12.10.2010

Am I Crazy?

Maybe... Probably...


Here's a stack of clothes I plan to alter into maternity wear. Several of Ryan's old shirts and one from my Dad will become blouses with a few snips of the scissors and the addition of elastic. There's also a corduroy skirt that I will shorten and then insert a maternity panel.

This stack is fabric from my stash, and some from my Mom's stash, that might just become maternity skirts. Perhaps.

And finally, my new treasures. These fabrics are all newly acquired and destined to become maternity dresses. I've chosen just a couple of patterns for the dresses, thinking that familiarity will make it easier to crank out several without much fuss.

More new fabrics. They'll initially be worn layered over leggings and long sleeves and under some of those cardis I've been knitting. Later, I'm hoping that they can be remade into regular dresses that I can wear post-maternity.

Keep your fingers crossed for me! I'll be back next week to show you what I've finished! In the meantime have a great weekend!

12.09.2010

Garter Yoke Cardi

I'm so excited to have a finished project to share with you! Before I settle into knitting and sewing for Baby Bee, I'm trying to produce a maternity wardrobe for myself. On the top of the list are cardigans. I'm knitting regular cardis, based on my pre-pregnancy measurements, with the thought that I can just unbutton them from the bottom as the bump grows and still have functional pieces to wear when I'm not pregnant.


This weekend, I sewed the buttons onto my Garter Yoke Cardi and then proceeded to wear it two days in a row. I was tempted to wear it for a third day, but resisted. The yarn has been in my stash for quite some time now, and finally I found the right pattern to pair with it. I think they are perfect for each other, don't you? And the buttons...so simple, and just the right choice. It really is so pleasing to add just the right buttons to a project.

Here's a view that shows off the beginning of my baby bump. Looks like it won't be long before I'm having to leave a few of those buttons open!

12.08.2010

This just in...

What a lovely morning! As Ryan and I headed over to the hospital for our ultrasound, we spotted a rainbow out one window and then watched the sun breaking through the clouds out another window. Beautiful.

When we got to the hospital, Hannah (who does the ultrasounds) was running late. She came out to tell us it would still be a while and Ryan said, "It's ok, we've been waiting for months. What's another 15 minutes?" I'm not sure we actually felt that cool, but we faked it and enjoyed some extra time together.

Once we finally got into the little room, we were blown away by how much Baby Bee has changed since our last ultrasound in October. There were 10 fingers and 10 toes and a beautiful spine and quick little heart. We actually saw Baby Bee yawn! I have to go back in for more shots, because Baby Bee refused to show us a profile. Apparently, it was nap time and no amount of poking or coughing could convince Baby to roll over into the necessary position.

Oh, and what else did we find out?














There was something else, I'm sure...














Oh, yeah...


















Please excuse the thermals and yoga pants. I'm getting ready to settle in for an afternoon of sewing. I need some new clothes to accommodate this expanding mid-section...

12.06.2010

Yippee Skippy!



Wow, I've been sitting on this one for a while... Back in October, I was lucky enough to be among those selected to test-sew the latest from Collette Patterns!!!! Today, Sarai shared Negroni with the world, so now I can finally share my version with you!

* The shirt's first outing - brunch at The Daily Cafe

First off, I'd like to say that if you've ever considered sewing for men would be boring because their clothes tend to have clean lines and few details, think again. There are actually lots of little details and steps which make for great men's clothes and interesting sewing. The good news is that even though some of the techniques needed to provide these details may be challenging, Sarai's pattern is excellently written and she lays out each step with her usual clear and thoughtful instructions and excellent illustrations. If you read the directions (I know, I know...), and focus on one step at a time, you can totally do this.

*Ryan, looking very suave sporting his new shirt under a vintage leather jacket in Jamison Square

I can't lie, part of the fun of this project was taking Ryan to shop for his fabric. He had definite ideas about what he wanted - which wasn't what he ended up with. At first, he wanted something a little Rockabilly, but we couldn't find a fabric with the right kind of plaid to suit. (Apparently, there are limits even to what Fabric Depot carries. Next time I might try The Mill End Store.) After a search through all of the options for plaid, we stood brainstorming other possibilities. I reminded Ryan of how great he looked in his floral Liberty shirt, which sent us running for the 20's and 30's reproduction prints. We whittled the choices to a handful of fabrics before finally deciding on the winner.

*Detail of the sleeve while applying the placket facing. You can see the print on the fabric a bit better here.

So, I think I can safely say that he loves the shirt. He really enjoys the weight of the quilters' cotton, as well as the cut of the shirt itself. I really enjoyed making him something special. There will definitely be more of these to come - after I'm done with my maternity sewing and get a few things knocked out for the baby, of course. In addition to his rockabilly version, I am seeing a summer shirt sewn from gingham. Makes me a little weak in the knees, in fact!

Here are closer photos of the shirt's front and back, while it was fresh off the sewing machine. Ryan only wanted one pocket for this version, instead of the two show on the pattern. Which reminds me, you can find free downloadable pocket variations at this Collette Blog Post. The only other modification I would make would be to add an extra button half-way up the sleeve plackets. Ryan likes the slightly longer length of the sleeves, but not that the plackets gape open a bit.


Thank you so much for the opportunity, Sarai! Negroni is a lovely, lovely pattern and I learned so very much!

* I finally replaced the summer banner. Sorry it took so long. The new one might look familiar, as it is the same one I used last holiday season. I'll try to switch it up soon. Just lacking photo inspiration right now...

11.29.2010

A Feast

Not our feast... This one was all about the little animals visiting Mom and Dad's backyard. I spent as much time as possible at the kitchen table watching out the glass doors as wave after wave of furry and feathered friends made themselves busy. In the near corner of the yard is a large and lovely tree just laden in berries that was providing an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Myself, Dad, and Alexis still in pj's, getting a closer look out the living room window...

The sparrows and chickadees came first, pecking around the ground for little treats. Then came the robins and cardinals and blue jays and other lovely birds, like this one. It's crested like the cardinal or jay and wears the same black mask, but has the most lovely and subtle coloring - a pale yellow breast against soft grey with a bright stripe of yellow across the tip of the tail feathers. (Any bird enthusiasts out there whole have thoughts on who this lovely might be?) The cardinals and jays were, of course, too quick to catch in pictures...

With the larger birds came the squirrels.

Their antics and acrobatics were highly entertaining. They would run right out to the very tips of the branches in order to get the best berries, and then the branches would bounce and shake wildly, forcing the squirrels to scramble back to safer branches. At one point, I looked out and saw the white furry belly of one intrepid and determined squirrel as it held onto one branch with its back feet and plucked and ate berries with its front paws!

And at night, the raccoons...

The raccoon stayed out of the tree, probably too smart to risk testing their weight on the branches. Instead, they dug and snuffled in the leaves below for the fallen berries. I wonder if they turned up any of the squirrels' buried treasure? We saw a couple industrious fellas securing their winter food rations under the thick blanket of leaves...

Hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving feast as much as these guys enjoyed theirs!

*Thank you Erin Joy and littlealma for identifying my mystery bird. Turns out that it's a Cedar Waxwing!

11.24.2010

Gorgeous

This stunning picture arrived in my in-box this morning from the fabulous British clothier, Toast. (Ok, lets take a moment to pause and think about that fabulous company name... Done? Now, back to the absolutely magical image.) Don't you just love that 1920's style coat? Pretty, pretty, pretty. For more delicious photographs, visit their site or order one of their catalogues. It's even more delicious than Thanksgiving dinner. And on that note, I hope you all enjoy a lovely holiday with friends and family. I'll see you back here next week.

11.22.2010

Spoiled Rotten

No, I'm not talking about our Halloween Pumpkins, nor that head of cabbage lurking at the back of the veggie drawer....

One week ago today, Ryan, Lex and I were back in Illinois at Mom and Dad's to jointly celebrate my 33rd birthday and Dad's 60th. (Hooray, Dad!) Even though his was a more notable birthday, I'm afraid I was the one who was thoroughly spoiled. We had so much good food, I took a shopping trip in Mom's fabric stash, Mom took me out and bought me some maternity pieces, and then there were the birthday gifts...

Lex gave me this beautiful scarf, which has already seen lots of wear in the last week, and this adorable little notions bag made from tape measures.

Ryan picked all of my gifts up at Little Winter a couple of weekends ago. (It was a fabulous event!) Clockwise from the back left, Abby Try Again's 2011 calendar - gorgeous, a charming piece of found art from the lovely Cori Kindred, a fantastic necklace by Susan of Sulu Design, and the sweetest little hair pins by twigs & honey.

A closer look at the smaller pieces. An aside... Ryan bought me another of Susan's necklaces as an anniversary gift a couple of years ago, and she very kindly delivered it in person. Turns out, she lived just down our street! Not sure it's possible to buy art more local than that!

This fantastic little grouping of cupcake inspired gifts came from Sanna. At the top, a set of 4 silicone robot cupcake holders, some adorable Cupcake Shoppe stationary (they have mustaches!), a strawberry scented pen, and some kick-ass napkins.


Beth sent one of Barbara Kingsolver's early novels (love her!) and a pretty set of sticky notes in a beautiful little box. And I was just saying to Ryan how I'm such a nerd about school and office supplies...

Mom & Dad gave me a collection of maternity sewing patterns, plus the resources to buy myself some fabrics and yarns to fill out my maternity wardrobe and get started on things for Baby Bee. I already bought the most amazing fabric to make that dress on the far right, to wear layered with leggings and cardigans and such.

There were a few other lovely and generous gifts from too-kind friends and family. I am such a lucky girl! I've got to say that I feel especially touched as I had actually forgotten my own birthday! All of our recent busy-ness and planning for Baby Bee on top of the trip to Illinois and my birthday kept slipping right off my radar.

Oh, and I should probably mention another important birthday from last Monday...the first birthday of this humble blog! I had intended to make a big fuss, but I'm afraid we both got a little lost in the hurry of late. Thank you, dear readers, for tuning in over the last year to share my adventures and for providing so much enthusiastic encouragement, support, and feedback!

11.12.2010

For Baby Bee


I have started making for Baby Bee. The last few months have seen me pouring over books of both sewing and knitting patterns while dreaming of our eagerly anticipated little one. But even with all of that inspiration, I wasn't quite ready to pick up needles (of one sort or another).

At first, I think I hesitated because this is my first pregnancy, and you never know, right? How painful it would've been to dive right into the making of things only to not have it all work out. Once I passed into my second trimester, I began thinking more seriously about what I wanted to make for Baby Bee. I looked through all of the books again, making mental lists as I went along. But still, I waited.

Then, two patterns found me at once. The first is a free pattern for Angora Baby Booties which came to the yarn shop with a shipment of Plymouth Angora. Sally, our superstar proprietress, suggested I choose a color and make a shop sample, which I could then take home for Baby Bee's arrival. Um, yes please! I decided on this beautiful blue, thinking that it could really work for a boy or a girl. The booties took only one skein of yarn and knit up in an evening.


*photo from Spud & Chloe.

The next pattern was one I nearly swooned over when I spotted it for an add in a the new holiday issue of Vogue Knitting, which is a great issue, by the way... When I showed the picture to Adrienne, one of my lovely co-workers, mentioned that we had just gotten a shipment of Spud and Chloe yarns and patterns containing everything I'd need to knit it up. Of course I bought it all (the pattern and 4 skeins of Outer) and started that night. The chunky yarn worked up really fast, and I still have nearly an entire skein left with with which to make something else. I'm showing you the pattern picture and not my finished project because it will just photograph so much better once Baby Bee is here to model. The color I chose does not show on their website, but I will tell you that it is a beautiful aqua. Actually, it kinda matches the living room perfectly. Gotta love my consistency!

There will, of course, be many more projects to come - both knit and sewn. I've gathered patterns, hoarded library books, and begun a list. And I can't wait to share each and every one with you.

11.11.2010

Ta Da!

Sorry for the long absence, lovely ones. Our computer got the sniffles and it took a few days to get the situation under control. Everything is now back to normal, or better than normal, and I'm really excited to share a couple of recently finished knitting projects with you.

Oh, but before I get started, thank you ever so much about all of the kind wishes and comments for our big news!

Alright, here we go...

First up is the Edwardian Jacket, a Debbie Bliss pattern of the same name, knit in her Cashmerino Astrakhan. Let me tell you, the yarn is as luxe as it looks, but the shaping was an absolute bear 'cause I couldn't see the stitches to save my life. Stitch markers to the rescue!

Here's a closer look at the fantastic buttons I found.

Next, my second attempt at my Sweet Temptation, a Sublime pattern worked in their Extra Fine Merino Wool DK. I ran short of the yarn, so I heavily modified the sleeves. They turned out great, though, don't you think? And, I learned a new method - Top Down Set-In Sleeves, from Wendy Bernard's Custom Knits.

I added little pleats at each of the elbow. I am ridiculously proud of myself!!!

Ok, I know this is pretty short, but I've got to race around and get myself ready for work. I hope to be back tomorrow with photos of my first knitted projects for Baby Bee!

11.02.2010

Pumpkin Time!

Have I mentioned that fall is my favorite season? Well, I think it is. Catch me in spring when the crocus start popping up and we get our first breaks from winter weather, and I'll probably tell you that spring is my favorite. And, when we're busy taking camping trips, shopping at the Farmer's Market and enjoying Farm Concerts and a surplus of berries and peaches and melon, I'll tell you that summer is my favorite. So perhaps I'm fickle... But right now it's fall, the season of my birth... a time to prepare for the bustle of the holidays and the quiet of winter... a time for Pumpkins!


A couple of weeks ago, Farmer Don held his annual Harvest Hoe Down. We met up with many of our favorite people and enjoyed food (roasted corn and caramel apples!), music, hayrides and a HUGE bonfire. (Wish I had pictures for you, but I was too busy having fun...) Unfortunately, the light didn't last long enough for us to pick out our pumpkins, as planned.


So, the next day, Ryan picked me up from work and we returned to the farm and the pumpkin patch. Ryan went for a multi-colored pumpkin. Maybe because it matched his hoodie?


Next, we found the perfect pumpkin for Baby Bee. Isn't it cute?

Aren't those purple corn stalks amazing? I think it's Indian Corn.


My favorite pumpkins are the Cinderella Pumpkins. I love the shape and the deep reddish orange tones of the shell. Plus, you know, they're named after Cinderella...

Finally, we found my perfect pumpkin... And wasn't it clever of me to wear blue so that the oranges would really stand out?

We don't really get into the whole carving thing at our house, so our little family of pumpkins will decorate the front porch through Thanksgiving. After that, we might try roasting mine and making it into a pie or muffins or a cake, as I just read the Cinderella Pumpkins make good puree. Mmmm...

10.26.2010

Upcoming

There are so very many projects to share with you all, but today I wanted to give you a little preview of what may be the biggest project I've ever undertaken.

Here's a little clue for you:

Yep, that's right - I'm pregnant! Today I'm 14 weeks along, and apparently the baby is the size of a lemon - at least that's what thebump.com tells me. Baby Bee, our nickname for the little person I'm growing, is due at the end of April and I cannot believe how much there is to do before then! (You know, like finding somewhere else to live!)

I hope this goes some way towards explaining my sporadic posting over the last few months. The first trimester went really well, my biggest symptom being exhaustion. (Probably nothing compared to when the baby actually comes, but still pretty intense.) If I was given the choice between posting and sleep/a nap, I went with the sleep. Also, it was really tough not to tell! This has been the most exciting news and totally taking up all of my mental space, and I couldn't say anything.

As I'm getting back on my feet, expect lots more posts around here. I'm currently trying to knit up a selection of cardigans to get me through the next few months. There will be maternity clothes to make, not to mention clothes for the baby and preparations for the nursery. (You know, the nursery in the apartment we don't live in...) In between: my birthday, which also happens to be the blog's first birthday, kicks off the holiday season. Ok, so Halloween comes first, but I don't really feel like the holidays have started 'till I get birthday cake!

Oh, and why "Baby Bee"? 'Cause "Melissa" is derived from the Greek for "honey bee!" Ryan has designated himself "Bumble Bee." I think he was inspired by my love for all of those fat, clumsily charming visitors to the garden this summer.

10.21.2010

Snuggly

Hello, Dear Ones! I'm stopping in with a really quick post on a recently completed project - one of many I will soon be sharing with you. Last week I put the finishing touches on this snuggly throw, which was started during the summer.

When I packed up my sweaters last spring, I pulled aside several for the purpose of turning them into a blanket. They were sweaters who had been in the collection for a long time, but were no longer flattering and didn't reflect the my current style choices. Also, they were all store-bought acrylic. I've been churning out so many handmade sweaters over the last few years that some just had to go. Even though I no longer wanted to wear these sweaters, I just couldn't part with them.

All summer long, the stack of sweaters would tumble out of the bottom of my closet each time I opened the door. Argh. Finally, I got out a pair of scissors and the serger and went to town. First, I cut along all of the seams. Next, I trimmed all of the resulting parts until they had relatively square edges. Third, I used the serger to join each piece to the next. It was a full an satisfying day. The sweater blanket then returned to the bottom of my closet, continuing to lunge at me each time the door was opened while waiting for me to buy fabric to back my work (and cover all of those seams) and some blanket binding.

Last Monday I FINALLY made it out to Fabric Depot, where I picked up this sweet lilac colored polka-dot fabric and matching binding. A couple of days later, with fabric washed and pressed, I sat down to sew it all together. I will confess, this is not an example of my best sewing. I probably should've basted the layers together before attaching the binding, instead of doing it all in one fell swoop. I also should've gotten the walking foot from my sister. Thick layers plus slippery binding meant tricky stitching.

I'm willing to leave with the flaws, though. And, as you can see, Emerson is absolutely delighted with the new throw. Since it's completion, you can almost always find him snuggled up with/on the blanket. The project was immensely satisfying. Quick and dirty, kinda. Sometimes that's just the thing. Oh, and the blanket is super duper snuggly. I've already had a couple of couch naps under it - heaven!

Currently, I'm working on another big sewing project. NOT the quick and dirty kind. I'm test sewing a pattern for someone and it's got rather a lot of tricky little steps. I'm learning lots of new techniques and can't wait to show & tell you more about it. But for now, back to the machine. It's due on Sunday and I am working very hard to meet my deadline. So, until next week, fair readers, when I'll be back with peeks at some of my other recent projects and doings, and peeks at what's ahead.

10.06.2010

Not a Total Loss


Something icky has been going around Ryan's office. Despite his best efforts, he brought it home and shared it with me. (Thanks, Ryan!) I had big plans for Monday. I've recently completed a lovely cardi that is just waiting for buttons, which I planned to get Monday. But as I tried desperately to get myself out the door to buy said buttons, I realized that I had come down with the ick. I promptly changed into pj's, grabbed a new knitting project, and headed for the couch. I've been there for 2 days now, and it's where you'll find me again today. Tomorrow I plan to rejoin the land of the living.


While main-lining orange juice and watching Mysteries (Inspector Lynley and Monk) on DVD, I worked through knitting myself a new pair of slippers. These are my Lil' Suede Ballet Slippers. You can find pattern and yarn details at my project page on Ravelry.

Ok, I'm tired again. Time to head back to the couch. The kitties have started their morning naps without me.

10.01.2010

Back-to-School


A little while back, I was chatting with my dear friend Jen about getting her children ready to go back-to-school. She had most everything ready, but the kids needed new lunch bags. After discussing the cost of buying new ones, I suggested that Jen make the lunch bags and rattled off how easily I believed they could be put together. As I finished, I found myself saying, "Oh, hell, why don't I just make them? Then I can blog about it!" And so, here they are.


All of my materials were purchased at Bolt, of course. Each bag takes a 1/2 yard of an interior and an exterior fabric and a package of bias tape. I also used 1/2 yard of thermal lining between the two bags and a couple of snippets of hook & loop tape. Ryan's current store-bought lunch bag gave me the measurements I needed to make my pattern.

The construction was pretty straight forward, the most challenging bit being the final assembly and application of the bias tape through so many layers and with such a narrow seam. But, they turned out quite cute, if I do say so myself. Oh, and the kids were delighted with them!

I was considering doing a free pattern and tutorial for the bags. Is anyone interested? (If so, leave a message in the comments.) Ryan has requested a replacement for his lunch bag, so I could use his to illustrate the process.

9.29.2010

Midnight Buttercup

Finally, a look at one of my most recently finished knitting projects, Midnight Buttercup. This is from Heidi Kirrmaier's Buttercup, a free pattern on Ravelry. I used the recommended yarn, Elsebeth Lavold's Hempathy, which is surprisingly soft and has quite a bit of drape.

The pattern has two neckline options. I went with option A, which is slightly lower. Don't you just love the Feather & Fan lace inset? The pattern is worked from the top down and I followed it pretty much to the letter. I was just feeling too lazy to make any modifications, though there are several lovely variations available on Ravelry.

The hem is slightly scalloped with the narrowest bit of lace. An added note, this skirt has been in my closet for years and years and years. I bought it as part of a back-to-school outfit one of my last years at University. It always makes me smile a bit and think of those days.