Monday, June 27, 2011

Bleuette has cold feet

Ok...just a quick one, because I want to go to bed before midnight.

A few weeks ago, I was prowling through my Yahoo boards, and found a few knit/crochet patterns on my Bleuette Sewing Board that I thought I'd try.  The first one was a slipper--the same kind of slipper I had as a kid!  So...I had to make up a pair. 


(I really need to de-clutter my sewing table when I take pictures...)

I was tickled with how these turned out, and immediately made a pair to send to my mom.  The yarn I used here is "Willow Tweed" by Louisa Harding Yarns...lovely stuff:  40% Alpaca, 40% Merino, and 20% silk.  This is kind of a light greenish-teal/fern with cream-colored slubs/nubbies.  I have planned a robe and nightgown around some beautiful fine cotton shirting I got at Fabric Depot (aka Fabric Mecca) in Vancouver, Wa.  It has a pretty striped pattern in fine lines of fern green and white.  So...the nightgown is the 1915 Chemise de Nuit (pictured below), in white swiss batiste with coordinating feather stitching details (as the pattern shows) .  I was going to do the bathrobe Robe de Chambre 1911, but the pattern I have is missing the belt, and the collar doesn't fit the back of the robe properly as written, so I need to do some tweaking before I make that up.  The robe would be in the stripe, with white collar and cuffs with the chain-stitch embroidery indicated.  (I just checked the original pattern...and discovered that the belt is not a pattern, but simply instructions to embroider a particular length of fabric with the wavy pattern and stitch it into a belt...I guess it would help to read the pattern, huh?  Then again, it is in French, and I only know French sewing terms, not the language itself!)


There is a prettier robe de chambre later, in the 20's I think, that I may do instead.  I don't know...most of the early dressing gowns were pretty utilitarian.  And the embroidery on the collar and cuffs is a pain in the thimble, let me tell you!!  I have embroidered three sets of them so far (one for my mom's Christmas Bleuette Trousseau, and two to sell), and it is some finicky work.  I did it on batiste with a single strand of 6-strand DMC floss...will have to post pictures of the embroidery sometime.  Hmm...  Maybe that will be my next post--embroidery for dolls.  I like it! the little slippers...will definitely have to make more. 

Until later...

Getting in Gear, part Deux

Soo...not having to get up at the butt-crack of dawn turns me into a night owl.  I've spent far too many hours lately poring over patterns online, especially at Ravelry...I just joined, and WOW!  I love it! 

Anyway...I'm always on the lookout for nice doll patterns, so I browsed the doll section.  I had NO idea so many American Girl patterns were out there!!  When Ella gets old enough and wants one, I'm set for life!  But I sew for smaller dolls, so I had to weed through all the big ones to find the kind of thing I wanted.  I stumbled across a pattern called "Lati Yellow Dress" by Shelley Sellwood.  I don't have a lot of BJDs, and the smallest one I have is about 7" tall, and the La Ti Yellow dolls are 10 cm tall!!  (4" for us Yanks)  But...Kish's Riley has a narrow torso, and Ellery is only 5 inches tall, so I thought I could try the pattern and see if it could work...or if I could tweak it to make it work for slightly larger dolls. 

This thing knitted up so fast--it was adorable!!  My box of fingering and sock yarns is buried in my sewing room closet, so I used what I had on hand downstairs, which was Cascade Yarn Heritage in a rich wine red.  The pattern calls for 4 ply yarn, which I think is fingering in the UK, and 2.5mm needles, which, of course, I don't have...I have 2.25, and 2.75, but not 2.5.  Considering all the little knitting I do, you'd think I would have that!  But...I used the 2.75, because the yarn is more of a sock weight.  I found a few things to tweak...the neck was too loose for my taste, and I needed to run a line of yarn through the cast-on stitches to cinch it up a bit.  I think I cast on maybe a little too loosely...not sure on that one.  But I made some adjustments, and shortened it, and Voila! 

The red one is my first attempt at the top/dress.  I love it!  This is on an 8" Wendy (Madame Alexander).  The blue-green one is my second attempt, in which I tried to correct some of the things that bothered me on my first workup.  This time, I used a size 0 needle to cast on and do the first row, then switched to a size 1 for the second row, and a 2 for the rest of it.  The fit of the neck was much better.  However, this time, I also used a different yarn, which worked up smaller and shorter.  I forget what the yarn is (the label is downstairs, and I'm not going to go get it now), but it was definitely a fingering yarn, a smaller diameter than the Cascade Heritage yarn.  I wouldn't say it was a lace yarn...a little too big for that.  All my lace yarns are finer.  But it is a lovely graduated marled yarn, and not all the colorways show on the ball.  The tail I pulled out of the center was green marled with a hint of lavender/purple, and as I knit, it got more and more purple.  I LOVE the color graduation!  I need to make more with this stuff!

Riley is lying down so that the color graduation shows up better!

In my next post, I'll talk Bleuette....stay tuned!  (oh, wait...nobody reads this.  Sigh.)

Getting into gear

Now that I'm off for the summer, I have been working on multiple little projects, kind of getting myself primed for bigger projects later.  We're going on a trip to Idaho in 2 1/2 weeks, so I don't want to get too involved with any big projects. 

SO, with that in are some things I've made in the last few days...

I love Bleuette dolls, and have recently purchased a doll bed for my girls.  I thought I'd make the bedspread/blanket published in La Semaine de Suzette in both 1906 and 1917.  The translated instructions did not give me any guidance regarding yarn size or hook, so...I had some lovely rose-colored Cascade Yarns Heritage sock/fingering yarn, and used a size 3 steel hook (although a US C hook would have worked, it seemed a bit large for the yarn).  I happily crocheted away, and when I got about halfway through the main part of the blanket, I realized that there was no way this would be long enough for my doll bed, let alone be useful for a Bleuette.  Sigh...  Me and wanting things to be delicate and not "hurky".  But rather than give up and toss it, I finished it (although I made it longer than the pattern calls was just too short), and decided to see if it might work on one of my other doll beds:

And it does!  This is a Strombecker doll bed (actually half of a bunk bed set) that has no bedding on it.  I keep meaning to make bedding for it...hmm...  Maybe this is the excuse I need?  I thought I'd make the second bed's blanket in cream (I have that colorway in the same yarn), and then run ecru/cream ribbon through the pink blanket, and pink ribbon through the cream blanket.  Not matching, but coordinated. 

Here is the original pattern image: 

And here is my finished blanket:

I have not yet blocked the blanket--I will do that soon.  I've got too much crap on my ironing board at the moment to do that.

As for my Bleuette bed, is a double-sized bed, so the blanket looked completely ridiculous on it!  I think I'll find a nice DK yarn ( excuse to go yarn shopping!) and maybe enlarge the central section of the blanket to fit the bed's dimensions.  The Strombecker furniture is for 8" dolls, like Wendy, Ginny, and all my little Kish girlies. 

Sigh...must clean up the sewing room...I've got too much stuff in disarray again...

Yessss! Vacation!

I don't entirely feel like I'm on vacation yet, but...I'm enjoying the opportunity to keep whatever hours I want.  Although the little barnacle does wake me up earlier than I'd her mind, she's letting me sleep in!  She's happier, too...I think she got pretty worn out by the end of the school year.  In fact, the first thing she did was come down with a cold.  She was a little clingy cough machine yesterday, but has improved today.  She's been able to play all day and not have to go anywhere, and that makes her happy.

I've been able to do some organizing of patterns, and play around with yarns, etc.  I made a little sleeveless top in size 10 crochet cotton for an 8" doll using a pattern from Knit and Crochet for Small Dolls by Marjory Fainges.  Too cute!  It is the yellow/orange top you see on the cover:

I've started the pair of jodphurs, too.  My mom wants those!  This is a great little book--although I think some of the patterns are a bit more involved than I'd like for small dolls--lots of tails to weave in a small space.  I don't mind seaming, but I do mind tails. 
Anyway, I made the top in white DMC Baroque crochet cotton, size 10.  It was my first attempt at making a scalloped edging, too, and I'm so thrilled with it that I want to make more!  It turned out pretty cute.  I'm going to make a little tiered skirt to go with it:

I didn't intend to show dolly nudity, here...just wanted to show the top.  I'm considering a skirt in the peachy floral, and capris out of the blue-green print.  The peach floral is a pima cotton print from Farmhouse Fabrics, and the blue/green floral is a printed cotton pique I picked up at the Sewing Expo from Genevieve's many years ago.  I haven't seen Genevieve in a while...I think she may have retired.  But I bought some beautiful fabrics from her...and I still hoard them!  The piles of stuff stacked around my table is pretty standard for my working area--multiple projects in the works!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Summer SUMMER Summer VACATION!!!

AMEN for vacation!!  What would I do without it??  I have three days left...three days of getting up at ungodly hours, dragging myself into the shower, dragging a reluctant 4-year-old out of bed and to preschool, and dragging reluctant high schoolers through the joys of English.  But no more!  My Seniors graduated last week, and all three classes of them have become my three new prep periods.  Yeah, baby!!  :)  What have I been doing with all this free time??  Let's see...I've graded the few papers I have left for my sophomores, filed my original copies back in their binders, filed extra copies of assignments, etc. in my filing cabinet, taken down my classroom decorations, put my books in my cabinet, inventoried my textbooks, sent miscellaneous leftover items away to the lost-and-found, and shopped for yarn online.  That was on Friday, when I was tired and feeling less than motivated to do anything. 

But the end is in sight, and I'm really energized by it.  Well, that and the delicious ability to catch up on lost sleep on the weekend.  Yesterday I was particularly lazy and shiftless, but today...I made my husband breakfast, cleaned the kitchen, did the dishes (normally his job on the weekend), and sent him off for a "man day" to himself.  I think that's probably a better gift for him than anything I can buy...guilt-free time to himself without any cling-ons, like a very loving but very demanding little girl, as well as a rather shaggy-looking puppy who wants to play.

So...the child is napping, the kitchen is clean (although the living room is not...I may be somewhat energized today, but tackling the kitchen was enough), and I have an hour and a quarter to myself. 

So...SUMMER:  I'm not a huge fan of hot weather, being rather round and having excess insulation, but I am a huge fan of vacation.  And I have been spinning all kinds of projects around in my head.  SO many things I want to do!  Knitting and crocheting and sewing and embroidery and painting and camping and playing and all that good stuff.  And since I've been able to come home guilt-free, I've been able to dedicate Ella's naptime to my projects. 

I've managed to finish cutting out the pile of Bleuette clothing I've stockpiled--can't wait to get started on some of those.  I also set aside some simple embroidery projects for Bleuette--aprons, nightgowns, underthings, blouses, and in a few hours yesterday and a few this morning, I've finished a set of underthings as well as a blouse--that one I did in a very fine shirting material I got at Fabric Depot about a year ago, and embroidered the scalloped edging in one strand of floss.  My first attempt at the neckline went a little wonky, but I picked it out and started over again after I'd done more of it.  The second one looks much nicer.  I will have to post pictures here soon....

I've also been obsessing over vests and tunics for my daughter.  I don't want to pay the money for the expensive sweaters I love at Gymboree and etc., and because she has a long waist, most of them end up too short on her before she really outgrows them.  She also doesn't seem to like bulk on her arms. solution is vests/tunics to keep her warm.  She's got somewhat sensitive skin, and already has KP (Keratosis Pilaris--commonly known as "chicken skin"--a form of eczema), and since I had bad eczema as a kid (and have not entirely outgrown it), I am careful about the fiber content of yarns for her.  Wool of course is warmest, itches.  I don't care how soft they say it is, even cashmere itches.  And cashmere is expensive.  I cannot wear wool--even the softest stuff starts to itch after an hour or two.  I have a sweater set that I love that is a wool blend, but I can't wear it more than half a day.  At that point, I'm ready to rip it off my body like The Hulk in a temper!  My husband also has eczema, so the poor kid is doomed.

The downside to non-wool fibers is that they don't always have a nice feel to them.  I hate the squeak--that squeaky noise that you get when you're working with acrylic/synthetic yarns.  Ugh!  So...I'm trying to find decently-priced alternatives to wool.  Fortunately, I'm only planning to have her wear the tunics/vests over a shirt/blouse, so a wool blend might be ok for her.  Knitpicks has some nice cottons...I may invest in some of those.  I love their Crayon DK cotton--SO soft!!  But boucle yarn has some limitations.  Still...I've got a rainbow stash of it, so I may end up making her some rainbow-striped things. 

I recently discovered Ravelry, and have been spending many hours poring over their offerings--WOW!  I think I'm in trouble.  I'm afraid to bring home more yarn, husband may not understand my obsession, and is generally supportive of all my creative endeavors, but...he does complain about the clutter and how we have too much stuff.  Hmm...he works during the day...and I'm on vacation, so....hmm...  :)

Well, gotta hop in the shower before it is time to wake up the munchkin for her bath and subsequent trip to the Ram for Father's Day dinner. 

Happy crafting!