Easter 2017 & an Easter Dress

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We were lucky to have an absolutely gorgeous Easter weekend. We invited over several families on Saturday morning for an Easter brunch and it was so warm we were able to eat on the deck. Brunch is really the perfect meal to invite people with kids over for, too. I’ll have to remember that. I filled the house with flowers and we had baked oatmeal, little cakes in the shape of chicks, deviled eggs, and all kinds of lovely offerings from our friends. I filled plastic eggs with yogurt covered raisins and hid them (in plain sight) around the house for all the kiddos, and Alice was waaaay more into it than any of the other toddlers. Once she realized there were treats inside the eggs she began systematically searching out the eggs, emptying them of the raisins, and collecting the raisins in a plastic cup.

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On Sunday, after leftovers for breakfast (Alice decided she’s wild about deviled eggs) and the ceremonial opening of the Easter Basket, we dressed in our Easter finest, went off to church, and then spent the afternoon outside enjoying the weather. Alice is endlessly enthusiastic about the park these days, so even though we take her almost every day she still treated it like a special occasion. I can hardly believe what a big girl Alice is this Easter when compared to last years’ pictures.

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I made Alice’s Easter dress several weeks ago from the loveliest little pattern: Apple-Picking Dress by Oliver+S. I chose to make the 3/4 length sleeve version and made the double-flounced skirt. The fabric is a piece of Liberty of London that I bought on sale before Alice was born.

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The pattern went together beautifully and hopefully it will last her a while, since I made the 18-24 month size. My pictures of it aren’t fantastic- it’s much harder to photograph a toddler than a baby!- but you’ll have to take my word for it that’s it’s really adorable on her and fits well.

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I hope everyone else had a good holiday weekend. We’re having a busy and fun Spring here at Bellrose Cottage…more updates hopefully coming soon.

Spring Break 2017!

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Well, I do know one thing…this “spring” break is going to really make us appreciate spring when it finally arrives around these parts. Philip had last week off from school, most of which we spent thoroughly snowed in with two feet of snow. Our initial plans (zoo! the dog park! etc!) were put on hold and we instead enjoyed a week of cozy inside things, like baking and reading and knitting and board games. All in all, it was a good time…but I’m not going to lie, I’m really itching for some warm weather.

Alice has developed a very strong (and reasonable) association between being outside in snow and coming inside and having “co-co.” She’ll even look at a picture of a sled in a book, point, and request some cocoa. We had lots of cocoa last week. Alice is also increasingly into specific songs and books, so we listened to “Puff!” (the Magic Dragon) and “Baa-Baa” (as in Black Sheep) on repeat. She’s still very into books with baby faces and loves the little baby magazine, Babybug (“Bay-Buh”). We’ve started giving her a book to take to bed with her, and as we leave the room she starts reading it to Mr.Bear and Baby. She seems to refer to the past by  referring to a person or object we saw and then saying “bye-bye,” which I think is pretty clever. Somewhere along the line I was warned that 18 months was a really tricky time, but I think that observing her begin to really acquire language skills more than makes up for some crankiness. Besides, she’s always been a cranky little miss!

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Fingers crossed that March is going to go out like a lamb!

Such A Winter’s Day Pullover

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I finally managed to make myself a sweater that isn’t way too big! I couldn’t be happier with the way this pullover turned out- I love both the pattern and the yarn.

I purchased the pattern, Such A Winter’s Day designed by Heidi Kirrmaier, several years ago. Probably because it was my first attempt at top-down construction I couldn’t visualize what was going on, found the pattern confusing, and used the yarn for something else instead. I’m pleased to report that this time around I didn’t have any trouble at all with the pattern. It is written in a different way, with instructions for the various sizes in table form instead of within parentheses, but it didn’t really bother me. My one gripe is that I came up short a ball of yarn and had to reorder, but I wasn’t using the exact yarn called for so that’s nobody’s fault but mine.

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Determined not to make another giant sweater, I chose a size with minimal ease at the bust and actually worked my gauge in the round and blocked my gauge. It was definitely worth the extra effort. I opted not to include the waist shaping but made no other changes to the pattern. If I were to make it again I would use an i-cord cast off, but I like it fine as is.

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The yarn I used was Drops Lima, which is a wool/alpaca blend that is startlingly inexpensive. It was my first time using it and it’s definitely going to be one of my standbys. It’s very soft but sturdy and just fuzzy enough. I chose powder pink because I wanted both a neutral and a color. I liked it so much that now I’m making a sweater for Alice out of the same color.

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Delighted as I am with the end result, I’m also happy to be able to cast on to a more interesting knit next. Got to keep my brain sharp!

 

 

Alice’s First Geranium Dress

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For the first year and a half of Alice’s life I haven’t had any trouble finding sweet clothes to buy for her, but most toddler styles are far less appealing to me. I tend to like muted colors and I don’t generally like characters or glitter or tulle, which seem to be the prevailing characteristics of affordable toddler girl clothes.  Also, since Alice is no longer outgrowing things almost immediately, I feel more inspired to invest time in sewing more of her wardrobe. I’ve decided to try to sew the majority of her summer wardrobe this year, so this week I went about getting a head start on that goal.

I decided to try everyone’s favorite pattern, the Geranium dress. I’ve seen so many versions of this dress online and I’ve liked every single one, so while I held out a while thinking it looked so simple, I went ahead and bought it. I’m glad I did! I made the 18-24 month size which is generous for Alice, as I’m hoping to get lots of use out of it this summer and, if I’m lucky, as a tunic next summer.

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I used Kaufman Double Gauze in “chambray dobby indigo” (found here) which turned out to be just wonderful stuff. It’s so soft and fluffy, and I love the rumpled look it has, especially since our Alice often has a rather rumpled look herself. I had never worked with double gauze before, but I found that it shifts about like linen and that unpicking seams is tricky (and I always end up needing to unpick a seam or two!). Because of this there are a few imperfect aspects to this dress, but I’m very happy with it anyway.

I chose the round neckline and flutter sleeves. At first I was skeptical of instructions to simply zig-zag over the sleeve edge…usually I don’t like raw looking edges. In the end, though, I really think it looks fun, given the casual look and feel of this fabric. I also love how the reverse pattern shows on the underside of the sleeves.

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I found the Geranium pattern to be as great as the sewing blogosphere says it is. It’s the perfect little girl dress, and I already have another version of it waiting to be cut out this weekend. I like that the top is fully lined, particularly with fabric as prone to raveling as double gauze. I actually went ahead and did the skirt seams with french seams as well since the fabric was raveling as I was sewing with it and I didn’t trust my pinking shears to be sufficient. I used my favorite buttons from JoAnn’s, and then went and did the buttonholes on the wrong side…oh well.

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On the whole, I love this dress, and Alice was happy to wear it, which bodes well. Mostly she was excited to be able to play with my doll, whom she adores. She’s pretty into trains and trucks these days too, but I can’t help but be glad that she seems to have inherited my love for dolls.

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Happy Weekend, everybody! This is the start of Philip’s spring break, so I have several more little things to make for Alice in the coming days. Oh boy!!

 

Plantain T-Shirt & February Update

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It has been so long since I’ve updated this space that I was a little worried that I might have forgotten my password. What a month it’s been! Between three sets of house guests,  buying a new car, getting sick, and all our usual playing and working and enjoying both snowstorms and unseasonably warm weather February absolutely flew by. I only have one completed project to show for myself: the Plantain T-Shirt, a free pattern from Deer & Doe, a French pattern company. I haven’t bought any of their patterns, but this came together so nicely that I may in the future…perhaps this sweet dress?

I don’t love PDF patterns- all the printing and taping- but since so many great independent designers only offer PDFs I need to get over that. Anyway, I have a sweet helper, and I get to tape the pieces together with pretty washi tape.

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This is only the second knit sewing project I’ve attempted, and I noticed with Alice’s little bird dress that it shrunk dramatically, so I prewashed my cotton/poly double knit twice. I also cut a size larger in case of shrinking since I generally like more ease in my shirts. Next time I may go down a size since the pattern flares at the bottom and is quite roomy anyway. I won’t bore you with too many pictures- suffice to say that it looks like a t-shirt! With 3/4 length sleeves and a prettier neckline. I originally planned on the elbow patches but I sewed them on the wrong side twice and decided it was a sign. It came together in an evening and I’m pleased with the result. In the past I’ve poo-pooed the idea of sewing staples like t-shirts, but it was really very satisfying to make something I’ll wear every week.

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And now! What everyone really came for…baby pictures! This was such a big month in terms of language acquisition for Alice. She’s got around 40 words (yes, I counted…she’s my only kid, I have time for these things) including “cocoa,” “cheese,” “cracker,” “fruit,” “snack,” and “MORE!” No doubts about who she’s related to! She loved visiting with friends and all her grandparents this month, and she’s also started wanting to “help” me with all my chores.

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Before I sign off I’ll leave you with a little glimpse of my current sewing project and the most gorgeous fabric I’ve worked with yet…

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Happy Shrove Tuesday! We’ll be enjoying our pancakes tonight- hope you do too.

 

Little Bird Playdress

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The other day was rainy and bleak and I needed a fun project, so Alice and I hopped into the car to buy ourselves some fabric.  I bought 3/4 yd of 100% cotton jersey and decided to learn how to sew on knits. One of the reasons I bought my Bernina several years ago was to have a machine that would work with knits (previously I had a straight stitch Singer from the 1920s) but I’ve just never gotten around to it. I’m pleased to say that while I really didn’t know what I was doing, I managed a very sweet little dress for Alice.

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I made up the pattern- just a simple raglan sleeve and gathered skirt. I cut it a little big, both because I didn’t know how to calculate the way that the stretch would affect sizing, and because I wanted it to last through the Spring. I used my rotary cutter to cut it out because I wasn’t sure if my shears would be as accurate on jersey.

I used a ball point needle and used a zig-zag stitch for construction, but I’m not sure the zig-zag was necessary. Any wisdom on that, anyone? I also bought and used a double needle for the first time ever and I’m in love with the way it works. So clever! Such beautiful parallel lines!

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The neckline was the only part of the project that gave me some trouble. At first I thought I’d bind it the way I would a woven neckline, but I ended up with a stand-up, gaping collar. I cut it off, cut the neckline down a bit, and did a t-shirt style neckband using this tutorial. It worked like a charm and I love the casual, comfy look. I made the neckband 10% smaller than the neckline, but next time I might even decrease it a smidge more. Another change I might make in the future is to use that clear elastic stuff to gather the waist. I should really read up a bit more on sewing knits- no doubt there are lots of ways I could improve.

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I’ve heard people talk about how quick and satisfying knits are to sew, and this project has definitely confirmed that for me. I can imagine all kinds of shirts, dresses, and leggings for Alice and I really don’t think I’d need to buy a pattern for any of them. I might even try something for myself, although I’m generally not into wearing knits unless it’s before 7am or after 7pm. While this dress doesn’t have any sort of heirloom quality to it, it was fun and easy to make and is cozy to wear. Besides, even though jersey is pricey, making a dress is certainly cheaper than buying it from Hanna Andersson, and it gives me the joy of sales-resistance!

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As a side note, I’m mystified by how professional bloggers get so many serene looking pictures of their children. I had to take about 50 pictures of Alice to get the ones used above, and 98% of them looked like this:

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Update- January 10

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Happy 2017! We’re having a cold but busy start to the new year. Philip was off to a conference this first week and my mother came to visit. We were just planning to steam clean the living room carpet, but we ended up also painting the walls a brighter white, re-arranging, setting up a little corner for Alice, painting a bookcase, and putting up some shelving. It’s nice to start the new year off with a successful project, and we’re very happy with the way this one turned out.

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Always having been one for lists and goal-setting, I love January. While I will definitely always still have a knitting project (or two) on my needles, and I have a couple sewing projects in mind, my goal is to spend more time painting. To that end, I’ve done a little bit of prep work this week and have been doing a little sketching. Other than that we’ve been making birthday cards for some little friends who turn one this weekend and have been trying to stay as busy as possible inside on the coldest of days. Alice loves going outside and sledding when it isn’t too cold, and she’s been picking up some new words, including “shoe” and “moon,” which she can point out both in picture books and in real life. Aside from the whiny voice, I’m really enjoying 16 months!

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We have a birthday party to attend and are having house guests this weekend, so we’re excited about the coming week. Hope you’re all staying warm and are having a good start to the new year.

 

 

Meet Snoozy Suzy

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For the record, I was all set to name her something like “Fiona”…or with that hair, perhaps “Demelza”…but as I was stitching her up I idly asked Philip what her name should be and his answer was “Snoozy Suzy!” which was clearly more appropriate. So, meet Snoozy Suzy. Alice already knows her by name.

I have always absolutely loved dolls, so I can’t help but be delighted that Alice likes baby dolls. At our church nursery she always goes right for the sad and dirty baby doll, and whenever someone has brought one along to storytime or playgroup she steals it at the first opportunity. Clearly Alice needed a baby doll this Christmas! I’m so happy with the way Snoozy Suzy turned out, and Alice seems very pleased with her very own baby doll.

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I made Snoozy, as she goes by in informal company, from a pattern I bought ages and ages ago. In 8th grade I made a Waldorf doll and thought I’d make another, but I only got around to making and stuffing the head. This fall I finished the rest of her with Alice in mind. She is made of cotton jersey and stuffed with wool. I was supposed to have stuffed her more firmly, but I wanted her to seem very cuddly. Her limbs are movable and jointed with thread…yes, I anticipate having to re-attach her limbs more than once, but I really wanted her to be able to suck her thumb. I made a little pouch filled with lavender and popcorn kernels and buried it in her torso so that she’s heavy and smells comforting.

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The instructions called for crocheting the hair, but I do not crochet. Instead I knit a little cap of mohair, sewed it on, and then brushed it roughly with Philip’s lint brush to make it extra fuzzy.

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Naturally I had a good time planning Snoozy’s wardrobe. I really wanted to go all out but I  reminded myself that this is a toy for a one year old, and I can always make her additional clothes once Alice is more into dressing dolls. With that in mind, I chose a super soft, huggable fleece for a night shirt. I faced the neckline with Liberty of London lawn, because why not use your most expensive fabric on baby doll clothes?! I knit her a pair of pants out of Drops Alpaca. They are just very simple and have picot edging at the ankles and at the waist. Finally, her pixie bonnet is based on the same pattern I’ve made several times for Alice. I added tiny pom-poms on the end of the i-cords, and I’m glad I did because Alice seems to love them.

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Snoozy Suzy definitely represents a lot of work and I’m actually surprised that I don’t feel more protective of her. I know she’ll get dirty and will see a lot of wear and tear, but we all know that dolls don’t mind that sort of thing and are just happy to have little people who love them.

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Christmas 2016

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We stayed home for the first time this year for Christmas, and I’m happy to report that it was a very merry one. We had a slow and quiet week…or as slow and quiet as things can be with a toddler.

Last Sunday Alice was a lamb in the Proclamation play and she walked down the whole aisle without any adult prodding, leading the pack of small animals and shepherds. Once at the front the shepherd had to ply her with cereal to keep her from wandering off, which she eventually did anyway. We were very proud of her first dramatic performance.

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On Christmas Eve we dressed up and took pictures in front of the tree and then went to church. Alice was not too happy about evening church, but she survived. I’m looking forward to having family Christmas Eve dinners in the future, but this year Alice donned her new Christmas jammies and went to bed. Philip and I had dinner ourselves before stuffing stockings and putting out gifts.

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Alice headed straight for her new baby doll when she got up in the morning, and she enjoyed helping us unwrap gifts and empty stockings. I’m glad we didn’t go overboard with the gifts, as Alice was definitely excited enough by the first few things we opened.

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Alice was too excited to nap on Christmas so we went on a little hike in the woods. That would have been fun except for the fact that Charley found a fresh animal leg (we’re talking large animal here) and wouldn’t come when called or drop it. Oh man it was gross. At least he had a merry Christmas!

Then we had Christmas dinner and dessert, and it was baby bedtime. Philip and I played cards and read books, and Christmas was over. It was such a good day.

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I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas!

 

Little Cable Cuffed Knee Socks

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I am happy to announce that four years after knitting the first sock, I have finally finished the second! I knit these from a free pattern located here and used Cascade Heritage sock yarn that I bought at my old yarn shop in Nebraska. It’s 75% superwash merino and 25% nylon and is nicely soft and springy.

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The pattern is knit toe-up, which is my preferred sock-knitting method, and I knit them on double pointed needles because I haven’t ever figured out the magic loop technique. Besides, I like to be old-fashioned. I knit the smallest size and removed some of the increases to make them a bit smaller because I really didn’t want them to end up falling down. Happily, they fit quite nicely.

The only real design features are the small cable up the back and the cuffs at the top. I love the simple look, although I will say that it’s a lot of plain knitting on size 1 needles. Next time I may choose a more lively pattern in an attempt to avoid second sock syndrome.

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All in all, they were a fun and easy knit and since finishing them I’ve spent a lot of time perusing other sock patterns. I’m stunned by how many free and beautiful sock patterns are available online! Next up, a pair for Alice from the leftover red yarn…