Sunday, March 29, 2015

Baby Elven Cloak "muslin" in preparation for the Small Human Being Sewalong...

So, one of my first sewing projects for the SHBsewalong was a baby elven cloak. I want to get some cotton jersey knit, or maybe fleece (but, given the weather in dear Phoenix, I should probably go with the knit, so it can be worn more than 2x a year...)
The real one will be for the new baby, but I used Kuzzles (not yet 1) as my model here.

But I did have on hand a scrap of wool felt (I think it was 34" x 23"?), so the cloak length had to be 17"), and some of a brown sheet...sooo...

Here was my piece of felt. I cut out a simple half circle, and then cut a half circle neck out of that. The radius for the big half circle was 17", and the radius for the neck was maybe 2-3 inches, so 4 to 5 inches in diameter? (this ended up giving a neck that was too tight, around 13" time the neck is going to have to be bigger)
Here is the piece of felt, folded in half, cut up. The semicircle is the cloak part. The hood is the rectangle.
My hood was just 2 rectangles (the piece is doubled over, so every piece in the image is actually double), it's in the upper right hand corner.
I sewed the rectangles together and tried it on the the baby for size....

She resisted.
Even with Grandma's assistance, this was all we got.

So I went off to find Jenny, who put up with being a test subject for me.

As I suspected, the simple rectangle method came out a bit too pointy for my taste.
So I just trimmed a tad off of the top.
Like in the illustration. And I cut 2 darts in the cloak shoulders (to get it to hang better)

Cutting out the shoulder dart.
 On a knit or woven cotton cloak, I'd just put a pleat in the shoulder, but since this was felt and on a baby, I cut the shoulder dart out.

Then I bag lined the hood with sheet scraps, and tried to bind the inside of the neck with a strip of sheet, so there wouldn't be scratchy bits poking there...

She didn't want to wear the cloak. Maybe it was because it was 96 degrees outside....
A miserable hobbit.
She cheered up a bit. I assured her it would be over soon...

She picked up a rock...shot be a doubtful glance....
 And tried to eat it.

Aaand then...
She was done.

Things I'll do differently next time (in April, for the sewalong)

  1. Make it out of Jersey Knit, it will be less stiff and less warm
  2. cut the neck hole bigger
Anyways, it was fun.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

SHB Sewalong: the Lord of the Rings Edition

So, I'm joining my first-ever sewalong!!

From Cationdesigns the "Small Human Being Sewalong"


I'm planning...
  1. A baby Lord of the Rings themed dress (since this baby could be a girl)
  2. A maternity/nursing (yayy multipurposing!) Lord of the Rings themed coordinating dress for myself.
  3. A baby Lord of the Rings themed boy outfit (since this baby could be a boy)
  4. Baby Elven cloaks!
  5. And if I'm REALLY up to it...I'm going to make a Tree-of-Gondor Mei Tai baby carrier...
I think the rules are to sew during the month of April and share at the end.
Its going to be a Lord-of-the-Rings month, as I'm also sewing some Lord-of-the-Rings inspired elven sleeves for the wedding of a very good friend.

Here's to a fun Lord-of-the-Rings inspired April!

And Happy destruction-of-the-ring day. As well as Happy Medieval-the-first-Good-Friday date...March 25th is about the downfall of evil.


Monday, March 23, 2015

Doing the Dishes: Part 1 of Recognizing Patterns of Failure and Setting Myself up for Success

I am far too spontaneous, doing things in the moment, having trouble sticking to plans and goals....
While discipline and character are clearly what I need, recognizing my "patterns of failure" really help.

Example, I struggled with doing the dishes, pretty much all my married life. They would seemingly grow, just sprouting out of the sink, onto the counter. And stare at me, an hours job at least (we didn't have a dishwasher in our first appartment). And grow things. And it would take me so much emotional effort to face them...I would finally face them when we ran out of things to eat off of, which before the kids, was about 2-3 times a week. That mountain grew things. And I was always embarrassed, when people just dropped by (the kitchen area was the main area, there was no where to hide them).

After we moved in with my in-laws, things improved a lot. (One thing, because we take turns with the nightly dishes depending on the weekday, so that obviously helps)
But also, I learned tips they did which vastly cut down on the amount of emotional energy it took to face the dishes in the first place, which will last me after we move out.

  •  1. Right after being doing with something, scrape the food off, and rinse it out, before  putting it in the "dirty dishes" bin. 

This made a HUGE difference for me. The dishes didn't grow things. The sink didn't have a slimy layer of sludge on the bottom. By throwing away/rinsing initially, there wasn't all this extra food for the bacteria to prey on in the first place. Also it made things so much easier to clean--food wasn't dried onto it.

  •  2. Fill the dishes bin with REALLY HOT water and a little squirt of soap. Let sit for 2 minutes. Then scrub/wipe them all and put them into the "rinsing bin", and then rinse them all at once. 

This was is SO MUCH FASTER. The initial soak of hot water made things so much easier to wipe down/scrub, vastly cutting down on the washing time. Doing the washing and rinsing one sinkload at a time made things much more efficient than hand washing and rinsing each individual piece.

  • 3. Do as much of the dishes as possible BEFORE dinner. After dinner I will be exhausted and have the least amount of emotional energy left.

This was my biggest problem. I would let the dishes compile all day, expecting to do them "after dinner"---the time, when I would be most exhausted, most wanting to go lie down or finally do something relaxing or fun. And with the kids in the mix, there's the whole bedtime routine as well, giving me about an hour of free time after dinner is done and the kids are down, before its time to go to bed so I won't be a grumpy mom in the morning.
This is literally now, the difference between me being able to craft/sew and not being able to at all.
I find, what this means, is trying to get dishes done while the kids are eating one of their 4 meals before dinner. Every little bit helps. Often I fail at this...
AND, the prime dishwashing time, is when I am MAKING DINNER. Often you have to wait for water to boil, or stir something every now and then, or wait 15 minutes before pulling the tin foil off of something in the oven---or letting the pizza cool for 5 minutes after taking it out --- all those little 5 minute chunks of time, this is the time to stand near the oven/stove---which is the sink---and get as much of those dishes out of the way as possible. This has helped me so many nights when I wouldn't have had the energy to face ALL the dishes after dinner.

In all of this, my biggest problem is character. In doing things I don't want to, instead of putting them off till there's a crisis.
However, while this is the heart of the matter, I've found my lowering the "emotional energy threshold" of these tasks, I make it that much easier for myself to do. It's recognizing my patterns of failure, and replacing them with patterns of success.


Pattern of Failure:
 letting dishes go till after dinner--->being too tired to face them-->they grow things in the sink--->being too grossed out to face them--->CRISIS--->mustering up vast amounts of emotional energy and doing very stinky dishes for 2 hours--->feeling tired after dinner, putting dishes off--->repeat

Patterns of Success:
--->rinsing most of the food off BEFORE it can get really gross, and thus take more out of me.
--->doing little bursts of dishes while have energy
--->doing dishes in a more efficient manner (sinkload wash, sinkload rinse, etc)

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Yet Another Trip to the Zoo

We went to the zoo again.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Of Heroes and Singing Crocodiles

Isaiah wanders around the backyard, purposefully, carrying this watergun and singing his rendition of Mumford and Son's "The Cave". He's being "Jim". All from here.

 Its amazing how stories, especially stories of heroes, shape a kid.   Any man in a mech suit, or anything that could resemble a mech suit (generic astronauts) are "Jim." It makes his "Reach for the Stars" shirt with a astronaut that much cooler, its his "Jim shirt."
He also loves Captain America, and Saint George, sometimes conflating the two, with Captain America killing a dragon.

We had a day that was cold enough for me to subject them to their hats. Keziah would have none of it, but Jenny obliged.

Grandpa was teaching Isaiah how to hit the T-ball. Jenny kept being disturbed whenever Isaiah knocked the ball off the stand. "No, duh ball be ON"

Keziah was oblivious to the dilemma. Now that she was free of the tyranny of the hat, all was well.

On a sunnier day, I decided to photograph some of the circlets I was working on for my etsy shop (yet to be opened). Her is my Arwen Evenstar, modeling them for me.

After I was done photographing Arwen, I turned and saw Keziah, looking at me for moral reflection, as she pondered going after a fallen orange....You know she is figuring out forbidden and not-forbidden at this point, give the little guilty look she shoots you before she goes into the cat water dish or picks up a fallen orange...

Keziah also bounced up and down whenever we pray (we sing Praise God for dinnertime, and various other tunes for lunch, etc). She even stops fussing for food, and silently bounces, often with a big grin on. It is her contribution.

The other day, Jenny heard the whine of a machine.
Jenny: Mommy, what is going on? Is dat a crocodile singing?
Me: No, I think its a lawnmower
Jenny: (very confidently) No, its a crocodile singing.

Isaiah continues to make up stories and retell stories, often reapplying them to various situations in his life. The other day, I was in the other room, and I heard Jenny getting very upset.
Jenny: "Mommy! Idaiah took the peawls fwom Gamma Beawr!!"
He usually doesn't go after her stuffed animals, much less their jewelry. I voiced some commands and threats, no response.
I went into the other room, and saw him holding the pearls and a pair of toy pliers, oblivious to the indignant Jenny, saying to himself " a pair of scissors cut duh pearls, and two flour covered hands caught duh pearls..." (From Richard Scarry's The Great Steamboat Mystery)

Stories, they make such a huge part of his world....