Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Sock Knitting Ennui

Back in July I finished a pair of socks destined not to be worn until the weather turned cool again. Now that it has, I have to say that I am really pleased with these new socks, despite a few flaws.

They are knit up basically according to my Socks a la Clio recipe, which is a basic toe-up sock. However, I've made some new improvements. (Note to self: go back and update the recipe.)  The stitch pattern - a very simple knit and purl design - is borrowed from the Tennarisukka anklets I knit in 2015.  Now for the good stuff!

Since knitting the Fish Lips Kiss Heel back in March, I have entirely replaced my short row wrap and turn sitches (w&t) with the Sox Therapist's twin stitch (tsk and tsp - tutes on YouTube). I find these stitches better and easier in every way since they don't leave any little holes as short rows often do.

Next, you can see how I've shifted the position of the gusset increase stitches from their usual place where the instep and sole meet to the bottom of the foot.  I first tried this with my Wonder Woman socks and I think it will be a standard feature for me moving forward. It creates a heel that hugs the foot a bit better than the gussets running up the side of the foot. .

The yarn I used for these socks is Dream in Color's Smooshy sock yarn in the colorway "Into the Mystic." It is a 100% merino wool superwash yarn. I'm really not at all sold on 100% wool for socks. In my experience they pill and wear at a faster rate than the sock yarns I've used that incorporate nylon/polyamide into the mix. You can already see a few little puffs of yarn debris fluffing off of the soles in the pictures above. The upside is that the yarn is softer, which is nice to knit and wear. In the end, like everything, there is a tradeoff. 

So I've been enjoying my new socks now that it is cool enough for them. And I've been trying to knit more socks, but I am having this massive moment of sock knitting ennui. I've cast on and started knitting two different socks that I thought I was excited about, but soon turned listless. 

Started and stalled socks

The first is a fairly plain sock with a heart motif running up one side.

It looks cute in this view, but once I tried it on my foot, you can't see the hearts at all. They just disappear. It was very deflating. Why bother the extra work of knitting them in the first place? 

The next was meant to be a bright colored sock with contrast toe, heel and cuff. But I'm just not thoroughly sold on the color combination. So, I stalled on this sock, too.  

Socks are not large, but they are a big investment of time. If I don't love them at the toe, I'm certainly not going to feel like sticking with them to the cuff and then doing it all again. 

Neither of these sock fails are frogged yet, and so far there has not been another sock pattern that has captured my attention. So, I'm not sure what I want to do next with regard to socks. Any suggestions? 

In the interim, I'm working on this cute little sheep sweater for Taco. I'm delighted with how it is coming out, and I'm really enjoying knitting the colorwork. 

Sheepish Little Sweater by Melissa Kemmerer

With any luck, this will end up being Taco's holiday outfit. IF he wears it. (Big if. Toddlers.)

Anywaaaaay, what are you knitting? 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Toddler Pants Overload!

This is the story of how one missing pair of pants mushroomed into six newly sewn pants for Taco. 

This all started when the Monkey pants that I sewed for Taco in June mysteriously vanished. 

They got very dirty one day at the playground and so were set aside to be soaked before washing.  That is the last that anyone has seen of them. Truly. There have been search parties and rescue attempts, but to no avail. They have vanished. 

But since I had the pattern sorted out, I simply sewed up two more pairs. 

One in a safari print and one ninjas. Here is where the mushrooming began. You see, Taco refused to wear the safari pants.  They are a cotton jersey, but the fabric, which I bought on-line, is stiff. Thanks to somes suggestions from IG friends, I tried a few methods of softening them, but none really made them more appealing to their little owner.

One thing I have noticed since Taco moved from 24month to 2T sizing is that baby clothing is made with very soft fabrics; toddler clothing not so much, especially in bottoms. But Taco clearly prefers wearing soft fabrics. So, learning from these safari pants, I decided to sew more pants, but this time in oh-so-soft fabrics only.

This time I used exceedingly soft rayon jersey that I had bought to make pj's for myself. The fabric is so soft and cosy that these pants really fall halfway between pj and pant. Mostly they are worn for days when we are hanging around primarily at home.  Also, I got fancy with pockets, which I think help them look a bit less pj-like. 

Um, I confess: turning on Disney Jr was the only way to get Taco to be a compliant model. Sigh

That we had a shirt that matched perfectly was a happy coincidence.


While utterly adorable, these pants are also fairly lightweight. So, I started thinking about the chilly days when we are outside but still want soft pants. Simultaneously, I realized that Taco now fits the smallest size Mini Hudson pants. And I had leftover sweatshirt fabric from the two pairs of Men's Hudson Pants I had made for Phineas and which get worn regularly all winter.

Before I knew it, I was putting finishing touches on Mini Hudsons. I'm very pleased with them. The 2T fit is comparable to 2T fit in ready-to-wear garments, which generally fits Taco length-wise and are somewhat wide on him. I made the elastic a bit more snug so that they wouldn't slide down. Also, the drawstring helps.  

Mini Hudsons are exactly like the larger version. So, I hope they become a staple in Taco's wardrobe the way they have been one in Phin's.  

I've found that an I-phone is also an effective method of encouraging a toddler to be a somewhat compliant model.

And there you have it: one missing Monkey pants have been replaced with six new pants. And we are very serious about our pants...

Serious Taco face

And now, it's time to sew for myself!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Hat Knitting Spree

The last few months have found me knitting up a slew of quick and easy projects and somehow not blogging about any of them. Really none was quite worthy of it's own post, but together I think they are an interesting round up of hats.  

This all started with the Rainbow Sampler of Mighty Stitch yarn from Knit Picks that I used to knit Taco's rainbow sweater along with the addition of black yarn. 

I had loads of yarn left over which opened the door for all kinds of multi-colored knits. So, I knit...

One Roar, a Dinosaur Hat for Taco by Kate Oates, who has designed a ton of cute baby and child knitting patterns.

Naturally, I knit it in green and purple like Dragon the Hippo's dragon cape.


For Halloween, I knit this adorable Minion Hat by Maura Houston. It was meant to be part of Taco's costume, but he steadfastly continues to not want to wear a costume at all. Toddlers.

I knit one purple cat hat for my 12 year old nephew who wants to resist but hates the color pink. Sigh. The pattern I used is the KitKat Hat by Andre Sue Knits.

I was enjoying hat knitting so much that I ordered some Bulky Mighty Stitch and knit up this sweet little apple hat for Little Green Orchid's baby-to-be.

Bulky yarn projects knit up so quickly, and babies are always a cause to celebrate. The pattern is the Sweet Sprout hat by Tranquil Cottage Knits. You are meant to turn the brim up for a newborn and then flip it down for a toddler.  I decided not to add the periodic purl stitches in the pattern.

Ahhh. And there you go. Fun and easy hats for kiddos. A few thoughts:

For all of these hats I used the Old Norwegian - aka German Twisted - cast on. In my hands, it is as stretchy as 1x1 rib, which is what you want for a hat or any other knit garment that needs an edge that stretches as much as the body.

On the two hats that I knit for Taco, I had to go up a size. He has a completely average size head for his age and my gauge was fine, but the brims of the hats seemed snug. So, I wonder if toddler sizing really is for the 1-2 year olds and not 2-3 year olds.

My hat knitting is far from done. I've started a few projects - hats and more - where I am specifically working on my stranded colorwork technique. The Rainbow Sampler really has taken my knitting in a new, fun and somewhat unexpected direction. So, more - and more complicated - will follow.  Stay tuned. 

Thursday, November 9, 2017


Pajamas. Jammies. PJ's. Who doesn't like to be comfy and cosy for bed?

I've sewn plenty of pj's for Phin, but none for me aside from a robe, which I have worn non-stop since it was completed.  I've  spent many, many hours in pajamas during the first year or two of Taco's life - so many hours that by the end of this summer all of my pajamas were simultaneously showing signs of wear and tear. It was high time for some me-made jammies for myself.

I had bought several pairs of the same DKNY knit modal pajama bottoms post-partum because I found them so comfy in every way. They are hands down my favorites. So, I dismantled one of the more worn bottoms and carefully traced off a pattern, transferring all the important info to a paper pattern and then truing up the front and back. 

For the top, I used my trusty rusty True Bias Ogden Cami with a few modifications. I sized down since I was sewing this woven pattern in a knit fabric. I also eliminated the facings and instead used picot trim elastic to finish the neckline.

Test version

I sewed my first, test version of the pjs in a black modal jersey from my stash.  I didn't have quite enough fabric for the top, so I had to economize by shortening the cami by about two to three inches and adding a center seam on the back. I am giddy about how the neckline came out with the picot trim elastic.

For this first version of the bottoms, I didn't worry about making button holes and adding a drawstring. I just made a simple elastic waist. The fit and comfort was spot on.

Since my first set of pj's came out so well, I immediately made a second pair. This time I used a black and white striped rayon jersey that I picked up when Craftsy had a big fabric sale. The fabric is luxuriously soft.

Still smitten for the picot elastic, I decided to finish the striped tip with it too. It's a great finish for a knit top since it is decorative, functional and easy to sew.  Simply pin your picot trim to the neckline with the right sides facing. The elastic should be in the seam allowance and the picot part should be on the other side of the seam line. Sew along the seam line.

Trim back the seam allowance of the fabric. Then turn the elastic to the inside and press.  Finally, add a row of top stitching, making sure to catch the elastic. I used orange thread for fun because that's how I roll.

Voila! Neckline done. 

I added a few little details to this version like looped straps...

And I finished the waist with button holes and a drawstring.

I've been wearing these two pj sets non-stop since finishing them.  And I am so pleased with how comfy they are that I think it would be safe to say that it will be some time before I buy RTW pajamas again, if ever.

Also, this was the perfect project for the end of summer when I wasn't really ready to start sewing autumn projects, but also didn't want to keep on sewing summer clothes. I generally have a few weeks of not knowing what to sew when the seasons change; my mojo deserts me. But my happiness with this project makes me think I've hit on something. The next time I feel my mojo slipping into a between seasons rut, I will sew more pjs and the other projects - like bras and panties - that I never prioritize because I'm too busy trying to sew for the current season. 

I really do learn new things about myself all the time as a sewist.  That is half the fun. For today, though, the lesson is custom pj's are the best.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Using my TNT Trouser Pattern Again Or You Know How I Love a Jumpsuit

September and October were a blur of long hours and work travel, Taco giving up his nap and fun projects like judging the Pattern Review Sewing Bee that kept me off the blog. So, it seems like a good moment to catch up on summer projects and reflect on what I've been up to, especially what I've been doing with my TNT trousers.

What good is a TNT pattern if you don't really work it? Since I first sewed what became my TNT trousers just about a year ago, I've used the pattern seven times to make a variety of trousers or make pattern changes to other trouser patterns.

One version that you haven't seen is this jumpsuit. You know that I love a good jumpsuit.

To make this rayon challis jumpsuit, I eliminated the waist darts of my trouser pattern, like I had done in my easy summer pants version.

For the top, I used Vogue 9116.  I had sewn up the other view earlier in the summer and was pretty happy with it.  So I decided to give the strapless version a try.  Since I was sewing this jumpsuit up in a woven fabric and the pattern is designed for a knit, I was careful to make sure that the smallest part of the top was still large enough to fit over my hips. Happily, this also made the top and the bottom match up just about perfectly at the waist, saving me from having to do any sort of frankenpattern fixing.

The only other sewing details worth mentioning is that I did a little bit of print matching between the top and bottom pieces.  Aside from that, this was a tremendously easy to sew all-in-one outfit. I wore it styled like this for brunches, MPB day and relaxed occasions, and dressed it up with heels and bold jewelry for evening. This was definitely my most worn outfit for social occasions this summer because of how versatile it is.

The only other version of my TNT trousers that you haven't seen yet is one I sewed up this summer in off-white pinstriped linen and failed to photograph. It was part of my epic fabric cutting spree.

On that version I moved the zipper to the side seam, extended the front and back rise in order to eliminate the need for a separate waistband, and instead faced the waist with grosgrain ribbon. I also eliminated the hip pockets. They are packed away for the winter now.

BurdaStyle 9/2010 #115

I'd add some final thoughts on my TNT here, but I'm very far from finished working with this pattern. So what I will say for now is that having a really great fitting trouser pattern has made sewing pants a sure thing rather than a fitting crucible. Dare I say that a well fitting crotch is a thing of beauty? There. I said it. Anyway, I've barely scratched the surface with all the things I can do with my TNT trousers, so do expect to see more of it in the future.

In closing, here are the five versions you have already seen....  Three sewn basically according to the pattern, one as a summer pull on pant and one jumpsuit, where I used my TNT to alter the crotch of the jumpsuit pattern. So, seven uses so far for my TNT.

Links for details are: Black TNT Trousers
                                  Gold Wool Trousers
                                  Crazy Jumpsuit
                                  Moms Wear White Trousers
                                  Pull on Summer Pants

PS - Yaaaaaaay Jumpsuits!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!