Friday, February 16, 2018

FO: Little Giraffe

So after making Christmas gifts for about 2 months straight, I wanted to make something frivolous for no reason, lol. 
It's hard to get more frivolous than a random toy you don't need (plus you don't have children), isn't it? I loved the Little Giraffe pattern by Susan B. Anderson back when she released it in Making magazine last year, so when she released it for sale as an individual pattern I snapped it up. She was advertising kits that included the pattern along with come of her new yarn line to make it up in, and the color combinations were lovely, but I already had two of the exact colors she used in a different yet equivalent yarn - perfect! My giraffe is made using Cascade 220 Superwash, so it is still a superwash wool toy - making it a little extra special to me since I always use acrylic. As soon as I finished my Christmas gifts, I cast this on.
The pattern is completely seamless, so it has you start with the garter stitch bum - isn't it cute? Then you move up to the point of the legs, make the legs, then resume knitting them into the body. I've made some of Susan's seamless toys before, and it can be a bit fiddly, but they come out so neat and smooth in the end it's definitely worth it. You also don't end up needing to keep track of a bunch of little pieces as you go either, which is nice.
Next you start the color work, which was what I was most excited to do. I've done only a little color work before and those pieces always turned out too tight across the floats, so I wanted a small project to practice on now that I know a bit more about what to do. It's not perfect by any means, but I'm pretty happy with how this color work lays. After about halfway up the body, I added a white nylon stocking with poly pellets in it to give him some weight. I definitely recommend adding the pellets because I don't think he would really sit right without them - he wants to lean forward a lot as it is, so without that extra stability I think he would always tip over. I also always put the pellets in nylons and tie it closed because I'm paranoid about them coming out and a baby eating them. I want these toys to last and be safe. So you knit the body, then stop to make the arms, then knit the arms into the body and close it up.
My one complaint about the color work is that the pattern changes in the middle of the tummy. Suddenly two of the circles are right on top of each other and every time I see it it looks like a mistake, but this is the way the pattern is written and how everyone else's look too, so I know it wasn't a mistake. If I made this again, I would adjust that just for my own sanity, lol. It's cute just the same though.
Next you make the head from back to front. I love that the color work continues there - such a cute touch. You stop again to make ears and horns, then knit them on as you go. The final touch is to embroider the now and eyelids (he has eyelids! - look at them!). I love the eyelids and think they look great with his slouchy body shape.
It took me a few weeks before I could embroider the nose since I had to dig out black yarn and I was moving at the time. Technically the pattern only has a nose, but I thought he looked a bit overly sad so I added a little smile :)
Isn't he so cute? He is in an honored spot on my étagère so I see him everyday in my sewing room. I really love how classic Susan's toy designs are, and I plan on keeping this for when I have kids. I've now made 2 giraffes designed by her, lol. And I'm no huge giraffe lover, I just thought they were adorable designs and had to make them. I also love the hug-able size of this guy - I know it's hard to tell from the photos, but he's about 10" tall. This is definitely an heirloom toy, and I'm so glad I made him up.

Summary:
Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash in Aran and Smoke Blue (leftover from this and this)
Pattern: Little Giraffe by Susan B. Anderson
Notions: fiber fill, poly pellets, white knee high nylon stocking

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Christmas FO: Gray Slouchy Beanie

We have officially reached my final Christmas make! Let the trumpets sound! lol So if you're tired of seeing things that still say "Christmas", then fear not!

Earlier this year, my husband mentioned how he wanted a hat just like the one I made Marisa in January. He wanted a slouchy beanie and in charcoal gray. No problem :)
Knowing he wanted this hat, I grabbed a skein of Cloudborn Wool Worsted Twist in the Slate Heather over the summer when Craftsy had their crazy sale. So this yarn cost $3.00 and I still have some left, lol. This is the Slouch Moss Beanie pattern by Phanessa Fong, which is a free pattern online. Having made it twice now, I can vouch it's a good one :) Pretty simple.
Justin wanted it nice and slouchy, so I just kept knitting until he liked the length. This hat was one of my first Christmas project I started back on November 26th - it was even the project I worked on while I waited in the Avatar ride line at Animal Kingdom, lol - but it was my very last project to be finished since I would just work on it here and there when I was out since it was a very portable project. I thought I had it to a good length, then I tried it on him Christmas Eve and discovered he wanted another inch. SO I kept knitting. We watched It's A Wonderful Life and I knitted, but I managed to finish it before midnight that night.
He seems to really like this hat :) He wore it all day on Christmas even though it wasn't cold at all, but now that it is cold it's the hat he wears anytime he goes out. I take that as a good sign! Other than the moss stitch being tedious to knit English style, this couldn't have been an easier project.
So that was Justin's Christmas hat this year :) I love the texture, he loves the color and slouch - definitely a good one all round.

Thank you so much for enduring my Christmas makes. I like to document them all here just so I have a record of what I made more for myself than anything else. But now we will return to the regularly scheduled blogging of things for myself, lol.

Summary:
Yarn: 0.66 skeins Cloudborn Wool Worsted Twist in Slate Heather
Pattern: Slouchy Moss Beanie by Phanessa Fong
Time: A few hours collectively, but over a month

Friday, February 9, 2018

Christmas FO: Mint Sequin Shirt

One of the final gifts I made this year was this shirt for my mom. I could never decide what to make for her, so I hemmed and hawed for a while before realizing I should not reinvent the wheel. I've made my mom the Plantain Tee before and she wears it quite often and says it's super comfortable, so I presented her with making another one. I pulled out several pieces of stash fabric for her to choose from (we were just over 1 week from Christmas at this point, lol, so stash was a necessity) and she chose this lovely combo I plan to make up for myself exactly the same (luckily there should be just enough fabric to squeak out another - muahaha!). 
So this is the Plantain by Deer + Doe, which I've made more times than I can name off hand. They recently released an update to the pattern, which included larger sizing and a few other tweaks, but this is the original pattern with my own alterations already added in - I use this pattern as a nice basic block to make other shirts fit better all the time since I've got it right where I like it. Technically this is the Plantain shirt with the Renfrew neckline since the original is just a touch too low and wide for my taste. My mom said the one thing she would like different is to drop the arm scye just a touch as her first version can feel a bit tight there throughout the day - so easy. I just folded the corner down at the arm pit area when cutting. I also had to make a few changes due to the fabric. This front fabric is a rayon jersey that is covered with sequins, making it not as stretchy as it would otherwise be, so I added 5/8" to each side seam before cutting on the front and back pieces. This simple change made all the difference and it fits great now if I do say so myself :)
 Since it really wouldn't be comfortable to cover your entire body in sequins all day long, I used the sequin fabric only on the front piece (thus having more to make myself one) and I cut the back, sleeves, and neck band from a cream colored cotton interlock (a very lucky find at a thrift store). Now that my mom has worn this a few times, I've learned that I should've done something to the sleeve or the side seam below the arm to protect from the sequins. She says it's not a big thing, and it would happen with an sequin shirt, but throughout the day your arms can get a bit rubbed from the sequins - totally understandable and I can't believe I didn't think of that before because I have a few rtw shirts that do the same thing. When I made this for myself I will either make the sleeves longer (which will cause the seam line on the sleeve to pill quite a lot :/) or maybe piece a strip of the cream colored fabric onto the side of the bodice under the arm scye, angling out to nothing at the hem. I'll have to play with it, but I'll definitely do something along those lines. My moms sleeve has pilled from the friction already, but sadly it's kind of unavoidable.
I really love this interlock fabric. This stuff was a major score and I got several colors at the time just thinking it would be fine for muslins, but I've used this stuff a ton and wear it all the time. I'll be so sad when it's gone, lol. I love it because it's beefy enough to hide lumps and bumps as well as not being sheer at all, but it's also drapey enough to look nice in a design like this one. Also it's comfy and washes great. It's basically magical fabric. 
And here's a closer look at that lovely sequin fabric :) I snagged the last bit of this at The Sewing Studio sale a few years ago - it was a garment factory remnant and the entire thing is covered in very cool sequins. The sequins seem like normal circles at first glance, but they are actually a strip of 4 circles all together in a bar shape. They are stacked on top of one another to make the floral design and then stitched down with clear thread. Even the cream colored areas are sequins - so cool. I was a bit concerned about sewing through this stuff at first, but my fears quickly subsided. It's funny - I always read blogs about how people have to pick all the sequins out of the seam allowance before sewing them, yet the two times I've sewn with sequin fabric it was absolutely fine and I had to do no such thing. Maybe it's because mine were knit fabrics? I don't know, but these lay perfectly fine at the side seams and have given no trouble on the insides either. I even hemmed it as normal with woolly nylon in the bobbin and a twin needle. No special equipment or techniques needed - yay!
And since we were taking pictures, we had to add a few fun shots, lol. Can you tell we're related? Wait, how about in the next photo?
Yep, I definitely came from her, lol. These pictures also show how nicely this drapes away from the body below the bust - definitely our family favorite fit.
And she had to do the blogger pose, lol. This shirt is another fav and Kelly has already asked me for one.  I'm just glad I was able to make another special piece for my awesome mama. Isn't she cute? I hope she gets to wear it for a good long time. Also you will probably be seeing another iteration of this shirt sometime in the future when I make it for myself :)

Summary:
Fabric: front piece from cream rayon spandex knit with floral mint sequins all over, 1 yard cream cotton interlock (thrifted)
Pattern: Deer + Doe Plantain with Sewaholic Renfrew neckline
Notions: knit stay tape, thread
Time: 3 hours

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Christmas FO: Succulent Orbs Tutorial (Great Budget Gift)

I always struggle with what to give friends for Christmas that I will be able to afford - a limited budget + a large family really doesn't leave much available for friends that you want to acknowledge. This gift was months in the making, but I am really pleased with how it turned out so I figured I would share so others can do the same thing for fun and thoughtful gifts on a budget :)
This all began with my love of succulents. I love succulent gardening and I have amassed a decent little collection that I've been able to keep alive quite some time. Once I learned how to sprout succulents myself, I went totally nuts. I was walking through the garden center of Lowes or Home Depot one day and noticed all these dropped succulent leaves on the ground, then I saw a pile get swept up and thrown away by an employee. It was so sad! All those little potential plants just thrown out. I decided right then to save these cast off leaves from their fate and take them home to sprout my own plants. This obviously takes much longer to have a good sized plant, but it's worth the wait just for the personal pride you get from growing them 100% yourself :)

Next we add to the equation my love of Chinese ebay stores. I like to find a random store and just look through its random contents to see what I can find. That's how I came across these orbs. I originally bought a few for myself because I thought I would put little knitted scenes in them (which never happened), but eventually I had the idea to use them as planters for my little succulent sprouts. Succulents grow easily but very slowly (most of them), so these orbs are an ideal little terrarium when the plants are small. To make it even better, these orbs were something like $1.25 USD each, shipping and everything.

I don't know exactly when the two ideas combined into a gift, but I found myself ordering 12 of the glass orbs back in September to make sure I would have them in time for Christmas (shipping can take up to a month sometimes - the one draw back). Around the same time I started hunting for sproutable succulent leaves again and I started a whole tray full (all you do is spread some dirt on a plate, stick the leaves just barely in the dirt, and then keep it moist but not sopping and you will have roots in a week or so). I waited until early December to transport the best looking sprouts into their new digs, hoping they would be bigger this way. About a week before I was giving them out, I set out all my supplies and put them together.

Supplies you'll need:
  • Fish tank rocks - I grabbed a bag of white aquarium rock at Walmart for $4.50 and that turned out to be way too much. I've also seen these rocks for sale at the Dollar Tree in the floral section and these would have more than enough rocks for 12 orbs. I rinsed my rocks out just to make sure nothing would contaminate the plants.
  • Good potting mix - I like to use Miracle Grow Moisture Control, but really even moss or sand should work. Just use what you have on hand or in your yard.
  • Sprouted succulent leaves - find pieces that have dropped off larger plants - you can find them at any garden center or even around landscaping as these can easily detach.
  • Glass orbs - I recommend buying direct from China through ebay like this. You can find these orbs from US stores and sellers, but they are easily $5 or more each. Plan ahead and get them from the source. 
  • Hanging cord - I went with some green jute I had on hand, but any sturdy cord will work.
  • Baker's twine - if you want to make pretty bows to make them more gift-y, this is a simple way to do it. You can really use any type of ribbon that you prefer as well.
How to assemble:
1. Spoon a thin layer of aquarium rock in the bottom of each orb. This helps in water drainage as well as giving the planter some weight so it won't swing in the wind as badly.
2. Spoon a thin layer of potting soil over the rock layer - I try to get my dirt in an even layer up to the bottom of the opening in the front of each orb. This gives the plants enough soil to grow on for a good amount of time.
3. Carefully unearth your succulent sprouts and re-pot them in the orbs. I try to make sure the roots are covered with a thin layer of soil, but even if they stick out a bit it's ok. If you can't bury your roots, just keep your orb out of direct sun. Give each plant a little bit of water - I like to use a small spray bottle and angle it into the soil, but you can also carefully pour water in. Be very careful to not water too much - if the plant is floating, you should pour some out.
4. Measure out cord and give each orb a hanger - I tied an overhand knot and cut off the excess. Make sure to keep in mind how much you want the orbs to dangle and make them consistent.

5. Add bows out of baker's twine or ribbon of your choice at the hanging loop.
Et voilà! Adorable hanging terrariums that only cost about $1.50 each :) I liked these so much I made a few for myself to keep :) I hung them on the hooks of a metal candle holder I've had since high school and they just look so cute! You can be a little experimental with these - add a painted rock with a message or use multiple succulent sprouts to give a bit more depth and interest. Write Merry Christmas on a small piece of paper, glue it to half a toothpick, and insert your sign next to your sprout. If you're good at hand lettering, white your recipient's name on the outside. Lots of fun options, and all of them make these even more personal. I made these for all the members of the singing groups I am in, and they were a big hit.
I continue making these periodically because you never know when you will need a quick, yet cute and personal gift. I have several of these around my house and they are really fun. They add just a nice touch to a window or on a plant hanger. I think they would look really neat strung up like a garland too. So many possibilities!

* None of these links are affiliate at all, I just wanted to share the deal :)