Me-Made May

I’m all abuzz with current events. MadMay (post coming up on that one!)? Me-Made May? I’m about to drop from the excitement of being relevant for once in my life.

But really, Me-Made May is awesome. The 1-2-3s go like this:

1. Create a personal challenge around your handmade clothing items. The most common one is, wear something you made each day in May.

2. Do the challenge, all month long!

3. Participate in the community. There’s a shared Pinterest board, a shared Flickr group, and a hashtag (#mmmay15). Be inspired by lots of other makers.

I am working my way through Colette Patterns’ Wardrobe Architect series (I went through 2014, but am following along more slowly as the 2015 series is released). So I structured my personal challenge around the most difficult task I’m faced with:

Clean out my wardrobe so that I’m only left with things I love and will regularly wear. Ideally, this will leave my handmade clothing easier to find and in the rotation more often. As a secondary task, I also intend to identify holes that I’d like to fill, and create a master plan to sew/knit to fill them.

But let’s not get crazy. This little guy may have something to say about how much time I’ve got to devote this month!

baby plays with yarn winder
Teach ‘em to love the yarn-winder while they’re young! Also, hats. Hats are kind of his jam right now, even though it’s starting to get warm. The hat pattern is the Pebble | Cliff Hat, and the sweater is the Gramps Cardigan by Tin Can Knits.
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My Color Cards Arrived

Actually, I have another confession to make. They arrived weeks ago, but the baby garden seedlings took over my photography area. Finally I broke down and photographed them on my extremely messy desk.

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This is the honest photograph. Patterns, half-finished paintings, chopsticks… yes, that’s what my desk looks like.

I figured that a little fancy cropping would fix it, though.

Brooklyn Tweed color card
Brooklyn Tweed color card

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Quince & Co color cards

DSC_8733You guys… what do I even choose?! I think there are more than enough colors to keep me knitting with American-made yarn for the next five years.

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Do you Swatch?

Plymouth Ampato baby alpaca yarn
Plymouth Ampato baby alpaca yarn
Trying brioche! So squishy and delicious.
Trying brioche! So squishy and delicious. I finally get the hullaballoo.

I have to make a confession. I almost never swatch when I’m making clothing for myself. I hate to let anything stand in the way of casting on. When I was learning, I did a lot of stupid things (knitting on needles without knowing their size; buying yarn and starting to knit without checking the pattern to see whether the pattern called for worsted or fingering weight). Not gauge-swatching is the last truly terrible knitting habit I have.

BUT! As I work on my designing skills, I’m trying to be smart and time-savvy. Swatches can be great to test out new yarns, new fiber types, and new stitch patterns in bit-sized bits.

The hardest part of a design swatch (I think) is walking away from a failed swatch – despite how nice the yarn is, or the fact that stitch and yarn may mesh really well, sometimes you just know your baby swatch won’t grow up into anything.

That’s the case with my Ampato swatch above. The brioche is squishy and delicious with the lofty and soft baby alpaca yarn. They marry beautifully. But what I had in mind – a tiny cute vest for a baby – just isn’t in the cards. Baby things really should (in my increasingly-informed opinion) be superwash. And brioche decreases require too many stitches for a vest v-neck to look correctly proportioned in chunky yarn on a small scale.

What do you do with failed swatches, my friends? Lend me your wisdom.

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Creativity with Littles 4

Part 4 of a bite-sized series on keeping your creative life alive while you parent a Little (or more than one). Part 1part 2, and part 3

4. Pick projects that you can complete mostly on autopilot. S is just now starting to sleep through the night, at 13 months. I’m sleep-deprived, I’m knitting in tiny chunks, and frankly, I have milk brain. So, for a short season, I gave myself permission to be un-ambitious.

Or rather, I re-defined what ambition looks like for me. I’m holding down a job. I’m learning to parent. I’m making time for my spouse and I to spend together. And I’m defaulting to creative projects that don’t need a lot of thinking. Sweaters with lots of stockinette. Baby hats.

In my last post,  I talked about leaving my sewing project literally in the machine. That project is a blanket that requires sewing in straight lines, and almost nothing else. It’s a tiny adventure for me, because it’s increasing my knowledge of my sewing machine and its even-feed foot, but it is something I can easily drop in the middle of a stitch and not worry about losing my place. It’s perfect for these days, and at the end I have something super adorable that will actually be used by my family.

That’s it – those are my 4 tricks. Did you think it was going to be a long series? Nope! I have too many other good yarn things waiting in the wings!

Give yourself credit for the things you’re doing that are already demanding and difficult, my friends. And if you have tips & tricks you’d like to share, I would love to hear them.