Hippo Baby Bunting

Pattern envelope for Simplicity 9215 showing a baby in a fleece bunting.

While I spend more of my time knitting than sewing, it’s safe to say that I tend to reach for both with a mentality of either “this will be fun” or “I could make that”. While perusing baby patterns last fall, I stumbled across Simplity 9215 which offers the sewist the ability to transform fleece fabric into a jacket, pair of pants or baby bunting. Combine that with Joann Fabrics having a sale on fleece during the upcoming weekend and it felt meant to be.

Now, the pattern envelope claims that this is an easy project. Having just curned out a wonky looking baby bunting I think it’s safe to say that the pattern pieces were finicky and the instructions left a lot to be wanting. Perhaps I’ve been spoiled by the indie patterns I’ve been working with or perhaps I’m simply not in a place where I can picture how what I’m about to do will translate into the finished garment. Either way, I will aknowledge that my beginner sewing status played a role in the wonkiness of the finished garment as well.

For starters, the zipper is one of the first items that you sew on rather than the middle or last steps as I’ve previously worked. This is tricky because the instructions have you working with the front and back piece without the extentions in one step and then add in the extension in the following step. Honestly, it would have been easier to either attach everything together and to attach the zipper after sewing the shoulder seams and inserting the sleeves. In the end, I skipped the extensions (I’m still unsure how they fit together with the final grament, which is ok because I opted for a contrasting zipper on purpose) and was able to manuver my sewing machine around the extra bulk caused by installing the zipper so early. Also, my 14 inches zipper was a little smaller than the length of the body, I should have opted for 17-20 inches.

Another modification to the instructions I would have made (and highly recommend) is sewing the toe piece to the front before attaching the front pieces to anything. The area you’re manipulating is so tiny that any reduction in bulk is going to make it easier. Then, while I would like to think I could try pinning the bottom of the foot in such a way that I could sew around the foot and then up the side seam, the reality is that the bottom of the foot really can’t be attached until both leg seams are completed. So this step would indeed need to wait until closer to the end.

Finally, I couldn’t wrap my head around how to attach the mittens to the sleeves in a way that would make them usable. Now that the project is over, I think I would be able to if I were to rework the pattern? The directions here left a lot to be desired, but I’ll chalk this one up to being a newbie.

Would I make S9215 again? Perhaps in a larger size than 0-3 so that the manuvers are easier to make, but I also don’t see myself making this as a gift for anyone until I’m a little better at sewing. Luckily our little one will be small enough that the sizing won’t really matter (the feet in particular didn’t work out quite right). All in all, happy that I worked through the pattern (I learned a lot!), but a little bummed that one foot is smaller than the other and the larger foot is a weird shape.

A hooded baby bunting made of fleece with a hippo pattern on it.

Firefighter Knit Overalls

A while ago now, I stumbled across a firefighter-inspired print on Spoonflower and purchased a yard of it in their organic cotton knit. The theory behind this purchase was twofold: it’s a super cute pattern to make something for a baby and it would give me the chance to work with their organic cotton knit without committing to an adult size project.

Sewing with this fabric is like sewing with butter. Seriously, there were parts of this project that were 4-5 layers thick and my machine didn’t even skip a beat. Plus, it’s softer than I was expecting and one can’t help but imagine a pair of pajamas or an everyday dress being made with a different print.

In terms of choosing a pattern for the fabric, I knew that I wanted something on the gender-neutral side. As much as I love the Germanium Pattern as a dress workhorse, even using the sunsuit hack limits the sewist to a more feminine garment. Not that baby cares! Let’s be honest, baby will wear anything that you dress them in at this stage of the game. It’s really the parents that you’re sewing for at this stage of the game and, even though my husband and I are the parents for this one, I really wanted to add another workhorse pattern to my arsenal.

I don’t remember how exactly I stumbled upon OhMeOhMySewing Patterns, perhaps a Pinterest search for baby sewing patterns put them on my radar? While they have many patterns that have quickly earned an “ohh I want to make that someday”, I knew I found the pattern I was looking for when I saw their Knit Overalls Pattern. Cute little pocket on the front, the ability to choose between snap or button closures… it was perfect for filling the hole in my pattern collection. I also love that it goes up to a size 5 years!

Initially, I meant to sew the 9-12 month version in pants because it’s going to be chilly by the time our little one can wear that size, but I wasn’t paying attention when selecting pattern pieces to cut out and ended up cutting out the front and back pieces for the shorts instead of the pants. Completely my fault and not a reflection of the pattern.

All in all, these little overalls came together super quickly and I’m thrilled with the final result. I may modify the bottom closure next time in order to incorporate snaps for easier diaper changes, but otherwise, the only change to the pattern I made this time around was to add topstitching to the top edging in order to help the lining stay in place after washing.

Having sewn the pattern using a knit fabric, I’m confident that the shorts version of this pattern could also be used when working with woven fabric (and you could probably lengthen the legs to turn them into a pants version). That being said, if you’re someone who works more with wovens than knits, OhMeOhMy also has a Woven Overall Pattern.

In case you were wondering, I’m already jonesing to make this one again. Perhaps another shorts version for my niece’s upcoming birthday?

Toddler sized overalls with yellow buttons and a firefighter pattern printed on them that includes hoses, fire extinguishers, hats, boots, axes and fire hydrants.

Rainforest Mini Gale

A size 2T poncho knit in a heathered dark teal.

Confession time: While I understand that creating a project holding yarn double, triple or quadruple is not economical, I can’t help but love the squishiness of the fabric that is created using the technique. So as I opened my stash hatbox and saw 7 skeins of Knit Picks Stroll, yarn that was originally intended to make myself a sweater, I couldn’t help but wonder at how soft the dense fabric would be if I held enough strands to work the yarn at an Aran weight.

One of the major downsides of holding yarn multiple is that you’re dividing the amount of yardage you have to work with. For example, if I have a skein of yarn with 420 yards and I opt to use it double-stranded in a project, I really only have 210 yards of that yarn to work with. This means that instead of having 1617 yards of Stroll to work with, I would only have about 400 if I were to hold enough ends (4 total) to bump the weight up to Aran. Not a huge problem when you factor in all the little people in my life that I’ve been knitting for lately (although I’ll be honest and say there was a moment where my husband was hoping to get a shawl). After swatching, I decided to make a Mini Gale and got ready to cast on.

Though I admit that many of my projects lately have been larger ones, Mini Gale few off my needles in a matter of days. The pattern was the perfect combination of interestingly mindless and fast, it felt really good to finish it. Other than holding the yarn quadruple, no modifications were made to the pattern (unusual for me I know!).

As I mentioned, holding multiple strands of yarn together is not the most economical way to produce a knit fabric. That being said, it’s a really fun way to use up yarn in your stash because you’re no longer limited to the original weight of the yarn. Holding yarn multiple is also a fun way to create a marled look! If you’ve never held yarn multiple before, I’ve put together a cheat sheet to help you get started (below). Otherwise, hold the yarn together as if it were a single strand and knit as usual.

Starting strandFingeringDK/SportWorstedBulkySuper Bulky
Lace2 strands4 strands8 strands16 strands32 strands
Fingeringx2 strands4 strands8 strands16 strands
DK/Sportxx2 strands4 strands8 strands
Worstedxxx2 strands4 strands
Bulkyxxxx2 strands
Note: These numbers are a rough approximation, make sure to swatch!

You can also combine different weights to achieve a thicker gauge. For example, you may opt to hold 2 strands of fingering weight with 1 strand of DK/Sport in order to achieve a Worsted weight yarn.

Despite having my eye set on specific projects for the skeins in my stash, my eyes are often looking at single skeins and wondering what other color combinations I could create by holding multiple strands together. Some designers even write patterns that encourage you to do this on purpose (ie: Marley, Simplest Baby Blanket)!

Red Feather Spice

Since before we even started dating, I’ve been knitting for my husband. In fact, by the time we started dating I think I had already made him three pairs of socks and a scarf. One of his favorite stories to tell is how we went into the movie theater to watch The Joker and came out with a half-finished sock (I can knit without looking, but I can’t turn a heel without looking!). In my defense, we were really good friends before we started dating and he’s from an area of New Zealand where it doesn’t really get cold. His first pair of handknit socks were such a game-changer that he literally asked when he could get a second pair as soon as he had them on his feet. He took to my handknits so enthusiastically that for our first holiday season together, I knit him a sweater. And then I knit him another one a few months later, and another one a few months after that.

I’ve almost knit sweaters for the men (ok one man) in my life before. In fact, I was working on an octopus embrace sweater when the sweater curse struck and I realized that the work needed to create the handknit wasn’t worth the relationship! After that, I refused to knit anything larger than a sock (just because they’re small doesn’t mean they don’t have a lot of stitches!) for my partners. My husband, who at this point now has 4 handknit sweaters to his name from me, is the first man I have ever given a sweater to. He’s also 100% worthy of each of them and is always willing to oo and aww when I show him progress updates.

Knowing that we had a winter baby on the way, I wanted to make him something particularly cozy this year (after all, there would be a time that he would have to take the dog out on his own). There are about 8-10 sweaters that I’ve favorited over the last few months because I thought he would like them, so I don’t have a good reason for choosing to make a Spice Cardigan other than the fact that my local yarn shop‘s birthday was coming up (they had a giveaway bag if you spent over x amount, which is so easy to do with sweater quantities) and I have been wanting to work with Spincycle Yarns for a while. In fact, it wasn’t until after I purchased both the pattern and the yarn (I snagged some Forge by Hudson + West Co to go with the Spincycle) that I realized the pattern required the cardigan to be steeked. But we’ll get to that in a little bit.

When it comes to sweater construction, I don’t have strong feelings about top-down, bottom-up, or pieces that require seaming. I usually pick a sweater pattern by the design itself and then throw myself into it. Having said that, I’ve never knit the sleeves of a sweater before knitting the body of a sweater. This is not an uncommon technique, many knitters even do it so that they can use the sleeve as a gauge swatch. Andrea Mowry actually wrote Spice in such a way that you knit the sleeves before you knit the body of the sweater. True, it’s easy enough to knit the body of this sweater first and then set it aside for the sleeves, but it was sort of satisfying to have “completed” two parts of the sweater before even casting on for the body.

The colorwork stitches being every other stitch is nice as well, the yarn flew between my fingers as opposed to requiring that I slowed down to pick up a float from time to time.

I suppose this brings me to steeking, that thing I’ve successfully avoided my entire knitting career. Until this sweater. After attempting a few stitches of the crochet reinforcement, I ended up deciding to use the straight stitch on my sewing machine instead. Though nerve-wracking, it was easier than I thought it would be to sew through the knit fabric. Next, I picked up the stitches for the collar based on a suggestion from Tincanknits and tried to knit a row (and put off cutting the fabric a little longer). This method result in a cramped working space, so I ended grabbing my scissors and spending two minutes cutting the knit fabric before continuing the collar.

Now that I have a steeked project under my belt, I can say that it’s honestly not that bad. I don’t see myself seeking out projects just to steek, but I don’t see myself actively avoiding them either. All in all, I would (and probably will) steek again.

An orange cardigan with a shawl collar and five toggle buttons laid flat.

Wide Ridged & Wrapped Shawl

13 mini skeins of fingering weight yarn creating a rainbow gradient from pink to purple.

Every season has elements about them that are beautiful and worth looking forward to, as well as elements that challenge you. Personally, I don’t have a strong preference for summer over winter or fall over spring. In fact, I have specific activities that I look forward to enjoying each season that help me combat the elements that challenge me.

That being said, instead of seasons giving me a harder time I find that there are specific months that I look forward to a lot less than others. For example, where we live, April is an ugly month. The snow is more or less melted (but you can’t rule out a random storm) and everything looks (and is) dirty. Trash and dog poop that was neglected during the winter months suddenly makes an appearance. Hiking trails are half mud half ice, meaning that you spend most of your time hiking trying to negotiate how many times you need to take your microspikes on and off. Usually, if I can get through April I can coast through the remainder of mud season (yes it’s a season all its own here) and on to enjoying summer.

November, despite Thanksgiving and the break that tends to come with it, is my other pain month. Similar to April, it’s a dreary month often marked by freezing rain and naked trees. Getting outside becomes a game of “do I have enough waterproof layers to stay warm” and the world around you turns grey while it waits to be blanketed in the first snow of the year.

A large rectangular shawl knit in 13 different colors creating a rainbow gradient from bright pink to purple laid flat on a blue towel to dry.

To combat the gray weather, I found myself knitting a wide version of the Ridged and Wrapped Shawl by Stephanie Shiman out of a 13 mini-skein pack of Mary Ann by Wonderland Yarns. Though the stitch pattern is simple, transitioning from red to greens to blues to purples kept the project interesting. This project saw me through this year’s Great British Bake-off competition, some light reading, and the first couple of episodes of the Wheel of Time (which we’re enjoying, even though it differs from the books).

Though I’ve worked with wonderland yarns before, I always find myself drawn to the vibrancy of their colors. True, the Mystery & Danger pack boasts loud and bright colors, but even their pastel collections are rich and beautiful.

The hardest thing about this project, for me, was deciding where to “randomly” place ridges. How far apart was too far and am I accidentally creating too much of a repeating pattern were the two most common questions going through my head throughout the entire process. Also, it took me a long time to work through this shawl because, though worth it, it’s a bit of a marathon. I highly recommend setting goals (I’m going to knit this many skeins this week), and/or having other projects (in my case sewing) to pick up when you need a break.

As with any long project, I tend to develop a wandering eye, which means that the start-itis now that it’s complete is real! I have so many knitting (Spice, Mini Gale, Sorrel Mini, Peperomia Mini, Birds of a Feather, and Camera Mits to name a few) and sewing (at least two pairs of PJ pants!, Josephine Sweatshirt, a button-down…) projects lined up that I haven’t decided where to start.

Scrunched up rectangular shawl of 13 colors creating a rainbow gradient from bright pink to purple.