At the rate I'm going, it'll be late summer by the time I finish blogging the things I made in March and April. I've been tempted just to skip it all and move on to where I am with things now. But I know that you, gentle reader, would be sorely disappointed to miss a single bit of news on earthchick's handcrafted adventures. So here ya go.
As mentioned before, I had big plans for Easter. I come from a family that does Easter up big. My cousin (who is the same age as me) and I would get matching dresses every year. That's right. Matching dresses. And matching jewelry and shoes (oh, and the shoes would be white because, you know, Easter marks the start of the white shoe season!). And sometimes even matching Easter hats. No, I am not talking about when we were 4 years old. I'm talking about when we were 14! (basically from the time were 9 or 10 until probably late high school. Okay, maybe a little later than that. I think I remember us having matching dresses when I was 19.) Yeah, I know. Geeky much?
And my mom and aunt and grandmother would get great new dresses too (not matching!). My brother and my male cousin would both wear suits (and my dad too, but he always wore a suit). My family (mom, dad, brother, me) would take about 20 pictures of each other before we left for church. Then we would go to church. Then we'd meet up with my cousin's family at my grandmother's house for more pictures. And they happened in every conceivable configuration - the four cousins, the two female cousins, the two male cousins, my family of four, my cousin's family, all the women, some of the women, etc., etc., etc. Then we'd all get changed and have a picnic. Good times.
Well now I live in Michigan and can't do family Easters any more, but the rest of the family? They still do the same thing as we always did (minus the matching dresses for cousin and me). And every year, I still feel the urge for a new dress. And of course, I have to have sweet little outfits for my boys. My Old Man? He pretty much does like my dad always did - make do with the same old suit.
But this year, since I'm doing the Wardrobe Refashion challenge, I couldn't just go out and buy all the good stuff. I had to make it. Or make do with what I already had in my closet.
Plan #1a. For the boys:
Yellow-striped shirts with coordinated yellow and lavender vests. I intended to buy khaki dress pants from our Parents of Multiples spring sale.
Plan #1b. For me:
An Easter dress for me. (isn't that a precious little print? isn't that a precious little pattern?)
As March marched forward, I soon realized I couldn't do it all. So I scaled back my plans.
Plan #2a. For the boys: do the vests, but buy shirts to go with them. At the end of March my two-month Wardrobe Refashion pledge was over. I re-upped, but this time it was only for myself. When April 1 hit, it was fair game for me to start buying clothes for the boys. I immediately ordered two yellow gingham shirts from Lands' End and went out and got khaki dress pants from The Children's Place (there were none at the Clothing Sale).
Plan #2b. For me: forget the dress, not enough time. Simple A-line skirt from Sew-U, paired with a white Talbot's twinset I already owned. The only thing I would need to get would be shoes (allowable under the Wardrobe Refashion pledge rules). Not white, though.
I happily finished the little Easter vests, using an awesome Zimmermanesque pattern from Little Turtle Knits and some Cascade Cotton Fleece. The yarn was okay, but to work it to gauge meant a looser weaver than is probably best for it (the pattern calls for worsted weight and this is probably closer to a DK weight). Also, over time, I became less-than-thrilled with the color combo. And I made the stupid, insane decision to do the second one completely in stripes. Not only did I not like the final affect, it became a real pain in knitting, esp. once I split the front and back (the bottom is knit in the round). The stripes were three rounds each, so once I split and worked back and forth, I had to cut the yarn at the end of each stripe (rather than let it float till I needed it again, the way I'd done when I was striping in the round). It was a total pain, it slowed me down, and it was not worth the effort. Of course the boys kind of liked it because it reminded them of Piglet.
Other problems ensued. The one on the left, for Tiny Dancer, didn't fit over his head. This could be fixed with a different bind-off, I'm sure, but I haven't done that yet. The one on the right fit fine. But I tried a different bind-off (learning from my first vest). It was definitely stretchier, but it ended up causing the neck and arms to look almost ruffle-y. A very girly effect, actually. In fact, when Little Buddha tried it on, it looked more like a little t-shirt with ruffled cap sleeves than a vest. Also, given the loose weave of the yarn at this gauge, I needed to pick up more stitches for the ribbing than the pattern called for. I did that in the first vest. But in the second vest I didn't, and the looser weave of the ribbing doesn't look great. In fact, overall, the loose weave in both vests bothered me a bit. And then the coup de' grace: the yellow of the vests didn't match the yellow of the gingham shirts (which, of course, I had no way of checking when I ordered them online).
Plan #3a, for the boys. So, on Good Friday afternoon (the day after I figured out the vests were a no-go), I went back out to The Children's Place - where they happened to be having a big sale - and scored the rockin' little ensembles you've already seen. The best part? Little Buddha refused to wear the Children's Place vest I had gotten for him (it coordinates, but doesn't match, Tiny Dancer's). My Old Man said, "Aren't you glad this isn't a handknit vest he's refusing to wear?" Indeed!
It was a bummer, putting 10 days into knitting those vests that didn't work out, when there are so many other projects I want to be doing. But in the end, I was much more pleased with what they wore than I would've been with what I had originally had in mind. I still plan to fix the bind-off on Tiny Dancer's vest (which I like a LOT better than the Piglet-striped one). And maybe I'll get them little white button-down shirts to wear with the vests every now and then. Regardless, I know I'll definitely knit this fun little vest again (and maybe even figure out the calculations to make one for My Old Man). But next time - I'll be using a 100% wool, worsted weight.
I know this post is dreadfully long already, but it wouldn't be complete without flashing the humble little A-line skirt I ended up with for myself (plan #2b worked in my case). Two hours on Good Friday night and I was done - I still can't get over how fast I can sew something versus how long it takes to knit something (not that I would ever knit myself a skirt, though I have to admit that this was so smokin' I almost thought twice about that commitment).
I still love the fabric, but the skirt was kinda blah, and it just wasn't that "dressed-up for Easter" look I have been conditioned to desire. What really did it in was my new Easter shoes - little ballet flats I got from Zappos (which look great with pants but I wasn't wild about them with this skirt). Maybe if they had been white? Next time I wear the skirt, I'll probably pare it with a heel.
The whole experience reminded me all over again of how much I dislike crafting with a deadline. It was particularly inane this year, with multiple other deadlines in my non-crafting life happening at the same time. As soon as I was done with the vests and the skirts, I commenced to working on a completely non-deadlined project, just something I felt like making. And it has been so freeing. But I'll catch you up on that one some other time. I know you can't wait....