so, 2017

Here it is, January 3rd already and I haven't done a proper roundup of 2016 or thought about resolutions or new beginnings for 2017. The last month has been a whirlwind and I've just barely been able to keep my own life organized and running smoothly with nothing leftover for blogging. That's just how it goes sometimes.

2016 was a horrible, shitty year for news cycles and global politics. You all know how I feel about that. I follow these things pretty closely and the headlines never fail to deliver a new punch to the gut on a daily basis. I won't rant about anything here because it's too depressing and I wouldn't even know where to start. But I'm honestly really worried.

For our family, however, 2016 was a good year. We're healthy. There are three new babies in my extended family, including my niece Violet, with whom we are all completely and totally smitten. Our home renovation project took a bit longer and cost a bit more than originally anticipated, but it did finally get done and we couldn't be happier with how that turned out. My work life has its ups and downs but I've got more than enough to keep me busy and am considering exploring other career options. Possibly.

The holidays are such a mixed bag, aren't they? For me, December is like an emotional blender full of end-of-semester stress (I'm on an academic schedule), birthdays (Anya's is the 14th and mine is the 29th, wedged awkwardly between Christmas and the New Year), negotiating gift exchanges, the illnesses that inevitably make their way around this time of year, and the added burden of travel plans. We decided to take a big road trip this year, and spent 11 days driving to Kentucky (to see my parents), then to North Carolina (to see my husband's parents and brother and fam, plus their uncle who drove all the way from Montana), then back to Kentucky, then back here to Wisconsin. That's 4 days in the car in the span of just under two weeks. Thankfully, the road trip went well - it was actually quite fun! and it helps that we are all seasoned travelers by now, especially for car trips (with the aid of Dramamine for one of us...) - and now we're home and trying to get ourselves back into a routine. It's a process.

You're here for the knitting/sewing/making, right? Bear with me. It's coming.

I finished several small projects in the last two weeks, mostly Christmas gifts for Stuart and the kids, but I haven't taken a photograph of a single one. Our nice camera traveled over 2,000 miles in the last two weeks and never made it out of my backpack. I will take photos soon, but in the meantime, I thought I'd share some baby gifts I pulled together early in December.

I do love making baby gifts. This is partly because when my own kids were tiny I wanted to make so many things for them but just didn't have the time or brain power (neither of them really napped so I didn't have my hands free until Anya started KG) so now I feel like I'm making up for those lost opportunities. And also, I just plain like making gifts, so I do as often as possible.

Besides my brother's daughter, who I have made several items for already (not everything made it onto the blog but you can see the Wee Owligan, some summer outfits, and more summer things in those links, plus a blanket and sweater last Christmas before she was born), there are two more babies in the extended family: my cousin in Denver had a baby boy at the end of May, and another cousin in Tulsa welcomed a daughter in mid-November.

I went fabric shopping with my mom over Thanksgiving (we like to do that together, whether either of us "needs" anything or not) and at Mill House Quilts I stumbled upon some farm-themed coordinates that I absolutely COULD NOT resist. The baby girl in Tulsa, you see, is the daughter of my cousin David, who works as an engineer but grew up on a farm and has always loved it - the land, the machines, the wide open fields and endless sky. I made two pairs of Big Butt Baby Pants (from MBR).

I was on a roll, so I cross-stitched onesies to match.

Simple hearts would do...the first one was a little lopsided, but I decided that was part of the charm of the whole thing (rather than my inexperience with waste canvas).


I decided that the sewing of those little pants would be done right. Rae's instructions don't say much about seam finishing, so I had to experiment a bit. Normally the quickest thing is to run the seams through the serger, but my serger totally sucks and I aren't getting along at the moment, so I chose to do flat-felled seams for the butt panels:

And I did French seams for the rest:

All in all, it made a charming little ensemble and I got a very sweet thank you note from the baby's mom this week.  She had a C-section ahead of schedule and they also have a very energetic 2yo, so her hands are full. I marvel at her ability to keep everything together.

Another cousin of mine, (David's sister, in fact), who lives in Denver, had a baby at the end of May. We had a family reunion in July and I was going to be so on top of things and have a gift ready. Alas, the knitting project I had going was an epic fail in so many ways that I abandoned it (this deserves a whole post for another time) and eventually decided to sew something instead. Since the BBB pants are such a failsafe project, I made him a couple pairs, also with cross-stitched onesies!

For these, I opted for peace signs instead of hearts and cuffs on the pants. My cuz and her hubby are hipster types in the best possible way.

Once again I opted for more time-consuming but professional looking seam finishes. I want to point out that an advantage to the French seams on this particular design is that you get an extra row of stitching along the crotch, where the pants are likely to see the most strain. I did some backstitching there too, for additional reinforcement.

For the baby boy pants, I used fabric I had in stash rather than buying new. I knew I had plenty on hand that would be suitably adorable. I won't pretend I'm doing well with "stash less" (I'm not, really) but I'll keep trying. That's as close to a  new year's resolution as I'm going to get.

I'll come back soon with another catch up post, I promise!


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