Fearless February Sewing

Ten Thousand Hours of Sewing

Victoria of the Ten Thousand Hours of Sewing blog is hosting a Fearless February sew-a-long. The goal is to sew something that you have been too scared to tackle.

It is just the kick in the pants that I need to finish the slip cover for the wing chair.
Months ago, I made the slip cover for the seat cushion.

Yet, the chair is still hidden beneath a store-bought slip cover that doesn’t fit, being designed for a different style of chair. It irritates me on a daily basis.

It’s true that other projects have demanded my attention, but I could have made time to sew the slip cover. I have been avoiding it like the plague. I even put the fabric away, too scared to cut it up.

Victoria says the way to tackle such sewing fears is to just pick up the scissors, turn on the sewing machine and just do it. Her sew-a-long promises lots of encouragement, which is good. I’m going to need it.

Elly’s Shawl Complete

The shawl was blocked last week.

After, the edges were folded under to make a hem and to keep the stockingnette stitch from curling. The hem caused the edges to ruffle just a little. The ruffle may come out with another blocking, but since I like the look, I’m keeping it.

I’m also keeping the shawl. Elly will not receive this for her 3rd birthday.

The lacework is too fine. I spent too many years knitting it. I envision a Barbie or a babydoll getting their hand stuck in the lacework and pulling it. The thought of that happening made it hard for me to breathe. Clearly, I would not be OK with Elly rolling the shawl into a ball and tossing it in her baby collection.

It was Dan who came up with the new home for it. He told me the shawl was beautiful and could be used a doily, since it was too small to be used as a real shawl.

Sometimes, Dan comes up with the best ideas.

Curtains at Last

Winter came before Christmas. With the Winter came the cold. Yet, our living room was still sporting its summertime curtains, sheer drapes. It not only looked cold outside, but it felt cold when you got close to the windows.

So, after Christmas passed, I made it my utmost priority to finish the curtains.

Finally, the cold can’t sneak into our living room. As an added bonus, our neighbors can no longer peak in our windows at night.

The outer fabric is a linen and cotton blend called Embroidered Rico Rosewood by Suburban Home. The lining is a heavy flannel fabric in white for nothing keeps the cold out better. Though I ordered drapery weights, there was no need for them. The curtains could smother a small animal with its weight.

The first panel was sewn on my newer sewing machine, Babylock Decorator’s Choice. The second panel was sewn on the sewing machine that me neighbor gifted to me, a Singer Slant-o-Matic. Hands down, the Singer was much nicer to sew with even if it lacked the fancy buttons, such as automatic needle threader and automatic thread cutter. It went through the thick layers of linen and flannel without a hiccup whereas the Babylock struggled to get through just two of the layers stacked together.

There are two smaller windows that flank our fireplace in the living room that could use matching curtains, but once again more pressing matters are coming up, such as Elly’s big 3rd birthday party. For her birthday, I plan to repair the vintage quilt, hem the shawl and make just a few party decorations. It pains that there are not enough hours in the day to make her a homemade dress for her birthday, but alas there just are not.

And lastly, for those who love before and after shots, this is just for you:

Before

After

I kept with the red theme for the original owner had the right idea. Red looks amazing with the red and blue bricks in our fireplace. My main complaint was always that the all over red was simply too dark for the size of the room. The first thing you saw were the curtains. Perhaps it is still the first thing you see for the windows are quite large and the amount of fabric needed is substantial, but at least they no longer feel overbearing and melancholy.

Sunday Snapshots belated (of decorated cupcakes)

Elly has become a minimalist.

After adding just a dab of icing to a cupcake, Elly told me that there was enough icing on the cupcake.

Even after repeated encouragement, Elly would not add anymore icing nor would she let me add any more icing to the cupcakes. She had already decorated them and they were perfect.

Oddly enough, the cupcakes with the least amount of icing were the first ones eaten at Vaishali’s and Joe’s birthday party yesterday. Perhaps, Elly was right. Less is more.

An Advocate I am Not

I should be the perfect advocate for breastfeeding. Although I have always supported breastfeeding in theory, I agreed with the society standard that it should end at 1 year of age. Nursing beyond 2 years was just unnecessary, weird and perhaps even damaging to the child. Naturally, during my pregnancy, I decided that I would breastfeed Elly for the first year, but once she could drink cow’s milk, it was over. She would no longer need to nurse.

So, why on earth am I still nursing Elly when we are weeks away from her 3rd birthday?

The best answer is because it still works. It still knocks her out in five minutes or less at bedtime. It still eases all her fears, especially her fears over poop. It still nurses her back to health when she is sick.

Another answer is because my soft and gentle approach to weaning does not work on my headstrong daughter. For 2 years now, I have used the don’t offer; don’t refuse method with little headway. It is true that she nurses much less than she did when she was a baby, but that is mostly due to her growing up than it is to my encouragement and gentle nudging.

Every year that has passed, I have set a new weaning milestone only to reach that milestone and still be nursing. As I notice how little she nurses these days, I feel that it will naturally be put away with all her other baby things that have already made their way to the attic. It will just take longer than I thought.

Of course, there are fringe benefits, such as decreased chance of cancer for me and increased immunity for Elly among others. Though it is different for each woman, the lack of a period is also a lovely fringe benefit that I have benefited from. It was almost 4 years of a reprieve for me (that math includes the 9 months of pregnancy for those of you trying to do figure the numbers out).

But as stated above, I am not a good advocate for breastfeeding. If anyone were to ask me about it, I would tell them that it was amazing to nurse Elly from infant to toddler.

It is still amazing. Yet, every child is different. What worked well with Elly may not work well for another child. What worked well for my family may be all wrong for your family. I remember how the clouds parted and the angels sang the night I brought Elly to bed with me, but not everyone has that same reaction to sharing their bed.

Plus, nursing a toddler takes a certain amount of bravado or perhaps just a thick elephant hide. It’s likely that you’ll run into someone who feels like I used to. I’m actually embarrassed that I used to be horrified by women nursing their babies or older children. There is nothing unnatural about it. There is nothing sexual about it. It is loving and comforting and beautiful.

A Broken Quilt

My aunt may have more faith in my sewing skills than I do.

At Christmas time, she gifted me a vintage quilt. I love it.

It is the Sunbonnet Sue pattern. The entire quilt from applique to embroidery to quilting to binding was done by hand. The tiny stitches are amazing; it must have taken quite a while to finish.

Yet, there is a fault with it. The quilt looks like it has been mauled by a mouse or another small animal.

The entire top right hand corner has quite a few holes. Even if I could find fabric to match the original fabric, I don’t know that I could patch the holes in such a way that it didn’t look like the quilt had a bunch of patches on it.

When I encounter sewing problems, I visit my 93-year-old neighbor who was a seamstress in her day. She agreed with me. The quilt is darling. What can be saved; should be saved. So, together we concocted a plan.

The plan involves a sharp pair of scissors. The entire top row of Sue Bonnets will be cut off. The first two appliques that are heavily damaged will be thrown in the trash. The last two appliques will be reused in a pillow. Then, the original binding that is also fraying will be picked open and the edges trimmed. Then, a new binding will be attached. At that point, the quilt will be completely repaired. It’s a simple plan. I do feel terrible for hacking up a vintage quilt, but it was the only way my neighbor and I could think to save it. It does mean that the quilt will be too short for a twin bed, but I’m OK with that.

Sunday Snapshots (of the Crayola Factory)

On Thursday, Elly and I went to the Crayola Factory with our local Moms club.

She drew on a car.

She decorated a crown with stamps.

Well,to be more precise, Elly only used one stamp to decorate her entire crown. Plus she never actually stamped with it. She preferred the smearing technique. It allowed her to cover more of the white space in a short amount of time.

She cut up Crayola model magic into itty bitty pieces.

She drew with markers in their dark room.

She decorated a guitar.

She piloted a boat through a canal riddled with locks.

Yet, oddly enough, her favorite thing to do in the Crayola Factory had nothing to do with crafts. In a room geared for children 5 and under, there was a ball elevator. Truly, we need one of these in our basement. She would be entertained for hours. Literally hours.

To Frog or Not to Frog

It was to be an heirloom baby shawl for Elly.

Elly will turn 3 next month.

According to Ravelry, I have been working on and off this shawl for 3 1/2 years. True, 2 of those years I didn’t touch it at all, but that still leaves a lot of time invested in this shawl.

Long time readers will remember that I ran out of the kid mohair yarn eons ago. A dear friend and reader of this blog hunted down a new skein. Although it didn’t match perfectly, it was really close.

The problem is that I feel hatred toward the shawl every time I look at it. The mountains of endless stockingnette stitch is terribly boring to knit. The spot at which I switch from the old mohair skein to the new mohair skein is striking, but perhaps not in a good way.

To top it off, the main color of the shawl is red, which doesn’t complement Elly’s gorgeous red hair. As a redhead myself, I avoid wearing red close to my face. Less so now that my hair has darkened so much and is slowly turning grey, but in my youth I wouldn’t touch the color. My red hair was my best asset; I didn’t want anything I wore to steal the show. So why did I knit a red shawl for Elly? Well, I was certain she would have her father’s hair color, since red hair is a recessive gene. Happy was the day she was born with red hair like mine and like my mother before me.

So, do I persevere with knitting and finishing Elly’s baby heirloom shawl?

Do I toss it in a basket and pile more yarn overtop in the hopes that out of sight is out of mind?

Do I frog it (for non-knitters to frog means to rip it, rip it, rip it (see, it sounds like a frog, no?) all out)?

Do I stop knitting the endless stockingnette stitch and just add a lace border in red and let Elly use it to wrap her babydolls up?

I have to admit that I really want to go knit something that I will enjoy knitting. I am currently dreaming of a warm wool rug in our bedroom. Yet, adding a lace border is something that I have never done before so that would be interesting if nothing else.

2012 in Review

At first I felt as if I couldn’t write a Year in Review post. It seemed like the year had flown by and I hadn’t had a chance to do much at all, but looking back that is hardly true.

The year started off with the Pottstown Knit Out and my teaching a class about knitting charts.

Then, every spare moment in the Spring was dedicated to knitting a hexagon blanket for I was determined to finish before the dog days of summer began despite not needing it done until September. The blanket was a wedding gift to my sister-in-law and her fiancée.

Oddly enough, even though I accomplished my goal of completing the blanket before the heat rolled in, I still knit throughout the summer. Elly got a new twirly skirt.

By the end of summer, I was harvesting the best crop of tomatoes I have ever grown. I only wish I knew what I did right so I would know how to repeat it this year.

In the sewing room, I made a flower dress for Elly and a strapless dress for me.

They were hands down the hardest clothing I’ve ever made. I told everybody at the wedding that I made the dresses, even people who were just making pleasant conversation and could have cared less. Darn it, I was proud.

Right before Thanksgiving Day, Elly and I ripped the old golf green carpet up.

Girl power rules!

Of course, everything couldn’t end in smiles. The dining room wall nearly sent me to the funny farm. It should come as no surprise that the walls still aren’t finished. The wind fell out of my sails not to mention the holidays took over my life.

I have not made any resolutions for the New Year. However, I do hope to publish 2 knitting patterns, finish sewing all the curtains and slip covers that I started last year and placed on the back burner for one reason or another and continue enjoying my time with Elly for she is growing up so fast. I hope 2013 will be a fabulous year for you too!

Sunday Snapshots (of cookie making)

On the 12th day of Christmas, dear friends gave to me 12 chefs a-baking.

Naturally, we baked sugar cookies.

Well, actually there was only 4 chefs all under the age of  13 not including myself. Yet we made a mess thrice our size.

It was so much fun! Perhaps the best part was the flour showers: dust hands with flour, raise your hands up and then clap.

True, it was less fun to clean the mess up. I think it took me an hour. Totally worth it though.