Shwe Shwe Janneke Christening dresses

I know that traditionally christening robes should be long, white, delicate and frilly.  But I don’t generally follow the rules so the ones I made for my girls are short, bright pink and orange and made from sturdy cotton Shwe Shwe.

I love the designs and colours of this traditional Xhosa fabric and have made a skirt for myself, used the fabric for accents to more corporate clothes and fun zipper pouches.  The trick is that the fabric is quite narrow so it works well for clothes for little people and is a bit more challenging for adults.  I got this fabric from Fabric World in Cape Town.

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For the pattern, I wanted an easy, flattering and cheap pattern (who doesn’t?!) that would work well with the fabric.  I stumbled across Sisko by Mieke’s Janneke dress which looks gorgeous.  I love the fabric choices of her various iterations.  The one catch though is that the pattern and instructions are all in Dutch?!  Luckily, as a born and bred South African, I am fluent in Afrikaans which is a close relative to Dutch but there were a few words that I had to Google to make sure I was getting my fronts and backs all correct!  I cut the biggest size which I was hoping would leave some room to grow but my littlies are growing so fast that I don’t think I’ll get too much wear out of them.  They are also becoming incredibly particular about what they wear: the favourite blue or orange T-shirts are pretty much a staple; any dresses are usually a fight; and any desire of mine is usually not acceptable!

The pattern came together pretty easily.  I love the box pleats in the front and they work out nice and crisp with the ShweShwe fabric.  I made my own piping out of bright green bias binding that I had made for the orange snuggly sleep sack and I love how it complements the bright pink and orange and makes the green accents jump out.  Instead of the facing procedure suggested by the pattern (I had a hard time deciphering it…), I used Kitschy Choo’s tutorial on How to Make a fully lined bodice.  It’s a great tutorial and makes the whole step-by-step process a breeze!  This is such a brilliant technique – I wish I’d known about it for some of my own clothes.  I am definitely going to use this again.

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The dresses came out really nicely although I fear the girls have already outgrown them.  All that hard work for so little air time…

Pattern: Sisko by Mieke’s Janneke pattern

Fabric: Pure cotton traditional Three Cats Shwe Shwe made by DaGama; Bought from Fabric World in Cape Town.

Alterations: I used Kitschy Koo’s tutorial for the lined bodice

Do it again: I’d like to make a bigger version but I’ll have to brush up on my pattern grading skills because I used the biggest size available on the pattern 🙂

Crochet Owl Hats for Twincesses

Cold winter weather makes my fingers fidget and I have to get going on some woollen crafty project.  Crochet is my distraction of choice and I’ve realised that choosing smaller, achievable projects is the best way to achieve (somewhat) instant gratification.

I have been eyeing out Repeat Crafter Me’s awesome crochet animal hats for a while now. Last winter I crocheted an ear-flapped hat sans eyes and animal bits but really felt like it was lacking. So this winter I dived in and made not one but TWO owl hats (aaah life of a twin mom crafter!).

I love the free patterns that Sarah from Repeat Crafter Me so generously shares and as I mentioned, these cute owls were top of my list.  So I had no trouble deciding what to make.  I love the ear flaps and the cute ear tufts.  The pattern is easy to follow and came together nicely although I did have to Google a few of the crochet abbreviations but I think that’s standard practice because I can’t keep those different stitches in my head from one winter crochet session to the next!

The yarn I used all came from my stash (except I did have to top-up on purple halfway through). I used:

  • Real, hand spun, raw 100% wool from the Orkney islands (!) in grey
  • Green, purple, white and yellow cotton yarn leftover from my blanket projects.  I used a double strand because I wanted a chunkier yarn, tighter stitches and it needed to match the grey wool
  • The additional purple is a cotton blend from a local wool shop gem called Wolmart.

A side note on the Orkney wool: Years ago when my sister graduated from Edinburgh University, my family went on a cycling trip from Glasgow to the Orkney islands (as one does…) and while exploring the islands I heard the fascinating story about the local North Ronaldsay Sheep. These sheep have adapted to living on the tidal flats between the ocean and the sea wall and subsist on only sea weed. They eat at low tide and then escape to higher ground at high tide to digest their meal.  Their digestive systems have had to adapt to their interesting diet and they would probably suffer if they had to eat grass.

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Needless to say, after hearing about these sheep, I HAD to track down some of their wool so that I could thread their story through my own creations. I meandered through the wool shops of the little villages and did eventually find some authentic wool which I have been hoarding since then.  And what better project to use it on that warm owl hats for my girls.  The wool was so great to work with and felt so good in my hands.  I’ll have to come up with another suitable project for the rest of it!

I had thought that the separate eyes and beak would be complicated and irritating to attach to the hat, but it wasn’t a problem at all.  The pattern also suggests adding black buttons in the middle of the eyes.  I left these off (at the suggestion of hubby), but I may consider putting them on in the end…

I made the ‘toddler’ size hat in green first but after Little A took a particular liking to the “gweeeenn” one, I realised that her plus size head probably wouldn’t fit into it for much longer, so the next one in purple was in the ‘child’ size.  It’s a little big but I think a better fit and at least there’s a chance they can wear it next year too.


The girls love their owl hats – particularly the green one – and if it’s one item of winter clothing we can get them to put on voluntarily, then it’s a definite win!


Summary:

Pattern: Owl hats from Repeat Crafter Me in size Toddler and Child; I left off the button eyes…for now.

Yarn: Pure wool and cotton

Do it again?:  I’m keen to make matching adult ones for mom and dad!