Thursday, July 29, 2010

Crochet: Picot and Lace Layette

I know it seems a bit crazy to be working up a wool sweater in the middle of summer, but it's never to early to start on Fall knit and crochet, and I wanted to get a little layette set finished for this baby girl before she arrives. So from white to wool we go...


I love the vintage look of this sweater--a bit of a theme with me. The pattern is by Abigail Goss and available free online.  I used Knit Picks Andean Treasure 100% baby alpaca yarn rather than the other sport weight yarn specified in the pattern. Two skeins were enough to make the sweater and hat. This yarn is so soft; I love it! Not the girliest of colors I know, but I love this cloud like "Fog" color. I need to make something to go with it that adds a bit of blush or pink but it would look beautiful with white or off-white (my favorite baby colors).

I love the details in the sweater and the fact that it's created all in one piece--no sewing side seams or sleeves! 

I wanted a matching hat so I created my own baby cloche pattern using picot and lace. I first made the hat in a newborn size, but it's always such a gamble guessing what size will work when the weather is right, so I made another cloche in a 3-6 months size (pictured below).

This hat is so quick! It can literally be crocheted in an hour or less. So I kept going and made it in sizes 6-12 months (given the requests for the "Best Baby Cloche" pattern in that size) and 18-24 months (pictured below) so Scarlett could have one. (Which of course prompts the question about a "Fog" sweater for Scarlett to go with....)


Scarlett loves to wear hats and so far she is taken with this one too. 


You can find the pattern for this baby cloche here:

If you crochet a Picot and Lace Baby Cloche please consider adding a photo to the Flickr group--I'd love to see it! Thanks!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Crochet: Lavender and White Shell Dress

Do you ever start with the shoes? What I mean, is do you ever find shoes you can't resist and then build an outfit from there? It has happened to me rather frequently over the years (though I have to say that the last few years have been rather uninspiring for me in the shoe department...such a bummer) and such is the case with this crochet dress. I saw these irresistible lavender (Miss Trish for Targetsandals and just had to get them for my girls. Pretty darn cute on their little piggy toes! These sandals have such a beachy look with the turtle embellishments that I thought crochet would be the way to go. And, since I can't get enough of white on my girls I decided to go with something lavender and white.


So here are Audrey and Scarlett in their lavender and white. Only, Scarlett is not wearing crochet; she is wearing a dress that was given to Audrey a couple years ago. It would be a legitimate possibility that I gave up on making two crochet ensembles this summer, but the real story is better: I made a lavender sweater for Audrey, thinking to pair it with a sewn white skirt or dress, and then started on this shell crochet dress for Scarlett, only a bit of the way into the project, I realized it was no where close to size 2. It would work sizes 4 to 6! So instead, I have a dress and a sweater for Audrey and nothing for Scarlett!


And, yes, this is where I confess to never creating gauge swatches! Dang! I so thought I was getting away with it all these years and now here my project ends up swollen way beyond the designed size. I guess I need to break down and start creating them. It's just always seemed a waste of time for someone who is anxious to finish the moment I start a project. But I am likely quicker with hook and needle so I should really invest in that 4"x4" square. I am doing it next time. I'm convinced.

It's not really a problem to have these two lavender outfits for Audrey, however. It is her color after all. And it means three girls will get to wear this shell dress. So there! I'm redeemed... It's almost as if it were all on purpose.

I love knit and crochet dresses on girls. So old fashioned. You really don't see them much. I have a beautiful pink crochet dress my grandmother made for my mother when my mother was a baby, and both my girls have worn it. In fact, Audrey wore it in her birth announcement. I treasure it. I have made knit dresses for Audrey's and Scarlett's first birthdays and another crochet dress for Audrey last summer.  I hope when they are grown my girls will appreciate having some dresses handmade by their mother and maybe have daughters of their own they would like to wear them.  

For now, I am happy they'll wear them for me--even if they don't always cooperate for the photo! 

This pattern for this dress is another one from Crochet Today, from their May/June 2010 issue. Would be pretty cute on a baby if it turned out the right size! I changed the yarn, as I often do (but of course thought I was matching the gauge...) and used Lily Sugar'n Cream in White and Hot Purple and a size J hook.


This dress worked up as quickly as I'd hoped, though I did have to add a lot of extra length once I realized I was headed for size 4 instead of size 2. Instead of making a slip/dress to go underneath I bought a cotton/eyelet one for this and love it peeking out from Audrey's dress.

Oh, and this is another line I can cross off my nesting list. Making progress thank goodness...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Crochet: Best Baby Cloche and Tutorial

I am excited to be contributing to luvinthemommyhood today as part of their Babyhood Bonanza. I feel like a babyhood bonanza of my own at the present as I'm shortly expecting my third girl in a little over four years!


Motherhood has not come easy for me in terms of actually getting my children here and I feel so incredibly fortunate and blessed to now find myself with these two darling daughters and a third on the way. The phrases, "late bloomer, " "better late than never," and "good things come to those who wait" come to mind! You just never know how things will turn out. I can't imagine my life without my little muses. While I've always sought creative outlets nothing has been more creatively fulfilling for me than nurturing babies into little children. The possibilities are so endless! The discovery process so fascinating. And the fact that they are individuals with their own opinions makes it even more interesting and challenging. I try to shape, but I also try to learn and I anticipate more learning in the future as they become more independent. Scary.

While I am surprised to find myself mothering three girls rather than some more varied combination, I just couldn't be happier about it (and their father is pretty spoiled too I have to say). Hard to imagine where I would direct all my creative energy if, for instance, I had three boys. I absolutely love knitting, crocheting, sewing, painting and throwing parties for my girls. My blog documents the activity and there's a lot of it going on lately as I'm in full blown nesting mode. So, I was thrilled when Shannon invited me to share something in the Bonanza.

I put this little crochet cloche on my nesting list and am sharing a pattern and tutorial for it today (great to have the motivation to actually document the pattern!). I made the original, little pink version, for my daughter, Scarlett, when she was born and loved it! I love a cloche on a little babe because it emphasizes her already large eyes.

The cotton yarn makes it super easy wash-and-wear and versatile in terms of seasons. And the worsted weight crochet means this is fast. I'm all about finishing so a love a quick pattern! This would be good for a beginner and would make a darling baby gift. Who can resist the oversized flower and eyelet edging? This hat is all girl! 

You can find the PDF of the pattern (*UPDATED WITH SIZES 0-3, 3-6, AND 6-12 MONTHS*) and a full tutorial after the jump.

Thanks for the LUV, Shannon!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Crochet: Lavender Cap-Sleeved Cardi

I've been a bit crochet-crazy of late, I think because it produces a lot of finished projects quickly, which is good for my nesting state of mind, and this is the beginning...

Purple has been Audrey's favorite color since she learned about colors and I think this particular shade of lavender is gorgeous. In fact, lavender and white were my favorite combination when I was a child, and the colors of my room then, but I haven't done much with it lately. So I was excited about a few lavender and white projects for Audrey this summer.

This cardigan is actually an upsized version of one I made for Scarlett while I was expecting her. I have had pretty good luck with what is a pretty lazy approach to upsizing. I simply used a worsted instead of DK yarn and a size J hook and this went from 3 month size to size 4! (I had similar success with another crochet cardigan--took it from newborn to Audrey-sized. Seems it's easier to find baby patterns I love as I prefer a vintage or classic look to something more funky.) Wish I could say I had a method for forecasting how it would turn out, but I just dove in figuring that with soon-to-be three girls in our family it would fit one of them at some point! Luckily it is perfect for Audrey now and so all three will get the chance to wear it.

Those two sweaters together make a gorgeous color combination! Hmmm...

When I was making the original version of this sweater I thought it would be cute cap-sleeved. The pattern is a fun one because increases create the shoulders and one crochets the entire sweater, then adds the length to the sleeves at the end.  So it was easy to skip the extra length on the sleeves and end up with cap sleeves instead. I just added the edging for a consistent finish.

The other little modification I made was to skip all the stops and starts and avoid more weaving in at the end, which I find super tedious. So I didn't fasten off but instead kept working with one continuous yarn to do the button bands and trim. Works for me!

The pattern is the first pattern ("Baby Layette") in Moda Dea Babies and Kids Collection 1. I used Lily Sugar&Cream yarn in "Hot Purple," which is softer in color than it sounds, and a size J hook. I love the square buttons (Streamline K1234) I found to finish it off--it was a good button day at the store today as I bought a few great ones just to add to the stash. That's a first!

I'm excited to see Audrey wear this little cardi. I have plans for a crochet skirt to go with it and am thinking of it as a good transitional outfit for late summer/early Fall, but it would be darling tossed over a white dress tomorrow!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Cooking: Italian Marinated Vegetable Salad

I love salads, especially in the summer. My mother-in-law brought some great marinated vegetables to our Fourth of July celebration and this weekend I had a hankering to knock them off. She doesn't typically use a recipe, something I'm trying to do more, but I confess I do like to write things down when I do them so I can duplicate it, and because it seems I too easily forget about good options I've made in the past.

So here it is, a recipe for a simple marinated salad. The thing that makes this good  is the selection of vegetables--I especially love heart of palm. And please note this salad needs to be made at least one day ahead in order to marinate.
  • 2 cans artichoke hearts (or you can use frozen--I combined)
  • 1 can heart of palm, sliced into 1/4" thick rounds
  • 2-3 cups quartered mushrooms
  • 1 red bell pepper cut into 1" chunks
  • 1/2 cup Italian (flat leaf) parsley
  • 2T fresh basil chopped
  • 1 T dried basil
  • 1 T dried oregano
  • equal parts good olive oil and red wine vinegar (you need enough to cover the vegetables generously)
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Mix the vegetables and fresh herbs together in a ziploc bag. Mix the remaining ingredients for the vinaigrette in a bowl (dried hers, oil, vinegar, salt and pepper) and then pour into bag. Refrigerate turning occasionally for at least 24 hours. I think it's even better after 48 hours. When ready, pour into a serving dish and serve cold or room temperature.

This is a great salad to make in a larger quantity and keep on hand to accompany sandwiches for lunch or something grilled for dinner.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Sewing: Monkey on My Back Blanket

In the midst of my nesting (projects for baby, tying up loose ends on the homefront, rapidly sewing for Audrey and Scarlett...), which is all about MY list of fun things to do, I had to do a little something for Audrey. She has been wanting me to make her a blanket out of this monkey-printed flannel I've had in my stash for well over a year now. I just organized the stash and she pulled it out and asked again, and I thought, "why not?"

I bought this fabric a few years ago when I was in the mode of making simple baby blankets. I have lots of baby blanket ideas on the brain but none that involve something like this... Audrey wanted me to use this soft plush green which I'd used to back another of her blankets, but I didn't have enough, so I made green and white squares--the white is super soft too, feels like minky. I often use rickrack on the edges but I just did a simple self binding on this.

So in about the length of a nap Audrey had a new blanket. Pretty fun to make something she loves this much. She's been curling up with it to fall asleep the past few nights and wears it like a cape in the morning. She likes the monkeys on her back, and I now have one less on mine! :-)

Friday, July 9, 2010

Sewing: Pretty Posie Dresses


I love full and flowery dresses for the summer, and they are perfect for one of my girls' favorite activities:

Ring around the Rosies,

Pocket full of posies,

Ashes, ashes,...   

We all fall down!

How cute are two sisters playing Ring Around the Rosies? The only thing I would rather watch more is three sisters playing Ring Around the Rosies! Maybe in a year or two!



I got Audrey and Scarlett out of the wading pool to take pictures in these dresses because the light looked so summery in the backyard. I have loved the photography I've seen from Wildflowers Photography this summer and wanted to try something inspired by her work--with lots of warm yellows, strong sun, and some burnout.  Pretty different from my usual shots and fun to play around with. Wish I could do it like she does!

The idea for these dresses began when I saw this gorgeous cotton voile on the clearance table at JoAnn last summer--couldn't resist buying a few yards even though I didn't have a project in mind. I bought a bit much perhaps as I still have some of  both colors left, but then that gives me the option to make something for myself next summer, or maybe a skirt for Audrey to wear in a couple years when her younger sisters can wear these dresses. There's no information on the selvage so I'm not sure who designed and produced this.

I wanted a very young, feminine look for these dresses, and something full to take best advantage of the pattern and weight of this fabric. And I love this old pattern of my mom's. I remember her sewing dresses for my younger sisters with this! So old fashioned, I guess in a seventies way. This pattern is for a size 1 so I used Simplicity 3511 with some modifications: I combined views, increased the fullness of the dress, lengthened and increased the fullness of the ruffled and finished the sleeves with a ruffle too. 


I thought it would be nice if the dresses had a little punch of contrast so I crocheted two little flowers (posies) for the bodice.


I added a solid voile lining so the dresses aren't so transparent.

Pretty posie dresses!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Sewing: Four Last Minute Things for the Fourth of July

While I was ahead of the game a bit with the girls' dresses for the Fourth, I didn't manage to finish a few decorating items until last night! Always something! I'll fill the time if I have it I guess. In fact I was going to do a couple other things but ran out of time... But here they are, my Four Last Minute Things for the Fourth of July:
  1. Red and White Striped Tablecloth
    (These red lanterns were purchased at IKEA last year before Christmas and I thought they'd do great double-duty for patriotic and other summer celebrations.  I bought the little red metal pails (for $1 a piece!!) at Target and dropped in some candles.) 
  3. Star Garland/Runner  
  4. I love hanging (tossing really) this in our apple tree above our back patio but it would look even better over a doorway or serving table.  
    And I like it running down the center of my striped tablecloth. 
  5. Star Napkin Holders 
  6. I just tied these around folded napkins, but they'd work well around silverware bundles too. I love how they turned out so I think I'll make a bunch more for next year. I should do it this week so it's not another last minute thing next year!
  7. Red, White and Blue Hot Dog Trays
Hot dogs are a pretty basic main course for a big celebration, but what's more American? And, it leaves more room for all the yummy side dishes!  I thought it would be fun to dress them up a bit for the event with these red, white and blue hot dog trays made from scrap booking card stock.

Don't know why I've been so excited about the Fourth of July this year, but it's been fun! Happy Independence Day!

View the tutorials and access the templates after the jump (by clicking on "Read More" below)...

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