Archive for September, 2009

Mr. Dapper Man

A family wedding provided the perfect opportunity, er, excuse, to sew Errol a nice party suit.  It was a prototype of sorts, crafted while he slept, with only some measurements and other clothes of his to use as a fitting guide.  It’s about 90% perfect; a bit tight around the hay-belly, as you can see, and a smidge too tight around the big fat cloth diaper butt.  I had no idea it would be so fun to make little clothes for a boy!  Given the appalling lack of ready-to-wear options, it would seem that very little designing time was spent on the little guys.  No matter – I can do it myself, thank you.

The fabric is some faux-herringbone velvet-like fabric I pulled from my stash.  (this is why it’s nice to have a big stash)  I lined the pants with white flannel for a comfy softness befitting wee, chubby legs.  The bow tie, crowning the ensemble like a juicy red cherry, was actually a man-sized bow tie that I had to cut down to size and sew shut by hand.  The embroidered running stitch along the edges of the vest was great fun too, and made for an entertaining ride in the car as we traveled to the wedding.  Because of course I finished it hours before the wedding.  Of course I did.

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The Camp Hat, or THIS IS WHY I KNIT

I think this story is straight out of the DIY Homesteader’s Handbook.  Or it should be.

Let me set the scene for you.

We’ve just arrived at our campsite.  Baby is juggled, Girl is happily riding her bike.  Captain Daddio assembles the tent, the cots, arranges the tent layout, almost single-handedly.  In a rare moment of baby-nursing, camp-chair-rocking meditation, the wee, usually-muted voice of my subconscious was finally allowed to speak.  We packed no sleeping bags or pillows. Damn.

Driving home and back to get them was out of the question.  Instead, we headed to town to see what we could find.  Two more sleeping bags would have a legitimate place in our camping stash, we reasoned, once the kids got bigger.  In the little town with a big tourist economy, we combed the streets for a purveyor of sleeping bags.  After attempting to live the “buy local” ideal I support, the owner of the hardware store shook his head and pointed the way to that great, big, evil store I despise so much.  Daddio ventured in and returned with two sleeping bags of varying quality (slim pickings this time of year) and a heaping slice of humble pie.

And that night was cold.  So cold.  I had drawn the short straw and was stuck with the sleeping bag of lesser quality, which, when you close your eyes, feels rather like a handful of plastic bags sewn together.  Plastic bags with that big W logo on it, I imagined, and a smiley face spiting my every attempt at sleep.  Errol and I shared this bag throughout the long, tortuous night.  To be fair, Daddio was sharing his sleeping-bag-made-by-a-legitimate-manufacturer-of-camping-gear with Isadora, which he claims was no better.  Isadora said she slept great.

So this was the precursor to our jaunt into a nearby town the next day:  a bit crabby, sleep-deprived, and looking for a better solution.  Daddio’s first stop en route to the fishing lake was to return to the scene of the crime and buy some more blankets.  A good man, that one.  Me?  I started fantasizing about a hat.  That would have made all the difference, I surmised.  If only I had a hat.

Wouldn’t you know we came upon this Utopian shoppe, nestled among the other quaint stores of the town?  The first hank of yarn I spied was the chartreuse – locally spun wool dyed naturally with french marigolds.  Are you kidding me????  You know I had no choice but to buy it.  The sheer magnetic force of that yarn drew me to the bin of local alpaca roving.  There was a small reddish ball in there that would be perfect paired with the chartreuse, and soooo soft against the skin.  Sold. I sought out one of the owners and gave her the lowdown:  was camping, was cold, needed to knit a hat REAL FAST.  Could she recommend a simple, quick pattern, something maybe like this example here?  Oh sure, she said, and told me the simple how-to.  Then, an epiphany, and she went to her own knitting bag, pulled out an index card with the basic instructions written on it:  Elf Hat with Ear Flaps.  EAR FLAPS! I shrieked, for all to hear. That’s perfect!  I guess I said that pretty loudly, but I wasn’t fazed by the strange looks or giggles.  It happens to me a lot.

Edit:  You can find the pattern here!

And this, ladies and gentleman, is why I knit.  Knitting is POWER.  Power to see a problem (damn cold) and to solve it.  (with gorgeous, local fibers)

Yes, yes, I know that any normal person could have just gone out and bought a hat or toughed it out another night without, but that just wasn’t an option for me.  This, rather, was the realization of a long-born DIY fantasy, a test of resourcefulness and think-on-your-feet-ed-ness, whose solution (a warm, awesome hat) produced incalculable satisfaction from its inception en route to the campground, to its completion by the campfire, illuminated by the soft glow of lantern and fire light.  Aahh.  No, really – aaaaaaahhh.  Is it a coincidence that my favorite books growing up were of the Alone-in-the-Wilderness; Must-Be-Resourceful-to-Survive genre?  Probably not.

And it was lovely to sleep in.  Lovely and warm.  The tails of the yarn were woven in minutes before the hat was called to action, about 10pm, I believe, keeping my promise to finish it before going to bed.  I didn’t even have to sleep with 4 double pointed needles attached to the unfinished hat, though that was Plan B.  I chose to knit two strands of the chartreuse together to create a bulkier yarn that also knit up faster.  A good move.  Technically, it’s not exactly the best showing of my knitting:  I did some random decreasing in the wrong places, probably stopped too soon at the top, and have a few ends still sticking out.   But hey – the lighting was poor and the lively campfire conversation had me laughing too much to concentrate fully.  And the hat is a bit too big.  Perhaps the medium size would be perfect?  My anal left brain tells me to rip this out and re-knit in the smaller size, omitting the random errors this time, but my right brain says NO! It’s perfect as it is! I wonder which side will win?  Right now, I’m leaning towards keeping it as is and reveling in the hat as a culmination of an experience.

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Camping’s Last Hurrah

In an activity befitting the long Labor Day weekend, we set out with some dear friends for some end-of-the-season camping.

Oh, it was a wonderful weekend.  The weather, perhaps trying to make amends for being so stingy with warmth this summer, put forth her very best effort.

There were babies and mushrooms; there was a nice mix of beach, perusing the local shops, exploring.  And a waterfall, too.

And there was also A HAT.

I have a lot to tell you about this hat, but it will have to wait till tomorrow.  Preschool has started today, and I have to make hay while the child count is down to one…

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Please call me Dorothy, she said.

We were invited to spend the weekend with some good friends in their camper last weekend.  The friends, who we haven’t seen for so long, were great.  The camper was great.  Meeting new playmates was great.  The weather – not so.  Rain and rain and rain and rain.  And while it rained:  c-o-o-o-l-d.  The campground’s special Halloween trick or treating event had to be moved inside to the teeny-tiny game room.  (Halloween was celebrated prematurely that weekend; by late Oct the campers are all winterized.)

If you know anything at all about me by now, you’ll understand how it was imperative that I make Isadora’s costume.  (Oh, how we love Halloween.  Always have –  see Matthew and Gunnar Nelson for more details.)  It was handy to pull out this men’s Oxford shirt that I had scored at a rummage sale for the explicit purpose of reconstructing it into Dorothy’s apron dress.  Never mind that it’s been on my studio’s To Do pile for months now.  You and I both know that I had no choice but to make it the day we left for camping.  I intend to post a little tutorial on the process – it was so fast and easy that I started and finished it during the kids’ naptime.  Later, though.

Because it was made during Dorothy’s naptime, I had to guess at her waist measurement.  I guessed a wee bit low, but the adjustment will be a quick and easy one if I can find my way back to the sewing machine.  Captain Daddio was called into service to pick up the shoes on his way home from work after Project Ruby Red, Plan A fell through.  He swooped in heroically to present the shimmering jewels, securing his Super-Hero status indefinitely.

Oh, just look at all that candy.  Enough to last the whole family for 2 months….until the real Halloween.  No, thank you.  None for the Boy, I had to tell the generous candy distributors.  He doesn’t even have teeth yet.

And that Boy?  He was sporting a ready-made Red Hot Chili Pepper costume that I scored at a garage sale for one dollar.

Yes, we really were in the campground’s game room.  (not really rustic camping, of course)  Our apologies to the fat old men sprawled at the video poker machines that we had to weave around, heavily laden with kids, costumes, and wet jackets.  Hope we didn’t interfere with your lucky streak.

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Moonflower: a study

I’ve got lots of sewing in the works right now, leaving little time for blog musings.  Instead, take this tour of the life cycle of the moonflowers out our back door.  Each blossom lasts only a day, though each plant bears many blossoms.

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