the pre-teen version of this dress up next.


Monday, January 19, 2015

All that's left now is the sleeves

Casting off the hemline last night, I hope to finish the sleeves by the end of this week.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

New listing Item #00001

This hat can be found in my Etsy shop.

Since there are literally thousands of other baby hats on Etsy, I'm guessing it's still legal to hand knit a hat and offer it for sale? So I'm going to institute a record keeping strategy, assign a number to each item I knit. If I have a rare moment and complete something that isn't destine for our own closet, than I will try and list it.

I've made plenty of hats for my own kids this winter, so this is a spare we don't need. While it fits my youngest (who is presently 22 months old) he already has two hats, and favors one in particular, so he doesn't want nor need another.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Knitting compulsion

This is more of a compulsive creation stemming from my desire for winter time sweater dresses for my girls. My rough guestimate on my gage was off, so instead of being a dress for my oldest, in all likelihood, this will be for my middle daughter. Sleeves will be last, and thus far I'm about waist deep, the intent to knit all the way down to below knee length.

I'm making it up as I go along... as usual, top to bottom, no seams, knitting in the round with circulars. The yarn is fisherman's wool worsted weight, natural.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Hat season

Right now, I like to knit hats. A few of these sat on needles for weeks at a time, but the big green one took about a week, which means I'm knitting more. Tis the season for knitting in the round!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Baby carriers for sale: Updated

Since I'm technologically challenged I'm hosting my own pictures here on my blog for some baby carriers I'm needing to re-home. PM me if you're interested.
 


The mei tai with the country print is constructed with cotton canvas and has been lightly used. I made it back in 2005. the top straps are only very lightly padded in the upper region with 100% cotton batting. This was triple stitched. Asking $20 OBO ppd




 Our Kelty 2.0 structured carrier is also available. Some light use dust stains, is in good condition. Attached back pack means Dad can haul the kid and a lot of stuff!  Asking $40 if local pick up, but $50 if needing to be shipped.

 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Oat bran blueberry muffins

Mine went like this:
 12 muffins   24 muffins

3/4                 1 1/2  cup brown sugar
2                     4 eggs
3/4                  1 1/2 cup apple sauce
1                      2 small  banana
4                      8 tablespoons grown flax seed
2                      4 teaspoons baking soda
2                      4 teaspoons baking powder (aluminum free)
1/2                    1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2                3 cup all purpose flower
1 1/2                3 cup oat bran
4                      8 tablespoons coconut oil
3/4                   1 1/2 cup frozen blueberries

Bake at 400 degrees for 16-18 minutes the night before a busy day, and wake up to breakfast ready to roll.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Birthday Cake

After perusing Pinterest for ideas for a first birthday cake, all of which were overwhelming, I was struck with the notion to bake a cake with blueberries. Google to the rescue, this Lemon Blueberry Layer cake recipe by Sallys Baking Addiction jumped out at me. It's in the oven as I type. First impression; The batter is yummy! The plan is to let it cool over night and then finish it up tomorrow. Will update!

Baby's 1-3 all had carrot cakes, #4 had pumpkin cake, and #5 had chocolate (he's already pinging on warp speed, so it doesn't really make a difference to his energy level). This baby needs something different. He likes a lot of stuff, but is a big fan of blueberries, which must be why I'm being called to make this cake.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Grooming Angora Dog

We adopted a two year old Bichon Poodle (Poochon) mix a few weeks ago. Her winter coat was long and matted in many places (sides, legs, belly, and around the neck and ears). Initially I tried to comb it out since it's still winter and a long coat would be nice for the cold temperatures. However, she wouldn't let me do enough to remedy the matting, and it only seemed to get worse.
First hair cut;
cleared the matting
 
 This dog will require frequent grooming, an expense we going to minimize by doing the work ourselves. Perfection and mastery are fully expected to require lots of practice. Having about five years of angora rabbit grooming under my belt gives me some experience to spring from. Between cutting the boys hair (which I'm still working to improve) and now clipping the dog's hair there will be plenty of opportunities for practice this spring and summer. While a fluffy coat is lovely, it requires constant combing, and so it will be partly up to the dog as to how long we'll keep it. Now that we're starting off with a clean slate, perhaps she'll be better about allowing us to brush her feet. However, if she persist in being super sensitive about it, we'll just keep her clipped short at all times.

Scouring the reviews on amazon for advice specific to poodle type coats, I settled upon the Andis two speed clippers, which were well rated. Since I was trying to removed matting between clipper swipes, I turned them off and on frequently to prevent them from heating up. I used grooming scissors to cut out really bad matting, a steal comb to smooth out the coat, and clipper guards in an attempt to salvage some length of the coat along the back and head. However, I had to take it down much further than I'd hoped when the guards wouldn't allow for cutting through any matted parts. Since my clippers were not running non-stop, and the dog is petite, over heating didn't seem to be too much of a problem. Just in case I had picked up some Cool Care spray after reading reviews that strongly recommended it. While the Andis clippers didn't specify this, it did come with a large bottle of clipper oil, which keeps the clipper blades lubricated and running smoothly.  It was nice not to have to purchase that separately, as I did the guards and will need to do if I want different blade sizes. The clipper comes with a standard size 10 blades attached. I felt this was short enough for my purposes. Larger numbers cut even shorter, and smaller numbers cut to yield a longer length. My desired look is the teddy bear cut I've seen on Pinterest.

I never clipped any of my former angora rabbits, which could cause even more matting. I'd read the best wool care was combing it out and plucking away molting wool. Plucking was the only way to completely remove all the molted wool, as shearing left short molted pieces. While unbelievably time consuming (time I no longer have in my life...maybe one day, but not now) that was how I always took care of my rabbits. However, most angora folks, especially folks with many rabbits, sheared their rabbits, because it was simply faster. Indeed, after clipping the dog this weekend I wonder how I managed to never clip the rabbits. How much easier this will be then combing, brushing, combing, painstakingly separating matting.... what a relief to just buzz it all away. Now I feel like Scarlett O'Hare, "I will never go clipper-less again!"

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Use for old textbooks

Whenever my husband needs a weight for something, the first thing he reaches for is my old nursing school textbooks. When he needs to go on a ruck march, a few of these quickly add up to the 30-50 lbs he needs to weigh down his backpack. Unable to use a vise clamp for glue work, such as the time when he wanted to apply pressure to our t-molding strips over the newly installed kitchen floor, a couple of hand bells and my nursing text books were called up for duty. So if you're about to graduate from nursing school, unless you want to retain those books as really expensive weights, sell them back. On second thought, do they even print up these monstrosities anymore? Perhaps there's now an apps instead of textbooks.

Sump pump or swamp thing that is the question


Whether it will pump endless gallons of water away from my yard, or sit idly by as a sinister swamp creeps closer and closer towards my back door, that is the question.
Yesterday, the swamp thing immerged and showed us it's true colors.
I give this 3/4 horse power (HP) flotec a big double thumbs down!  Time to find myself a new friend named Wayne.