Monthly Archives: October 2013

sewing machine

I’ve been contemplating taking up quilting for a long time.  I’ve also generally been wanting to branch out from knitting and try some new things.  However, especially since L was born, a couple things have been holding me back.  First, time.  Do I have time to take up quilting?  Of course not.  Second, space.  The only place in the house I can really set up a sewing machine is our very small kitchen table.  This means I’ll have to set everything up and then take it all down every time I want to sew.  Despite these issues, I finally took the plunge.  Over the last few weeks, I purchased a sewing machine, rotary cutter, pad and ruler and a few other gidgets and gadgets as well as fabric for my first project.  Total start-up costs were probably around $250, which is really not too bad, I think.  Recurring costs should be fairly low.

I didn’t really do much research into buying a sewing machine.  I just bought one of the first ones that popped up on Amazon.  It’s a Singer, and my Mom always used a Singer, so I had some sentimental attachment to the brand.  (Silly, I know.)  Also, it’s the #1 most popular sewing machine on Amazon, had 4.5 stars, and was in the middle of the price range for “starter” sewing machines.  I didn’t really investigate what features it has.  I figure if I get sufficiently into sewing that I need fancy features, I can always invest in a new machine.  I don’t expect that I’ll need anything fancy for now.

I used to sew in high school on my Mom’s machine.  It was a big green metal sewing machine built into its own sewing table.  Since it kept working for 30 years, I guess it was fairly good quality.  Anyway, I used to mainly make clothing from those horrible Simplicity and Butterick patterns.  Anybody remember them?  Line drawings of women and girls on the front with Barbie-like physiques?  I made several skirts and one dress.  They came out sufficiently well that I used to wear them to school and church, but they were nothing to write home about.  They always had a bit of a home-made look and they didn’t hold up all that well.  I was pretty proud of my handiwork at the time, but after I went to college, I never really missed sewing, and I honestly have no desire to ever sew another Simplicity dress or skirt pattern again.

However, quilts and quilted objects are another thing entirely.  I’ve been inspired by lots of quilts – the ones friends, like Sarah, have made, quilts I’ve seen on the internet, the stunning quilt on display in Denali.  I particularly like baby quilts.  I’m very hopeful that making a baby quilt will be quicker than knitting a baby blanket.  Knitting a baby blanket is a long slog if you use standard size needles.  It can easily take several months of regular knitting.  I love knitting, but it’s hard on my hands, and I’d like to find a craft that’s a little quicker.

I’ve had the sewing machine for a couple weeks, but between B being out of town, my MIL visiting before that and trying to wrap up a couple of knitting projects, I haven’t had time to look at it until this weekend.  I finally dug it out yesterday.  My goal for the day was to sew a single seam.  If you sew, you know this is harder than it sounds because it entailed winding the bobbin, threading the bobbin and threading the needle.  It’s complicated to load thread on a sewing machine because there is a bunch of tensioning.  It’s no big deal once you figure out how to do it, but I hadn’t done it in more than 15 years.  Anyway, I managed to achieve my objective and even start sewing a few of my quilt pieces together.

Laying out the pieces for the quilt:

My first seam:


baby knits

I’ve been knitting pretty enthusiastically lately.  I think it’s mostly due to tackling lots of children’s toys, which are easy, quick and fun.  After finishing Kevin’s sweater, I really wanted a break from major projects.

I started with a bobble hat from one of my favorite knitting books:

I think this book is ideal for a beginner as it’s filled with adorable, easy, quick knits.  This baby hat was actually a little more work than I’d bargained for as bobbles (the little balls) are a pain, as is trinity stitch, which comprises most of the hat.  However, I think it looks adorable on L.  I finished it up while I was sick and spending a lot of time in bed, and it helped pass the time along with Grey’s Anatomy.


After the hat, I wanted another super easy knit, this one for a girl newborn for my co-worker.  I’d been wanting to make an elephant onesie from the same book ever since I saw it, so I seized the day.  It was the first time I’d ever done stranded color knitting (the elephants).  Basically, when you do stranded color knitting you have two colors, no more, no less.  You hold one color in one hand and the other color in the other hand.  This means you need to be able to knit with your left hand to knit with the second color.  “Knitting with your left hand” is another way to describe continental knitting, or the way people on the European continent (not Ireland or the UK) knit.  Anyway, it’s not hard – no harder than American knitting, but it was a new skill.  Overall, I was very happy with the onesie.



I’ve done a couple toys from this book:

It’s filled with knits that can be done in a week or two without any major time commitment. I started with this koala:

He’s not really my finest work.  Getting the feet on straight was basically impossible, and his tummy is a little wonky, as are his ears, but after Kevin’s sweater, this was a welcome change of pace.  Gratifyingly, L seems to like him.

Next, I wanted another quick but nice knit for a new baby.  B’s friends are expecting this Fall.  They had trouble conceiving and have been waiting a long time for this baby.  Basically, they apparently were trying before B and I were for L.  I know how frustrating 8 months was for me, and I can only imagine what they have been through.  Anyway, I decided to knit a super simple blanket in organic cotton.  It’s super soft, and I think it’ll be great to wrap a new baby in.  I got a little creative with the photo taking as you can see below.

Finally, I just finished knitting a reversible doll for L.  L has a ridiculous number of toys, but she has only one doll, a Raggedy Ann, so I thought I’d make her another.  An interesting feature is that it’s reversible.  This was actually not particularly difficult to make; I just followed the directions.   The challenge in this piece was actually crocheting the flower the one girl is holding and the flower on the other girl’s hat.  I don’t really know how to crochet, so I had to go to the internet for tutorials.  The flower hat turned out well, but the one the girl is holding is pretty wonky.  I probably should have re-done it, but I was too lazy.


Now, I’ve moved back to try and make some progress on the christening gown I started a couple of years ago.  I’m still nowhere near finishing, but I’m approaching the halfway point.  I’m three or four times as far along as I was in the picture below.  It’s frustrating because I keep making mistakes, and I don’t really know how to fix them or stop making them.  The pattern is insanely complicated.  (It is 150 lines long.)  Normally, I can just memorize a pattern if it’s say 30 lines or so, but this is beyond me.  I also just cannot read the lace the way I can an Aran knit.  Nevertheless, I’m plugging away.


ages and stages

My MIL is visiting, so I am relaxing in bed at 8 AM rather than having been scurrying around since 7.  It’s great.  L really worships her.  She wasn’t really old enough to have strong feelings on MIL’s last visit, and it’s great to see her bonding with her grandmother this time.  L wants to show off my Nana, which is absolutely the cutest thing.  She has become a ridiculously picky eater in the last month or so, but she wanted to demonstrate her skill with a spoon for Nana, and hence has eaten all manner of things since MIL showed up.

L seems more and more like a little girl every day.  She is so big and tall, and she is losing her baby fat, though she has the cutest pot belly.  Her legs are just so solid – they are mountain-climbing legs, not cute little chewable baby legs any more.  She is now walking and even running everywhere.  She loves stomping in puddles and swinging.  She also is interacting with many of her toys in a more mature way.  She has started playing pretend more than she used to.  She loves attention and just soaks it up like a sponge, from N, from me, from B, and from Nana.

We still have a late talker.  She continues to miss her speech milestones at her well-baby checkups.  At 12 months, a baby is supposed to have at least one word; L had none.  By 15 months, she had maybe one word, but a baby is supposed to have 3 words.  At 18 months, she probably had a couple words and said ma-ma and da-da, but a child is supposed to have 10 words.  Now, at 20 months, she is approaching 10 words.  Off the top of my head, she says, Up, Off, On, Uh-oh, Nannn (for no), Ba-ba (for berrries), red, woah, oh, wow, ow, and agua (water).  She is still not good at imitating words, even simple ones.  I’ll ask her to try to say something, like “ball” and she’ll say “deh” or something that sounds nothing like ball.  (Sometimes she can imitate me, but that’s the exception to the rule.)  You can see that her list of words is light on consonants.  Clearly she is progressing, but she is just behind where she is supposed to be.  The pediatrician has suggested speech therapy the last couple appointments but also said there is no harm in waiting so we’ve elected to wait until 2.  At 2, if she’s still lagging, we’ll start speech therapy.  I am not really worried, but I do wonder, Why?  The difference becomes most obvious on play dates or at the playground.  During the summer, I went to the playground with L basically every day, so we were constantly running into chatty babies much younger than her.  Did I do something differently than the other mothers?  Or is there something different about L – and if yes, is it a problem hinting at other issues, or just a different way to developing?  On the flip side, her understanding is off the charts.  I was blown away yesterday to realize she understood “moccasin,” for example.  She really just seems to understand everything.  This reassures me that there is not a hearing problem.  By 2, a child is supposed to start putting two words together, and I think the chances this will happen for L are remote.

L has started wearing “big girl panties” some of the time.  We didn’t really intentionally potty train.  It’s just kind of happened gradually.  L always regarded the bath as the perfect place to poop, sometimes doing it three times in a single day when she was a wee one.  (This would entail me cleaning her and the tub up three consecutive times.  Fun times.)  A few months ago, she starting pooping in the bath every day again.  Well, toddler poop in the tub is pretty gross, and so we got a potty, and N would put her on it before her bath.   She would go and then have a poop-free bath.  It gradually went from there, and we’d give her more opportunities to use the potty.  These days, she can go all day without an accident.  I’d always planned to read all about potty training and I never really did, so I hope I haven’t made any major mistakes.  I’m trying to be laid-back about it and just take our time.  It is very handy, though, when she uses the toilet (via a special toddler seat), squats to wipe, and then we just pull her big-girl panties back up.

L is also really into taking her clothes on and off herself these days.  She’s getting better at it.  She can now get both her arms into the sleeves of her jacket, but of course the jacket goes on backwards.  She hasn’t figured out how to pull the jacket around behind her yet. She has become very picky about what she wears.  Her current favorite is probably a Christmas cardigan Daniel gave us, which is somewhat amusing.