Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Easter Skirted Capris

The scrappies in the next post go with this skirty too. Or at least I hope they do. The mom said she loved them, but I haven't actually seen how they look together. I'll have to see if maybe she'll send me a pic.

I've had MANY compliments on this one. And you know, it wasn't even difficult to make. The hardest part was probably making the wave pattern for the grass. The easiest part? The yarn... ahhhhhhh the yarn :). Yarngasm. Oh yes. The purple is 100% baby alpaca. I'm not sure there's anything softer or more luxurious than baby alpaca, except maybe brushed baby alpaca, which is very fuzzy and wouldn't work for a soaker, so I'll probably never have the chance to work with it. :( Although I might have to buy a ball just to pet when I need some comfort.

I think I did put another butterfly on the bum of this one... I can't remember now. Oh well.

The green yarn is a blend of wool, cashmere and microfiber. I wonder how it would hold up as a soaker? It wasn't quite as nice to knit with as the alpaca, but then nothing is, but it was very very nice. It's a little pricey, but I would definitely like to add it as an option if it works. I'll have to design another soaker for Addy :).

Friday, March 26, 2010

Butterflies & Flowers Skirted Capri

Before I start complaining, I have to say that I really love how this one turned out. If I had a baby girl, I'd definitely put it on her. And I totally love that I figured out (inspired by a WAY TOO BUSY soaker I saw on Diaperswappers) two color linen stitch as a cuff option. I think it's my favorite looks wise. It just looks cool.

But seriously! The woman asked for a fairy and some butterflies and dragonflies. I couldn't for the life of me come up with a not cutesy fairy for a pair of soakers. You wouldn't think it would be that difficult! I scoured the internet and found lots of good inspiration pics for fairies, and then I dug in. I tried intarsia and fair isle. I tried embroidery. I even tried tracing a pattern on with fabric stabilizer and then embroidering over it. I think I spent quite a bit more money than I made on this one just trying to get the design right. In the end, the fairy proved to be completely elusive and I was left with butterflies and dragonflies, and even though they turned out really cute, they aren't what I'd envisioned, and even though (as I said at first) I totally love the way these turned out, I'm disappointed. I feel like I failed. Maybe I'll do it again in fingering weight yarn and see if I can get that darn fairy to cooperate. With a fine enough guage I could probably find a cross-stitch pattern that would work beautifully. I wonder if I have to go all the way down to fingering weight or if Dk would work? Hmm... sounds like I've got some work to do.... after the 10 orders I have on my waiting list. And the several soakers I owe my sister. And the blanket I owe my other sister. And the pants I promised my 4 year old....

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Sock Monkey Skirty - Evolution/Refinement

The monkey skirty has come a long way from the first time I made it! It looks nothing like the first one now. I started by changing the way I did the waist band and the cord. I now do all my waistbands the same way, but I perfected it on the sock monkey skirty.

Then I bought an Embellish Knit and that completely revolutionized the way I do drawstrings. My sister didn't like the cord on the original. She said it frayed to easily. And well... the lovely little i-cord mill seriously cuts back on time. The next thing I did was change the eyes. The first ones I just embroidered on and didn't really know what I was doing. Then I had the bright idea to crochet little buttons! Way easier and more uniform. It now takes less than 5 minutes to make and sew on a pair of eyes.

After the eyes, I changed the skirt so that now it attaches different. It's been through several iterations, and now I think I've really got it where I like it most, which involves knitting it separately and grafting it on, but I don't mind that. I added a little diamond motif detail at the waist of the skirt (where it attaches) to make it lay flat and have a smoother join so that it doesn't look like an afterthought.

After the eyes and before the skirt, I added ribbing around the legs, which just makes it look much more finished, and keeps prefolds from leaking better.

Last of all (surprisingly) I've FINALLY settled on an absolute formula for the face. It's taken a while to really perfect the placing and construction of the short rows to get the smile and the eye band just right. I think it actually is to the point that I could write a pattern that someone else could make it off of. Maybe when I get sick of making them (not likely) I'll publish the pattern. Maybe. I'm very proud of this one. Mon chef d'oeuvres, one might say.

I just couldn't resist adding this las pic of my niece and nephew wearing matching monkey skirties :).

Friday, March 5, 2010

Skullie's Can They Get Any Cuter?!?!

Have I ever said how much I love purple? I do. I LOVE purple. I love this purple in particular! If you click on the pics and zoom up close, you can see how the yarn is heathered with bits of turquoise and hot pink. I LOVE it :). And I totally love how these turned out. Okay, so maybe the skullie is getting a little easier to make. I'm still not wild about using black yarn (it's really hard to see what you're doing if you're not in full sunlight) but seriously... they are super cute.

I added a little skullie on the bum of the longies this time. I thought it would be a cute detail, and make them cuter to wear without the skirt. I had to pull it out a few times before I got it right, and I'm still not sure it's all the way there. However, when my sister saw it, her face lit up and she totally thrilled over how cute it was, so I guess I've succeeded :). Thus begins the love part of my love/hate relationship with my most popular soaker... the Skullie. Who knew that all I needed was some purple?

I *heart* Dyeing Yarn!

Have I said before how much I heart dying yarn? I do. I really do :). It all started when I just couldn't find the right pink for these soakers (and these which I made at the same time for the same person) so I decided to dye some myself. I fell in love with the first strand we pulled out of the dye bath, even though it was totally the wrong color.

We (my sister Suzie and I) learned a lot about dying that first time. First of all, with Cushing's Perfection Dyes a little goes A LONG WAY, even with alpaca which doesn't want to hold the color quite as well as wool.

Also, a salad spinner is indispensable in the process of dyeing wool. Maybe you can get away without one if you're dyeing fabric, but with wool, it's really difficult to keep the yarn from turning into a big ugly mess when you're trying to get the water out without one. I guess we could have used the washing machine on the spin cycle, but that would have involved transporting it to the laundry room and it was already complicated enough dyeing yarn with 4 toddlers tripping us up. Running across the house with dripping wool didn't sound very appealing.

We learned that you get very uneven dyeing if you don't get all of the wool into the dye bath at the same time. Alpaca likes to float on top even when it's been soaking for a half an hour. I got some really uneven color the last time I dyed because when I was putting my alpaca yarn in the dye bath, the tongs got tangled in it and I couldn't get it all plunged all the way in at the same time, so some of it came out quite a bit lighter than the rest. I actually ended up liking the effect, and it wasn't very obvious since it was really just an accent color on these.

Next up, we've GOT to learn to dye our own self-patterning yarn! It's TOO FUN!! I don't wonder at all why there are so many yarn dyers out there :).

And here's the finished product. Just beautiful, if I do say so myself.