Category Archives: Making

Vine Mittens

After some life events, I’m trying to get back in the habit of blogging. First up is a project I finished early in the spring: a new pair of mittens. I started these over the Christmas holidays, but forgot that a full time job and a toddler means that I don’t have a lot of knitting time. On the plus side, the mittens are good to go for this winter.

I may have been spending too much time looking at plants when I came up with this design.

I may have been spending too much time looking at plants when I came up with this design.

On the whole, I’m quite happy with these. I designed the vine pattern to fit inside my usual mitten pattern. The result can be seen here: VineMittens. That being said, I did manage to add in an extra 10 rows due to misreading the original mitten pattern. These were left in the linked pdf because fixing this means reworking the pattern and the mittens are still functional and look nice. Future improvements…

I’m looking forward to wearing these this year. I think my hands will be much warmer!

Homemade Iris Ink

I realized in the middle of summer that it had been a while since I had done any fun projects for no purpose, which was sad. The iris that we had clipped and left on our table was also looking sad. When it dropped some purple water from the wilting flower I got and idea: I should make some ink!

After looking into it, there seemed to be a lot of varied information about how to make ink from plants, but nothing said you could make ink from iris flowers with certainty. Rather than care if it worked, I decided to use science, randomly cluggeded together info from websites, and a variety of flowers to see how it worked out.

The chosen flower, based on what was blooming in the yard. Poppy / Iris / Camilla

The chosen flowers, based on what was blooming in the yard. Poppy / Iris / Camilla

Step 1: Boil white vinegar and salt with the flowers. I put in too much salt, really you just need a pinch as you boil down the ink later.

Step 1: Boil white vinegar and salt with the flowers. I put in too much salt. You really just need a pinch as you boil down the ink later.

Strain (I just used leftover muslin) the peddles after 30 minutes of boiling.

Strain (I just used leftover muslin) the petals after 30 minutes of boiling.

Results! the far right is Iris after boiling down to the consistency of ink.

Results! The far right is iris after boiling down to the consistency of ink.

The top left shows the inks after one boiling and straining. They were much more like watercolors than inks. Middle left, I reduced the inks by half volume and they worked as paint, but were not quite ink. Bottom left, I boiled down until I got the consistency of ink and it worked! The colours were all pretty muted by the end of the boiling and the poppy was especially hard to use as the additional salt started to crystallize the ink, but this is certainly a way to make ink.

I used a piece of ornamental grass cut at the end to a sharp angle as an impromptu quill.

I used a piece of ornamental grass cut at the end to a sharp angle as an impromptu quill.

Overall, I would say this was a great success; I succeeded in making ink. While I just threw these out when we moved, I am certainly going to try this again next year with some measurements and a real quill!

Jellyfish Mobile

I bought a book of knit amigurumi patterns a few years ago. I’ve made a lot of things from the book, but kept thinking about the jellyfish pattern. Just one jellyfish seemed weird and I didn’t know how to get around that problem. So when Lloyd and I talked about making a mobile for our daughter, I knew what I wanted to do. Two trips to the yarn store and a few months later, we had an fun mobile (The knitting was easy. Finding the time was … difficult.)!

The jellyfish is knit in five parts: a body and four tentacles.

The jellyfish is knit in five parts: a body and four tentacles.

Attach the tentacles to the body and you get a jellyfish.

Attach the tentacles to the body and you get a jellyfish.

The completed mobile in the nursery.

The completed mobile in the nursery.

I can report the mobile is well loved. Holly gets excited about it on a regular basis. Success!

New Christmas Stocking

After Holly was born, we knew we had to follow family tradition and make her a stocking. Lloyd and I spent a lot of time working out a design together that we both liked before I started knitting. It took less (calendar) time than I thought. Babies sleep most of the day so I had plenty of knitting time! Bonus: I already had most of the yarn and only had to buy one skein. This wasn’t planned; I just have a lot of yarn.

We’re very happy with the result and are looking forward to using it for many years to come.

Working out the design on grid paper. We decided to go with something a bit more hollyish than the original design.

Working out the design on grid paper. We decided to go with something a bit more hollyish than the original design.

The finished stocking,

The finished stocking,

Our Christmas fireplace. Just a slight variation in stocking sizes...

Our Christmas fireplace. Just a slight variation in stocking sizes – probably reflective of our (eventual) heights. :)

Purple Leggings

Another post from me and, oddly, it’s another pants post. This time: baby leggings. After spending an embarrassing amount of time looking at patterns for baby clothes, I discovered that they were great for getting rid of small amount of fabric. Of course, I don’t have much of that around, so I immediately pulled out the fabric I had left over from a test dress I made for this. If I had been more familiar with baby clothes at the time, I’m not sure I would have made sparkly purple leggings but they were still fun to make. (Side note: it’s totally fine if a girl owns clothing that doesn’t have glitter on it!)

I got the pattern from Spoonflower, but I thought I’d walk you through the steps.

The pattern pieces. This whole thing uses about half a yard of fabric.

First, cut out the fabric. This used about half a yard of fabric. Perfect for those leftovers I totally don’t save.

Sew the front and back together at the sides.

Sew the front and back together at the sides.

Hem the bottom of the legs.

Hem the bottom of the legs.

Sew the inner leg seem.

Sew the inner leg seem.

Sew in the waist band and you've got a pair of pants! These took me less than an hour to make.

Sew in the waist band and you’ve got a pair of pants! These took me less than an hour to make.

Black Pants

I thought I would get back into posts with a simple update; I made another pair of pants for Lloyd. These pants came about from a series of mistakes. A couple of years ago, I bought some black fabric to replace the top of a dress. When the fabric came, it was way too stiff to use for the dress so I put it in my fabric stash and forgot about it. Later, I bought some black fabric to make pants for Lloyd but, since he didn’t need any new pants at the time, I just put the fabric away until needed.

Fast forward to earlier this year when it came time to make the pants. I pulled out all of the black fabric I had and none of it seemed suitable for pants. Except for the fabric I’d originally bought for my dress. So I used that. Happily, the pants turned out really well and seem to be pretty durable. However, there may be more pants fabric floating around the house somewhere that I haven’t found yet! Also in black…

The finished pants!

The finished pants!

These seemed huge when I was working on them given the scale of my previous pants project.

These seemed huge when I was working on them given the scale of my previous pants project.

Stretch Silk Dress

My brother recently got married and, as I have made my own dress for family weddings, it was time to make another dress. I knew I wanted to make the dress out of stretch silk, but wasn’t sure what color I wanted. I probably ordered too many swatches to look at, but ended up settling on a nice lilac color in the end.

The dress was based on my favorite go-to jersey dress that I bought a few years ago so I had to draft a pattern before I began. This necessitated making a couple of mock-ups to make sure I got it right. Once I was happy with the mock-ups, I started working on it in the actual stretch silk.

As I was laying out the dress on the silk, I realized one thing I would have to add: a zipper. There was no way the fabric was going to stretch enough to pull over my head. I immediately added a seam down the back of the dress and started looking at zippers, finally settling on a closely color matched invisible zipper. Unfortunately, I’d never installed an invisible zipper that I was happy with before. A couple of Google searches and several websites later, I felt slightly more confident about it – and then proceeded to put it off as long as possible. In the end, however, I was very happy with the result.

The invisible zipper as installed. Not quite invisible, but nicely done.

The invisible zipper as installed. Not quite invisible, but nicely done.

In the end, I was very happy with the way the dress turned out; I think I may have a new favorite material to work with! After wearing this dress all day, it was still comfortable and breathable despite the humidity of summer on the east coast. I would definitely make a dress like this again.

I even put some nice pleats in front.

I even put some nice pleats in front.

The dress definitely had nice movement. Silk is great for that!

The dress definitely had nice movement. Silk is great for that!

Hobie Cat Lift (Guest Post)

Lloyd’s dad is back with another guest post.

Alice and I live in NC on Lake Auman in the Sandhills region. We have beautiful sand bottom lakes in the area are fortunate to live on one. One of our favorite pastimes is sailing on our Hobie Cat when the wind is up.

All the lakes are man-made so they are bulkheaded to keep them in their boundaries. We kept the Hobie on land to save the wear and tear on the rigging as the lake gets a good deal of chop. We had a serviceable solution with a crank belt connected to a pine tree. This required me to lift the lip above the bulkhead and then for Alice to crank as I lifted and pulled the boat up. Not too bad; the lift was about two feet and the total boat weight is about 250 lbs. The biggest problem was that it was awkward lifting and getting up the bulkhead at the same time.

I was going to make a crack pun but that would make jasmine winch.

I was going to make a crank pun but that would make Jasmine winch.

They lowered the lake to do some dam maintenance, giving me a higher lift and I am not getting any younger. It was time for a different solution. This winter, when we were in Seattle visiting Jasmine and Lloyd, I talked about getting a block and tackle with two steel pipes and lifting with those. We have twin docks and I could run it between them. Lloyd suggested cargo straps instead; he felt it would give a better hold and be easier to build [ed. also straps don’t rust].

I found a cheaper solution to the block and tackle in a modified carabiner with a locking friction clamp addition. I figured at 250 lbs, I could just muscle it up. My first try was a fail. I got 12’ strapping and, with the stretch, it was too long and I could not get enough lift. I reordered 10’ strapping and we were off to the races, totally out of the water.

High and dry dock.

High and dry dock.

I added a cleat to each rope so that, even if there was a failure of the locking carabiner, it would still hold somewhat.

Strapped in without a hitch.

Strapped in without a hitch.

You still need to muscle up each side, but it is not nearly as awkward. Plus, I could take out and put the boat away by myself. No real wind yet, but a couple of boats passed close and no wobble at all.

Hat Trimming

Lloyd and I had several conversations about hats this past week. It got me thinking about the hat I modified last year to have a removable band. The idea was to be able to change out the band to make it match multiple outfits or just give it a different look. Then the weather got cold and I got distracted and never made any additional bands.

But now that it’s hat season again, I pulled out my nice straw cloche and dug through my fabric bins to find something fun.

The starting materials. I used this fabric for a skirt a couple of years ago and really like it.

The starting materials. I used this fabric for a skirt a couple of years ago and really like it.

I wanted to keep things simple so I sewed a fabric tube with a single angled side and pinned it together. I’m very happy with the result and looking forward to wearing it soon!

The finished hat. I think Grandma's pin makes this look a lot more finished.

The finished hat. I think Grandma’s pin makes this look a lot more finished.

Mini Fitted Sheet

Some friends with children came out for a visit last month so we needed to find a way to make a toddler bed. Fortunately, we have a collection of floor cushions that make a very comfortable bed. To make them more bed-like we decided to make a fitted sheet. It was a pretty easy process as I already had the measurements from the covers. I took the cover pattern (minus the bottom face) and added elastic to the corners.

Measuring the fabric.

Measuring the fabric.

The flat fitted sheet.

The flat fitted sheet.

The finished sheet on a floor cushion.

The finished sheet on a floor cushion.

A Jasmine for scale.

A Jasmine for scale.

I’m pretty happy with how it turned out – especially since it made a pretty comfortable toddler bed. If I were to do it again, I’d use more elastic. This seems to be how store-bought fitted sheets are made.