Lua Sleep Sack

We had to stop swaddling cold turkey earlier than many sites predicted because our little overachiever taught herself how to roll early. We had a few hand-me-down sleep sacks to get us started, but the more I looked at the construction the more it felt like a missed opportunity to make something. Funny how quickly your brain takes you there once you start crafting. Surely I can make this and surely someone has thought about how to improve the store-bought design.

Dark blue sleep sack with forest animals riding in hot air balloons printed across it.

Enter the Lua Sleep Sack. Originally written to be a wearable quilt, the buttoned straps and side zipper (which as a bonus also means you’re not slicing a beautiful design in half) make it so easy to get little ones in and out of. Plus, it was so easy to use knit fabric instead of woven so that the sleep sack wasn’t as heavy. Combine that with the fact that I made two in less than an hour, it’s hard not to start buying fabric simply to crank them out.

Faux patch quilt sleep sack.

I have a third sleep sack in the works using a gauzy hand-me-down swaddle blanket. With any luck, the mod I used to make the knit sleep sacks (only the upper area is lined) will work for the gauze fabric and we’ll have a light/airy sleep sack to throw her in. If nothing else, it’s more invisible zipper practice.

Real talk: I don’t have a lot of time to sit down at my sewing machine these days and I don’t have the headspace for a lot of complications in my crafting. This isn’t to say that I don’t like to challenge myself, it’s more so that whatever I’m working on needs to be a project that I can pick up, work on for 3 minutes and then put down again. Generally speaking, knitting fits the bill because there isn’t a lot of setup time. Sewing projects tend to sit cut out on my craft table because so much prep work goes into getting ready to sew. The Lua Sleep Sack is the perfect project if you find yourself in this situation and wanting to sew for a little one. I cannot recommend it enough.

Baby Messenger Henley

Teal baby sweater with yellow stripes across the yoke and sleeves. Three purl snaps are used to keep the henley neckline closed.

Let me start by saying a few things:

1) I probably should have done a gauge swatch because I would have learned the correct needle size to use. Using a size 5 instead of a size 4 has left me with a size ~12 months instead of ~6 months.

2) You can’t tell, but I put the outie of the snaps on the wrong part (I prefer the outie to attach to the pearl snap side). That being said, this was my first time attaching snaps to a handknit and I have to say I’m a fan.

3) I cannot get enough of this blue yarn, seriously it’s gorgeous and reminds me of jumping in a cool brook on a hot summer day.

4) Where is this sweater in my size? Do I dare seek out a sweater’s quantity of Mad Hatter in Glow Worm for myself?

When thinking about baby sweaters, blue and yellow are such a classic combination. That being said, I love the depth that Glow Worm adds to the sweater — in fact, it was very difficult to choose which color to make the contrast color and which to make the main color. If one had a really hard time choosing or second-guesses the choice they made, there should be just enough yardage to make two inverse sweaters.

The other thing that I’ve learned to like about any baby top is the ability to create a large opening at the neckline. Pre-baby, this was because babies have large heads. Post-baby, this is because it takes a while for babies to be ok having garments go over their heads and a large head hole makes it quick and easy (and you can take it off by sliding it along their body if you’re not brave enough to go back over their head.

I’m tempted to knit this sweater again using the leftover yarn (this would mean a yellow sweater with blue stripes) for my new nephew, but there’s a crochet baby sweater I’m tempted to try. After all, why not keep working on my crochet skills this summer?

Want to make a Baby Messenger Henley of your own? Use the discount YARNVIP for 15% off your total purchase from Wonderland Yarns (discount not eligible on sale items, with other discounts, or on yarn clubs) :]

July 2022 Book Club: The Design of Everyday Things

Cover art for the Design of Everyday Things by Donald A Norman.

I really wanted to like this one but had the hardest time getting into it. Perhaps I need to give it a second try at a later date, but I honestly struggled to make it past the second chapter. Though the writing was dry, it reminded me of a time I enthusiastically purchased a teapot-cup combo from a thrift shop. In theory, it was genius. The teapot stacks inside the mug for easy storage and was designed so that you could enjoy two cups of tea using the included mug – perfect for a morning where you’re not sharing a pot with someone. In practice, however, the handle on both items was too small to use. This meant that you inevitably burned your fingers pouring the tea and again trying to drink it (the material of the pot was also too small. Despite paying $2 USD for the items, I couldn’t help but attempt to use them again and again over the course of two years before finally donating them.

I think this concept of design is interesting and can be applied to everyday life. There are things that seem like a good idea, but when you try them out it turns out they’re not a good fit. Maybe because it adds too much driving time to your commute so you never make the trip. Maybe the goal didn’t actually fit into your lifestyle. Perhaps the real point is that you give the idea the freedom to fail and then learn from your mistakes to improve the design. In thinking of my teapot/mug combo, the design would have worked better if the set was made of a thicker clay or if both items had a more practical handle. I will acknowledge here that sometimes items are donated to a thrift store for a reason and I should consider that when purchasing.

Back to fiction for August, which I tend to enjoy more by default. One of my friends lent me her copy of The House in the Cerulean Sea and it seems like the perfect book to slip into in the heat of summer:

Cover art for the House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune.

A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret.

Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.

When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.

But the children aren’t the only secret the island keeps. Their caretaker is the charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, who will do anything to keep his wards safe. As Arthur and Linus grow closer, long-held secrets are exposed, and Linus must make a choice: destroy a home or watch the world burn.

An enchanting story, masterfully told, The House in the Cerulean Sea is about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place—and realizing that family is yours.

Other things I made during the 2022 “Make Good Stash Down”

This past winter, my Local Yarn Store held their second stash down knit along (KAL). The goal was simple, work through the yarn in your stash and finish projects on your needles. I actually knit most of my yarn! By the end of the KAL I only had two or three skeins left in my hatbox. During the KAL, I made (and have already mentioned) a Sorrel Mini, my Tic Tac Toe sweater, some quick knit cowls, a couple of gradient knits, and a hat for my husband. Since the KAL took place while I was patiently waiting for our little one to arrive as well as in the early days when I had to stay awake for long stretches of time, a lot more knitting took place! In addition to those projects, I also made:

Another pair of Flip-Top Mittens, this time in Blue Sky Fibers Extra. These are super handy for taking the dog out or for any day when a little extra dexterity is important. I believe this is the ninth time I’ve worked up this pattern? It’s a quick and easy gift that everyone seems to enjoy, so I’m sure it won’t be the last time I reach for the Red is Best pattern.

Socks, of course. Prior to this project, I had never worked with Urth Uneek Fingering and if I’m being honest it made for a crazy pair of socks! Part of me thinks it could have made a beautiful shawl as well, I’m thinking something that takes advantage of long color repeats. Since Hubs picked out the yarn specifically for the purpose of adding another pair of knit socks to his collection, I tried holding the yarn double when knitting the heel and toe. With any luck, this will add an extra layer of toughness and prevent holes just a little bit longer.

A baby cardigan, in Wonderland Yarns & Frabjous Fibers Mary Ann and Blue Sky Fibers Woolstok Light, held double. In my mind, I knit the larger size so that O could wear it longer… in practice, she won’t be able to wear it until the fall. Oh well!

The final project I was able to finish (just barely) was a woven scarf to match Hubs’ hat. The plaid is a little crazy, but I’m hoping the various fibers will keep him very warm next winter.

I still can’t believe how many projects I cranked out in the three-month period, and how quickly I refilled my stash when the KAL ended. My queue is long again, which is a fun place to be.

Looking to add some Wonderland Yarn to your stash? Use the discount YARNVIP for 15% off your total purchase from Wonderland Yarns (discount not eligible on sale items, with other discounts, or on yarn clubs) :]

Tiger Sewing: Matching Outfits

Yellow, orange and blue spotted tiger stripped dress.

Unlike yarn, I have yet to become immune to fabric fumes and can still spend hours looking at different patterns. On the one hand, I still tend to buy fabric when I have a project in mind, on the other hand, it’s still very easy for me to want all the fabric and to impulsively buy some. Several months ago, I opted to make our daughter four cribsheets when Joann Fabrics was having a sale on nursery fabric. If I’m being honest, I actually purchased enough fabric to make five, but “accidentally” purchased a non-flannel fabric that I didn’t end up using. This means that I’ve had vibrant multi-colored tiger print cotton staring at me, waiting patiently to be transformed into something.

Then I found out my sister was pregnant with her second and everything snapped into place, that is after all why one stashes right? I knew I wanted to reuse an overall and dress pattern I put together recently, so I printed out the PDFs, cut out my desired sizes, and got to work! Since there was a little bit of fabric leftover, I threw together two scrunchies as well. I’m not sure if they’ll be used, but it was surprisingly easy to throw them together.

Yellow, orange and blue spotted tiger stripped overalls and two scrunchies.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about myself it’s that I start to lose interest in a project when the project requires a higher level of focus. In other words, when the end is in sight and all the final steps are small detail items. This used to happen with knitting projects, so I can only hope that as I become a better sewist I’ll dread the final steps less and less.