Saturday, December 29, 2012

A Round Up Of Christmas Crafting - The Sewing

Since I showed you the knitting portion of my holiday crafting yesterday, I thought today I would do a round up of the sewing!

I took leave of my senses sometime in early October and decided I just had to sew each of the little nieces pjs and matching doll pjs. Now, if I'd acted on this notion right away I would've been in good shape come Christmas time. However one thing led to another which led to another, which led me to not even buying fabric until December. Now, I've had to come to accept the fact that sewing when Baby Boy and Little Toddler Man are awake is just not a wise idea. There are just far too many interesting things for toddlers to do down in the basement, none of which include playing with the toys that reside in my sewing area. It's hard to sew and keep toddlers out of trouble at the same time. Unfortunately, once the toddlers went to bed I was so tired that I often followed close behind them into the Land of Nod, which was equally as detrimental to progress. Eventually, the week before Christmas I was able to start. (BF)G's first day of holidays I woke up, said good morning and hightailed it downstairs by 7am to start sewing. I was like a woman possessed. Sanity was left in shreds, but progress was made and by 10:30pm, December 23rd, all gift sewing was DONE!

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Flannel Nightgown 1

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Flannel Nightgown 2

I used a vintage nightgown pattern and modified a remake of a vintage Simplicity
Pattern for two of the nieces' nightgowns and matching doll nightgowns. I think the girls were happy despite the fact both nightgowns turned out much bigger than intended. Both little girls donned their nighties shortly after opening them on Christmas eve and proceeded to wear them the rest of the evening. It really made all the last minute sewing frenzy worth it!

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Flannel PJs 1

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Flannel PJs 2

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Waldorf Style Pocket Doll

I used a new pattern for the other two little nieces pjs - its the same pattern I used back in the fall for the Two Year Old Birthday Swap present. It's a fun little pattern. The only thing I modified was to do a button with an elastic loop rather than buttonholes. The pjs for dolly were modified slightly from the remade vintage Simplicity Pattern to match and the Waldorf Style Pocket Doll was from a tutorial on the Bamboletta website. I hear from my sister that my niece loved her monkey pjs so much she just finally got her out of them yesterday to go out. Glad to hear they were so well received. The little two year old niece who got the doll with her jammies seemed pretty pleased with her "baby" on Christmas eve, giving it lots of love when she opened it.

I really had fun making the doll. I bought a needle felting needle last time I was at my LYS and thought I'd give the needle felting method a whirl for making the head. It was amazing! It makes such a nice firm, cohesive inner core for the head, and the puncture wounds I gave myself during my learning curve have all healed now so I can look fondly on this method and say without hesitation that all Waldorf style heads made by me in the future will be aided by a needle felting needle (and perhaps some protective gear for my hands...). I suspect I will be making more of these little pocket dolls in the future. I have several baby gifts needing to be made (the baby boom continues all around me it would seem) and both Baby Boy and LTM were quite enamored with it as well. I have to give kudos to (BF)G on the suggestion of the ribbon bow. It took the doll from being Plain Jane ordinary to super cute I think! He comes up with some pretty good suggestions. It's why I keep him around. Or at least partly why anyways. ;)

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Superman PJ Pants

I dragged N with me the day I went shopping for flannel and while there he saw the superman print and hinted broadly that he'd like a pair of pjs out of it. So, my next trip to the fabric store included a couple of metres just for him! He was happily wearing them when he left on Christmas morning to go back to the city so I'm going to say they were a success. (although clearly he missed lesson #552 when growing up. Pjs are for at home. Not out and about! Even if a bajillion teenagers and far too many adults would disagree with me...)

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Inside view of make up roll

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Outside view of make up roll

G, as I mentioned yesterday, makes gift making and giving so easy! I saw a tutorial online for a makeup roll and had found the perfect fabric for it. To top it off make up brushes were on her wish list. What better way to make a nice little gift?! And really, what says glamour better than 1940s Paris? I modified the tutorial ever so slightly doing a plush binding along the top of the pocket and an elastic wrap around closure using a satin finished narrow FOE (fold over elastic).

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Sleep Mask and Flax Heat Pad

Using the same "glamourous" fabrics I made a flax heat pad and sleep mask for my 17 year old niece who often muses on Facebook that she wishes she had a weekend to just relax. I wanted to put together a "relaxation in a box" gift for her. I used a tutorial from Sew4Home for the sleep mask.

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Earbud Cases

Last but not least, J had complained to me a while ago that he was always getting his headphones tangled in his pocket so I thought I'd make some funky cases for him and N to store their earbuds in. Unfortunately due to trying to sew with toddlers afoot, they're not as perfectly round as I would have liked them. Apparently, when sewing a circle it's a good idea to look at the seam you are stitching rather than continuing to sew whilst repeatedly craning your head over your shoulder to ensure two toddlers hell bent on mischief are actually still in the room with you. Lessons learned.

So, that brings us to the end of the madness that was gift making for Christmas 2012! I think if I'm going to plan on such a large selection of handmade gifts for next Christmas I had better start in January. I won't of course (start that is), but I should.

Friday, December 28, 2012

A Round Up of Christmas Crafting - The Knitting

So now that the gifts have been given I can finally show you what I've been up to for the last few months. Today I'm going to show you the knitting!

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Moulin Rouge Mitts

These mitts were destined to be for G as soon as I spied them in my pattern search results on Ravelry. I love my Lilac Mittens I knit for myself last year from Hedda Knits, so when I saw the Moulin Rouge I had to knit them! I used St. Denis Boreale for the mitts.

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Inishmore Cap

Next up was the Inishmore Cap for N. This pattern was a complete joy to knit! I loved every step of the process! The pattern features some really unique construction and is incredibly well written. I used an unlabeled worsted (similar to Briggs and Little's regal) for it. I was really pleased with the final outcome too!

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Cambridge Socks

I love knitting socks for (BF)G. He's always so appreciative. I had the smoke gray Durasport in my stash already so when I found the Cambridge Socks pattern I figured they'd be a great match. Knitting in secret took a lot longer than anticipated. At one point I stooped to actually being a bit glad when he'd say he was just heading outside for a smoke. I did a whole heel flap one Sunday during his "smoke breaks" alone.

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Blue Leaf Headband

G makes gift giving so easy! One of her requests was a knit headband. I used some super soft recycled wool held double to knit up the Blue Leaf Headband to include in her stocking. I could have probably finished it in one sitting, but I was knitting it in bed late one night. When I set my knitting down on the bed to check my pattern (BF)G rolled over on it and continued snoring. I had to wait for him to roll over again to unearth it. Sleeping on 6mm needles without noticing! That is a talent not many would possess - perhaps only the very overworked and overtired. I quickly finished up the next morning though and happily checked it off the to do list.

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Marsan Watchcap

J requested a Marsan Watchcap after seeing his brothers' caps sitting on the counter when he was home. He asked for blue or black and I had some Briggs and Little Regal in navy blue sitting tucked away in my stash. Perfect! Marsan really is my go to men's hat pattern. I've knit it five times now!

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Hobby Horses

Last but not least is the Hobby Horses. Knit from various worsted wool mostly in my stash, they came together pretty well. Unfortunately I ran out of time to finish them. I was stuffing heads, adding sticks and stitching on d-rings for the bridle at about 1:30am Christmas morning. I realized I hadn't bought enough d-rings, and didn't have the energy to finish up the manes or do proper bridles. So I left them as is. The little boys were thrilled with them as is and they've logged tons of playtime already. They've been donkeys and reindeer mostly and on the very odd occasion horses too. Whatever they are, they've been fun, so finished or not, I guess that's really what counts in the end! The pattern is from the book Knitted Gifts by Ann Budd.

So that's the knitting part of my holiday craftiness. I'll have to show you the sewing another day!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Help! I'm Buried Under Holiday Crafting!

It's been ages since I did a crafty post. Mostly because I've been too busy crafting to do much of anything else. You see, I had this notion that I'd really like to do more handmade gifts for Christmas this year. Now, while that may be a noble and worthwhile goal, it also takes some dedication, organization and NO procrastination if one is to actually succeed in such an endeavor. Or at least succeed with a shred of sanity left in tact. I'm a little lacking in item number one and two and have a huge abundance of item number three, so it's been a challenge. I feel as though I am somewhat buried under the number of items still left on my list. Ah, but what would the holiday season be without a mad panic dash to the gifting finish line?

I can't tell you what all I've been up to in that department. Hush, hush! All in due time. I promise. But I can show the few things that I've tossed in the crafting mix as I've been madly working on gifts.

First off! In big news, possibly only to those living under this roof, Baby Boy decided about a month ago to potty train himself. Seriously. I should let him out for hire to teach parents how to potty train their stubborn toddler. He did a remarkable job of it all on his own. I'm still not sure how. All I know is one day I was asking if he'd like to try the potty and it was, "No thanks. I fine" and suddenly he vanished from sight the next day and when I found him he was happily sitting on the potty saying quite proudly, "I peed!" Blow me over with a feather and grab the training pants! Took him one week and he was out of diapers during the day. Now a month later he's getting up in the night to go pee. Amazing.

Anyways, I'm sure as I mentioned, this is probably really only exciting to us, so moving right along. Training pants! He needed a few more pairs I figured. And since I don't get to sew diapers anymore I thought I'd might as well sew trainers!

Here's a couple so heavily modified there's not a whole lot left to the original "Tinkle Time Trainers"!

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Patriotic Pants!

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A nod to his Scottish ancestry

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Who doesn't like cowboys?

My very favourite is the oh so patriotic Maple Leaf one. Although it really does remind me of a 1970s Speedo, I think it's pretty cute. And Baby Boy's pudgy little belly suits it much better than say a 60 year old man with a beer belly.

The other thing I have made other than gifts lately is a "Dear Santa" mug rug. I had seen one on Pinterest that I thought quite adorable and got the starting off point from that. I then incorporated my other favourite mug rug pattern for the diagonals. I'm not terribly good at embroidery so I kept it fairly simple and since I couldn't find a white background print fabric I liked, I used white Kona cotton and stamped it with acrylic paint mixed with fabric medium to make it washable. Little Toddler Man has his letter to Santa waiting already in the pocket. The milk and cookies will have to wait though much to his dismay.

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Santa's very own mug rug!

So that's a quick "drive by" hello from me while I wait for the iron to heat up! Happy crafting and Happy Holidays to all celebrating in this festive season! I'll be back after Christmas to show you all the rest of the things that have been keeping me up late at night with a Christmas Craft Round Up!

Friday, November 30, 2012

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

Reading Soulemama's blog I was inspired by her {this moment}. She says,

"A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember."

In the busy hustle, bustle of life, this notion of a photo capturing a moment to pause and savor really appeals to me.

A Moment To Remember

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November 28, 2012

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Going Bananas

It's been a long week.  I hurt my back last Sunday and haven't been able to do much since, but  I have done a whole lot of knitting as I sit with my heat pad, and a cup of tea.  I can't tell you about it or even show you because it's all of the super secret gift type knitting.  Which is a shame because there are a couple of projects and patterns I'm absolutely dying to tell you about, but it will have to wait till after Christmas.

Today I've been feeling a bit better so I thought I would do something with the lonely little over ripe banana that was languishing on the shelf.  I really, really wanted banana muffins so I scoured the Internet for a recipe.  I came across this little beauty. Just the thing.  Except I only had one little banana, frozen blueberries of a small size and no pecans.

So as I looked into my fridge I asked myself what would Mom do?  Then I spied the tail end of a container of vanilla yoghurt. Awhile back she'd served me a really yummy cake that she'd used leftover yoghurt in.  Feeling inspired I shuffled around the kitchen creating my version. Adding in my yogurt, eliminating the nuts from the batter,  interchanging oil for the margarine and reducing the sugar and nuts (I used walnuts) for the topping.

May I say YUM?!?!?  Try them!  You won't regret it! It makes the perfect afternoon snack. Well it'd probably be good for breakfast too. Or a coffee/tea break, or a bed time snack... You get the idea!

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Fresh from the oven. Mmmmmm good!

Blueberry Banana Oatmeal Muffins

1 1/4 cups flour
1 cup oatmeal
2/3 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg
1/2 cup mashed ripe banana
1/2 cup vanilla yoghurt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup oil
1 cup fresh or unthawed frozen blueberries

Topping if desired: Mix together 1/4 cup oatmeal, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 2 TBSP chopped nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Combine dry ingredients in mixing bowl and mix well. Fold in 3/4 cup blueberries reserving 1/4 cup for later.Add banana, yoghurt, buttermilk, egg and oil.  Mix until blended. Fill greased or paper lined muffin tins and top with remaining blueberries. Finish off with topping if desired and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes.  Enjoy!!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

I wasn't really planning on doing much more for Halloween other than putting up the window cling decorations. I figured the boys were still little enough they wouldn't know they were missing out since they've never done anything Halloween like yet other than some decorations on the windows and carving a pumpkin last year. We live in a rural area where no one in the area trick or treats so they've really never been exposed to it.

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A literary favourite of a certain two year old
But I was somehow foiled in that plan. They have a book that is about carving pumpkins that Little Toddler Man loves, then there's "Runaway Pumpkin", a rollicking good book that I think I've read at least 100 times to Baby Boy, then we had a Halloween party at music class. But all that is of no consequence really. What really tipped the balance in this whole business was that someone (who? WHO?!?!?!) told Little Toddler Man about trick or treating and he's been obsessed with the notion for weeks.

So there you have it. Baby Boy and Little Toddler Man will experience the thrill of it all for the very first time tonight. In preparation I thought their little hands might find a pillowcase (the preferred receptacle of my childhood - pillowcases hold a lot of loot!!) awkward, and a tote bag might be too big, so I found the treat bag tutorial I'd used for Baby Boy's birthday party last year and made them each a new bag.

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Treat bags from (where else??)Fishsticks Designs

I explained the intricacies of trick or treating to Baby Boy this morning. I told him you go up to someone's door and yell trick or treat then you open your bag, they will put a treat in it, you say thank you and go to the next house. I think he caught on fairly quickly... Moments later he sidled up to me in the kitchen, opened his little treat bag up and said, "Put treat in there now pease" - he was somewhat disgruntled when I told him no treats right then and that he had to have breakfast first. Oh the trials and tribulations of being two!

Right after breakfast this morning the boys set to work cleaning out then helping carve the pumpkin they grew in the summer. Little Toddler Man is an old pro, he helped last year with his pumpkin he grew too. He got a somewhat hesitant Baby Boy enthusiastic in no time. Both boys were sort of disappointed to be done with all the "slimy pulp" as LTM kept calling it

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Cleaning a pumpkin is good fun!

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They apparently have great affection for the final result of their hard work!

I had great plans to make them Spiderman costumes. I have an old pattern I've made a few times now, and had planned to modify the body for cost and fitting over parkas, but I got as far as the masks and decided to rethink my plan. I was worried that the mask wouldn't allow for unobstructed vision, and I was running out of time anyways as I hummed and hawed about drafting a new "body" pattern.

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Kind of cool, but not so great for seeing... Or breathing really - apologies to J who wore his when he was about six or seven without complaint. Why didn't you say anything honey???

The decision to rethink made my life so much easier! I opened up Little Toddler Man's closet, pulled out the basket of costumes and figured out what would fit. The boys happily donned J's Jack O Lantern costume of 1993 and G's bunny costume of 1994 for their party at Kindermusik last Saturday and they'll wear them again tonight. The bonus of these (beyond breathing and seeing) is they will definitely be able to fit their winter gear underneath. Which given the grey overcast sky and expected temperature of +2C this evening it's a pretty necessary bonus!

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They'll be ready to go!

Happy Halloween! I hope you all have a fun and safe evening enjoying the festivities!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Super Simple Baby Hat

I promised to put up the tutorial for the super simple baby hat I made last week during KCWC, so here it is!  If there's anything unclear or missing don't hesitate to let me know!!

Super Simple Knit Baby Hat


knit fabric - for this you can use remnants, old t-shirts, etc.  You will need approximately 18" wide by 8" tall for this project.  You will also need a contrast band cut 13 3/4" wide by 2 3/4" long with the stretch going across the width.

other requirements - ball point needle, measuring tape, paper, pencil, scissors, sewing machine, thread and water soluble fabric marker or tailor's chalk

The Hat!

Let's get started shall we?  We'll begin by making our pattern!

With an 8 1/2 x 11" sheet of paper, draw a dome shape that measures 8 1/2" wide and 5 1/2" tall at it's center point. When you are happy with the curve of your dome, cut out your pattern. (note: an easy tip for making your pattern would be to draw it out on freezer paper, then you can iron it directly on to your fabric, shiny side down and it will stay put while you cut it out, eliminating the need for pinning or weights.  Once you've cut out your fabric simply peel the freezer paper off. This is a great method when working with knits!)

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Step 1
Next you'll cut out your fabric.  Lay your pattern piece on the knit fabric which you will have folded in half width wise.  Use your pattern weight (or if you must your pins.  I promise I won't judge!) and cut it out

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Step 2a
You will now have two peices of your dome shape and one band that you have already cut out.
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Step 2b
For the next step, fold your dome shapes in half as shown below.  Mark the center point and then mark 2" directly below the centre point on the wrong side of the fabric. Do this on both halves.
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Step 3
Now the fun begins!  Thread your machine, making sure you have a ball point needle in the machine, place your two dome shapes right sides together and begin by sewing around the outside edge of your dome using a 1/2" seam allowance and either a zig zag stitch or stretch stitch, backstitching at beginning and end. I also have successfully used a regular straight stitch - you might want to just lenghten your stitch length a smidge.
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Step 4
Once you have finished off the seam you will find your center mark that you made in step 3.  Pull the hat together and smooth it out so that it is flat with the 2" markings on either side (your seam that you have just sewn will run down the center front and back at this point) and mark 1/2 " down from center. 
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Step 5
Stitch from edge to edge creating a dart along top centre following your markings. You can then trim the excess off leaving a 1/4" seam allowance.
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Step 6a

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Step 6b
Next you will create the contrast band.  Fold your 13 3/4" x 2 3/4" strip in half lenghtwise, right sides together.  Stitch a seam down the short end of the your folded strip using a 1/4" seam allowance so that it forms a tube.
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Step 7
Next fold your tube in half from bottom to top, wrong sides together and press. Find the center back of your hat (to find center back, fold the hat in half and follow the line of your dart down to the bottom) and line up the center seam of your contrast band with the center back of the hat, raw edges and right sides together.  Pin at center back then find the center front of hat and band and pin those together.  Stitch using a 3/8" seam allowance, stretch the band to fit as you go.
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Step 8
You're almost there!  For your final step, press the seam allowance of the contrast band up towards the hat, then top stitch approximately 1/8" inch from the seam on the hat to finish it off. Lightly press.
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Step 9
Your done!  Now go find a sweet little baby to put it on!  This hat is meant to fit approximately a 3 month old.  Although as we all know babies do come in all shapes and head sizes, so it can really go from newborn to probably six months depending on the individual.  (My giant babies would have probably been able to wear this size closer to newborn - by three months old Little Toddler Man was in 12 month clothes...)
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A Super Simple Baby Hat!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

KCWC and a Crafty Roundup

So... Last week was Kids Clothes Week Challenge. You know, the challenge I always say I'm going to do and then for one reason or another I don't do anything sewing related all week.

This fall I was determined to be successful. And while I may have not made the entire seven hour challenge I did get a good five hours in, which is a good five hours more than I've ever managed for KCWC.

I even did a little baby hat pattern up too (which I'll try to get organized and show you later on this week). So all in all I'm calling it a success!

Here's my two completed projects for the week (I also almost finished a pair of pjs for Baby Boy but had some technical difficulties with the Goodtime Gal machine - hopefully it's just in need of a new needle because Old Faithful is still on the fritz and needing repair. I'd be ever so sad if I had no machine. Eeek! Doesn't bear thinking about!)

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Fishsticks Designs lap gown from the Little One Layette pattern and self drafted hat pattern - yet another baby gift for a friend!

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Tinkle Time Pocket Trainer (slightly modified) for Baby Boy

I've been busily sewing and knitting prior to KCWC too. Remember the doll Mei Tai I showed you a few weeks ago? It was part of a birthday swap gift for my October Mamas group on Rav. Now that the birthday girl, her mama and her brand new baby brother have received their parcel I can show you the rest. I knew the little one was getting a baby doll so I set to work making a wardrobe. I used a vintage (although I hesitate to call it vintage when it's 40 years old, ahem, which makes it younger than me...) pattern for the dress, cape, sunsuit, and romper, a 20 year old pattern for the tee and jeans and modern patterns (modified slightly so they would match) for the toddler and doll pjs. The sweater and booties were free patterns from Ravelry. The diapers are my own design.

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A new wardrobe for dolly

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Matching toddler and doll jammies!

For baby I made a flannel swaddler blanket using an online tutorial I'd found when expecting Baby Boy, but never got around to making. Too bad too. He was the swaddling king when he was tiny... I was really happy with how it turned out and think I'll add it to my list of baby gift possibilities!

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Snuggly soft swaddler

For mama I made a mug rug and coffee mug sleeve thinking they might come in handy with a new baby in the house!

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Mug rug and sleeve

Let's see. What else was there? Ah yes! Some knitting!

First up another baby swaddle blanket for a gift. This one is a quick knit on big needles with big chunky yarn. I used the Button Up Baby Wrap pattern available on Ravelry. It fits Blue Bear just right!

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Wrap knit in a soft wool/cotton blend

I also knit a pair of socks from my "Summer Mama" friend Joeli's new book, Tiny Treads. I test knit Sandman and am really pleased how they turned out! I was also really excited when another Ravelry friend gifted me a copy of the book as a surprise! Thanks again Sally!! I'm definitely looking forward to trying out more of Joeli's patterns!

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Baby Boy loves his Sandman socks!

So that's about it for me, but before I go I have to show off the beautiful handiwork of a couple of my friends! First up is the sweater vest (which coincidentally is another of Joeli's patterns "Pepo Pie") that was knit by my friend Lin as part of Baby Boy's birthday swap parcel - both baby boy and I love it!

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Looking like quite the little gentleman in his vest

I also got a wonderful fall surprise in the post a little while ago from my friend Kim! Aren't these socks perfect for conjuring up thoughts of all the very best things about fall? Leaves turning colour, candy corn and very best of all pumpkin spice lattes?

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Love my fall socks!!!

Thank you Lin and Kim for your gifts of beautiful knitting!!!