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Friday
Apr242015

A Sally Dress

So take a look at these photos and you'll see something very authentic. No photo shoot here. Just a handmade dress taped unevenly to a fence, and then that same dress in action. Two year old style. If your not sure what I mean by two year old style, just check out the stickers, mask, and necklaces, all accented by blue marker that was used as "lipstick" just moments before we headed outside to play. This is what being 2 looks like in our house.

Dress pattern is the Sally Dress from Very Shannon. This dress is described as being suitable for advanced beginner and intermediate sewers, and I think that's something to highlight. Unlike the three simple raglan dresses that I just finished, this dress required hours in a quiet room alone with my sewing machine and lots of caffiene. A serger also helps. That said, I think the extra work and time were worth it! Just look at the gently pointed shoulders seams, and the lined pockets. So special!
The only change I will make next time I sew a Sally Dress will be to size up. It was a little bit of a struggle to get the dress over my girl's head and arms comfortably, though the dress fits well once it's on. Sizing up one size in the bodice should solve that problem!
Now I'm heading over to the Kids Clothes Week site to see what everyone else is sewing this Friday. Want to come?

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Wednesday
Apr222015

KCW Spring 2015 - Bear Dress

So here we are on day 4 of Kids Clothes Week and so far all I've sewn are different versions of the same simple dress.  I could say that I'm getting bored sewing this way this week, but that would be a lie. I'm actually loving the simplicity of it all. Getting to know a sewing pattern and playing with it is fun!! It's also nice to sew something that I know will fit and be loved. So far this girl loves each and every one of her animal dresses --and she's a fickle pickle when it comes to getting dressed, so that's saying something!  

So what's different about this dress? The front is a patchwork of different fabrics, that's what! To construct it I used a largish scrap of the bear print, and flanked it with a yellow crosshatch print (leftover from the backing of our boy's Scout Quilt). Now I want to make more patchwork dresses using wonky log cabin quilt squares. There are just so many ways to make this same simple dress... Somebody stop me!!

 

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Wednesday
Apr222015

KCW Spring 2015 - Unicorn Dress

So you know when you finish an item and before it's even pressed and worn you have ideas about how to make it well...not better, but different? Well that happened while I was sewing my girl's elephant dress big time. So though I had other plans for KCW this week, I ended up making two more simple raglan shift dresses, each slightly different from the other.  

This dress is two sizes larger than the elephant version, and I added two rows of shirring at the empire waist with elastic thread in my bobbin. Sewing with elastic thread is magic for children's clothing. If you've never tried it, and want to, then check out this tutorial.  Pure genius. 


Pattern: Whole Grain Baby Raglan Shift Dress in size 4 (see my notes on this pattern in yesterday's post)

Fabric: Heather Ross Far Far Away 2 Unicorns in blue for body, and Snails in orange for sleeves

And stay tuned - the third raglan dress will be here on the blog tomorrow!

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Monday
Apr202015

KCW Spring 2015 - Elephant Dress

So when the first really warm day of Spring arrived last week my littlest girl had nothing to wear. Apparently she grew so much this winter that none of the warm weather clothing in her closet could fit over her head. She ended up playing outside all week in an undershirt and her brother's shorts. It was adorable and sweet for a few hours, until it wasn't. It was then that I signed up to participate for Kids Clothes Week, or KCW.  If you haven't heard of KCW, it's basicly a sew along where you pledge to sew clothing for kids for at least an hour a day for a week. If you want you can post photos of your sewn items on the KCW community site, and/or tag it on Instagram. This week, KCW is serving as my own personal kick in the (handmade) pants by forcing me to sew this wee one a spring/summer wardrobe.

The theme for Spring 2015 KCW is Wild Things. If you knew this girl, then you would know that I could sew a simple white sack for her, and "wild things" would still be the theme - she's that, well, wild. (See above photos taken in the rain this morning for a glimpse of this girl's devilish nature!)  She does love elephants, and elephants are wild things, so I chose this black and white elephant print to kick off the week.

Pattern is an old standby by Whole Grain Baby.

I'm not even sure that Whole Grain Baby still sells patterns after a quick internet search, but if you like what you see here, I suggest looking up the terms "peasant dress" on Google or Pinterest. There are loads of similar dress patterns floating around. 

Fabric is a Japanese imported elephant print for the front, and multicolor herringbone for sleeves and back by Timeless Treasures. 

Shoes are Converse self styled by the little miss many sizes too large and on the wrong feet. 

 

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Sunday
Mar222015

Camilla Pullover Finished

So I was determined to finish this sweater before the end of winter, but ended up binding off yesterday, which was technically the second day of Spring - Boo!! Lucky for my sweater, it snowed and we woke up to freezing temperatures, so it was worn with pride and smiles all day long anyway. 

Pattern is Carrie Bostick Hoge's Camilla Pullover. It's an ingenious seamless knit that is knit in the round.  The body is knit in one piece from the bottom up, so you can try it on as you go and see how long you want your body length (think hip to armpit) to be. Sleeves are knit in the round on double pointed kneedles separately, and then joined to the body. Once joined, you continue in the round to shape a raglan style yoke all the way to the neck. I knit a size small, on size US 10 needles, adding some length to both the body and sleeves . 

Yarn is Madelinetosh Tosh Vintage in the Optic colorway, and it's heavenly. This is the first time I've ever forked over so much money for yarn in my life, but it was worth it. I can't explain how squishy and soft this wool is, and how striking and unique the Madelinetosh colorways are. I now understand why Madelinetosh has such a cult following!!

For a few more knitting details, check out my Ravelry page. I'm actually a little sad that this sweater is off the needles, but that hasn't stopped me from picking my next knitting project. It's another Carrie Bostick Hoge pattern for my boy - the Lulu, in blues. New goal: to have a blue Lulu done by fall. I think I can handle that!

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Wednesday
Mar182015

Selfish Sewing Week Roundup

So last week I participated in Selfish Sewing Week for the very first time. In every single free moment I had I sewed for myself, and ended up producing four new tops! I posted some pics on Instagram as I went, but thought a quick roundup here would be fun too.

First up, I made another Lane Raglan in a double sided black and white knit. Neck and cuffs are made from scraps leftover from this Stellar tunic. The photo below is not my best, but take it from me when I say that this top is comfy, cute, and simple to sew. 

Next up were a pair of Briar tops made using Megan Nielsen's awesome pattern. I love Megan Nielsen patterns for the multitude of variations within the pattern, and the many many tips she provides for personalization and ease of sewing both on her blog, and in her free tutorials. I first sewed up this full length, long sleeved version with a traditional neckband and double needle hems in a lightweight knit.

Then I tried a full length short sleeved version with a fold over neck, and raw edge/no hem sleeves and bottom. 

Same pattern, but two different looks, right? Though I only planned to sew two Briar tops this week, I'm not done with this pattern yet. I'd love to try a modified Briar dress for the summer, and perhaps a center front seam cardigan like ones discussed here.

In the meantime, I've fallen hard for the the Julia Cardigan. Have you seen the Julia Cardigans that are posted all over the sewing blogs lately? My bloglovin' feed is full of 'em, so of course, I had to try one for myself. So glad I did. The Julia was a perfect end to my selfish sewing week. I would have finished this cardigan in under 2 hours if my serger hadn't needed re-threading. It's that quick to make. The result is a surprisingly fitted, on trend piece that will look good on everyone. One word of caution is to follow the measurements closely when deciding which size to sew, and to follow the instructions for cutting with or against the grain of the fabric. If you are looking for a less structured, looser garment, I would choose a jersey knit or other knit with loads of stretch. There isn't a lot of give in the version I made with this tight double knit metallic stripes, but man-oh-man do I love it.  

So there we have it, more photos of me than I generally like to share with the world, and four new tops. If you made it this far in the post, thanks, and happy selfish sewing ;)

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Monday
Feb232015

Imke Shirt for Boys from Sewing Clothes Kids Love

So it seems that I am working on a one-for-one model in my house right now when it comes to sewing. For every item I make for myself, I make at least one for someone else. Last weekend I made myself my first Lane Raglan, and this weekend I made this hooded Imke shirt for our four year old son. A shirt for a shirt seems fair after all.

I'm trying to use only fabric and patterns I already have, which is proving to be really fun. The kids and I take out sewing books and patterns, pore over them together, and pick what we like. They even helped me cut the patterns this weekend, and are beginning to see how many steps are involved in creating a garment.

This shirt is the Imke top from the lovely book, Sewing Clothes Kids Love. I especially like this book because it has patterns for every level sewist, many variations offered for each pattern, and a whole chapter offering suggestions for embellishment. Though most of the book is geared towards girls, the Imke top has bodice options for both boys and girls. For this particular version we chose to use the boys bodice, the straight sleeve, and the curved hood, which I lined with the turquoise knit. I didn't feel like hemming the sleeves and waist, so instead I added cuffs, allowing me to use my serger for the whole garment. Adding cuffs also gives the top more of a sweatshirt look, which my oldest daughter said would be cool.

So does the book live up to its name? Did my kid LOVE his Imke top? You betcha. Here is hamming it up with his little sister who is just out of the camera frame...  

Fabric: Organic Knit Charlie Harper for Birch Fabrics in Bank Swallow Blue, purchased from FabricWorm, and turquiose jersey knit from my stash.

 

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Monday
Feb162015

Lane Raglan T-Shirt for Me!!

So I just made this raglan t-shirt yesterday and it's already the absolute best thing I've ever sewn for myself. I made it in one afternoon, cutting the pattern and fabric while the kids were busy playing with a friend, then sewing while dinner cooked away on the stove. I stopped midway to watch my husband sled with our fearless littles in the backyard, and finished in time to snap some photos before all of the winter light was gone.
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I think this shirt requires a little sass to wear it, what with all those slashes in the fabric and the tough red sleeves, so I crossed my arms and tried to look a bit cool in these photos.
How'd I do?
Fabric: Slashed knit from my stash for main front and back body. Upcycled red t-shirt and waffle men's shirt donated by my sister long ago. 
  • Pros: Quick sew. Minimal experience with knit fabric required. I sewed it completely on my serger, which was wonderful (check out my seams above), but you can use a ballpoint needle on your sewing machine as well. PDF printable pattern so no waiting if you want to start right away. Clear instructions, including the best tips on how to put in knit neckbands that I've ever come across. 
  • Cons: None really. The only note I would make is on sizing, which I think is generous. I chose to sew the size small, which is my regular size when buying a t-shirt like this, but if you want a tight, body skimming fit, I think I would sew a size down one from your regular size. I like the ease though, and the longer length - so comfortable!

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Friday
Feb062015

Hand-me-down Handmades are Inspiring

So these pants are exhausted. This is how they lay this morning, trying to get some rest after an action packed day yesterday. I should hide them before our little girl wakes up, because if she sees them, then she will wear them again today despite any and all protests I can muster. It should bother me perhaps...that my girl wears the same dirty, boyish pants over and over again, but it doesn't. Instead it inspires me. It makes me want to sew kids clothes again after I'd kind of given up doing so. I've been "off" sewing for my kids this past year or so, but seeing this yesterday made a switch inside of me flip back to "on".

You see, this girl playing in these silly pants yesterday reminded me of the boys at this age. So much so that when I woke up way too early this morning I went through old photos for an hour until, sure enough, I found these candids of our boys, each between 2 and 3 years of age wearing these very same pants. 

These photos made me realize that even though my fourth grader would never ever wear a handmade item to school now, I still have time for this girl, and her pre-K brother. Time to sew. Time to play. Time I shouldn't waste. That's inspiring.

 

Tuesday
Jan272015

Cropped In Threes Baby Cardigan 

So this is a cropped version of the well loved In Threes Baby Cardigan. I knit this little sweater about two years ago while waiting outside of my older daughter's weekly music class, very pregnant, on a folding chair. At the same time each week a ballet class down the hall would end, spilling little girls in pink leotards everywhere around me. One little girl was escpecially fascinated by my knitting. Every week she would stand and watch me while her mother apologized, embarrassed by her interest.  One afternoon, after a few minutes of silent observation, she said something very much like: "You're really just making lots of knots with that string you know, but it looks so nice and you are are doing it all by yourself. It's amazing that one day the baby in your belly will wear it."  It was one of those wise things that young children say, and I recall writing it down on a scrap of paper afterwards. The scrap of paper was lost of course, but yesterday when I looked at the baby wearing the sweater I recalled that little girl in her pink leotard and thought how right she was... it is amazing. 

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Pattern: In Three Cardigan (cropped)

Yarn: Sugar and Cream, just one ball of Ecru for the body

Changes/Additions: I simply stopped knitting when I ran out of yarn, and crocheted one row of single chain all around the edges of the cardigan in a variegated colorway of Sugar and Cream just for fun. 

 

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Wednesday
Jan212015

Improv Supernova Quilt Finished

So this quilt is special. They are all special, yes they are, but this quilt is special because it's my first real themed quilt. Usually themed quilts (like sports or princess quilts) are absolutrely NOT my thing. Here I made an exception though, and created a whole space themed bed for my just-turned-7 year old son. This guy wants be an interplanatary geologist when he grows up. Not a spaceman or a miner, an interplanatary geologist. To achieve this goal of his, he spends most of his evenings in bed reading reference books abour rocks and minerals, and actively pondering the content of the cosmos. He NEEDS a space quilt under which to do these things, right? Right. 
The quilt top is similar in design to this mini Supernova quilt. In fact, the supernova center is another version of the Supernova pattern from Quiting Modern, made with 6" squares. The fragments and smaller stars were improvised using techniques from Quilting Modern as well. Above you can see what the top looked like before it was quilted. I was very tempted to send this quilt out for long arm quilting, but instead decided to quilt it myself in overlapping concentric curves to mimic the expanding shock waves that occur in space when a supernova explodes. I figure that if I'm going to go for a space theme, I may as well go all the way. 
To round out the bed I made a couple of pillowcases out of leftover fabric. I also turned the Supernova Mini Quilt into a quilted throw pillow with a lapped back. I purposely made the back of the lapped pillow deep enough to stow some of the big books constantly littering this kid's bed. 
Upon seeing his newly made bed my man hugged me and said, "Mom, I can see how hard you worked on this quilt. It's so amazing that I'm going to sleep with it until I'm married and even until I'm dead."
Whoa.
I'm not even used to to seven yet.
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Fabric:
Constellations and Pearl Bracelets in assorted colors by Lizzy House
Kona Cotton in Tomato
Architextures in Lake by Carolyn Friedlander
Thread: Aurifil grey
   

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Monday
Nov102014

Madelinetosh Honey Cowl and Hat

So this summer the only thing I seemed to be interested in knitting was cowls. I would start one, see another on Pinterest that I just had to try, and start another. By August I had three cowls on the needles at the same time. Sadly, once they were finished, I found that I really, truly, only love one, and that's my narrow version of the Honey Cowl. The pattern is free on the Madelinetosh website, and it's so easy to follow. Why did I make mine so narrow? Well, because my yarn told me to. I used Katia Belice yarn (in colorway 301), allowing the variegation in the color of the yarn dictate the pattern. Put simply, I changed the pattern to end when the variegation pattern ended, achieving a look akin to intentional stripes. 

Matching Honey Hat was an obvious add-on project. The hat is super loose, especially knit as I have with a cotton/acrylic blend. If I were to knit it again I would choose a yarn with more elasticity, but it's so lovely as is that I really can't complain. 

What about you? Are you knitting anything new?

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Friday
Oct172014

Etsy Site Updated...Finally!

Hi there everyone! It's been a while, right?

What can I say...life, man...it happens. It's been busy the last couple of months as we've settled in to the rhythm of school/sports/life in our new town. Each moment spent sewing has somehow felt stolen, even illicit. There is just so very much to do with four small children under my care, and every moment that I am not doing one of those things is something delicate, something to be weighed and savored. So when I undertook to sew a new batch of baby items for sale I really wanted to enjoy it. That's why I departed from my usual pattern and took to patchwork. Each of the new blankets consists of a unique patchwork top, reversing to a solid minky dot back. I chose a wide variety of color palettes, and just had some fun. 

For now they are all available at The Craft Lounge and my Etsy shop. So if you've been dying to buy your baby gifts from me (and I just know you have!!), but have been disappointed to find very few choices online, the wait is over. I've just added a dozen blankets to Etsy. If you have a free moment head on over, check them out and let me know what you think.

Here's a sneak peak at two of my current favorites:

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Wednesday
Aug272014

Pretty Potent Fat Quarter Napkins

So I just had lunch with one of these napkins on my lap and realized I never posted about them here. Boo! They are almost too simple to write about really, but I'm going to anyway.

The napkins are made of two fat quarters - one solid, one print. I sew them right sides together, pull them right sides out, press, and topstitch the edges with a decorative stitch. Easy peasy.

The real story is in the napkin rings. They are made by our kids with pipe cleaners and beads. Each member of the family has a ring with their name spelled out in beads. We store the napkins in a basket with the rings, and in the morning each person gets their napkin and ring for the day. One napkin per day is the rule, and after breakfast the ring goes on the napkin so we know who gets which napkin later for lunch or dinner. Clever, right? That's what I told my eight year old when she came up with the system! On the day the system works I have four kids with cloth napkins on their laps for meals. Big Smile...

 

Cotton prints are a whole fat quarter set of Anna Maria Horner's Pretty Potent fabric line, and solids are Michael Miller Cotton Couture in Jade and Empire Yellow. Thread is Aurifil in medium turquoise.  

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Friday
Jul182014

Mini Supernova Quilt

 

So we had a load of lovely summer guests last weekend, and we all enjoyed ourselves immensely. I should have been exhausted when they drove away on Tuesday morning, but instead I was wired with a desire to make something. So I dropped my oldest kids at camp, put the youngest down for a rest, and headed up to the pile of Constellation fabrics by Lizzie House that I've been noodling on for months.

I had a plan for these fabrics all sketched out with coordinating solids purchased and ready to go. Then I stumbled upon the Supernova Quilt pattern while reading my copy of Quilting Modern. (Yes, I read quilting books like others read novels - cover to cover, in bed at night, with a glass of wine or mug of tea in hand.) The Supernova pattern is an obvious choice for the constellation fabrics, but is it too obvious? I decided to try a mini quilt and find out.

To make the mini quilt I simply scaled all measurements down to 2 1/2" squares and followed the pattern as written.  I used only Constellation fabrics to see how they would work without solids. I like the result, but think that when I choose a pattern, and go BIG (as in twin sized BIG), I will add some solids or small scale tonal prints for greater contrast. What do you think? What would you do with these fabrics?

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Wednesday
Jul092014

Finished Scout Quilt

So summer has us wrapped around its little finger. After a long, dark, snow filled winter it seems that there's nothing summer can do that will put us off this year. We've been busy travelling, swimming, exploring, and just plain sitting out of doors as much as we can. Lightning storms, local tornadoes, and the ineveitable visits to the emergency room with kids can't slow us down. We are too busy being in love with the longer, looser days and the possibilities they bring. 

Why and I telling you this though? And what does summer have to do with this quilt? Well, everything really.

Summer inspired this quilt. Specifically, the many summers I've spent in Santa Fe, New Mexico immersed in earthy adobe browns, grey stone paths, orange sunsets, outdoor bluegrass music, and turquoise American Indian jewelry. The arrow motif was intentionally chosen to recall the Pendelton blankets ubiquitous in Santa Fe, and our home growing up. Yes, this quilt is summer in Santa Fe for me, and I'm happy to see it in my backyard drying after it's first washing, and wrapped around my son at night.

Quilting notes:

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Tuesday
May202014

Sunny Day Shorts 

So this spring, on any day containing the smallest bit of sunshine (it's been raining A LOT), our three year old appears in whacky outfits that center around three pairs of shorts: his old mustache shorts, and these new dragon and superhero shorts. For these new shorts the little guy chose the fabrics, I chose the free Sunny Day Shorts pattern from Oliver + S, and instant favorites were born. Like all Oliver + S patterns that I have used, the Sunny Day Shorts pattern is well written and contains helpful illustrations in all the right places. I was a bit concerned that the shorts would look like boxer shorts if I used one fabric for the whole shebang, so I used contrasting fabrics for the waistbands, and added piping to the sides. Noone wants to looks like they are walking around in their underwear! Pockets would have also been a way to avoid boxer confusion, but this kid finds unknowable places to hide things away in without my providing any more. Rocks, change, cars, and figurines are prevalent enough in my laundry already thank you very much. So here he is, sans pockets, itchy with spring fever. Time to go play outside... 

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Tuesday
May132014

Handmade Modern Baby Bonnet 

So summer sewing is in full swing here (get it - swing, HA!). I just started some shorts for my boys, a simple sling bag for myself, and some things for the home, but first, this little bonnet. It's adorable, yes? A little Laura Ingalls in design, but there's nothing wrong with that. The fact that the sun shines right into little eyes hasn't changed since Little House on the Prairie was popular, and this little bonnet pattern from Lea and Lars is perfect for summer sun. It's reversible, has an adjustable tie that provides a custom fit, and a brim that folds back when needed. Most importantly, she loves it and wears it all the time. She even fell asleep wearing it, which is the highest complement a baby can pay to an item of clothing right? 

I followed the pattern exactly, making the size 12-24 months for our 12 month old. It fits well with room to grow. I found the pattern to be very easy to follow, with only one pattern piece to print and cut. Just be sure that you have some lightweight fusible interfacing around before you get started. It's key to geting a stiff, yet foldable brim on your bonnet. There is a lot of room for pattern play and personalization here, which I love. I also love that the finished product folds flat and rolls into a little cone for travel. I plan to make more just as soon I can.

What are you sewing for summer?

 

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Monday
May052014

Kokka Pillows 

 

So last week I gave myself license to play around and just have fun with my sewing machine. It rained nearly every day, and sitting in the half dark of my sewing room, I found myself free motion quilting in silence, lost to the "real" world. Many moments I was transformed into a version of the girl I used to be, doodling in the margins of my notebook at school.  When I came back to myself I was reminded that this is why I love to sew, and knit, and cook, and make things in general. It's for that hummmmm that takes over when you are really IN IT.   

What I was left with Friday morning were quilted panels of varying sizes just begging to be made into pillows. All fabric is from the Japanese design house Kokka. Some are leftover from my big girl's Rosalie Quilt, with a few fat quarters that I picked up at Nido (such a lovely little shop!), and pom pom trimmings from Purl in the mix. Thread is Aurifil cotton 40WT in sand, which was a dream to quilt with. I'll definitely be buying more for my next machine quilting project.

Now to handstitch the pillow openings closed and fall into my next crafty zen moment...

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Friday
Apr252014

Entrechat Knit Baby Shrug

So our baby girl turned one this week, and naturally, I knit her a sweater. As the fourth child surrounded by hand-me-downs, she doesn't need toys, she doesn't need clothes, and she certainly doesn't need a handknit shrug, but she got one anyway, and she loves it. See that smile above? That's her loving it. I know it looks like she's in pain and she hates it, but it's actually this goofy little kid's way of smiling with sheer happiness. I promise. 
The pattern is Entrechat by Lisa Chemery, purchased on Ravelry, and I found it to be well written and very easy to follow. It was so clear in fact, that I knit the entire sweater on a family road trip last week to and from Boston with animated movies and wisecracking kids as my soundtrack. I only needed to hush everyone up for one little Youtube moment to check out the recommended video showing the clever increase required for the back ruffle. (Three cheers for YouTube knitting tutorials!)
All told, this little sweater took about 7 hours to knit, and another hour to finish at home. No double pointed needles are required for the little cap sleeves, and I think that in the smallest size one could get away with only one hank of the Blue Sky worsted cotton yarn I used. I knit the size 2-3 for our tall one year old, and saw myself running out of the carribean yarn as I went. That's why I switched to the true red for the center band, and then ran a row of single crochet red trim all around to pull the colors together at the end. My mom taught me long ago that when in doubt, run a row of single crochet around a finished knit. It makes things look a bit more finished, camouflaging any rogue cast on or cast off stitches. A necessity for knit-in-the-car items! 
What have you been knitting? And where?

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