Sunday, January 29, 2012

An owl cable hat, and some excuses relating to curtains.

The little owl hat is done.

A small project, but hey, some weeks are busier than others.  This coming week friends will be staying with us for a couple of nights; the weekend after that, we are celebrating Jean's birthday.  And today we had friends over for lunch after church. This is not remotely typical for us.

The moment you know that people will look at your house, you suddenly realize that some windows do not have curtains yet (!?), and that it may have been longer than usual since anyone cleaned in great detail.  Thus, we spent the whole Saturday cleaning, and throwing away everything that we have not used since we moved into this house in May 2010.  (i.e. the boxes of stuff we moved from the previous house, put in the garage to sort out later and never touched again.) Then I went to Target to get curtains and rails.  I found some, but some windows will still have to go without, since it was late and my brain gets stuck when I have to choose curtains.

(We built a house once, could not decide what to do about window treatments, and the neighbors actually came over to ask if we wanted some of their old curtains...  eh...Embarrassing. We were not walking around naked or anything, though, just to be clear.  They just thought we might need curtains. Which we did, but we would rather go without, if we could not have the Perfect Ones.)

So I will have to let go of this obsession to find the perfect window treatments, and also forget about sewing all of them, and just go get some that are good enough. Next week.

In the mean time I love that little hat, it turned out even better than I thought it would.  It is really a pity that it is never cold enough to wear a hat here. This week I will move on to table cloths and garlands, in preparation for The Party.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


{joining Ginny's yarn along again}

I am still knitting the Henley, it is coming along and keeping my hands very busy while I have to sit and wait. I love the fit - he has such a nice frame, I do not like baggy sweaters on him.  I will make everything long enough, an as soon as it is too small, he has two little brothers to take it over from him.

shutter speed 1/15s

I am also still reading  A Canticle for Leibowitz, and enjoying it very much.  It is light reading, and so much fun I almost feel guilty.  When I am done I will pen down a few ideas - I am a Calvinist to the core, but love my Catholic friends and really appreciate their input and perspective.

shutter speed 1/40s

My latest reading is Understanding Exposure, a book on photography that I discovered in Ginny's favorites shop.  Lovely! Many short easy words to explain the long, difficult ones.  I set my camera, a Canon EOS 350 D, to manual, and I am finally learning to use my camera.  The pictures of the sweater is a small sample of what I have been doing the past week - mostly setting the f stop to 5.6 and then adjusting the shutter speed to find the right exposure.  The first photo was taken at 1/15 s shutter speed, and the second at 1/40.  I also set the white balance to cloudy.  Sorry, this may be either old news or too much detail, I know, but I think it is amazing. 

1/40s at f/5.6

 He will be 8 in 2 weeks, he does not like standing there in a half-finished sweater.

1/40s at f/5.6

But I want to capture that smile and those little shoulders while I still can.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A baby dress

An open back baby dress.  This was easy to make, I finished on Friday after working only here and there for about 30 minutes at a time.  It is fully reversible, and allows for another easy project, a ruffled diaper cover.  Or maybe just a plain one, the fabric is quite busy enough as it is.

I would love to make this pattern again; as with everything, the second time will be much easier.  No seam ripping this time, though, the pattern by tiedyediva  was an excellent tutorial, I love her patterns and have made several of them.

I find that I do complete more projects, and therefore have fewer works-in-progress, now that I have a self imposed deadline.  It is much easier to store and organize finished objects, for sure. I fear that I will not attempt any big ones, since I want to complete one every week.  But if I complete little ones every week, and start big ones every three weeks or so and keep on working on them along with the little ones, I will probably do fine. Unless I crash and burn, of course.  But until then, I'll do fine.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

a tuque (it rhymes with fluke)

I love knitting little hats, and even though temperatures will be in the 70's all week, and we have no guarantees that winter will return this year, I wanted to knit this owl cable hat for a friend's sweet baby boy. Knitting cable is not that hard but impresses people who do not knit.  I love this quote from  a tongue-in-the-cheek timeline in Mason Dixon Knitting:

"1896: Siobahn Ogwnngyfleioghnn knits so poorly that she accidentally discovers the cable stitch"  While holding five double pointed needles and a cable needle, I can totally see how that happened!

Anyway, since Jean's sweater is in the endless knitting in the round phase, I enjoy doing little projects in-between to keep it interesting.

As for the book, I found it at Costco, looking for activity books to keep the twins occupied while I help the older kids. It was just what I needed and have been looking for since we came.  Lisa Fain lives in New York  but grew up in Texas, and misses Texas. This may sound cruel, but during our first summer here, in 2009, when it did not rain for three months and temperatures stayed over a hundred for 70 days in a row, I thought - can anyone love this place?  Would we ever grow to love it? And why oh why is all the food spicy?   Lisa Fain writes with such tenderness about her home state, she almost had me in tears. (I was sitting next to the pool again, so I restrained myself.)  She makes me want to try the recipes with names that I will never be able to pronounce, and travel a bit more in this strange place that is so much harsher than what I am used to.
I also found 3 Kumon books for $12.99.

I am linking to Ginny's yarn along again; I just love seeing what happens all over the world.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

A camp shirt

A shirt for one of the boys.  I know, it almost looks store bought, doesn't it? And while that would have been a compliment when I was young, say, 25 years ago, now we want our handmade clothes to look handmade, don't we? 

But it has the right feel - I wanted to recreate the shirts that boys wore to school when I was in Primary School (grades 1 through 7). Seeing all the facebook photos this week of little children of friends and relatives going back to school for a new school year this week in South Africa made me feel quite nostalgic. I love school uniforms.  (Maybe I should consider uniforms for our schooldays? It was so good to take that hot, unyielding dress off in the afternoon after school... But then I would have to cut his hair short too.)

I promise that this was taken today - Texas has intermittent winters, today we had the day off.

The pattern is from Fabric-by-Fabric One-Yard Wonders.  Now that I know how to make it, it seems easy, but I had to rip seams twice: first I made the sleeves into a collar, and then I attached the facing upside down.  The sleeves were my fault, they were clearly marked "sleeves".  The facing assumed some prior knowledge, they could have explained a bit better.  Luckily there was more than enough fabric in a yard to cut another set of sleeves.

I think it is a great book for ideas, there are several patterns I will make, only next time I will go slower.  I have a different shirt pattern from oliver+s, that seems to be much more involved, but now that I have made this shirt, I will attempt it.

Jacques mentioned that the stripes made it look like pajamas.  True.  Made out of flannel these would make great pajamas.

For next week:  A friend had a "gender reveal" party today - this is where an expecting couple get to know if they will have a girl or boy by taking a slip of paper from the doctor to the baker, and then cutting the cake (baked with blue or pink batter) when they have friends and family around them. And it is going to be... a girl!  So I think I should be sewing a little itty-bitty dress for a baby girl's first Texas summer.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

like, "a grey sweater"

I am joining Ginny for the first time for a yarn along - I have been following since the beginning, and have been inspired to knit things I never thought I would.  This is just a grey henley pullover for Jean, to wear to church.  I love knitting in the round - here I am about to join. 

I knit most of this during:
  1. choir practice;
  2. swimming lessons; and
  3. math.
I looked to the left of me at the pool today, and the other moms, who were not chasing littler ones, were busy on their smartphones.  My phone is a disposable, since I cannot keep track of things like phones and often forget them on the roof of my car. Therefore, I knit.  (I also met an interesting man from Iowa, who has been living in Austin since 1972.  I had to explain again that I am not Dutch South African, I am Afrikaans. And that it really isn't just nitpicking to say that. Afrikaans is a real language, with its own literature, poetry and everything.)

I am not really reading that book, yet.  It is Jacques' book for his book club this month.  Canticle is not really a short, easy word, now is it.  But I did buy the audible book, and will give it chance.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

A New Year - 52 projects

Just one project a week.

I will post once a week, and in that one post feature one project that I completed that week.  A "project" will be something I have sewn, or knitted, or maybe mod podged.  Now and then it may be a birthday cake. I thought about making a list of rules, but decided against it.

I just want to keep a record of what I do, and I want to complete what I started. And I want to share it, especially with my family and friends that are far, and who do not know me like this.

It started off well:  I usually start with summer dresses close to fall, but this year I am prepared - her first spring dress is ready: Tah dah!

The pattern is from a book I found on amazon, Girl's World.  I think I will make all three dresses in the book, this pattern was so well written.  It involved some finishing using bias binding around the neckline and armholes that was surprisingly easy, a lot of gathering, and making a sash. And a bit of elastic that is too hard to explain without diagrams, but it gathers the skirt part even more, and makes it easier to pull the dress over your head.

(The background also tells a story - it was a dry summer, most of the lawn, or rather, grassy meadow died, but some rain during the past weeks revived the weeds.)

Next week, a shirt for one of the boys.  I will also cast on Jean's henley sweater.  Our church sanctuary is so cold in summer that I do not have to hurry, he will use it all year long.