Completed: Baby overalls

Before having the serger I’d never sewn any gifts, except for my first Reversible Zippy Hoodie or a handbag (with enclosed seam allowances), since my seam allowances looked sloppy and totally unprofessional. But being able to serge my seam allowances gives to the finished garment a much neater look, and it doesn’t feel like it’s going to unravel in the washing machine (I used to zigzag those edges but I never liked the look of it).

One of my friends from school had her second baby some days ago, and I wanted to give her something. I didn’t have a lot of time to knit lately, and knitted presents are something that you have to plan in advance, so I decided to sew something for her boy. I’ve never sewn any baby clothes before, and some days ago I spotted these baby overalls on the Sew Mama Sew blog.

It’s a PDF pattern, and as it is very small, it has very few pages, so it’s not complicated to put together. The sizing comes in cm, and for somebody that knows nothing about babies it could be a bit confusing. I’m used to baby sizes such as newborn, 6m, 1Y, and the like, but having to know the baby’s height came a bit of a surprise. How tall should a baby be in cm? Honestly, no idea, so I had to ask my friend like if it was the most casual of questions, since this gift will be a surprise. Hugo was born on the 23rd and he measured 47 cm. The smallest size was for 50 cm, but as babies grow very fast during the first days and months, and as where my friend lives, the Winter is a bit longer than here, I decided to go for the next size, the 56 cm.

As I hate tracing, I have already quite some experience with PDF patterns, but anyway I always measure the gauge square just in case I forgot to print with no resizing. This pattern has two gauge squares, one inside the other. One is supposed to measure 3 inches, and the other 10 cm. And I said it’s supposed to measure because the one in inches is not 3 inches, but 2 7/8″ exactly. This was the first one I measured and my first thought was that I’d printed it wrong, but in fact the other was 10 cm exact. I double checked and I had printed it fine. Nordic Patterns is from Finland, and in Europe we use cm, so that could explain why the one in cm is correct, but it doesn’t justify why the other isn’t.

After printing and reading the pattern I realized it had no seam allowances. Crap. Whenever I have to add seam allowances to a pattern I feel I’m being punished by the sewing gods for having done something wrong in the past, like not making a muslin or sewing over my pins. It’s as painful as tracing patterns, with the added bonus of taping all the pages together. Boo.

Other issues I noticed on the pattern were two notches that were slightly slanted and a little mistake: when they tell you to sew the central front seam, they mean the back seam. And by the way, I just eliminated this seam, since it didn’t add anything to the garment, it was easier, and I guess a baby would be annoyed at a back seam when he’s laying on his back.

Otherwise, this came up very easily and the only issue I had was due to the fabric I chose, a plush fabric that liked to shed more than a labrador after I cut it. Good that I could serge the edges and trap all that fluff. Seriously, that constant shedding was a nightmare and was the only reason why I wanted to get over with this project as soon as possible.

Since I don’t know when I’ll be visiting my hometown, where my friend lives, I am going to send this by post. I went to the office this morning but they had an IT issue and it was not possible to send any certified parcel. They had no idea for how long, and all they had was a warning on their screen saying that this operation was not possible. It’s incredible how automatized are things nowadays, don’t you think? Anyway, I’ll go tomorrow again to see if the warning has disappeared and the post allows me to send this to my friend. I could send it as a regular parcel, but I’ve already lost three parcels (and Koen lost one) this Christmas over the post and I don’t want to have that again.

I’m already posting this because my friend doesn’t read my blog. I hope she likes it.

The Top 5 of 2014

I found about this last year, and once again I’m participating. I’m not very good at these things but looking back is always a good idea to be able to look forward.

Top 5 Hits

Luckily this year I can nominate my top 5 hits without having to dig too deep. I think I’m getting better at this and I’m learning to make my own style.

This is technically from the end of 2013 but as I’ve just made another one (not blogged yet), I count this as a success this year too.

This was a project that took forever but it was worth until the last stitch. I modified the armscye and added a quilted lining, and I can say that I’ve worn this to death. I’m taking a break now because the temperatures are too low but I foresee a lot of wear from February onwards.

My weight has changed this year and I’m not sure they fit me well right now, but I have made in total three pairs (two this year). Now that I know more about fitting I should try to make another pair but better. I think I’ll try Gertie’s trousers this year.

  • Lady Skater Dress

Unblogged due to my health issues, but I made my second this summer and I’ve cut a third. I just love this pattern, and after making a a couple of tweaks (narrowing upper part and sleeves, shortening bust, lengthening skirt) it’s become my to-go pattern to make knit dresses. I see many Lady Skater dresses and tshirts in the future.

After a long search for the perfect 40s blouse pattern, finally Gertie’s second book was a blessing. This was made with no mods and I already have fabric to make 6 more. This is going to be part of my signature style.

This is one of the very few knits accomplished this year, but I truly love this sweater and I’m wearing it while typing this.

Top 5 Misses

This bag was not a miss in itself. In fact I’ve used it quite a lot to transport my sewing tools to the shop where I used to have sewing classes, plus also for the very few trips I made this year. The problem here was the interfacing used for the bottom. It was good and sturdy but did not survive the washing machine. When the bag came out of the machine the interfacing had transformed into a little ball. As everything is enclosed, I don’t want to take it out but that means the bottom of the bag is not stiff anymore. Even like that it makes a wonderful travel bag.

I never ever wore this skirt. It’s was also probably because I went out very little this year due to my illness and I hate ironing. I think I’ll install horshair braid on this one and see what happens next spring and summer.

This blouse is just not my style. I made some Sewaholic patterns because they gorgeous and are designed for pear shaped women, which means that there’s in general less fitting to be done, but now I’m finally more selective and trying to sew and knit garments that match my style, even if that means more fitting issues. I have more experience, so that doesn’t scare me like before.

Top 5 Highlights

  • Koen

My boyfriend is my best blessing. He sticks with me and endures all that’s lately happening like a champion. He’s my rock and my partner in everything. I love you, Koen, you know that.

  • New apartment with a dedicated sewing space

We moved in August to another apartment. It’s much bigger than the previous one, and finally I could get a dedicated sewing space, which makes everything faster, neater and simply better. The picture above is just after installing the table. It has more things nowadays, but I’m with my family these days so I can’t take a picture right now.

  • A Serger

Koen surprised me on my birthday with this wonderful present. I’m still learning a lot about it but I succeeded at using it to overlock edges. The next step will be using it to sew knits. As soon as I get back home, I promise.

  • Gerry

Being home bound for so long can be hard on one’s moral but this little guy keeps me company and my spirits up. He’s funny, smart, cheeky and sweet (when he wants). Having a lovebird can be demanding sometimes, but they give you so much in return. My sewing and knitting are slower sometimes because of him, but I wouldn’t want to live without him.

Top 5 Reflections

Something that really took a big toll this year was my health (or the lack of it). I could have sewn more, knitted more and enjoyed life more in general if it was not because of this. I had little issues before, but in April I started to feel that there was something clearly wrong with me. It took me months and numerous doctor visits until I got referred to the mast cells specialists in August. By that time my weight dropped to 44 kg and I was desperately hungry and lost. I can’t still see the end of this but at least I know I’m in good hands. But the other side that nobody sees is that since August I’m eating everyday the same. My diet is reduced to five foods and I only drink water (and my morning tea). I’ve learned to appreciate the good things I have and the good people who stood beside me (Koen, you’re my rock), but I’ve also lost much in the way. I lost time, I lost money, I lost some of my illusions and I lost quite some friends. In a certain way it’s something good, because the ones who stayed are the true ones; but it’s also hard to stop seeing people who where your party fellows and who gave you so many happy moments. Many things are gone, and many people too. I’m still learning about not dwelling on it too much. It mortified me for a while but not anymore. I guess when this happens you learn to weight what you have, and you also learn to prioritize things. What mortifies me right now is being tied to my home and not being able to do things normal people do, like eating outside or enjoying a casual snack. I have to say no often to eating-out plans. This usually happens with people that don’t know about my condition. Usually old friends who pass by Madrid and expect to meet and socialize like it’s done over here. I hate having to tell the same story again, but I think I hate it most because I can’t tell the end or the conclusion. It’s like telling a story which you don’t know very well and ignore the end. At least I have learned to take pleasure on the little things, but recounting my story still makes me cry sometimes. I guess I still have a long way to go.

Top5 Goals

  • Getting healthy or have a normalish life: I know I have a long way to go but I’m not giving up on having some improvements. The good thing about my doctor is that she answers my emails quite fast (usually the same day), so if things don’t work, we fine tune the treatment to see if things could go better. Mast cells issues are not very well known and many times is just trial and error.
  • Building a capsule wardrobe: Teresa from Canary Knits got me started on this. I’m usually pretty lazy to do this kind of things, but I think it could be interesting for the next point.
  • Sewing and knitting my style.
  • Keep learning about my new serger.
  • Being able to travel: I know this will take time and may not be for 2015 but I won’t give up.

Slowly emerging from the darkness and lots of changes

I’m alive, although I don’t know if I can say the same about this blog, or other aspects of my life for that matter. My life stopped in April and I’m still trying to take the reigns of it. I still don’t have a definitive diagnostic about what’s wrong with me (I’ll know more next week) but I guess it’s a mix between a severe oral allergy syndrome and histamine intolerance. Around April my life started to be unbearable, I started my peregrination to many different doctors and all this took a heavy toll. Since these two conditions are not very well known and not very well investigated, I started to read, study and soak any related information, which consumed all my energies. All my efforts were focused on knowing what is wrong with me, how to improve it, talking to people with similar issues, visiting doctors, working on my diet. Being ill is a full time job, leaving no energies or time for anything else. I kept doing my job thanks to being extremely lucky and being able to work from home. Otherwise I don’t know how I would have been able to manage. I can’t eat outside. I need to prepare all my meals from scratch, avoiding what is normal and healthy for most people, even spices. I need to know and control all the ingredients in everything I eat to avoid allergic reactions and feeling miserable the day after. And I need very fresh food. I have to avoid all fruits and most vegetables due to my oral allergy syndrome, cereals and potatoes are also out for the same reason, gluten makes me extremely tired and dairy gives me a horrible congestion the same day and even more the day after. And then the eggs. Eating eggs gives me a horrible migraine the day after. Sometimes I don’t get the migraine, but I feel like I have the worst hangover ever, not being able to think or drag my miserable body around our apartment. At least I’m starting to know my triggers and I have to say that my oral allergy has improved a little bit, meaning that my lips and throat are not swelling with every meal I have. Now it’s usually just my lips once or twice a day. That is helping with avoiding losing more weight. Two weeks ago I went to a Mastocytosis research center and my weight was 44.9 Kg. Today it’s almost 46 and I’m not feeling like I’m going to faint if I need to walk somewhere.

Unlike it’s mentioned in “the Fault in our Stars” (read the book, didn’t watch the movie), Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is true, at least for me. I was (am) so busy reading about these diseases that I abandoned all the rest. I stopped knitting in part because of the horrible eczema I have between my fingers (partly due to my allergies, partly due to the medication), then I stopped sewing too. The last makes were a Lady Skater dress, a pair of Prefontaine shorts and a Soma bikini.

I have cut another Lady Skater that I didn’t bring myself to sew. My body has changed a lot since all this started. I think I’ve lost like almost 10 Kg and I don’t know how it will be in the next future. Part of my weight was due to the muscle I got practicing capoeira and I know that I will probably never be able to practice again, at least with the same intensity. In hinder sight, probably the intensity of it has worsened my histamine intolerance. Anyway, I just don’t know where I’m headed. I had a plan of making a pair of shorts for Koen using the Jedediah pants pattern I used last year, but then other things got in the way.

 

When all this started, when I still had the hope that I was going to get over it quite fast, we decided that this summer we deserved a treat. We wanted to travel again, not very far, not very costly, but just spending some days somewhere else. We rented an apartment for 6 days in August  in Lanzarote and hoped for the best. Koen has been complaining a bit for a while about our apartment, just because it’s too small and how wonderful it would be to have an apartment with a terrace and a guest room. And after checking online for some weeks we finally found a lovely place. But it was at the wrong time. Just before Koen had to spend a week in Denver to attend a congress and a week after we had our vacation in Lanzarote. And as I’ve said before, being ill is a full-time job and a vacation in thiese conditions is not a vacation. That week I lost more than one kilo and I spent quite some time reading and starving.

And Koen was offered a new contract and I had also mine renewed. And if we wanted the apartment, we had to take it at that precise moment, with no time to think carefully because we were in a waiting list and more people were behind us. We moved in one month ago, but with all this, there’s still a lot of work to do here. It’s in a very old building but the apartment has been renovated and it has a wonderful terrace. When we first arrived it was a bit frustrating, since half of the plants were dead and we discovered several surprises, like a problem with the washing machine pipe, the oven door, or the upstairs neighbor being too friendly with pigeons, and the consequent “presents” we get each morning from them. The word to describe the state we found the terrace is decadent. Dead plants, pigeon drops, a broken hose. But the place has quite some charm and it has lots of possibilities. It also means that  there’s a lot of work to be done and while it helps me to feel motivated, sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming.

Anyhow, we have a lot more place than before, so I hope I can start sewing again soon. Other good thing of it is that we can invite friends home and that will help me to get part of my social life back. Our previous apartment was very small and we haven’t gone out for several months. No dinners or drinks outside.

I haven’t even read sewing or knitting blogs during these past months, I even abandoned instagram most of the time, but yesterday evening I found myself checking a couple of blogs again. I think the worst is over and I will have my life back soon.

There have been also some changes in the feathery department. Gerry was a bit stressed the first days after the move but he’s enjoying now the fact that he has a lot more space, and one of the windows in the living room has become his favorite spot from where he has a nice view of the square in front of our building.

And do you remember Leslie? The Gouldian finch I found on the street almost two months ago?

He came in a pretty bad state, very hungry and distressed. His health improved but still his behavior was not the one of a happy bird. After a month of trying to find his previous owners with no luck, we decided to give him a girlfriend, and two weeks later Sally came home. You can see that both look very healthy and active, they eat very well, Leslie sings and they seem quite happy together.

P.S.: I haven’t danced in ages. I miss it so much… I hope I can do it again soon…

Knitting for a friend’s baby

My friend Vanessa had her second baby this past September so I decided to knit something for the baby for my visit during Christmas. I went again for Aviatrix and this time I made a 3 months size Beyond Puerperium.

I didn’t want to go for the usual baby pink and I found this hot pink in Artesano Superwash Merino that I loved so much last year. This yarn knits wonderfully and the stitch definition is great. Since I finished the cardigan already at my mother’s place and due to the humidity and the poor heating (compared to my apartment) I steamed block it instead of the normal wet blocking I always do. It worked just fine.

I bought coordinated buttons in two different sizes for the hat and the cardigan. At first I thought about white buttons, but then I saw this purple ones and I just loved the contrast.

I gave this two garments to my friend a couple of days ago and she liked them a lot. Not only that, but the others were also amazed and Ana couldn’t stop herself from making pictures of them.

I know these girls since kindergarten and we still see each other at least a couple of times a year. We talk about the present, the past and the future like no time has passed between this and the previous time. We met when we were children, we grew up together, studied together and went out together when we were teenagers. It’s very comforting that after the years we still see each other to talk about our things and confidences.

Note: You can check out my Ravelry notes for Aviatrix and Beyond Puerperium.