Hello, friends! Things have been so busy around here. We just returned from an idyllic spring break in southern California where we soaked up some sunshine and took the kids to Disneyland for the first time. I realized just before we left that it was our first real family vacation; one that did not include family or friends (as wonderful as those both are). It was different to be just the four of us. And good. It was very good for our little family to have this time together.
Will summed it up nicely when he said: “Disneyland. Where parents make friends with their kids.” Awww.
In other news, I have started working part-time at Bolt Fabric Boutique, the best little fabric store in Portland! Stop in to say hello if you are local. I will also be contributing to the Bolt Neighborhood blog if you care to check out what’s going on over there.
The new Figgy’s patterns are brilliant. Completely brilliant. I ordered every one of them as soon I found out they were available. This pattern, the Sunki dress, is one I fell in love with right away. It did not disappoint. The design is ideal for my girl: it’s feminine without being too girly and sophisticated while still being youthful. Perfect. I have enjoyed seeingothers’ versions around blog-land—everyone seems to agree that it’s a winner. This review is excellent as is this one (I agree the pockets could be deeper). I may try that modification next time—and there will be a next time. Be sure to check out the tutorials on the Figgy’s blog for some of the trickier aspects of this (and other) patterns—they are very helpful.
The leggings are also sweet. Lauren wears hers a lot, although not with the dress. She prefers wearing jeans with it. Cute!
Oh, improvisational piecing, where have you been all my life?
Last summer I had the good fortune to attended a workshop at PNCA with Denyse Schmidt. It was fantastic! Denyse is a very inspiring person and thoughtful artist and I highly recommend this workshop. My kind table mate and others in attendance have written about the experience eloquently here, and here. (I concede I am a little late posting about this now but better late than never, right?)
Working intuitively this way is definitely my cup of tea. For me, it’s very much like painting, only with fabric. Playing with color, scale, pattern and composition and letting the piece grow while making decisions about the design along the way rather than starting with a plan, is a very satisfying way to work. Since that wonderful weekend, my blocks have been sitting around my sewing room, waiting patiently to become something. Last month, I was finally able to make that happen in the form of some quilted pillow covers for our living room. I think they turned out pretty great!
When I bought this most wonderful yarn last spring, I wasn’t sure what to do with it. Initially I thought a shawl of some kind. Then I went a different direction and for a little while it was going to be a Peasy. When that didn't work out, I got back on Ravelry and found the Honey Cowl.
It was love at first sight.
I worked on this project for a little over three months, not including a break to work on holiday gifts. Although an easy pattern, it was slooow—especially with a sport weight yarn. Sometimes I thought it would never be finished (although I really enjoyed having a mindless project to carry with me—everywhere—for a long time). And what a spectacular result! How could it not be, with a brilliant pattern and luxurious yarn?
Wearing something this soft, cozy and beautiful makes me almost love winter.
I finished my beloved Tea Leaves cardigan last June, enjoyed wearing it for about two weeks, and then lost it! I was so sad. Fellow knitters, I know you will understand. It was the first clothing item I had ever knit for myself and I loved it so much—even with it’s uneven front button bands. I went to (and left notes at) all the places I could remember going but had no luck. It really gnawed at me because I am not the type to lose clothing. After I truly gave up hope of ever finding it, I special ordered more of the same yarn so I could make it again.
And then, in late October, something wonderful happened: That’s right—I found it! If you can believe this, it had been smooshed under the living room sofa that whole time. It was dusty and wrinkled, but otherwise in perfect condition and I was elated, to say the least. After a good hand washing and blocking, I commenced wearing it nearly non-stop. These days, you will rarely see me in anything else.
I highly recommend Woobu. It is soft and warm and has a nice sheen and subtle drape. Because of its lighter gauge, I sized up, but wouldn’t do that again because it ended up a little big. I would also be more careful about counting the stiches picked up for the button bands—mine are a little ripply and longer on one side. But none of this stops me from wearing it with pride!
Will’s and Lauren’s main Christmas gifts this year were bean bag chairs, which I made. They were really fun to make and have been a huge hit around here.
They have also become, for me, an excellent reminder of my theme for change in 2012, which is generally to simplify, reduce waste and clutter, and to make or use what I already have for the things we need.
For these bean bags, I used Dana Willard’s awesome Rolie Polie pattern. The interior bags were made with some IKEA curtain panels I bought on clearance a long time ago (which I have used a lot for bags and pillow cover backs but still have lots left over). For the bag covers I used some very old faded cotton velvet drapes which which I overdyed turquoise blue and emerald green. The only things I spent money on were the zippers and the beans to fill the bags, which I found on sale locally. It felt so great to give them gifts that were thrifty and fun.
No packaging! No batteries! No assembly! Great for fighting!
I’ve had these old, sort of foamy/plastic-y placemets kicking around the kitchen for years. They became too gross to use for eating a very long time ago and now are meant for art projects. Just before school started, we squeezed in our traditional summer-breaktie-dye session and used the backs of these as a surface for each kid to work on their shirt. While I was cleaning up, I noticed how truly gorgeous they have become. I wonder how it would look to print these photos on art paper and frame them as a grouping like small paitings.
Before the canning of tomatoes, we made freezer jam. I was really shocked to see strawberries at the farm in August! My friend and I bought the last three flats and made jam with most of them while the remaining berries were frozen whole. Earlier this (short) Summer I was convinced I had missed strawberry season and was feeling disappointed at the prospect of having no delicious summery jam in the freezer for the coming winter. But alas, my fears were put to rest after this fun afternoon of hulling, smashing, mixing—and tasting, of course! When I think of my many jars tucked snugly into our chest freezer, I can’t help but smile a little.
(We also made peach jam, which is equally delicious and fragrant, although I didn’t get any photos of that.)
P.S. The toast in the top photo is “Soft Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread” from this book and it’s excellent! So yummy and easy, my kids had store-bought bread in their lunches last year a total of three times. They love this bread and so do I.