Thursday, March 25, 2010

Knock Offs

I love Matilda Jane clothes.  They are boutique-style clothes that can only be bought from a private seller at "Trunk Shows" (home parties kind of like Pampered Chef for clothes).  The colors and styles are so trendy and cute, and I'm always tempted to get things for my daughter.  The problem is that when I see them I realize I could totally make clothes just like that if I took the time and had the right materials.  The other day I decided its finally time to try.  Anna's birthday is in a few months and I figured I would do my best to make her a few things and if I just completely fail, then I'll order some at the next Trunk Show I know about in June.  We hit JoAnn's yesterday afternoon and picked up some fabric and I set to snipping and sewing.



Today I finished up the first item: a pair of super soft, super comfy ruffly capris based on the Big Ruffle style of MJ pants.  The adult version has a cute button on the side of the leg that I decided to copy for my version.  I think it gives it the touch of sophistication and a little extra "something" I was looking for :)

We have a set of fabrics that I'll be making into a dress similar to the Sara Dress.  The olive fabric is the same knit used in the pants so they'll be a set or will be able to be used separate!

I'll post pics of the finished product when I finally get it done :)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Lady Bug

My most recent project was this sweet little lady bug.  She will be given to a family who is about to travel to China to finally bring home their little girl. 

Ladybugs have become symbolic of good luck in  Chinese adoption.  The bug is bigger than you might expect - about 6" in diameter with all the legs, head, antennae and eyes securely attached to all the withstand tugging, chewing and loving she might receive. 

With our own international adoption coming soon it is so fun to be a part of another family's journey to bring home a child!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Cotton Candy

I finally got around to making something out of that lovely cotton yarn I dyed at the end of February.  Loree had requested another hat* for her photography props - this time one in an "aviator" style (with short earflaps and long braids).  I was kind of dreading working with the thick/thin yarn because I just wasn't sure how it would knit up, but I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to work with! 

I started by making a skullcap style hat and then pick up and knit stitches on each side of the hat for the earflaps.  The short earflaps really helped hide some of the bulges from the thick part of the yarn that showed up along the cast-on edge. Really, the hardest part of the whole hat were those braids!  It was really difficult to get braids of a consistent thickness out of thick/thin yarn.  I ended up making the braid out of 6 strands of yarn.  I tried to offset the thick parts of the yarn so that at any spot along the braid there was at least one "lump".  It took some work, but I ended up with two sections of braid that were pretty good.

When it was all said and done I thought the hat looked like cotton candy!  A sweet little topper for sweet little babies :)

I also recently purchased some new tags/stickers and business cards.  The hat made a nice backdrop for some photos of the business cards!

*see the "Elfin" stocking caps featured on Loree's blog!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Macbook Case

I recently acquired a Macbook.  Our desktop had given us great service (we had the thing about 7 years and it wasn't new when it was given to us!) but we really needed something with more memory and processing power in order to continue to function.  Anyway, to keep a long story short we decided to replace our desktop with a laptop and decided a Macbook was the best fit.  Since my husband already has a laptop for his music recording, this one is sorta "mine".  Its not mine really, but I'm certainly the one who uses it most.  Matt even let me buy a decal to put on it :)  I decided this week that if I'm ever going to take the Macbook out of the house (part of the point of a laptop, right?!) that it needed a little case so my cute decal wouldn't get ruined.

I used some scraps I had laying around - an old pink curtain, and a cotton print from baby blankets and came up with this:

I lined the inside with the minky to avoid scratches.  I made a large pocket on the inside from the minky that is big enough to hold a couple of books* or the power cord.



The embroidered flower on the front is from an old shirt I loved that shrank an indecent amount vertically over the years and was no longer suitable for wearing... by anyone.

And then I put on a cute button and closed it up with some matching hair bands.  They are stretchy enough to hold it closed when the interior pocked is full or empty.  I also put them on in a way that makes it easy to remove them and replace them if they start to wear out.

*The books in this photo are my pocket bible and Not For Sale.  I am starting a bible study with some friends based on this book tonight, and it is a book I would HIGHLY recommend it.... though the subject matter is not easy.  It is an expose on slavery (of all kinds) and forced labor that still exists in our world today.  Wanna know the truth?  Then read this book.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Dyeing Experiment

This weekend I embarked on a new journey... a journey into dyeing.   It all started with a trip to the yarn shop downtown.  I rarely make it down there because its about a 30 min drive and when I go I'm overwhelmed with the amazing yarns it has to offer!  I decided to make the trek it because I needed a specific type of yarn (a slub yarn in pinks/peaches) for a project.  I looked all over the store for what I wanted, but just couldn't find it.  I found one that was an acceptable substitution but was pinks whites and grays.  Just as I was about to check out, the yarn store owner showed me Thaki Yarns Maya in Ecru and mentioned that I could try to dye it to the colors I wanted.   She gave me some brief instructions on dyeing with Kool-Aid and sent me on my way with my pink/gray yarn and the Maya yarn.

 My husband graciously went out and bought the supplies I needed after we got home.  While he was out I did some research online and started to wonder if this would work... from what I'd seen online Kool-Aid dyeing ONLY worked with a protein (animal) fiber and not a cellulose (plant) fiber like the 100% Maya.  Trusting the yarn store owner to know better than me, I went ahead and began the Kool-Aid dyeing process (I used the microwave method).  When I rinsed out the yarn, the color rinsed out too and I ended up with a yarn that was almost the same white as the original yarn!   I tried again using a much higher concentration of dye and again it didn't work.  Feeling discouraged I set it aside for the day.

The next day I did some more research and found that for cotton yarn you needed a different type of dye.  I went to JoAnn's and got some Rit dye (it was on sale... bonus!) in Petal Pink, Fuscia, and Tangerine.  I started by soaking the yarn in hot water while I prepared the dyes.

I mixed the dyes to a very dilute solution with hot water.  Next I squeezed the yarn out gently, placed it on a cookie sheet covered with saran wrap, and painted the colors on using sponge brushes.

When the colors were distributed how I liked, I covered it with more saran wrap and then sealed the whole thing with Glad Press 'n' Seal to make it air-tight then left it overnight to soak up the color.  The next morning I rinsed it out with hot water till the water ran clear, then rinsed with slightly soapy - dish soap - water, then rinsed with hot water again. I squezed out the excess water and laid it out on the clothes drying rack to dry with a large dish underneath to catch any drips.

I started to get really nervous at this point because the yarn looked really bad.  The colors were ok, a little brighter than I wanted, but the slubs looked really bad.... all squished up and felted looking.  I was discouraged and figured that all my messing about with the Kool-Aid had ruined it.  I couldn't wait for the yarn to dry on its own so I started drying with with a hair dryer - figured I couldn't make it worse!  Turns out that as the yarn dried, the slubs puffed out and looked much better.  In fact, by the time the whole skein was dry, it looked pretty good.  There are a few slubs that are messed up from all the squishing and painting it went through, but when they're knitted up you don't notice, and if you did, I could cut those out.  The finished product is quite pretty :) 

I think it looks best knit up on a size 8 needle... we'll see how it looks in a finished product!