A Tova Blouse & Other Goodies


I have been having so much fun in the evenings recently. A few weeks ago I opened my box of clothes I had stashed away while pregnant, and with the exception of very few pieces, I was kind of horrified by how worn out my wardrobe was. So! I decided that 2018 will be the year I make myself a new set of everyday clothes. In the past three weeks I’ve made two tank tops from leftover fabric in my stash (using this very lovely pattern), one long-sleeved t-shirt (using this pattern again), a skirt re-cut from a chambray skirt I never much liked, and the above-pictured Tova blouse.

I had seen this pattern for years on other sewing blogs and always liked the results, but until recently I’ve been hesitant about all the printing and taping of PDF patterns. As it turns out, I rather like the cutting and taping, and I definitely like this pattern.


For this version I used a really nice double gauze cotton from Birch Organics. It is less rumply than other double gauze I’ve used before and actually feels a little hefty. The pattern sewed up over the course of several evenings, although I had trouble getting the inset placket to have nice square corners and I ended up ripping it out and doing it over again. I love topstitching and making things looks just so, and so I had a lot of fun with this. It’s hard to see the details in the photos, but it’s really a nice blouse and I’m happy with the results. It’s a bit tight through the shoulders, but it won’t be in a month or so provided I avoid weekly dessert-baking sessions with Alice.


Just for funsies- a little glimpse of some other recent projects and a sneak-peek at an upcoming Easter-basket surprise for Miss Alice:


Peter usually has his longest daytime snooze in the after-lunch hours, so Alice has her quiet time upstairs and then comes down and has “project time” with me. Sometimes I manage to sew during project time, when she is thoroughly engaged in her project:


Other times she sits on my lap and we stitch up a little something together, like this 5-minute purse that she styled with the antique petticoat she calls her “pitty pincess dress” and giant hairbow:


Either way, project time is a good time. Project time then shifts to baby play time, which is a very merry time indeed, thanks to Peter and his sweet and cheerful disposition.


There’s a whole lot of cuteness around here these days!







Update- February 12


I’m starting to feel a little sorry for the second kid. I spent most of Alice’s infant-hood staring at and cooing into her funny little face, whereas I basically just carry Peter about in the baby wrap while Alice does her two-year old stuff. Part of this is that Peter is a much easier baby and he sleeps far more than Alice ever did, so he’s less demanding of me than Alice was (and is)! On the other hand, I’m glad that we’re still making sure that Alice is doing all her fun activities, and being out and about and in a busier home environment probably isn’t too bad for Peter either. He hears thousands of books read and songs sung everyday and is learning to sleep through all manner of crazy things.

We’ve gotten into a pretty good rhythm and honestly, having two little folks around is easier than I thought it was going to be…but I will say that I had expectations of absolute craziness and that if you had asked me how it was going on Saturday I would have given a far different opinion.

Here are a few things going on around here…

Playing in the snow whenever it’s at least 25 degrees, which hasn’t been as often as we’d like…
Watching things dangle in front of us, and sometimes trying to swipe at them with modest success…
Learning how to knead bread (Alice)
And trying to make it look pretty (Me).
I think Alice is going to take after me and like doing things that require little fiddly movements and attention to detail…
Like stringing beads…
and hosting miniature tea parties.
I got a lot of work done on my next knitting project and started thinking about my next-next knitting project…
And I started drawing up plans for a quilting project too…
While enjoying the company of this little fellow, who’s a complete sweetie. 

Last Monday we gave up our 1/2 to 1 hour of screen-watching per day (or I should say, Alice did) and maybe it was just luck or maybe screens really do make little kids go nuts, but she was less crazy and more pleasant to be around than she had been in several weeks. As a bonus, I don’t have to hear constant chatter about what Prince Wednesday is up to. A week in, Alice rarely asks to watch a show and doesn’t put up any fuss when I say it’s not an option. All in all, a good change.


This morning we went to a Valentine’s Day party, and we’re currently awaiting the arrival of Nana and Grampa with great anticipation. Alice was so excited she decided to wake up for the day at 5 am to see if they were here yet, so I’m off to brew another cup of coffee and enjoy the last few moment of “naptime.”

Cotswold Henley


It’s a little over one month late, but Philip’s Christmas sweater is complete! This was a pattern in the Fall 2015 issue of Interweave Knits, designed by Meghan Babin. It required some tweaking for me to get the sweater the way I wanted it, but on the whole I’m fairly pleased with the result. I made the size 40- it fits well, though it’s a bit more slim fitting than I was hoping. I would recommend checking the schematic carefully if anyone is thinking of knitting this design…the sleeves as written are narrower than nearly every woman’s sweater in the magazine and the sizing seems off to me.


I made several changes to the pattern. I omitted the panels on the sides that are a different stitch pattern, though I left them on the backs of the sleeves for an elbow patch-ish effect. I also changed the ribbing to a 1X1 rib, and used the tubular cast-on and cast-off methods that I am familiar with instead of the ones specified.

The pattern is seamless- the body is knit from the bottom up and then the sleeves are picked up and knit down, shaping the sleeve cap with short rows. This sounds lovely, but my handsome sweater model has long arms, and dragging about the entire sweater as I knit around and around for the sleeves was kind of a pain- I would rather just knit them separately. I probably found this aggravating because I also knit the sleeves twice- despite my gauge being correct the sleeves came out ridiculously narrow the first time. I ended up omitting ALL shaping from the sleeves and they are still slimmer than I would like through the upper arms.


While I’m a bit on the fence about the pattern, I love the yarn I used. For the price, I think this Knit Picks Wool of the Andes worsted is an incredibly good deal. Philip chose Rooibos Heather, which is a gorgeous heather. It’s plenty soft, but retains a lovely stitch definition. I used it recently on my new mittens and I’m really convinced it’s one of the best choices if you don’t have an unlimited knitting budget.

Speaking of thrifty, the handsome woven leather buttons were poached from an old Harris Tweed jacket that wasn’t being worn. I’m quite excited that that there are still 5 more buttons for me to use on future projects!


I’m quite pleased to have finished this project and am already click-clacking along on a new sweater…for myself this time!




Update- January 27


We had a really, really good week. I definitely felt like I had just gotten a huge promotion at my dream job and went into my first week on my own with two kiddos with some excitement and a whole lot of trepidation, but I was surprised by how well it went. We got out of the house almost every day at 10 a.m. for all of Alice’s activities (which are mostly excuses for me to chat with my friends) and did our usual around-the-house chores, which Alice thinks are the best activities ever. Peter mostly slept and yelled and was bounced and carried about and admired.

Some photos of our week:

So, so thankful for pacifiers and babies who will accept them…
And for sweet baby quilts and sweet big sisters who get up in baby faces to remind them “you’re so cute baby!”
I enjoyed my forced hyacinths and looked forward to spring…
and was charmed when Alice requested a flower for her kitchen.
Peter passed his one-month inspection with flying colors. 
I managed to stay on top of chores, thanks to my helper who loves herself a good spray bottle…
sorts lights and darks like a champ….
and loves to help with all food preparation.

I have some unrealistically ambitious goals for the weekend in regards to knitting and also have some exciting plans for sprucing up Alice’s bedroom, but I might just hold Peter the whole time and drink lots of coffee. We shall see!



The First Four Weeks


Philip goes back to work on Monday, and I’d be lying if I said that thought didn’t terrify me a bit. I’m so grateful for his time off though, and know that somehow Peter, Alice, and I will all get into a rhythm and routine and do just fine. The past four weeks have been by turns sweet and crazy. Here are a few things we did:

Alice and I made Peter a two-week birthday cake and we threw him a party. Peter loved it.
I became increasingly comfortable with a very disheveled house.
We began Peter’s education.
Alice continued to try my patience by refusing my attempts to groom her. 
Alice serenaded Peter with soothing harmonica tunes and calming renditions of “Frere Jacques.”
Peter looked cute and wore the clothes that fit his sister at 3 months…
Alice continued perfecting her watercolor technique.
I made slow progress on Philip’s “Christmas” sweater.

Not pictured: lots of bouncing and shushing and getting to know our little fellow, and lots of singing and reading and drawing of paper dolls with our little girl. I think we’ve finally figured out that Peter can’t sleep flat on his back and have borrowed a little rocker that seems to be working better, and I’ve figured out that any time during the day when someone doesn’t need me is the time to make dinner. I’m sure that in the coming weeks we’ll figure lots of other things too, and soon we’ll be humming along like we’ve always been a family of four.

Welcome Peter Rex…and a Merry Christmas!


Five days after his projected arrival, Peter Rex made a swift and uncomplicated entry into the world on December 20th. He weighed in at 9lb 5oz (!!), is 21 1/2 inches tall, has a delightfully thick head of hair, blue eyes which have rarely opened since birth, and is as sweet and adorable as a baby should be.


Other than a tongue tie and a little initial trouble with eating that was taken care of early on, Peter has been thriving and seems to be adjusting well to his fresh life. He still needs to figure out that daytime is for playing and eating and nighttime is for snoozing and eating, but luckily for him, his parents were well trained by his older sister to be patient with baby folk.


All of us are completely smitten- including Alice. A week in, I think she is adjusting very well. Of course, she is a two-year-old, with all the standard two year-old woes, but she hasn’t pinned any of her problems on baby brother. She likes to help pick out his outfits and gives him little smooches and has a very hard time not waking him up by touching his “tiny little nose! tiny little ears!” etc. She was looking at a picture of a baby the other day and told me that “I don’t need that baby. I have a baby- baby brother.” She also told me that he is a “good baby,” and I was pleased that he met with her approval. Her one stipulation is that she not be called a big sister, because as she firmly points out, “I’m Alice.”


Our Christmas was quiet and snowy and lovely. My mother was in town before Christmas, and Philip’s parents are visiting now, but Christmas itself was spent with just the four of us. We actually made it out the door to church on Christmas Eve- our first and so far only excursion involving the entire family- and then Alice woke us appropriately early Christmas morning to open presents and eat oatmeal.


I’m proud to say that we ate pancakes for lunch and macaroni from a box for dinner and that we truly took it easy all day. The day was spent playing with presents, singing Christmas carols with Alice, reading new Christmas books and donning new Christmas duds. The big hits for Alice were the toy farm from Grandma and Grandpa, the Daniel Tiger toothbrush, and the tiny cheese grater for her kitchen from Nana. But of course, the best Christmas gift in our family was this sweet little fellow.


Wishing you all a Merry Twelve Days of Christmas, and the very happiest of New Years.

Baby Antlers & Advent Adventures


A season of waiting indeed…this advent we’re waiting for Christmas and for a new baby. I wasn’t really planning on knitting anything else for the baby until we meet him, but I was getting tired of the seemingly endless sleeves on Philip’s sweater, so I whipped up a little tiny-sized Antler Cardigan for a change of pace.


I used City Tweed DK and size 4 needles and knit the smallest size with a smaller gauge- I’d say it’s roughly a 0-3 month size, but of course that all depends on the baby. The City Tweed was in the “enchanted” colorway, which is deep and lovely. I’ve used this type of yarn once before on a cardigan for myself that was a huge flop- it was too soft to have much structure- but it is the perfect tweedy yarn for a baby sweater. It is a merino and alpaca blend and is incredibly soft.


I didn’t space the buttonholes perfectly, but eh, it’s fine. It came out super cute and I’m excited that Alice and her baby sibling will match. Any day now would be a perfectly good time to try it on, baby!

Aside from the knitting, we’ve been having a lovely advent season. My mother is in town to play (and watch Alice while we’re off at the hospital) and Alice is thoroughly enjoying the extra attention along with all the festive holiday preparations. I don’t know why so many people are downers about December birthdays…aside from the struggles of putting on winter boots when 9 months pregnant (ugh) and the struggle of helping a squirmy toddlers into snowsuits and boots while 9 months pregnant (uuggghhhh), the most wonderful time of the year seems like a wonderful time to have a baby to me. There are so many pleasant distractions and jolly tasks to be done, and I think it’s nice for the older sibling to have fun things to think about and do other than just focusing on new-baby preparations. Here’s some photographic evidence of a few of the things we’ve been up to:


It’s been snowing a little bit every day for the past few days and there’s snow in the forecast for 8 of the next 10 days. I just love this time of year! The cards are  in the mail, the few gifts we’re sending out are getting their finishing touches, the tree is bedecked with gingerbread cookies and my bottom dresser drawer is full of little secret gifts for Alice and Philip and the new baby. I’m hoping to finish a new plaid flannel dress for Alice and a sweater for Philip before Christmas too, but if it doesn’t happen it doesn’t happen. January is a nice time for flannel and sweaters too.


Hope you’re all having a peaceful, cozy advent.



Baby Doll Quilt


Since we’re expecting a new family member in December I’ve been busily elving away in the evenings for several weeks, working on a few special Christmas gifts. This year Alice is going to be getting a baby doll crib that belonged to my grandmother, so while my father is busy refurbishing it I’ve been working on some accompanying bedding.

Alice absolutely loves her two baby dolls (Baby and Snoozy Suzy) and enjoys tucking them under napkins and dishtowels, and while I know she’d be perfectly content to keep using napkins, I decided it was a great excuse to make a tiny quilt. My mother gave me a bundle of sweet fat quarters this summer that I thought would be perfect for dolls, and I, not being much of a quilter, decided on a super simple pattern of triangles. I sandwiched in a very old, very holey, very stained tea towel to serve as batting and was delighted by the result. It gave it just a little bit of heft and puff while keeping it doll-weight.


I have some very experienced quilters in the family….of which I am not one! While I have helped assemble and quilt a couple times, this is actually the first thing I’ve done start to finish by myself. I’ve known for a while that I really dislike cutting out quilt pieces. This is probably due in part to my tiny, bargain-sized vinyl cutting mat and my lack of experience with rotary cutters. Nevertheless, given that this project is roughly the size of a placemat (it is approximately 16×18), I managed to persevere and actually get it all cut out. I absolutely loved every other aspect of the quilt making process.


My favorite task was the quilting, which I decided to do by hand primarily because I love a bit of handwork but also because I hear that both baby dolls and two-year-olds really appreciate such details. My binding job left something to be desired…my corners are particularly wonky and badly mitered. My only excuse is that my quilting book was upstairs and I didn’t want to disturb Alice during her “naptime” to go retrieve it, so I just fumbled along without really knowing what I was doing.


I’ve managed to keep this project mostly hidden from Alice, so it should be a real surprise on Christmas (or Kiss-Kiss, as Alice calls it). Strangely enough, the day I unbundled the fat quarters to look at them Alice asked, “You making a dolly blanket for me, Mama?” and then proceeded to start tucking in her dolls with them. I’m so excited for her to have a little crib instead of a shoebox, and a tiny quilt instead of dishtowels!


A couple months ago I read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert and have thought about it quite a bit in the following weeks. She believes that we should follow our creative interests because it’s what we are meant to do, not because we want be the best or to make money or even to “make the world a better place.” I completely agree, and since tomorrow is Thanksgiving, I’ll just say that I’m so grateful that I have the luxury of quiet evenings, a happy family, and bits of pretty calico with which to make completely silly little projects like this one.



Happy Thanksgiving!

Northman Mittens


This is one of the few times when I can honestly say that a project was created out of real necessity. I’ve been needing a new pair of mittens for at least two winters, and I decided to finally knit myself a truly warm and practical pair. This pattern, Northman Mittens by David Schulz, was exactly what I was looking for and I couldn’t be more pleased with a pattern. It includes three sizes as well as charts for both light and dark backgrounds, a rarity among patterns that I found very helpful.


The mittens are seriously cozy. The outer mitten is knit in worsted weight at a very tight gauge for a dense fabric. I used Wool of The Andes in Tidepool Heather and Dove Heather, and I knit on size 2 needles. I have to say that this yarn, despite its scandalously low price ($1.60 per ball!!!) really exceeded my expectations. The colors are gorgeous, it has a nice soft-but-woolly feel, and it knits up beautifully. I’m already working on another project using this wool, and I’m sure it won’t be the last.

The best thing about these mittens is that they are fully lined….in baby alpaca. I used Andean Treasure in Prairie Heather. It is unbelievably soft but doesn’t make the mittens unbearably bulky. Philip tried them on and immediately requested that I knit him some alpaca linings for his mittens. The linings are knit by picking up stitches along the hem of the finished and blocked outer mitten and then knitting what is essentially a second mitten right onto the first and stuffing it inside. The lining is knit at a looser gauge so it is relatively thin and prevents the mittens from being overly stiff.


Perhaps the most interesting thing for me in knitting these mittens was a little lesson I learned in color dominance. I knit the first mitten, put it away for a few weeks and then knit the second without paying any attention to what color I was carrying on top across the wrong side. Well! I knit the mittens in reverse color dominance which changed the look of the right from the left dramatically.


I (very) briefly considered redoing one of the mittens entirely but I couldn’t choose which I liked better and then I decided that I’d rather have them done than perfect. Now that they are done and have been worn out for their first snow play session, I’m very content with my decision to just be okay with them as is.

Alice tried them on and told me she wants a pink and red pair. We’ll see…I have quite a few other items on my knitting list! For those of you who read for the baby pictures, here are a few shots of my photography assistant eating this morning’s snowflakes…


Happy Thanksgiving week to you all!




Alice’s Winter Coat


It’s been a very warm autumn around here, but knowing that winter will indeed arrive at some point, and that with a new baby in the house I probably won’t be getting a whole lot of sewing done, I went ahead and made Alice’s winter coat. I had so much fun making this, and it came out just as I had imagined it. It might just be the sweetest thing I’ve stitched up for Alice yet.


I used Simplicity 1207, a vintage reprint pattern from the 70’s. I left off the optional detachable collar but otherwise cut a size 2 and followed the pattern exactly. It’s an excellent pattern and it came together beautifully. While relatively simple, it is fully lined and requires a moderate amount of handwork, so the project took me quite a while. I’m a pretty slow seamstress, however; I’m sure some people could churn this out in a few evenings.

My favorite elements are the peter pan collar and the scallops across the chest. I don’t own a french curve so I basically free-handed the scallops, but they came out quite nicely. If there had been more than three I think it would have been hard to make them look uniform without a more professional technique.


The coat is made with wool my mother gave me to make myself a skirt (whoops) and is lined with anti-pill fleece I picked up at Joann’s. Dressy overcoats for toddlers might seem like they are of debatable practicality, so to justify the many hours I spent on this project I made sure to make this super warm and snuggly by lining it in a toasty fleece. I used a scrap of some unknown slippery fabric to line the sleeves for ease of use…let’s pretend it’s some lovely bit of silk. I backed the collar (and the insides of the patch pockets) with a calico fat quarter, both to reduce bulk and because adding sweet little details nobody will actually notice gives me a great deal of satisfaction.



Speaking of little details, I added a little monogrammed wool felt tag on the inside…A is for Alice! I was strongly inspired by (a.k.a. I copied) the embroidered “A” I found on this charming blog post.


I just had so much fun making this coat! I’ve made a couple of simple dresses for Alice this fall, and while they are cute and get lots of wear, I love making things I know will be worn almost daily and will keep her warm and snug. Making outerwear really isn’t any more difficult but seems like more of a significant contribution to her wardrobe. I’m torn between hoping that this will last her through next winter and looking forward to making another coat next year and keeping up the tradition!


I told Philip this was going to be my last sewing project before the arrival of our new baby and I’m sure he was looking forward to getting the sewing machine off the dining room table…but I might try to squeeze in a little jersey playdress before I put it away. I got some pretty cute fabric when I bought the buttons for her coat, and I did just destroy her last playdress by washing it with something red…