Yarn Along

It’s been a while since I’ve joined in Ginny’s Yarn Along, and I’ve got so much to share! There are lots of finished projects being worn around this house -

The “Bombay Love” shirt, newborn size for baby Gaia (all of my recent projects have been for Gaia!) – free pattern available HERE.  Lynden and Raina each selected a button for this little shirt. I used Bernat Handicrafter Cotton yarn for this project.

The simple vest I shared as a work in progress in my last Yarn Along post (free Ravelry download), which suits Gaia quite well if I do say so myself!  The yarn is Cascade Superwash 220, 100% wool, and incredibly soft.

And then I added my own variations to this sweet little baby vest, to jazz things up a bit -

Here it is with a cable down the front (go back a few blog posts to see a photo of Gaia sporting her lovely cabled vest!). This yarn is Galway Highland Heather, but I can’t for the life of me remember the colourway.

And here it is with a candle flame lace pattern. This, perhaps, is my favourite of the three vests. I knit it up in the three days after my water broke, before labour kicked in. The yarn is 100% wool, left over from my stash. Paton’s, I believe?

This is Gaia’s new little dress, which I crocheted the other day in just two hours (give or take a few minutes). Raina wants one of her own, so she and her sister can match. Free pattern is available HERE. These yarns are the same ones used for the “Bombay Love” shirt,100% cotton.

And lets not forget the “Aviatrix”, quite likely my favourite hat pattern, which knits up SO QUICKLY and is really freaking cute! This is a free Ravelry download. This yarn is a bamboo/wool blend from my stash left overs, nice and soft for a brand new head.

I also finished a pair of shorties, which I don’t have a photo of, that were modified from a pattern in Linda Permann’s book Little Crochet.

And if you’re looking for some good books to read, I’ve recently finished Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, which was not by any means a literary masterpiece but a very satisfying read nonetheless. It’s a great story with strong characters. Now I’m gobbling up Mr. Pip by Lloyd Jones, which had me totally hooked in the first three pages.

What projects are you working on, dear readers? Have you read any great books lately?

Waiting for Baby

Because Braxton-Hicks contractions are keeping me awake at 3am, I’m using the computer while my children snore soundly a few feet away. Of course, this means I’m going to be all the more exhausted come sunrise, but such is life.

We are getting so close to the arrival of this new little person, and I am filled with anticipation. Boy or girl? Big baby or small? Bald like the other three, or lots of hair? Who is this little person growing inside of me!?

To keep myself occupied (not that endless laundry, household chores, and three children don’t keep me occupied…), I’ve been knitting & crocheting baby stuff. These little newborn vests are so quick and easy and fun, and a great way to use up leftover stash yarn. I’ve done a few already, and want to do more with different cables and colours. I’m bursting with ideas on how to maximize the cuteness! I’ve also got some crochet longies on the go, which may actually end up being shorties or capri pants instead, since this is a Spring baby and we may not get much use out of long-legged wool pants.

This is my view, looking down. My lap is rapidly disappearing and it’s increasingly difficult to get footwear onto my feet. Lynden has often said, lately, that he can’t wait for this baby to be born so I can stop groaning every time I have to bend over, and so I can finally hold him again! Of course, he always throws in, “But I’m actually excited to meet the baby, too,” which is evident by the way he’s been cradling his doll while singing lullabies when he thinks nobody is paying attention.

And Raina, sweet Raina, so anxious to become a 2nd-time big sister. She is positively giddy with excitement, and absolutely certain that she’s finally going to have a sister. I hope, for her sake, that we do have a girl, because Raina’s heart is set on even numbers of males to females in this house.  Raina has wished harder than I thought possible for a little baby girl to hold – if only wishing hard enough could makes things come true…

And so, now we wait. In the corner of the dining room sits a laundry basket filled with homebirth supplies – freshly washed towels, compress cloths, hydrogen peroxide, receiving blankets, a flashlight with new batteries, a large plastic container for the placenta, and other things that likely won’t be used (we never used our entire birth kit for the previous three births!). Two large flannel-backed table cloths have been placed under the bed sheets, “just in case”.  The kids have been drilled on keeping the house nice and clean over the past few weeks, for the sake of mama’s sanity and being ready for a birth. The toilet’s been scrubbed to shining, the floors are mopped every few days with lemongrass essential oil in the mop water for a lovely & refreshing clean feeling in the house.  And we wait.

Yarn Along

Joining Ginny from Small Things this week for the Yarn Along.

I’ve got a sweet little baby vest on the needles right now, in anticipation of baby #4 (it’s a free pattern on Ravelry, if you want to make one of your own!). This vest was in my Ravelry queue for quite a while – I think I intended to make one for Robin, but never got around to it. Now that the countdown is on for baby #4, all I can think about is the list of precious little baby patterns I’ve been wanting to make.  This vest is coming along very quickly – hooray for the instant gratification that tiny baby garments bring! It helps that the entire thing is done in a very fast stockinette stitch, with no major counting or fancy charts to keep track of. Perfect for late-pregnancy brain!

I’m delving into my baby books lately as well. Right now I’m enjoying Diaper Free by Ingrid Bauer. We’ve cloth diapered all of our other babies, but this time around I’m determined to carry through with elimination communication. I figure a refresher course is in order.

Baby’s due date is April 3. Anyone want to guess as to the actual birth day?

Renew & Repurpose

We’re always trying to cut costs around here without cutting our enjoyment of life, especially since Jae quit his job in favour of being home doing freelance work. So when we ran out of toilet paper the other day, I decided not to buy any more.

In my sewing room, I collect clothing that is looking too worn to make it back into the drawers or the donation bag, in hopes that I can cut them up and re-purpose them. There’s plenty of soft flannel piling up, perfect for making cloth “butt wipes”.

The first thing to come off the top of the pile was an old pyjama shirt of mine, acquired second-hand. It may be too worn to bother patching and fixing up now, but it’s perfect for cutting up! The remaining buttons went into my button box, and the shirt was transformed.

Snip, snip & sew, and VOILA! I give you…

Washable cloth butt wipes, quite possibly the easiest thing a mama could make! They look quite lovely, neatly folded on the back of the toilet. It’s a shame the lighting in the bathroom is so poor.

There you have it, a simple way to reduce waste, cut expenses, and reuse old materials!

Yarn Along

Joining in with Ginny at Small Things again this week for the Yarn Along. It seems I’ve had knitting fever the past week or so! I’ve been frantically trying to finish Lynden’s hoodie, knitting up a pair of warm woolen work socks for a friend, and squeezing in a few rows each night on this project:

It’s one of the only projects I’ve worked on for myself. I started way back in June, and as you can see, I haven’t had many opportunities to make it grow. Now that Lynden’s hoodie is almost complete and the holiday madness is over, I’m determined that this project is going to take priority.

It’s the Bat Shawl! I’m using my own handspun yarn. It’s a beautiful naturally-coloured steely grey wool from New Zealand that I spun a year or so ago, about sock weight.

The lace pattern is hard to see in these low-quality photos taken from my phone, but it’s coming out beautifully and the bats will be glorious when the shawl is finished and blocked.

I love bats! I can’t wait to get this shawl finished and wrap it around my shoulders.

What are you working on right now, dear readers?

Yarning

After the madness of trying to finish all of my Christmas crafting, I took a sort-of break from knitting & crocheting in January – instead of knitting every day, I only knit a few days a week. I still have several projects going, but they’re all coming along well enough.

Remember Lynden’s hoodie? It’s nearly complete! The other day I finished the sleeves (after having to rip them back a little and make them longer) and have started the hood. My fingers are crossed that it will be finished within a week. Lynden is eager to wear it!

Yarn Along

Woo! My second week joining in Ginny’s Yarn Along! This week I actually have a book to share…

Here is a little something that is being knit with some of my handspun – but I can’t tell you what until after the holidays! I detailed the process from carding to spinning a week or two ago, here it is for those who missed it. Try as I might, I could not get a decent shot of this project. The light was all wrong, then when I tried a different angle & different lighting, I couldn’t get anything in focus. Oh well, there you have it – a mediocre shot of a pretty cool little project.

Lynden’s winter sweater is coming along very slowly, between holiday projects and household chores. I managed to finish off the body, bordered around the bottom with a moss stitch. I think I’ll do the same around the edges of the sleeves, whenever I manage to finish them. The first sleeve is underway! I am making SOME progress! Being just a simple knit sweater with no cables or lacing, one would think it would be coming along quickly, but somehow the opposite is true. As long as Lynden gets to wear it a few times before the snow has come and gone, I’ll be a happy mama. (As an aside: I love, LOVE bamboo needles. They are so delightful to work with, so gentle on the hands, they warm so quickly to the touch, they’re so smooth to knit with. Bamboo is where it’s at.)

I’ve been reading The Power of Positive Dog Training by Pat Miller. It’s a great book for people who don’t feel right about “conventional” training methods. The book deals with clicker training, a method I began using with Oddler when he was a pup after a “conventional” trainer permanently damaged poor Oddler’s throat with a prong collar.  I love clicker training. It is so much fun for human and dog – I find my dog & I really work as a team, and it’s so neat to watch the dog’s wheels start turning and the thoughts get flowing. Clicker training really makes a dog THINK. Oddler is nearly 11 years old now, but every so often I like to brush up on training. When all the old commands have become so familiar that they are just a part of every day life, it’s nice to add a new trick to the bag. (Hey, did you know that any critter can be clicker trained, even a chicken? So cool!)

Alright, with that done, I’m off to ogle other yarn alongs!

Stitching

When we moved out of the city, we vowed to move toward a self-sufficient life. While we still have a long way to go, we’ve made small steps in the right direction.  Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how far we’ve come and where we are going, and what we can do RIGHT NOW to provide for ourselves.

Something has continually nagged at the back of my mind, something inescapable: clothing.  We’ve been so fortunate thus far to have generous and loving friends who are happy to pass along clothes that their children have outgrown, and we haven’t needed to purchase much for our little ones.  Still, I’d like to be able to provide clothing for my family without needing to go out to the store; to know that we’ll be warm and comfortable if for some reason we don’t have second-hand clothing coming our way.

While I have knit and crocheted plenty of items for the kids, there’s a lot more to filling a wardrobe than having some nice sweaters.  If I must be honest, I haven’t touched my sewing machine since I was pregnant with my first child, when I sewed some baby overalls and a little baby shirt.  The sewing machine got tucked away when those projects were completed, and between adjusting to a new baby, then adjusting to two more, the sewing machine just never made it out of the closet again.

So, when my dear husband came in from the garden a few days ago with a giant rip in the crotch of his shorts, I decided it was time to dust off the sewing machine and make things right. The rip was too big and at too odd an angle to fix nicely, so I headed out to the fabric store in search of some sales.  I was in luck – denim ends were 50% off, AND had a buy 3m, get 1m free deal going on top of that.  The kids found plenty of fabrics they liked, too, all on sale.  In a pile of clearance patterns, I found men’s shorts, children’s tops, and a few patterns that I liked for myself as well, all at $1.99 each.  I couldn’t believe my luck!

Last night after the kids went to bed, I hauled out my old Sears Kenmore, my discount denim ends, and my men’s shorts pattern, and got to work.  I’ve spent so much time spinning and crocheting lately, it was nice to change things up a bit. Time slipped away, and before I knew it, it was 2am!!

Midnight workstation

 

I managed to get the pants finished in one go (thanks for sleeping well, kiddos!).  I had my fingers crossed that they would fit Jae properly.  He’s a short guy and it’s hard to find pants that fit him well.

Success, hooray! A perfect fit!

When the kids woke up in the morning and saw my sewing machine on the table, they pestered me relentlessly to pull out the fabrics they had chosen and get started on their clothes.

I somehow managed to get Raina’s shirt made over the course of the day.  With constant interruptions from the kids, lunch and snacks needing preparing, diapers needing changing, baby needing nursing, etc. etc. it is a wonder I got anything accomplished.  But the first shirt is finished (and I have vowed never to attempt a sewing project while the kids are awake, again).  Raina put it on as soon as I finished the last seam, and fell asleep wearing it.

Raina's dino shirt. She picked the fabric herself!

I guess I forgot over the years how much I really enjoy sewing.  Now that I have a huge stockpile of fabric (thanks also in part to my dear cousin, who de-stashed on me recently!) and some great patterns, I think I’ll have to make nighttime sewing projects a fairly regular thing. Though once in a while, I may need to get some sleep.

Stitches in Time

The weather is cool and breezy and the garden is just about done for the year, and we are spending more time indoors these days.  For me, time indoors means time for knitting and crocheting, and this is definitely the season for it!

I swore up and down that I’d get started on the kids’ Halloween costumes in August so that I’d have plenty of time to finish them without feeling the need to rush.  August passed by in a blur of crazy busyness, and so I pledged to get started on the Halloween costumes in September instead.  Now, in the blink of an eye, September has come and gone without a single stitch being made on my part.  October is here and we are getting down to the wire now – in a flurry of yarn and hooks and needles, I am officially at work on the Halloween costumes.

This seems to be the way it goes for me – I get things done *just* in time, and as soon as I finish one project there is another waiting in the wings.  As soon as Halloween is over, it will be time to begin working on the Christmas gifts, and I can already see myself pulling late nights to get everything finished by Christmas Eve.

There aren’t enough hours in the day – the children require feeding and bathing and reading to and snuggling; the chickens and rabbits and goats require food and water and time outdoors; the dishes require cleaning; the floors require sweeping; the laundry requires washing and hanging; the food requires preparing.  By the time I get through the list of things that must be done, it’s time to go to bed and catch some sleep before starting all over again the next morning.  Where does the knitting and crocheting fit in?

Somehow I find moments in between chores and challenges, moments when the kids are in bed and I’ve managed to finish putting laundry away before I’m ready to sleep myself.  And in those moments, my fingers fly and I go as fast as I can to add stitches and rows in the hopes of completing a project.

There aren’t enough hours, it’s true, but the satisfaction that comes from seeing my kids making use of my creations is so much greater than anything that comes from a store.