Saturday, December 13, 2014

And this is love...

 I never believed in love at first sight before Sunday...




But then I saw him for the first time.

Baby Boy Taco*
19 inches, 5lbs 10oz (2.55kg)

Taco was 12 days late and his unexpectedly small size caused some complications with his delivery. But he was born completely healthy and is really thriving now that we're home.

He makes the funniest faces. Sorry about the wonky camera angle...










And we're done.



The only thing we're making around here at the moment is milk. I actually finished a few unblogged projects before he was born. Not sure I'll get to posting them soon. But look for us on Instagram.


My reality: better than any fantasy


* So, we're calling this tiny boy Taco for blog purposes. Yep, there's a story.  From the day he found out a new cousin was expected, my 8yo nephew Linus was horribly offended that we were calling the baby Raspberry. Cleary, Raspberry is a "girl name," and Linus was convinced that the baby would be a boy. His rationale: there are 5 girls in my generation but no boys, and there were 4 boys in his generation but no girls. So, the boys were "owed" another boy and Linus renamed the baby Taco. It seems only fair that we continue calling him Taco in the blogosphere, since Linus was correct.



Thursday, December 4, 2014

Tree of Life Baby Blanket

The first thing I knit, but one of the last projects I finished is a Tree of Life Baby Blanket. Back in July, I posted that I was having problems motivating myself to seam the border to the center panel.




This "condition" continued until last week when I finally sat down and stitched the blanket together and then blocked it.





I think it came out beautifully. Sadly, I'm really struggling with indoor photography on these dreary days. But here are some of the details.


Tree details


I love the cable work trees. So pretty!

Flower Garden




Tulip Border Detail



I think, in the end, my seaming looks pretty great, by which I mean "mostly invisible."

This is actually a free pattern from Lion Brand Yarn (click here). I'm usually a little skeptical about free patterns but I thought this was just so beautiful. It's based on Nicky Epstein's full size Tree of Life Afghan and calls for Lion Brand's "Pound of Love" yarn, which is an acrylic worsted weight yarn. Since I prefer natural fibers, I used Cascade 220 Superwash, which I seem to favor for baby knitting. It's very soft and washable, but tends to grow. So, I would use caution before using it for sweaters or other fitted items.  

Not much else to say except that we are sooooo over this still waiting thing... I've been doing a bit better recently at keeping up on Instagram. If you aren't familiar with it, it's a platform for posting a photo with a small caption. It's fun for micro-blogging and WIP's. So, you may want to follow me there: Instagram

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Meet Dijon the Giraffe

Still no Raspberry, and there's a fair amount of cabin fever around these parts. So, here is the first of two knit projects which were finished in the last week.

Phin has named this cute giraffe Dijon.




This is the second Not-so-Itty-Bitty Giraffe I've knit from Susan B Anderson's Itty-Bitty Toys book and Craftsy class (first one here). In fact, the Craftsy class is what got me started knitting stuffed animals.  I really think it's well worth it, especially for all the finishing details like how to decided where to place the legs, ears and horns, and how to sew the face. These are the steps that tend to get glossed over in patterns, but really add to the cuteness of the finished stuffed animal.

Really, Dijon is just loaded with cute features, isn't she?
 


From the cute pompom capped horns to the ears to the pompom mane...


I've since fluffed, trimmed and straightened my pompoms...

...to the spots and tail. Really, this is just the cutest pattern.

For this go-round I used Ella Rae Classic Superwash yarn in worsted weight. The colorways are Sunflower and Orange.  It was reasonably priced and knit up well. I have plenty left over to make some cute something for Raspberry. Maybe a hat with a pompom?  We'll see.




For now we are just waiting...

Friday, November 28, 2014

And "Hers" Diaper Bag!

It took a few days to photograph and post, but I did finish all but a little hand sewing on Monday, one day before my due date. Yeah, no Raspberry at due date +3, which is very normal for first babies. But we've now got two diaper bags. So, we're as ready as we'll ever be!


Love this!

I LOVE how this bag turned out. Before you say anything, yes, I recognize that it's white.  A white diaper bag is just asking for trouble.  But the faux leather/faux basket weave fabric that I used for the bottom and outside pockets is very easily cleanable with a damp sponge or wipe. So, I'm hoping that it will hold up fairly well.





This is my fourth version of Butterick  B5005 (last sewn here). The versions on the Butterick website are very sweet, but I think I've shown that this can be a really chic bag, whether made as a diaper bag or a weekender. This is the first time I've sewn it using two different outer fabrics, which saved me the effort of having to pattern match the pockets, which I did in previous versions.  The second outside fabric is a white and silver/grey home dec weight fabric. Both outer fabrics are from Mood. I used a red cotton twill from Fabric.com to line the bag.

Again, there is nothing about this pattern, aside from the optional accessories, that specifically makes it a diaper bag. And after four times sewing it, I've really tweaked it to my liking, using hardware and altering the pockets to suit my needs.  But even out of the envelope, this is a terrific bag pattern.




I've really developed an expensive hardware habit. For this bag and it's accessories, the Lampo zipper, feet, magnetic snaps, D-ring, lobster claw and webbing straps all came from Botani, which has significantly expanded it's offerings over the last 1-2 years.

After making a zippered welt pocket for the inside of Phin's bag, I decided that I needed one too.




I sewed the other side of the lining according to the pattern, with a nice sized divided pocket which is perfect for diapers, creams and wipes.


 


Accessories
I also sewed some fun accessories for myself.




First, I made a great little fold over clutch like the one I made with the last version of this bag. This time I placed the magnetic snap closer to the top so the folded bag would be larger.




I also included a lanyard with a lobster claw on the inside of the bag so I can clip the clutch in by it's D-ring, like so...




Or closer up...




The second accessory I made was a diaper clutch - basically a changing pad with a pocket for diapers.




I looked at several diaper clutch or changing pad tutorials on-line, but there really weren't any that had all the elements I wanted. So, like with Phin's, I made this to the dimensions and with the methods I thought would work well for me.


Milkshake the Cow wanted to be in the picture "for scale".

The clutch folds in three and has a great little pocket for holding a few diapers and wipes for occasions when I want to just stick it into a different purse rather than carrying a diaper bag.  Like Phin's, I used a layer of batting for padding and iron-on vinyl to make the inside easy to wipe clean. The outer edges are bound in bias tape and I sewed a button and a small elastic loop on as a closure.

And that's it!





I have to confess that I'm pretty smitten with my bag.  I love the fabrics I used, crazy though white may be. I hadn't considered that Raspberry could be born in December, but with each passing day a white bag somehow seems more appropriate. 

And the bag and it's accessories are exactly what I wanted - lots of room and lots of options. It's not going to be entirely practical for every day use because of it's size. But when we go spend a day with grandma and anticipate needing things like extra clothing, bibs, burp cloths, toys and such, this will hold it all. And I think it's really beautiful.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Done, Diggedy Done! "His" Diaper Bag: V8990

Finally! Just 3 days short of my due date (um, one now), I managed to finish the first of the two diaper bags I've been working on.  This one is for Phineas.




The "Daddy Diaper Bag" is definitely a generational concept. It's really quite normal for current new parents. Just google "daddy diaper bag" to get a sense of what's out there. But I've been met with a variety of interesting responses from our parents' generation - laughter (like I had made a joke), surprise, raised eyebrows, questions - when I said I was making Phin a diaper bag. Did fathers really not take their children anywhere on their own before they were potty trained back in the day or did they carry their wife's bag? I'm really glad norms have changed and fathers are now much more active parents and partners. Anyway, since Phin is already talking about the many things that he and Raspberry will do together, he certainly deserves a fun bag that he is happy toting around. 


Sigh! Indoor photos stink!


Orange is Phin and my shared favorite color. So, I used a bright orange 9oz cotton canvas that he picked out  for the outside and a fun retro cotton print that has the sort of ads you would expect to see in  the back of a 1950's  comic book for the lining - x-ray glasses, toy rocket ships and spy gear. I think it's a fun combo.

Phin wanted a messenger/cross body bag and he also didn't want it to be too large, so I used Vogue 8990 view C. There is nothing about it that makes it a diaper bag, and I sewed it with just a few changes to adapt the bag to Phin's specific requests and needs. It's a great pattern - just the right size, well constructed and versatile.

Hardware
I love using hardware in my bags. I think it gives a much more professional finish and makes for a sturdier bag. I understand why pattern companies don't  use more in their patterns - you can't find a lot of specialty hardware at the local fabic or craft store. But I wish they did give more options since most hardware (buckles, sliders, magnetic snaps, webbing) can be purchased on Amazon. That said, this pattern uses much more than most - a big step in the right direction.

Adjustable strap: webbing, bar and slider


For Phin's bag I used quick release buckles for the closures, I added a bar and slider to the webbing strap so the length would be adjustable, and I added feet to the bottom of the bag. I interfaced with fusible hair canvas and used artists plastic canvas to give the bottom of the bag support.


Quick release buckles


Pockets
The view that I made of the pattern already comes with two terrific pockets under the flap, which will be useful for holding little toys or teething rings and other small things.


Teething banana in a pocket



In addition, I made a few design changes to the inside of the bag to make it more suitable as a diaper bag. Phin specifically asked for a zipper pocket so he would have somewhere for his phone and wallet where they couldn't fall out. I rely heavily on Kenneth King's Craftsy class whenever I sew a welt, which I blogged about back in January and there is a whole "chapter" on zippered welt pockets which I've been wanting to try.


Zipper welt pocket

I also sewed a big pocket with an elastic top for holding diapers, wipes and such.


Multi-use elastic pocket


Finally, though not a pocket, I added a lanyard with a D-ring for Phin to attach his keys since he carries them on a carabiner.


Keys


Changing Pad
The one (very needed) accessory that I made was a matching changing pad.


Changing pad folded in thirds


There are patterns and tutorials out there, but I used the finished  inside measurements of the bag to come up with an appropriate size mat (14.5" x 33") instead. I cut pieces in canvas, lining and batting, and then trimmed the corners into curves using a round coaster as a guide. I laminated the lining fabric with iron-on vinyl, which works surprisingly well. This way the changing pad can be easily wiped down. The whole thing is simply sewn together using bias tape around the perimeter.


Dragon the Hippo gets in on the act.
 
Easy peasy!




Mischief maker!


And that's it.  After so much simple sewing, it was really nice to sink my teeth into a more involved project. Bags aren't difficult at all, but they do require slow and precise sewing, good execution, and the thoughtful use of hardware and underpinnings for structural support. Really, they are a series of small tasks. What was nice about sewing this while I have been on maternity leave is that I could work in little bursts when I had good energy and attention, making one pocket or component at a time.




After making six diaper bags for others over the years, it's nice to have finally made one that is staying here. And I was happy when Phineas commented that the bag was comfy to wear.  I hope it gets lots of use.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Meet Hopscotch Bunny

Mischievous Dragon!  Ever since I knit a bunny for my nephew, he's been saying that there is no one in the herd with sufficient hopping skills. And now that there is a baby-to-be to knit for, he is getting his wish for a bouncy new herd member for Raspberry.


Hopscotch and DragonHippo


We're currently calling this little hopper Hopscotch. Raspberry may rename her some day and that's fine. The pattern is the floppy bunny from Itty-Bitty Toys by Susan B Anderson, which I've now knit 3 times. I love the long gangly legs and arms. 


Hopscotch


And the pom pom tail.  Somehow it's totally appropriate for a bunny.


Dragon and Hopscotch both love Chinese take out



I made this bunny friend in black and white to go with our high contrast baby theme.  Also, for baby toys, I sew a beanbag out of heavy muslin for the polly pellets that give the stuffie some weight. Polly pellets are non-toxic, but they can be a choking hazzard for a tiny baby who might, um, chew on a cute stuffed friend. Thank goodness that Hopscotch is washable since I knit her in Cascade 220 Superwash.




I finished actually knitting this floppy friend over the summer, but left it sitting as a bag of body parts until last week. I've just been too tired in the evenings to do much crafting in front of the tv, which is when this sort of project would usually be finished. But one by one, I'm doing the finishing work on my knits. There is another new herd member that just needs to be sewn together. 


The Herd

 The herd has thoroughly embraced the newest member.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Finished: B&W Waterfall Shrug

Once I read that a baby's vision and brain is most stimulated by high contrast colors, especially black and white combinations, I started buying up black and white striped fabrics.




This is a best of both worlds project: Raspberry's need for visual stimulation plus my need for a nursing cover up. It also continues my stripe matching theme. Seriously, if I've learned one thing during Project Bump, it's how to match stripes! 


Really happy with my stripe matching!

Eventually, I'll figure out what I'm most comfortable nursing in, but for now I thought Simplicity 2603 would make a great layer that I could throw over a normal outfit. This pattern has been around and in my stash for years; judging by the number of reviews on PR, I must be the very last person to actually sew it.




I chose view B, which has the longest length waterfall front with shorter sleeves. I'm constantly scrunching up sleeves to my elbows, so why not start out that way?  Plus, I was a bit short on fabric.

I used an absolutely gorgeous rayon jersey knit that I bought at Paron Fabrics. I've been on a real rayon kick this year. I just find it so soft and breathable to wear, and it seems to hold up well through multiple washings. I was lucky that this fabric was unusually wide (almost 90" I think) since I bought the remainder and it was just enough to eke this pattern out. It's only because of the huge width that that I was able to cut it in a way to match the stripes at the side seams. I definitely didn't have enough to even try to match the sleeves to the body, but I'm fine with it anyway.



 
The only fitting change I made was to the armscye and sleeves. The top was a little tight under the arms and through the armpits. So, I let the sleeve out a bit from the bicep up, and I let out the side seam from a few inches below the armscye to the sleeve. It's still a bit high compared to other patterns, but I actually prefer a higher, tighter armscye for added ease of movement, especially in knits.





There's not much to say about construction, which was a cinch. I sewed the sleeves in flat rather than setting them in and did almost everything on the serger. I sewed the miles of hem with a twin needle. Actually, I have to confess that I wore this shrug a week ago to a pre-Thanksgiving dinner with my family before it was even hemmed. Naturally, I got cranberry sauce on it and had to wash it before hemming. So, yeah. It's a winner.

If I have any time after finishing diaper bag sewing before Raspberry's arrival there will be another version or two of this cardi-wrap. It's really just the most versatile and functional layer, and I've been wearing it for the last two days.


Yeah, some days it's yoga pants and sneakers...