Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Making and Giving

I've been getting some pretty great photos of babies who I've knitted for, in their handmade items. Well, one of those is mine, but so be it :).

August wore his "Marching On Vest" a while back. Isn't he just the most gorgeous boy? I should make more of these vests. They're really nice little winter warmers.

Speaking of winter warmers. cream! I knitted this Sweetie Pie Dress for Lulu quite a while ago. Actually, I think I knitted it for Penny, but it was out of season when she was old enough to wear it. It's from a 1940s knitting pattern, and all the details are in a post I did for another version that I gave away, here. I love her in it, and it fits perfectly. The only drawback is that since it's hand knitted, it's a bit stretchy, and Lulu can take it off herself. Which thrills her. So you can imagine what she got up to one cold morning at Ikea...

How adorable is this newborn? He's Mr. Linfield, and his dad works with Mr. Jones. I made him lamb hat almost identical to the one I made for Lulu. The pattern is now available for purchase right here, and it cracks me up. I love how on an older baby it looks like a lamb, and on a newborn, it looks like a mouse hat! Either way, pretty nice.

Off my needles and into storage went this penguin sweater. I bought the pattern years ago from a company/person called Ginger Originals. I can see the site where she sells them, but I can't seem to locate the penguin pattern. At any rate, it's a size 5, so a bit too big for this year, but I'm hoping it will be donned on a trip to the zoo, or to play in the snow, in the next few years. The specifics can be found on my Ravelry page.

I've been doing lots of crafting lately, though it's been kind of out of the ordinary: some crocheted amigurumi, some felt cutting and gluing, some simple hats, over and over again. I'm also making Penny and Lulu some robes just like Alicia's flowered one in this post. I hate to do the same pattern in the same fabric as someone else (and I actually found fabric I like more at a later date), but the girls play for so many hours in the house each morning and sometimes tell me they're cold. The robes should so cozy for Winter. Also, Christmas dresses. Of course.

I wish you an inspired Thanksgiving, full of making and giving, and a long weekend with those you love.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

I Made Their Coats

I made the girls' winter coats this year. It was an ambitious project I had been thinking about for a long time, ever since I tracked down a paper pattern for the Oliver & S School Days Jacket, which I absolutely loved. The digital version is still available, but the paper pattern is discontinued. It always breaks my heart when physical patterns go away forever. 

Anyway, since the pattern only goes up to size 4 and Penny will be 4 in only a few months, I knew this was the year to make their coats.  The outside is Pendleton wool that I bought at the big September sale at the Woolen Mill Outlet, here in Portland. The inside of Lulu's coat is made of a Liberty print brought with me when we moved from London. The adorable petal toggles are from here.

Besides the adorable styling of the duffle coats, I am really appreciating the big pockets. Lulu has enough room for her favorite babydoll, Rita! Penny has been able to stuff her mittens and scarf in them, for walks at school. I made her this matching set from scraps I had around the house (my own made-up pattern, and Ravelry details here).

Penny's coat, also made from Pendleton wool and toggles from here, has the cutest interior. I had been looking at the fabric for so long online. It's called Acorn Trail from Birch Fabrics and guess what: It's a story about a girl named Penny!

This specific print in the line, called Acorn Trail Map, has a picture of a girl and names the things in her neighborhood: Penny's cottage, Possum Pond, Fox Kingdom. Since Penny knows her name when written, she likes finding it inside her coat, along with the girl "with yellow hair, like me". I'm so tempted to buy this matching canvas, where you cut and sew dolls and animals. How I used to love doing this with my grandmother! I bet my mom still has a Strawberry Shortcake or Shirt Tale in the attic :).

The coats have been a great success. Both girls find them cozy and fun to wear. The style does run a bit big, but is perfect for sweaters underneath. The hoods have been so handy in the current downpours of rain we've been having!

If once intimidated by sewing outerwear, I'm now in love with the process. I have some cute Japanese canvas and I'm thinking about making a spring coat for Lulu with this same pattern. The pattern has a version with buttons and button bands, and I think it would be adorable with oversized buttons in front. I'm also scheming about next year's coats; this pattern might be really cute for Penny. That said, my sewing priorities might change completely, and I might never sew a coat again. I'll always know that this year, however, was both a challenge, and a success!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Sewing Halloween

Sewing this year's Halloween costumes was so very enjoyable for me. My collection of vintage patterns provided almost everything I needed to make them. For the cowgirl outfits, I used the patterns below. Lulu's puffy sleeve dress was the absolute cutest. Even though she was mostly covered up with her suede jacket (which I found at the Goodwill while I was pregnant with Penny), her shoulders look so adorable in this dress. The pattern, like most vintage ones, is only one size, so I'll definitely be making a couple more before she outgrows it. I bought the lasso fabric at Fabric Depot here in Portland a while ago, and the scraps I had left embellished Penny's western jacket from the pattern below (right). The blue fabric for the jacket was a cotton/nylon I bought at the Pendleton Woolen Mill outlet. It was great to sew and washes well, but it wrinkles quite badly, which has been a surprise. It took everything in me not to sew Penny a matching pair of bell bottoms, though I new she'd never wear them. Instead, she wore a thrifted bandana skirt ($1.99) and cowgirl boots from Ebay.

Penny's princess dress was from the vintage pattern below. Before I left London, I visited a shop I know that sells almost every Liberty print at 30% off. So I have a small stash, mostly small amounts of yardage, that I'm determined not to let sit on my shelves forever. She wanted to be a very pink princess ("Everything has to be pink, Mama. VERY PINK.") and she liked this print, so I sewed it up, using scraps of linen and shiny stars from a previous dress she's outgrown (and stained) that I sewed on the bodice.

Still, when I finished the dress, I felt it wasn't fancy enough. We talked about wings, but she didn't care to be a fairy princess. So after some pattern hunting, I found McCalls 7036 and to my surprise, she absolutely loved wearing it!

Their costumes have actually been in pretty frequent wardrobe rotation. Penny wore her bolero to the park yesterday, and she looked like a character from Blade Runner. My hope is that even if they don't want to wear them as everyday dresses and things, that we'll have an ongoing costume box that they'll enjoy for years to come. Lulu sure has enjoyed putting on Penny's sparkly pink shoes. Probably more than Penny :).

Monday, November 2, 2015

Halloween, 2015

The story of Halloween 2015 started last Halloween. When it was finished, Penny kept asking me why Mama and Daddy didn't have costumes, and we didn't really have an answer. We had gone to the party at daycare, and some of the moms and dads dressed up, but we didn't. So this year, she was insistent that we have a family costume. When I asked her what she thought we should be, she said we should all be cowgirls and cowboys. GOOD IDEA! So, I started to sew.

Three weeks ago she came home from preschool telling me she wanted to be a princess for Halloween. "What about the cowgirls and cowboys idea?" I asked her. "We can be that, too!" Of course I was annoyed, but when you're 3 and a half, every girl in preschool wants to be a princess so you do, too. I was never really into princesses myself, but I thought long and hard about what a great princess costume would be, and again, I started to sew.

This year was a great year because we had the Friday night school party, and a full day of Halloween on Saturday. So, two costumes worked out great, even if the weather was completely dreadful.

On Friday:

On Saturday:

I am blessed with girls who really appreciate the things I make for them, and love wearing them. I would sew them a hundred costumes to have a weekend like this past one. I can't tell you how much I enjoyed this holiday. Both girls seemed so energized by just being in their costumes, and seeing other people in theirs. When it was time for trick-or-treating, the torrential rain almost put us off the event completely, until I campaigned to head to the local mall. There we literally thousands of kids, snaking around the stores. My girls got 3 pieces of candy, sat down, ate them, played in the playground, and were done. Success! We went home for dinner, and to open the door to Trick-or-Treaters braving the rain. Penny told me her favorite part was holding the bowl of candy for them. My favorite part was...The. Whole. Entire. Thing. 

PS. Halloween 2014, 2013, 2012

PPS. A de-brief on the sewing part of the costumes, next!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

A Halloween Serenade

Are you ready for Halloween? It's supposed to be a wash out here in Portland with rain on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday! No matter, we'll be out in costume anyway. In the run up to the holiday, we've had a horror show of our own, with all members of the family (barely) getting through a terrible stomach flu. Penny and Daddy did manage to get a jack-o-lantern carved, and Penny and Lulu decided to stand next to it last night while Penny sang "5 Little Pumpkins" and Lulu stirred up a witches brew.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Pumpkin Patch, 2015

We did so much more at the Pumpkin Patch this year than just get a pumpkin. How we love to visit Kruger's Farm! There was a pony ride (Penny was so brave!), a hay ride, and a run through rows and rows of flowers. There were visits to a pig named Matilda, and the chance meeting of one of Penny's very best friends from preschool, Clara, and her family. It was such a lovely Autumn Day. It was a shame (well, sort of) to have to go home for naps.

When Penny found this ear of corn in the dirt and tried to feed it to Clara, they both burst into hysterical laughter. On and on they laughed, the other one grabbing the corn and trying to feed her friend. Preschool jokes! So random and so delightful to see them sharing the same sense of humor, making each other laugh...

The other thing I'll never forget about this trip was when we were on the the hay ride from the pumpkin patch, back to the farmhouse. We saw a random pumpkin on the side of the dirt path. "Look at that pumpkin!" I told Penny who sat in my lap, "He's waiting on the side of the road!". One minute later she burst in to tears, and when I could finally get her to calm down long enough to tell me what was wrong, she muttered, "That pumpkin is lonely! We have to go get him! He needs our help to get back to his friends!" It was the sweetest thing I had ever heard. Penny Jones, friend to lonely pumpkins.

PS. Kruger Farm 2014 (baby Lulu!), 2013 (no Lulu yet!), 2012 (baby Penny-ahhhhh!)

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Happy October!

Fall is here, and we've been as busy as ever. What's luckier: that we got invited to a festive Oktoberfest party, or that the girls had complementary thrifted vintage outfits to wear to the occasion? I think we know the answer...:).

The Grands were in town for 10 days from England (I even got to spend the night away - all by myself), we went to the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival for a few hours, and we've been in the backyard 'raking up' mayhem, daily. I've also been sewing and knitting a lot. Halloween is just around the corner, and the costumes are already in full swing. This is the first year I'm taking requests!