Sunday, April 29, 2012

KCWC - Wrap Up

This was my first Kids Clothes Week Challenge.  My goals were: sew a knit tee shirt for Liam, come up with a good pant pattern for same, sew some simple A-line skirts for the daughter of a friend.   It was a tough week at work, so not as much as I wanted got done, but I did successfully make the tee shirt and learned a lot.  By watching the fliker pool and seeing what other people were making I found a good pant pattern for Liam (Oliver and S after school pant), ordered it, and it has arrived, so I can start on that next week.  My friend never sent her daughter's measurements, so, you know.  But, on the last day, I did manage to whip up this sun hat for a neighbor girl's birthday.   Curved seams -- yay!

I did not blind stitch the inside of the hat.  I pinned the heck out of it and then machine sewed it on with a quarter inch seam and then edge stitched it.  I bet that I am not the first person to assemble the hat this way.  It came together fast once I got over that I had to cut the seam allowances to make the curved seams work.  I hate that sort of cutting, it makes me super nervous.   This is the much made and loved Oliver and S sun hat from Little things to Sew.  Everything in this book is perfect as far as I can tell.  If I made a hundred of these maybe my seam lines would finally get to something approximating straight. 

After the hat, we went to the farmers market and ate lunch and then finally, finally accomplished buying Liam some shoes that are not rubber boots.  And he will put them on and take them off himself and proclaims them "super comfy."  Super, indeed.  I think I've ordered and sent back 100 pairs of shoes in the past month and been to at least three stores with him.  Thank gods and goddesses that the stars finally aligned today.  I was beginning to worry he would be shoeless. 

We had friends over yesterday and I've been cooking a lot including making yogurt for the first time, and granola bars.  More on that next week.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

KCWC -- Remade Flashback Tee and Fleece Pants

I tore the sleeves off flashback tee try #1 and sewed on the new cut-out-with-the-stretch-going-the-right-way sleeves.  Success!  At 11:30 at night I just could not face the idea of ripping out any part of this tee again so I bailed on sewing on cuffs  and just turned the sleeves under, and I left the bottom edge raw of the shirt raw.  Maybe I'll stay-stitch it sometime in the future.  The sleeve edges got a little stretched out and, as it turns out, the sleeves are a little short on him, but so it goes.  Done.  I'll cut out another this week and try to sew it next week to keep some kind of momentum going (or at least maybe solidify the many lessons I learned about sewing knits while tearing out and re-sewing this tee at least three times).

Liam thinks his new shirt is great so -- all good.

The fleece pants are another KCWC cheat.  They have been 90% done for at least 5 months now, sitting on Liam's dresser waiting to be hemmed.  They're made from one of Will's old fleece shirts.  Here's a picture of him wearing it when he was still rowing.

The top of the pants are cut from the body of the shirt and the bottom of the legs are the arms.  It took a little fussing to get it to all line up and to get the pocket right, but here they are and Liam loves them.  I hand traced this pattern using the instructions here.  Pretty good except, even through the instructions are great and seem foolproof, I never somehow get the pants quite high enough in the back.  I ordered the Oliver and S after school pant pattern and I'm hoping it will work out because pants are one of the easiest and most needed things to sew for boys. 

Okay -- that's it for KCWC for me, I think.   My friend never sent me her daughter's measurements for the quick A-line skirts.  I'm thinking of making one for myself.  In cleaning up the sewing/office/guest/junk room last night I unearthed the fabric I bought to make Liam a play cape.  If I get super-inspired I may bust that out tonight.  In the meantime though I just look at all the flickr pictures and think how much better everyone's sewing is than mine!  It's all really something. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Interrupting KCWC for -- April Farm Share

We picked up our April farm share today.  I am just so very happy with this whole farm share thing.  Today's box contained: big bunches of chard and kale, salad mix, shiitaki mushrooms (so tiny, so sweet), parsley, a rutabaga (I think), another celeriac (it can join the first one, still in the fridge, I'm not sure what to do with celeriac).  Beets, leeks, cauliflower, two kinds of potatoes, yellow onions, red cipolinni onions, a bag of locally made granola, and some local goat cheese.   And rhubarb -- I forgot that until I uploaded the picture.

So far I've roasted the beets and the red cipolinni, and cooked the beet greens and stems with a little garlic. (Lunch! Tomorrow!) 

The farm is Boistfort Valley and even if you live as far away as Seattle or Portland they have a delivery/pick up site near you.

In Kids Clothes Week Challenge news -- I tore apart the tee shirt and sewed on the new sleeves.  So. Done. With. That. Tee Shirt.  But it did turn out cute.  Photos tomorrow if Liam cooperates.

KCWC -- Skinny Flashback Tee

I had a different plan for this.  My plan was to make the 90-minute tee from MADE.  I was so excited about this tee shirt.  And then I read all of the directions for making the pattern and realized that to get the lap neck you had to use a baby onesie to trace.  My baby is almost 5.  Undeterred I went up to the attic and found a onesie and cut it up.  Adding 5 inches to the side was no problem.  Figuring out the neck, I just couldn't get it.  Even on my first cup of coffee, in the morning, when I'm allegedly thinking my clearest, I couldn't get it.  I will come back to this some time that lap neck is just too cute.

Okay -- on to Plan B.  Plan B was to buy the super skinny flashback tee pattern from here.  Printed and cut out the size 5T.

I was nervous, but determined to make it work.  I got everything all cleaned up and ready to go in the sewing/office/guest/junk room.  I wound two bobbins (one blue, the other yellow).  I put in the special needle for knits.  I read my sewing machine book about different stitches.  Didn't make much sense to me, but, whatever.  I sewed it up.   I fussed over the neck -- it was 11:30 at night.  Should I wait until morning. . .no, I'll give it a shot.  I set the stretch stitch on my sewing machine.  I'm still not sure how this works or when to use it but the neck came out . . . just fine.

I gleefully imagined Liam trying this on in the morning. . .better than Christmas (well. . .you know).  I put my hand into one of the sleeves to feel the soft knit.  Huh.  It didn't give all that much.  I looked at it more closely.  Crap.  Yes, I had cut the knit so the stretch was going the wrong direction.  And not noticed until now.  When the tee shirt was already done, except for the cuffs.

The thing about sewing for me is that I don't do it very often so every time it seems like I have to re-learn everything.  How do I open the new needles I bought for knit.  It must have taken me 3 minutes to get into the package.  I sewed the first sleeve on backwards (to the wrong side of the body of the tee instead of the right).  Ripping out stitches from knits is no fun, but I am apparently going to get good at it.

Okay -- on to Plan C.  I cut out new sleeves. To  be continued. . ..

Monday, April 23, 2012

Kids Clothes Week Challenge -- Cheat

I know they aren't clothes exactly, but they are for kids and they are from Elise Marley.  I made them 2 week ago for the local Waldorf school fundraising auction.  Cats and mice masks have become one of my go-to kid presents and I've learned a few things about making them that make them work better for me.  Namely hand sewing on the embellishments looks neat and is about 100 times easier then trying to make them look nice with glue; and, using a covered elastic band means the kids can get them on and off by themselves -- so much better for play. 

I had planned to trace the pant pattern after Liam went to sleep tonight but I was foiled by two things that are really the same thing.  First, a frantic call from the babysitter at 4:00 (report: child has been sobbing for 30 minutes and is hiding under the pillows on Mommy's bed and won't stop -- could he be hurt?); rush home; find sobbing child; calm him down (this takes time); learn his ear hurts and suspect his fever is back.  Bite my tongue and give Tylenol; take to pediatrician; etc.  He is "borderline" ear infection and will stay home with GG tomorrow.   Second, he is growing like a weed and I don't really want to trace any of his 4T pants and I'm not sure which fit him best the next size up 5T or the little boys size small.  And he was not excited about trying on pants before bed.  And I didn't have the heart to try to make him.  T-shirt pattern making is foiled by the same circumstance.  Is it the little kids small or the medium I should trace darn it?  Details.

I did wash fabric and it is ready to be ironed; and I fetched the t-shirts to re-purpose for Liam's shirt (one to experiment on, another of Will's old t-shirts for when I think I can get it right).  If I can get a little bit ahead on work work stuff tonight (Ha!) maybe I can bust out both the pant pattern and the pant cutting tomorrow.  Hope springs eternal.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

I was planning to post about Kids Clothes Week Challenge today

I am still bound and determined to sew next week.  But a combination of crushing deadlines and various crises at work means that I haven't purchased the jersey I planned to yet. . .and I haven't washed and ironed the fabric I already have yet either.  I have bookmarked the patters and tutorials I want to use.  So, in hopes this will make me accountable to really getting it done, my goals are: (1) sew Liam a tee shirt, which will be my first jersey sewing adventure; (2) achieve a good hand-traced pant pattern for him, all the ones I've made so far are too low in the back; and (3) sew a simple A-line skirt for the daughter of a friend.

We'll see.

I had hoped to make some sewing progress yesterday but. . .Liam woke up sick and, of course, I still had to work.  Thank goodness for GG who took a sick Liam for a few hours yesterday morning so I could work some more (and still more to do).  And, thank you for a pediatricians office you can always ready directly.  One phone call, a painless transfer, and it's the doctor himself who knows my child and was willing to listen carefully while I described his 102 degree fever and complaints about neck pain, and who asked good questions, and gave a reassuring but cautious answer.  (He said: watch carefully; if he gets worse, call back; give Tylenol -- I know, usually we say wait it out because Tylenol is not risk free -- but this time give him some and see if he feels better.  There is flu type-something-or-other going around if he gets a stuffy nose, it's more than likely flu.  If he worsens don't hesitate to call to call again; if he worsens quickly follow your heart and take him to the ER if you think you should.)  Liam felt much better with the Tylenol on board.  He had a very high fever last night but he was mostly sleeping through it so I let it break naturally (I pay attention to the studies on Tylenol and asthma; we limit Tylenol use.  And anyway, a fever is the body's way of fighting the infection, blah, blah, blah.)  He woke up feeling "Much better!" this morning and is inhaling breakfast even as I type.  So, maybe some sewing progress will be made today.  Of course, there's still work to do too.

This is not the first time that Liam has complained about neck pain with fever; it is at least the third.  Whenever it happens I have some kind of panic reaction and can barely think or see straight.  It is NOT FUN.  I remember this with Will.  He always had back of the head/neck pain with fever, and whenever we went to the ER (Stupidest way for a person with chronic health issues to get admitted to the hospital ever, especially a teaching hospital but don't get me started. . ..) the resident on ER rotation would get super excited about a lumbar punch and we would have to say (repeatedly) "No.  No thank you.  It is lung disease.  He doesn't have meningitis."   Sigh.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Day 12, or is it 13, without sugar

After stunning myself with the amount and variety of natural and processed sugar in my pantry, and after a few particularly stressful weeks at work where I ate, among other things, the better part of a full batch of whole wheat chocolate chip cookies, I came across this while listing to 60 minutes (recorded).

Well -- that is a wake up call.

I know that sugar is toxic to my body.  I know how much better I feel when I don't eat it.  I know these things and still I get trapped into stupid thinking along the lines of "that cookie after lunch will help pick me up for the afternoon," or, into some out of control binge eating related to stress (consume all the Halloween candy in less than 2 days anyone?).  So, I stopped.  I am an abstainer, not a moderator; so stopping pretty much cold turkey is what works for me.* 

Stopping sugar is like (I imagine) any detox; you do not feel better right away.  Right away you feel worse. But after a little while (for me about 12 days) you feel amazingly better.  I sleep better.  My energy and concentration are better.  I know when the "no sugar thing" has really taken hold because I actually want to exercise.

In the first week especially it helped me to think of sugar as an addictive substance, as in: "Well, if I thought I had an alcohol problem and I was feeling stressed at work I would not go out and get a drink, would I?"  Or,  "If they happened to sell small bottles of vodka at Target (which I'm guessing they will soon here since Washington State just deregulated liquor sales) I wouldn't pick one up to drink on the way home, would I?"  No, of course not.  Sugar is the same, I really think.  I know small amounts are fine, and humans are meant to eat fruit and all that, but I believe that, for my body, sugar is just not right.

So that's my story. Of course I'll eat some sugar again someday -- but I plan for it to be much, much less.  For now, I have a few rules (no sugar at work ever, a small dessert on the weekend is okay) and I've scheduled a set of check-ins with myself, as in, on April 28 I'll reassess and see how I feel.  Maybe I'll have waffles with syrup.  But probably not.  After that I'll pick some date in May to bring my attention to how I'm feeling about sugar.  At the end of June I imagine I will definitely eat a piece of Liam's birthday cake. That feels like enough of a plan for now.

*Luckily for me, this is pretty straightforward.  I don't drink soda, never have.  I don't sweeten my coffee or tea, never have.  I don't eat ketchup or mayonnaise or things like that, never liked them.  I don't drink milk.  For me, giving up sugar basically means no cookies/sweet rolls/muffins from the bakery, and no candy.  That's really all there is to it.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

San Diego

We made a quick trip to San Diego last week to visit my parents who live there about half the year.  On our first day we visited the zoo.   The zoo is enormous.  My parents took Liam on the 40 minute bus tour when we first arrived (while I worked).  That turned out to be a great idea, because he saw pretty much all the animals.  After that, they looked at a few more animals while I waited in line to get tickets to feed the giraffes.  That's right for $5 and about a 45 minute wait in line you can get tickets to feed the giraffes at the San Diego zoo.  So cool.

The other highlight of the trip was riding in the aerial cable car.  Liam is so much braver about these things than he used to be.  He only hesitated a second before jumping in and except for a few worried moments, he really enjoyed the ride. 

We didn't get any pictures of feeding the giraffes.  My mother has pictures of other people feeding them (the people before us and the people after, I think).  It was very neat.  You go into a little enclosure and then the giraffes come up to a tall fence and stand right there and as soon as they see the biscuits (which look like fruit leather) they bend their big heads down and slurp them up.  Giaraffe heads are bigger than you might think.  Liam, it turns out, didn't want to feed them himself once he saw that big giraffe head moving so fast, so I held him while I fed them and Grandpa fed them, so he could see them up close and pet (a little, you're really not supposed to pet). 

These are the giraffes waiting to be fed.  Thanks San Diego zoo.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter!


Liam woke this morning and immediately started looking all over the house for Easter eggs.  I had to send him out into the yard -- where at 7:45 am it took him approximately five minutes to find the five eggs I hid last night.

He is a much better finder than I am, or he is a better hider; tonight after dinner at GG and GoGo's house (Thank you!) he hid six eggs in their back yard and it took the three of us at least 15 minutes to find them, even with hints.  At closing in on five years old, Liam's hints are priceless.  "Look over there (Frantic pointing.); no, no look in that bush, I hid one  in that bush (Jumping up and down)." 

We also found our first tree frog of the season -- so tiny and green, with long, golden, sticky feet.

Our egg tree has eggs from Sunny and Starry that we dyed this year, and a few from the egg tree we had out every year when I was small.  Hand drawn by my mother all those years ago.  The white bunnies also are from my childhood egg tree. It's so sweet to have them, and to hear myself say things like: "They are very fragile! They are not the hopping sort of bunny! Please put them down!"  That's me on the swing, I think.


In my memory we always received (besides a chocolate rabbit) new swimming suites and saltwater sandals for Easter. You? Liam was given sunglasses and a lego firetruck set, which he wanted to put together right away, in lieu of his morning TV.  The power of legos.  (Don't worry, he got a small chocolate rabbit too, and he got to eat it before breakfast.)


Sun all day today, and although the sewing didn't get done the peas did get planted. Now onward into a very busy week at work and at home.  I hope the weather holds.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Climbing trees and making nests

Liam is up in the rhododendron tree every chance he gets these days.  Just like always.  I'm glad that Will and I worked out some tree climbing rules early and I've managed to stick with them.  When we first got this house that tree was all over and on top of the front porch.  I think Will spent three weeks every day working on it, carefully, carefully pruning out old wood, watching the shape emerge, bringing it back. 

It is at least 70 years old, that tree.  In the earliest photo of our 110 year old house that I've tracked down so far, it is a little shrub by the porch.  You see these same rhododendron trees a few places in the neighborhood, and in the city park at the top of the hill.  It's neat to think of them all being planted about the same time 70 odd years ago. 

Liam likes to pull off the little sucker branches and toss them to the ground (He was very excited to learn this used to be his father's job, and he takes performing it very seriously.)  He also is building little nests, in hopes birds will move in.  Thursday night I climbed up the tree to take a picture of one of the nests and he could not believe that a mommy could climb a tree. Funny.

In a month or two it will bloom and be full, full of light purple flowers and buzzing bees.

Besides Easter, we're determined to get some more peas in the ground this weekend.  And I need to finish some sewing that must be wrapped up by Monday, and hopefully visit the farmers market, just opened for the season.

Monday, April 2, 2012

First Farm Share -- March


Now that Spring is upon us, we finally signed up for a Winter farm share.  Typically it took me a while to get going but now, now, I am so excited and happy about this!  The Winter share comes once a month in a big box and this is our first one -- well, part of our first one.  Yes that is right, our first farm share included: a full quart jar of local honey, dried cranberry beans, two kinds of potatoes (but only one is pictured here), beets (already cooked and eaten), Brussels sprouts, red onions, red kale, tiny kale leaves and flowers (also eaten already -- so good), about 6 apples and 6 pears, this celeriac thing or whatever it is, leeks, and the sweetest bunch of thyme I have ever seen.   We'll get two more before it is on to spring and summer shares.  It is amazing!

In an attempt to have my act together I immediately roasted the beets and boiled one of the types of potatoes.   We have eaten those.  The beans are cooked and ready for lunches this week.  The pears are g-o-n-e, I forgot how much Liam likes fresh pears.  The Brussels sprouts are on deck for tomorrow along with the red potatoes, I think. 

The farm is in the Boistfort Valley, on the Chehalis River.  We are blessed and lucky around here to have lots of lovely organic farms -- but I never really considered any other but this one.  The vegan went to school with Mike (I suppose I did too, since the vegan and I went to school together, but I don't remember) and Heidi was in my prenatal yoga class when I was pregnant with Liam.   We've been getting our vegetables from them at the farmers market here in town for years, and now, finally we're in the CSA and couldn't be happier. 

They deliver all the way to Seattle and even to Portland.  I can't wait to cook celeriac!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Done and done -- the tutu edition

My mother came over yesterday and helped me lay out and pin the tulle for the second set of tutus for the niecelet.  For anyone thinking they want to adapt the Oliver and S tutu to 54" wide tulle, here's what I finally ended up doing.

I used three yards each of up to four colors.  Three yards gives you a full 108" to work with.   Start with your first color, unfold and lay out flat then refold into thirds along the shorter edge.  This gives you three layers that are 108" wide by about 18" long, depending on the accuracy of your folding.**  Repeat, stacking the next three colors on top.  Make sure you have as even an edge at the top as you can get, because that's where you'll sew the gathers and the waistband.

A very long table and/or a second set of hands is necessary here.   Also, we pinned as we went, rather than waiting until it was all stacked up.  This was very helpful.  When you get to the subsequent colors take the first raw edge and pin it all along the top first, so you have a stable fixed edge to fold the thirds from. 

Once it is all stacked up use the rotary cutter and mat to trim bottoms so you have a cut edge on all layers and to even up the sides if needed.  You don't need to trip the top because you will cut it after you've sewn the gathers and the first ribbon.  

I made every mistake possible on the purple one, including cutting the waistband ribbon when I was trimming the top.  For the love of God.   The instructions only advise to be careful here at least twice.  I mended it with zig-zag and tried to get over myself.

These are both made with four colors which results in twelve layers of tulle.  Yes, twelve.  The pink is: dark pink, medium pink, and two layers of light pink.  The purple is: dark purple, two layers of light purple, and light pink.  It looks like a sugar plum, totally charming.

If I did this again I would go with only three colors, which would result in nine layers of tulle.  (The version in the O and S book calls for ten layers.)  I think twelve is a little, well, full.  It's lovely and all, but sort of over the top. In the Oliver and S discussion forum it is clarified that the tutu can be made using 54" tulle as the width, and I did try that, and it ended up very, very cute and all but without the drape or fullness that I really wanted.  Okay -- next up, I think, one of the art smocks, maybe the one with bias tape. I'm trying to gear up for Kids Clothes Week at the end of April.

** The "width" here is the dimension that you will gather and turn into the waistband.  It is the long edge.  The "length" is the dimension that will eventually be, well, the length of the finished tutu.  It is the short edge.