Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Another 2013 Recap

Seems that this is what bloggers do at the end of one year to clear the palette for the fresh new things to come. I've been rather quiet here as of late and so I thought I should end this year right with a full on recap of my creative adventures of this past year.

This year I taught myself to sew. Prior to 2013 all I had ever sewn was pajama bottoms and a couple of bags. There was one string quilt in there too, but I had never been brave enough to sew for myself. A couple of complete disasters early on had scared me away. But this year I caught the sewing bug, mainly because of one sewing pattern… the Washi Dress!

I threw caution to the wind and just jumped in and sewed. I think it was a successful  year and everything pictured above is worn or used regularly, with the exception of the blue dress with the red piping and the blue button down in the top row. That was refashioned from my husband's old shirt and my son has only worn it a couple of times. The blue drawstring pants in the first row, those are already worn out and put to pasture. That was one of those learning experiences. Linen pants for a 6 year old with no knee reinforcement will not last long!

As for my first love, there seems to be no slow down on the knitting front. I have been pretty prolific again this year and although a few things have languished and are still not complete on this last day of the year I'm ok with that. I have yarn and patterns for at least 4 sweaters already queued up and with my Stitches West attendance already planned for Feb I know there's likely to be more than that going on.

This collage is mainly for my friend P who continuously gives me crap about only knitting blue things. I think this proves that I have tempered my love for blue with all things green, brown and burgundy. Most worn item from the above collage is definitely the burgundy sweater, my Gnarled Oak.
It was kind of a boring knit for me but the outcome has been well loved and worn even though the sleeves are a touch short. Half of the items knitted were given as gifts to also prove that I'm not as selfish a knitter as people often think! 

On the cooking/baking front it's been a quiet year. I did purchase the book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day and will be making lots from it in the coming year.  

The Challah bread in the center bottom as well as the boule from the top right location are both from that book and were both super tasty and easy to make. 

It's been a busy, productive and sometimes crazy year. My wish for the coming year is simply to learn how to live in the moment and to enjoy each day even when they are not perfect! 

Happy New Year, may 2014 bring you much happiness. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

YAAAAWWWN! Happy Monday, now I need a nap!

So we started the overnight potty training thing here in our house… and now I'm tired. It's kind of like having a newborn again that you have to attend to every few hours overnight. But hopefully it won't last too terribly long.

My son is 6, so I feel like we are kind of late to this party. We've been waiting years and years for those pull-ups to be dry in the morning and we have NEVER had a single dry morning. Lately even with the dang pull-up I am having to wash sheets 3-4 times a week anyways so I thought, Hey! Maybe he needs to try without and he'll do fine! So Friday night we started having him go to bed in underwear. He was excited, I was terrified! OH the pee, the soaking bed, the changing sheets at 2 in the morning. I basically encased the mattress in multiple layers of waterproof material!

The first night he did fine. I woke him when I went to bed, then again at 3 when I woke up because I had to use the bathroom. He was damp the second time but the bed was still dry so I considered it a win! The second night was similar but he was WET this time so it required a full PJ change. The third night all hell broke loose… he was wet, PJ's were wet, top sheet and over pad were wet.

So when I was falling back to sleep my brain was thinking, what can we do to minimize leakage without it being like a diaper? He needs to feel he is wet.  Then I remembered the Gerber Training pants he wore when he was little and learning to stay dry in the daytime! Too bad they only make them up to 3T. I searched the web for something in his size but couldn't make myself pay the costs $12 a piece! NO WAY!

A quick search of the web yielded a few options for making your own and so I jumped on it. I got some flannel and terry cloth at Joann's along with a small 1/4 yard cut of their white PUL and I set to work. With my coupons I only paid around $13 for all the materials. We used some existing underwear so that didn't cost anything.  So I can make around 6 pairs for the cost of one purchased one!

I cut a pattern based on the front outline of the underwear. I  made a couple where the padding only covered the front and they work ok. I decided to try one where the padding extends all the way around and up the back and that's the one I photographed here.

In this pic above you can see I cut out 3 layers of the cotton flannel and one layer of the terrycloth. Not pictured is one layer of the PUL that will be on the back of the pad. The side that faces the underwear. The idea here is to gain a little time before the accident leaks completely through underwear, PJ pants and onto bedding. We are not trying to completely contain the accident since the point is to FEEL the wet, right!

 I sewed up the two long sides using my walking foot and a heavy gauge needle. 

Then after I turned the tube right side out, I zig zagged the two open ends closed. Remember you want to sew it so the terry is sandwiched between the flannel and when it's turned right sides out you want PUL on the back and flannel on the front. I did one where the terry ended up on the outside and although my son wore it, it seemed kind of scratchy to me. I suppose if you have a serger you could make it even easier by just serging all the pieces together!

Carefully pin the pad to the underwear and sew all the way around. I used a straight stitch, but a wide zig zag might be better for the stretch factor. 

Here's how it looks from the outside. Not too bad, eh?!

And the inside basically looks like a maxi pad sewn into the underwear. 

Note to self : Don't wear dark corduroy while working with terry cloth! Ha ha… 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The sewing machine got dusted off!

I have this button down shirt that I got at TjMaxx last year that I love. It's made of this amazing cotton that feels like double gauze but I really have no idea what it is. I bought it and wear it regularly even though it's kinda tight. I have really broad shoulders and a long torso and this shirt was not made to fit me, but I LOOOOOOVE it and wear it anyways!  A few weeks ago I spent a bunch of time tracing it hoping to create a pattern for it so I could make one that actually fits. Then after much thinking and over thinking on my part I said HEY! I have that pattern for a shirt dress! Why not modify that instead of trying to start from scratch! DING! Light bulb on! The pattern is Simplicity Lisette 2246 Traveler Dress! 

I made view C last spring and it came out pretty well!

And I thought that view A would work as a shirt if I shortened it. I traced the pattern on tracing paper (thanks Dad for giving me that old roll of wide tracing paper! He's an architect and had a bunch of rolls of wide tracing paper he doesn't use anymore!)  I measured my favorite shirt for length and added about  two inches total.  I followed the curves for view B to make it have a bit more interest. I sewed up a muslin of the fronts and back to make sure the size would work before going to all the trouble of sewing it all together.

This fabric came from Joann's to use as a wearable muslin. Knowing it might not work, I wanted to test it on the cheap first. It  is just some quilting cotton but I thought the flowers were cute and with my coupon I got it for 55% off.

I accidentally cut a 14 collar and it didn't fit with the 12 neckline very well (go figure!),  but I fudged it and made it work. I thought the sleeves were a little weird, being that they are meant to be rolled up but they don't  have a lining or anything, which in my mind makes the sleeves look like kind of an afterthought.  I decided to copy the button tabs from my favorite shirt to make it look more intentional, but sewed them down permanently since the sleeves will never be worn down.

In this pic they are just pinned in place. 

My machine is being finicky about button holes right now so I decided to do snaps, which I actually like a lot. After attaching them, I put the shirt on for these pics and kept it on the whole rest of the day! All in all I am happy with how this came out. The fit is good, the shoulders are right on. After sewing a slightly smaller seam allowance on the upper arms, they fit great too. The length is perfect! The shirt is slim without being tight and now I can't wait to make one out of this awesome polka dot double gauze I got at Hart's Fabric! I think that one will be a much closer replica of my favorite shirt. Yay for sewing! 

Friday, November 8, 2013


I finished this shawl about 10 days ago and have been meaning to post about it, but alas between a sick kiddo and a sick mama, it just didn't happen. We all seem to be on the mend now and so I thought I'd show you this amazing shawl!

My friend D chose the pattern herself from the myriad of options that came up during a Ravelry search. That is pretty impressive for a non-knitter's first time browsing Ravelry. You all know how overwhelming it can be. It's kind of fitting too, because our neighborhood, especially my street has tons and tons of ginkgo trees in it. I have one right on my front lawn. At first we were looking for a yellow yarn to knit it in, but when we saw the green, we were both instantly convinced. And it's a pretty good match to the summer green of the ginkgo leaves. Right now they are all starting to turn the most gorgeous shade of yellow, or I'd go out and photograph it for you.

Here it is blocking on my board! The leaves really needed a good blocking to show properly!

It is a pretty small shawl, I'd call it a scarf really.

But it is light as air and so incredibly soft! And most importantly, D loves it and put it on immediately! 

This Moment!

A Friday Ritual. A Single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you are inspired to do the same, leave your link to your "moment" in the comments for all to find and see. 

There really is nothing like an empty beach and the sound of the waves to help you hear yourself! 

Friday, November 1, 2013

This Moment!

A Friday Ritual. A Single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you are inspired to do the same, leave your link to your "moment" in the comments for all to find and see. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

This Moment

A Friday Ritual. A single photo- no words- capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special. extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you are inspired to do the same leave a link to your "moment' in the comments for all to find and see. 

Inspired as always by Soulemama

Thursday, October 24, 2013


I totally promised to be back here on Wednesday with a WIP post. Well obviously that didn't happen, a day late and a dollar short I guess!

I did manage to get pictures of all my projects and it has become clear why my wrists and fingers are sore. I have 4 projects all  heavily in rotation right now and they are ALL in fingering weight yarn. WHAT!!! The ergonomics for knitters class I took at Stitches in February taught me better than that. And so, even though I need a new project on the needles like I need a hole in the head, I think for my health's sake I need to mix in at least one worsted or bulky weight project just to keep things loose. I was starting to get the dreaded claw! You know the one, you knit for an hour or so and then your fingers, especially your pinkie, are stuck in this horrible tight claw configuration. Don't tell me it's just me!!

First up we have Paulie, which is starting to actually look like a sweater, although not fast enough for my taste. I want to wear this thing NOW, but a sleeve and a half and a button band to go before that can happen.

I'm in love with the color combo, after all it is my two all time favorites in one sweater! I just hope the yarn doesn't get all felty like my Thermal did! 

Next is my first attempt at two at a time cuff down socks… just a plain stockinette stitch to keep it easy and somewhat mindless amidst all the tangling yarn balls. Funny how different the two socks look even though they are the same color way and dye lot.. I guess each ball just started at a different point in the color repeat? Maybe.

My Gingko Crescent is coming along nicely even though in this photo it doesn't look like much. I am only two rows into the lace chart! I'm pleased with the yarn and I think my friend will really like it!

Last but not least are my Podsters. I've had this yarn in my stash for probably close to 8 years and I'm glad to finally have a good use for it. I love the twisted rib on the cuff and I've only got one or two more rows before the real meat of the knitting begins!

And so that's the news from this front. Hopefully soon I'll actually have something finished to show you! 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

A First!

My cousin sent me a picture of a big, bulky, brown cowl asking if I could make something like it. I knew I had two skeins of Thick and Quick in my stash that were never going to get used for anything and so I set about searching Ravelry for something similar. At first I had no idea this thing was crochet, so I was searching for a similar stitch pattern. My Ravelry friends set me straight and helped me decided on raised stockinette, which worked reasonably well.

I cast on and a few days later had this!

It may not be an exact match but it was cozy and comfy and will be perfect for the cold winters of Maine! 

Sorry for the radio silence, it's been busy around here! There are lots of updates to be made for WIP Wed so stay tuned!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Lonely Tree Shawl

I still remember the first time I went to the Stitches West Knitter's convention. I had been knitting for about a year and I proudly wore my stockinette stitch scarf that curled like a mofo! My friend and I walked around like deer in headlights, equal parts mesmerized and terrified. At one point she grabbed me and pointed to a lady saying "WHAT is she doing?". Turns out she was just knitting a pair of socks on teeny tiny double points and we had Never. Seen.THAT. Before !

Flash forward 10 years. I just booked my class for Stitches West this year on Steeking! WHAT?! I'm paying someone to teach me how to cut up my knitting. Yes, yes I am and I am nerdily excited about it. The same friend who went with me to my first Stitches will fly out from CO to go with me again this time. This will make 3 years in a row, and hopefully is cementing a regular tradition. One of the big differences these last few years is that we've both been wearing hand knit sweaters, NICE hand knit sweaters with cables and lace and other fiddly techniques we've learned over the years. We've also worn our hand knit socks! Thanks to that lady who put the seed in our brains 10 years ago!

I'm reminded of this feeling of newness a lot lately. When I can knit and talk at the same time without making mistakes, or more importantly that I can FEEL  myself making mistakes even when I'm not looking at my knitting. But lately it was the lace charts that brought me to the realization, the true slap in the face realization , that I'm not a new knitter any more. I have experience and knowledge that makes every new project do-able. Case in point - The Lonely Tree shawl:

10 years ago I would have looked at this pattern and sighed thinking how lovely it was before putting it down and walking away. The charts alone, would have made me RUN. Mind you, these charts were pretty simple and easy to follow, but 'BB the new knitter' would have talked herself out of it in a heartbeat!

She wouldn't have had faith that her fingers could make these stitches, these loops of yarn turn into these amazing leaves. One mistake or need to TINK would have sent her to another project. I know it seems a simple thing, and maybe a silly thing to people who don't knit, but this project empowered me. I now know I can knit anything I want to. It doesn't mean there will never be another stockinette stitch project in my life, it just means, I finally have faith in my abilities to tackle the complex and will be doing it more often! 

Steeking, here I come!

Friday, September 20, 2013

This Moment

A Friday ritual. A single photo- no words- capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you are inspired to do the same leave a link to your "moment" in the comments for all to find and see.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Chaos of crafting

My crafting space is small, just an "L" shape desk, and it's in the middle of the house. Right in the family room, which is connected to the dining room and kitchen. While this location is fantastic for being able to do a few things at once, multitasking anyone?! It also means that the chaos that ensues can sometimes be overwhelming! My desk can be a drop zone for everyones stuff.

Yesterday morning as I enjoyed my cup of coffee while scrolling through Bloglovin, I kept getting annoyed that there was no space to move. The entire desktop was covered with stuff! Look at this, it's crazy, especially since I'm normally a pretty organized person!

Ok, let's see what's on there... my sewing machine is surrounded by stuff! I couldn't use it unless I re-located all this crap. In front of it are two skeins of yarn for a project my cousin asked if I could make. Behind it is a half finished sewing project, a project that needs mending and a half drawn pattern for a new item I hope to be able to make. Behind that the blue magazine holder is my attempt at organizing patterns being used.. ha ha it's working GREAT, don't ya think?

Then there's my son's chore chart that I had to check off, but before I could do that I had to move stuff out of the way to make room, there's a random gift card laying almost on top of my mouse. What's up with that?!

On the cutting mat, which is clearly useless under all that clutter, we have school papers, yarn catalogs, cookbooks and sewing pattern books. To top it all off is the My Lowes application the cashier wouldn't let me leave the store without! UGH. The only thing missing is one of my son's transformers, which I had already moved to HIS desk before snapping the photo!

I spent the morning after school drop off, rearranging the clutter. I pulled out that half finished project and FINISHED IT! Amazing how it only took me about 45 minutes  to get this:

Another pair of Oliver and S cargo pants without the cargo pockets. The first pair I made were awesome, but since my son never used the cargo pockets and he doesn't ever wear a belt, I simplified the second pair and made them without those two details. I LOVED the way they looked, and they get worn a ton. This navy pair is my third pair made with these modifications. On this pair I modified further by lengthening the rise by about an inch and lengthening the pant length by about an inch.

My favorite detail is the contrasting waistband fabric:

Anyhow, long story short, if I would just finish things and then put them where they belong, my desk would be much cleaner. Getting it cleaned off and functioning again yesterday only took me a little over an hour, including sewing time! What was I waiting for?

Does your crafting space draw clutter to it like mine? I'd love to hear!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Blocking time !

I cast off my Lonely Tree Shawl last night. I must have been knitting  tighter than the pattern called for since I made it through all 3 charts and a bunch of extra garter rows on only 3 balls of yarn. I thought for sure I'd use all 4. Oh well, I'm going to block it as aggressively as it will let me and we'll see what kind of size I end up with.

Here's a photo of it pre-blocking. It's a pretty small shape only 34 x16 roughly. I love the way the leaves scrunch up on one another and almost look like scales instead of leaves. I'll have to look around to see if there's actually a stitch pattern that looks like this even after blocking.

After this photo was taken, the shawl went right into the washer that was filled with COLD water and some Soak! I love this stuff. It softens up almost any wool and really helps the fibers relax. I almost always block my knits in the washer now that we have a top loader again. I fill it up on the delicate cycle then stop it. Once 15 minutes have passed I turn it onto the spin cycle and when it's done the knit is very dry without being felted. I usually don't even need to use any towels to dry it off.  It works great. I'd only caution you to make sure you shut off the washer after it fills with water, and then manually turn it to spin cycle. Otherwise if you forget and it goes through the whole wash cycle it might start to felt your knit and that would be sad for everyone!

Just out of the soak it had already grown to 46 x 18! YAY! Now it's time to test out that blocking board I showed you how to make the other day.

It looks like I need to invest in some blocking wires if I'm going to keep knitting lace shawls. I used just about every pin in my arsenal and there's nothing straight about that top edge. Good thing it won't really matter once it's being worn.  Since the fan was already out I decided to set it up to help expedite the drying time. It is amazing the difference a little air movement can make, especially on such an open knit.

I've blocked this to it's max at a whopping 57 x 28. This is a pretty huge increase from it's original size and I think it will be quite wearable this way.

This was a super enjoyable knit for me. I didn't feel stressed or annoyed with it while knitting. I enjoyed knitting the lace from the charts and I think I only see one big mistake in the lace, which doesn't even bother me. YAY! This was the first lace project I've been able to knit while watching TV! I was even able to bring it to a party and to the playground and was able to knit while talking with friends. AWESOME!

Friday, September 13, 2013

I made a blocking board!

So I've always wanted a place to safely block my knits. The bed or the carpet, or a layer of garbage bags on the basement floor have all worked, but not as efficiently as I'd like. The other day I read Jane Richmond's post on luvinthemommyhood and it got my brain working. I did a little online research and was about to run out to buy some foam core when I remembered my husband had this stuff in a corner of the garage:

I proceeded to confiscate it for my needs. and then set out to see what I had in my stash of stuff that I could use to turn it into something great. 

You will need:

One sheet of this Styrofoam or two sheets of foam core (or whatever size you require)
Packing tape
a box cutter or a bread knife
2 yards (approx) of fabric I used a cheapo 1 inch check from Joann's

I started by cutting down the sheets to my desired size, which was 45 inches long by the width of the board. (this ended up being too big to cover with the width of my fabric so I cut it down more later)

Then I taped them together with the packing tape. The tongue and groove aspect of this insulation made it super easy to get them snug. 

this pic was before I cut a little more off

Once I had the shape I wanted, I layed out the fabric (which had been pre-washed) and basically eyeballed it square on the board. Then I used my T-pins to pin it in place so I could flip the board over.

 This worked reasonably well. It kept the fabric from shifting too terribly, but you'll see later, that it's not perfect!  Once it was flipped onto the coffee table,  I wrapped the fabric around to the back as tightly as I could and taped it in place. I used my son's toy spatula to smooth the tape down and make sure it was really stuck.

And that was that. It's not fancy, but it was pretty cheap. I don't know what my husband paid for the foam board but I know it wasn't much. The fabric was around $6 and the packing tape we had laying around.  I won't feel terrible when it wears out and I have to do it again, because I know I can reuse the fabric.

I can't wait to use this thing to pin out my shawl, which I hope will be completed soon! YAY!

So I thank Jane Richmond for the kick she gave me to make this, even though her blocking screens look much more amazing and longer lasting than this thing.

Friday, September 6, 2013

This moment

A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Work In Progress Wednesday

Hello all, it's Wednesday again. I am constantly floored by how quickly the time flies by.

Still plugging away on Paulie! I love it and can't wait for it to be finished. I tried it on when it looked like this.

And decided it was time for a little waist shaping. Now that I've done the decreases I just need to knit a few more rows before beginning the increases. Then it will be garter stitch and casting off to look forward to. I have this feeling that the sleeves will take FOREVER, but I'm determined for this to be my  go to sweater this fall!

As for my Lonely Tree shawl, it's actually moving along at a nice clip. I was worried the charts would slow me down, but I think I may have finally hit my chart reading stride! WOOT! There have been a few mess-ups but I've just plugged right on through them and I'm pleased with how it's looking. I know this photo just looks like a wrinkled mess, but the leaves are quite lovely.

I'm about halfway through chart B and am glad I decided to put a life line (that's that blue yarn in there) in there because you never know when a major screw up could require some ripping!

All in all some good progress I think. Wish me luck on those fingering weight sleeves, I'm going to need it!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Whew, where did last week go???

I had meant to post some progress on my Paulie but the week got away from me. School started for my little guy last week! I still can't believe my tiny baby is a first grader now, the time moves so very quickly. I am so glad we were able to spend so much time together over the summer so I can really savor this time in our lives. Pretty soon he'll be driving, then off to college! Ok so let's not get ahead of ourselves, he has 12 more years!

I've been plugging away on Paulie in my spare time but I have taken on a PTA position and the first week of school brought a lot of work right along with it. I'm happy to help but also secretly hoping things settle down on that front quickly!

I have been knitting away, until it looks about right to do a little waist shaping. The pattern suggested starting the waist shaping when the sweater body was still barely out of my arm pits and so I have decided to wing it and do it 'when it looks right'. Hopefully I won't regret that decision.

Even with how long waisted I am I think it's about time to start those decreases... I'm loving the colors together and also am loving that I can knit this pretty much on auto pilot. Very important when you are dealing with an exhausted child who is dealing with school stress and who has started sleepwalking. UGH... queue parenting motto #1 "This too shall pass!!!".

Since my socks are done I dove into the stash expecting to pull out that gorgeous skein of yarn I showed you a few weeks ago. But my eyes landed on a ziplock I had prepped months ago that had 4 skeins of yarn all ready to go with pattern and needles. So I decided in the interest of ergonomics and of stash busting to choose the worsted weight lace shawl over another pair of socks on tiny needles.

I've had this yarn in my stash for a couple of years now and love the colors.. there is brown and green and blue! All favorites! It's Fibranatura sensational in colorway Garden Topiary. I got it at Tuesday Morning when we still lived in NH which means it's at least 2 years old. 

Anyhow, wish me luck with the lace. So far it's going well and I haven't had to rip back or tink anything. Maybe when chart A is finished I'll thinking about putting a life line in.. or I can live dangerously!