During the past year or so, I have become utterly obsessed with knitting. In fact, if you've followed me on instagram, you'll see that that's what I've been up to, whilst seriously neglecting my blog.
I discovered some gorgeously knitted baby clothing while scrolling around Pinterest, which led me to connect with some instagram feeds that are just to die for. Soft, cuddly, cute, cleverly-designed baby knits everywhere. One gorgeous feed would lead to another - pictures of babies dressed top to toe in snuggly bonnets and rompers, topped with beautifully textured cardigans in the most gorgeous colours - I fell so much in love, I could hear little cartoon hearts popping all around my head. It's stuff to make you swoon.
Most of the designs in the feeds I've been stalking are made by mothers and grandmothers in the Scandanavian region - most predominantly Norway and Denmark, where I guess knitting is a way of life due to the cooler climate. These ladies seem to knit up pieces in the blink of an eye - a photo posted on their feeds of a cast on row seems to materialize into a fully completed garment three days later, and often they are working on three or more projects at one time. It's mind-blowing!
And the fact that many of these very talented women now sell their patterns online is wonderful news for everyone who loves to knit. And many of them have been translated into English, which is even better news.
I have always been in love with rompers and bonnets; both when I sew, and now also when I knit. This romper is made from a design by Ministrikk, and is a wonderful pattern to start with if you are looking to dip your toes into knitting something beyond bonnets or booties for a baby. Ministrikk offers many (though not all) of their patterns in English - you can check out which ones by clicking on the 'English' tab along the top of their page. The patterns are sent to you in PDF form once you've paid via Paypal. So you can buy it, pay for it and be knitting it ten minutes later ;)
The pattern is for a textured, vintage-styled romper that is knitted flat in two pieces and sewn up at the sides, with the straps buttoning at the back waist. I've not yet knitted a romper with the textured pattern, but have made a few simple versions in plain stockinette, or with a pattern running up the centre.
The romper above is knitted with a panel of lace running up the centre. I used chart A1 from the Sweet Alice dress from the Drops Design site. The pattern is 16 stitches wide, and I needed an odd number of stitches so that the panel ran smack through the centre of the front, so I reduced it to a 15 stitch wide pattern by eliminating one of those purl stitches (symbolized by the black dot) in the middle of the chart.
The yarn I used to knit this was the Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino, in Duck Egg blue (I think) which is probably slightly thicker than the yarn recommended in the original pattern. But I can never say no to this yarn, it is super soft and snuggly, and comes in so many beautiful colours!
This is a wonderful and easy to read pattern - it's been translated perfectly. I find that alot of patterns from this part of the world are very differently written from ones that originate from the UK and Australia (which tend to dole out row by row instructions), so at first glance, it may be a bit strange. But after reading through it, it all becomes quite clear and straightforward. (Note: this pattern includes short row shaping in the back. If you're not familiar with short rows, or any other technique on any knitting pattern, YouTube is a wonderful resource!)
And no, sadly, I don't have anyone to dress this in. That's probably the worst thing about my knitting addiction. All this squooshy, knitted goodness and no one to play dress ups :( I'll be graduating onto knitting larger sized pieces for my kids soon, but in the meantime, these cute baby knits have me hooked.
My sewing room is overloaded to the point that I can't move three steps in any direction without encountering a tripping hazard. Between my op-shop-bargains which I have housed in secret for many years (shhhhhh), AND my addiction to fabric (AND now, also yarn), I have pondered that I quite possibly have a serious hoarding problem, and I am making it my mission (as I have for many years before this one, and without much success), to de-clutter once and for all.
But I can't bring myself to bin any of it. Not one bit. And, so thus begins a sewing binge.
I made this camisole for Sophie out of an embroidered pillowcase and an unused and still packaged up bed sheet. The front and back panels were cut from the pillow case, with the rest of the pieces being sliced from the sheet.
There is a bit of a colour mismatch going on between the pillow case bits and the sheet bits, but nothing a soak in a bucket of Napisan won't fix. Sophie wanted it to be dress length, but it looked to much like sleepwear, so it got the chop.
I used the pinafore pattern from this wildly popular Japanese sewing book - it is also a wildly popular pattern amongst the sewing-for-kids crowd, and for very good reason. It's easy and versatile and can be thrown together in an hour once everything is cut. And it just looks so good. On it's own in the summer, and over t-shirts and tights when the weather gets cooler, it is a winner. I have made a dozen of these in the past few years, and will no doubt make a dozen more. And if you're looking for a pattern as someone who is beginning to sew, it's an absolutely perfect project.
If you were thinking about getting this book, bite the bullet and just buy it! All the patterns in it are sized from 90cm - 130cm (approximately aged 2 - 8), so it's great value. It's floating about Etsy and eBay at the moment (as you can see at the link I provided above). I am never giving this one up, it really is one of the best books. EVER.
I'm mucking about at the moment with a new romper design, which I hope to list in the shop in the near future. It's actually looking a little over-run with rompers and bonnets at the moment, but I can't help it! Rompers and bonnets are just too cute.
Once the pattern's all sorted, I plan to make them up in *proper* fabric, but in the meantime, I've been carving up some old dead-stock shirts that I have had lying about for months (possibly years).
These are a lovely, soft chambray and I've sliced and re-stitched several up already, into pinafore and bloomers for Sophie, and pulled one or two out of the pile myself for wearing about the place.
I've just about shredded and de-buttoned every single one, now. And the romper is coming together beautifully.
With Easter around the corner, there are a stack of bunny eared hairbands in the stores, I know. Most of the ones I've seen though are lolly-like hues of pink and blue, and that eye-piercing shade of bright baby-chicken yellow, which are all, incidentally, the colours I like least.
For the cost of a cheap hairband, a couple of chenille sticks, along with a favourite piece of fabric from your stash, and about ten minutes, you can easily make one that co-ordinates with your little one's favourite outfit. Even if you don't have a sewing machine, you can make these easily and quite quickly.
I've left mine plain, but you could have fun decorating with sparkly bows or (my beloved) colourful pompoms at the base of one ear, or both. This would also be a great Easter project for older children who are learning to sew.
What you need:
Thin cardboard (piece of cereal box or similar) for making a template
A thin headband (I like one with grippers - it helps stop the ears sliding about :) )
2 chenille sticks (mine were each 30cm long). Preferably the same colour as the hairband.
A piece of fabric 20cm x 40cm (or two pieces of co-ordinating fabric 20cm x 20cm). I've used a plain cotton to make mine.
What you do:
Print the template below on to a sheet of paper, then glue to thin cardboard. When dry, cut around the outline.
Fold your piece of fabric in half width-ways, right sides together, so that the folded fabric measures 20cm square. (If you are using two co-ordinating fabrics so the front and rear of the ears are different, place them right sides together). Press lightly if needed, to get out any creases.
Place the ear template on the folded fabric (leaving enough room to draw a second ear) and draw around it with pencil. Draw a second ear in the same way.
Machine or hand-sew around the two long sides of each ear, leaving the bottom open for turning.
Cut around stitching. leaving about a half centimetre all around.
Turn inside out, using the end of a pencil to poke out the top point. Also run it along the long sides of each ear so that the curves are nicely shaped. (Note: I found that clipping the curves along the edges and into the top was unnecessary for the fabric I was using). Lightly press the ears and set aside while you prepare the hairband.
Bend over each end of each chenille stick, just so that prickly wire isn't a problem (ends of chenille sticks can sometimes be sharp!)
Fold each chenille stick in half as pictured.
Attach the chenille sticks into the position you want the ears to sit, using the picture below as a guide (I've used a yellow chenille stick here, so it looks clearer, but will be using black chenille sticks to make my ears.) I think this knot thing I've used is called a cow hitch.
If you're using a hairband with grippers, before pulling them too tightly, make sure they are in the right position, because they can be difficult to move.
Tape or twist the ends of the stick together.
Take your fabric ears and slide them over the sticks.
Turn in the bottom of each ear about a half centimetre or so, and run a gathering stitch by hand around the base of each ear. Pull up the gathers and slightly so they sit around the base of the chenille stick. Then, without breaking your thread, secure the ears to the headband by sewing through the base of each ear and around the headband, until they are firmly in place. Repeat to secure other ear.
And they're all done! Add a decorative bow or pompom or anything else you can think of to pretty up your new ears.
These are so quick and easy to make, they would make a great addition to a child's chocolate egg stash! Or, make some for the whole family and take an awesome Easter family portrait. My crew sadly won't do this for me. Too embarassing, apparently. If you're family is cooler than mine, and you do this - I would love to see it!
Luckily, I still have one poser.
This year, though, I've become obsessed with vintage baby knitwear, and I'm fixated on cute little rompers and bonnets. I could knit these all year long. I've been trying out some patterns that I found at a local second-hand store, combined with a bit of improvisation, a moderate amount of finger-crossing and a whole lot of unravelling and starting over.
This particular one is my favourite, and combines a knicker pattern from the 1950s with a bib that I made up all by myself. I know! I, too, was suitably impressed by my ingenuity until I realised that I forgot to write down how I actually did it, and now have no idea how to do it again. I could scream.
Autumn colours, a pom-pom (I'm still deciding whether it's a permanent fixture or not - it looks cute, but would probably not be practical when washing), and criss-cross straps that button in the back - it vaguely reminds me of Humpty Dumpty. How cute would this look with a stripey tee and cotton stockings?
But, however adorable it all looks, I'm not sure it's good enough. Not yet, anyway. My knitting techniques are pretty slapdash, and I'm as slow as Joe Crow. So, although she doesn't know it yet, I'm going to consult a friend who is a super-star when it comes to knitting, in the hope she can help me with my sloppiness and give me some tips on how to speed things up. I'm planning on taking her out for coffee and cake, and then hitting her up for tips! She is so awesome, she might even be able to help me work out how I actually made this romper (please?).
Unfortunately, it's five years too late for mine, so I'm making them at the moment for no-one in particular. It's a shame the need to knit didn't strike when Sophie was a baby, she would have lived in these. Oh, take me back.
Both the kids have got somewhere to be this Saturday. In this part of the world, the tradition of Halloween is quickly gaining momentum, what with every shop in the land having at the very least a small section devoted to kids' dress-ups, sweets shaped like eyeballs and severed fingers and a pumpkin-face version of just about everything. There's a long break without much going on between Easter and Christmas, and Halloween has slotted nicely into the Australian calendar of things to do. Let's face it, if it weren't for all the Halloween merchandise, retailers would be displaying all the Christmas stuff from the start of September, and we'd be preparing for that. Or in my case, still leaving it until the last minute.
I secretly really like Halloween, because I love costumes, and the supernatural, and the dark. My husband hates it, and thinks it's just an excuse to sponge lollies off your neighbours and to pitch eggs at cars. He admits that he is cynical, but only because that was the sort of thing he did in his younger days, and he says he didn't have to use Halloween as an excuse, either.
Anyway, this year we've decided that Cameron can go trick or treating. He is going as the Grim Reaper. A lovely friend takes her kids every year, and knows all the best places to go. He's ten now, and he only has a few years of trick or treat left in him, so we thought we best let him see what all the fuss is about, before he gets old and cynical like his father (who, I will add, is lovely in all sorts of other ways, just in case he is reading).
Sophie is going to a Halloween disco being held at the kids' taekwondo club. She was excited about dressing up as Jack Skellington, but I didn't have enough time to throw together a stripey suit. Maybe next year. Instead, I convinced her to go as a baby vampire bat - she loves baby animals. Even ones capable of infecting you with rabies.
I made her a bonnet based on the ones I sell at my online store, replacing the rounded bear ears with pointy batfink ones.
The wings were made from a stretchy lycra material, using this awesome tutorial. I have had this one pinned for ages! When I suggested to Sophie we dress her up as a bat, her only request was that she would be able to dance! This bat-wing shrug is so comfy to wear, simple to make, and just so effective - perfect for dancing, too! I also stitched up a pair of black bloomers to wear over her tights (just because I love them so <3). Oh, and she's practicing the snarl for nearly the past five years.
A bit of greasepaint on the nose is about all I'm capable of when it comes to face-painting. I would love to learn how to do it, but this one's too wriggly and Cameron has always been very tactile defensive. He hates face-painting, temporary tattoos, refuses to let me write my phone number on his arm with marker if we are going somewhere crowded (he prefers carrying a laminated card) - he just hates being drawn on. He runs home from school to scrub pen ink off his hands, yet needs to be told without fail every day to clean his glasses and brush his hair. I hear most ten year old boys are like that, so I'm not worried. Not yet.
I can't wait for Saturday - I'm looking so forward to seeing all the children in their costumes - kids and dress-ups! Two of my very favourite things! I hope you a spooky and scary-fun Halloween!
I have been making little wings for little tunics this week. In between looking after a sick small, treading the mill at the gym (!) and doing the general domestic duties gig. I'm hoping to have a small selection of clothing for sale by the end of the coming week. Did you see the shop thingy in the sidebar? Feel free to have a bo-peep. I'm really not expecting to sell a single thing, but I've had a fun time making little clothes. It all looks a bit Blyton-esque, actually. That wasn't done on purpose, mind, but I like how it looks so far.
I have to take a break from sewing for the shop so that I can make a few things for Sophie and myself and write up some new tutorials. Yes, TUTORIALS! Remember those? I'm not sure that you miss them at all, but I do. I know I said it a couple of posts back, but there will be a new one soon. No, really, there will x