Tuesday, February 22, 2011

early spring sewing

Oh boy - less than 1 week of February to go, everybody! And as our typical weather pattern around here is to get just one last giant wallop of a snowstorm in March, it is safe to say we are truly almost done with winter. And yes, sometimes we still have snow flurries until the end of April, but we also have had high 80s on Daughter's mid-April birthday.

My point is, spring is SO coming. We had a couple of truly lovely days at 50 degrees last week. The packed snow melted away, and the children were able to play outside. I can definitely feel the difference in the sunlight, can you? Just like in late August and September when the sun slants differently in the afternoon, so too does the sun seem higher in the sky and just...I don't know...friendlier, I guess, as February winds down.

So like I said before, while there is still knitting to be done, I am preparing for warm weather.

Here's one of Daughter's new dresses for 2011, nearly complete. Just needs buttons/buttonholes, and a hem. She has requested that it be "down to her ankles" so that is what she shall have. We are thinking this will be worn for Easter, along with the white cotton cardigan I fully intend to knit. Easter is very very late this year, so I'm thinking it will all get done.

And this is just for fun - a 3-tier gathered skirt for Daughter. I am desperate to use up chunks of fabric before she gets any bigger. This is some floral quilter's cotton I got years ago when I worked at a quilt shop, along with some (Michael Miller?) red pindot left over from another project. I don't know what the pattern is...my good friend Karen sent me tracings years ago when we made these for a charity project. But gosh, it is so easy and could be drafted in no time. It's basically 3 rectangles, each roughly double the size of the one before. Cut two of each on the fold, sew them into tubes, and gather them onto each other. Add a hem and a casing for elastic and voila! A super cute, simple skirt. Daughter is actually wearing it right now - with tights and long sleeves of course. (It is, oh, about 9 degrees out today.) I look forward to having her help me pick out some more matching prints from the stash to make up more of these cute, simple wardrobe staples.

Monday, February 21, 2011


Sometimes it's so hard to decide what to spend our hard-earned money on. Yesterday I decided I wasn't going to just sit around the house with the kids during the mid-winter break, so I asked my mom if she wanted to go to the science museum today. They have an awesome kid area that's huge and entirely hands-on.

It cost $24 to get in for me, my mom, and my two kids. Now I'm kicking myself for not just spending $50 and getting the full year membership, which would entitle us to get in anytime. Dur. Stupid.

I have trained myself to be so utterly careful about our finances that I sometimes don't allow for frivolity. Not that an explorations lab at the museum is exactly "frivolous" but it's also not a true necessity in life, so I tend to talk myself out of spending the cash.

Depending on who you are, or what your circumstances are, $50 may sound like a lot of money or a drop in the bucket. My problem is that right now I am sitting at my kitchen table and right next to me is my leaky kitchen window. The wood surrounding it is literally rotting, and when the snow melts or it rains hard, water actually drips into the house. It's in terrible shape after 40+ years and it is next on our list to be replaced (we've already done two exterior doors that were in similar shape). So whether you think fifty bucks is a lot or a little, it is still a chunk of that window repair and could go toward a project that really needs doing.

However, after spending the morning with my happy, busy children in a beautiful, enormous, high-ceilinged, bright and airy room filled with station after station of educational and fun toys, I've forced myself to re-evaluate my priorities. I could save the $50 and sit here in the boring house, trying to get my kids to play and stay away from the boob tube, or I could just spend it and take the short drive to the museum anytime we want, 7 days a week, rain or shine. I can be with other parents, my kids can interact with other children. We can have fun and feel engaged in community, which is sorely lacking for us.

It's a leaky window vs. our sanity - kind of a no-brainer, isn't it? The home repairs will wait. There is fun to be had right now.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

hope springs eternal

Winter in the northeast US is kind of like pregnancy. You know for a fact that it will indeed end. And February is, for me, like being 8 1/2 months pregnant...you've passed the point of truly enjoying it and just want it to END ALREADY. So thanks for the commiseration yesterday. Today the sun is blazing, and while it's still only in the 20s out there, I am cheered by the thought that Spring is really not all that far off.

Anyway, I am preparing for it in my own way. By making stuff, of course. Yes, there is still plenty of time to curl up and knit with hearty wool (and plenty of time to wear those woolens), but it's nice to brighten things up with some advance Summer sewing!

I bought these patterns last year in preparation for this year's clothing needs. Daughter is very tall and leggy, and all the dress patterns I have are really too short for her to play comfortably in without flashing her business, if you know what I mean. As printed they are likely going to be a bit too long, but I had what I thought was a genius idea - after all, what would Caroline do? She would sew rows of horizontal tucks around the lower skirt, right? Then the dress could be let down as needed. Of course, excess fabric could be cut off and the dress hemmed that way, but then that extra length is sacrificed and the dress is useless in the future. If I do the tucks, it will last longer, because Daughter doesn't grow much as far as weight gain, but she does get taller and taller.

I want to be smarter and more efficient with my scrap management as I go forward. I bought 2 yards of this pink calico at Joann's, and cut what little remained into various size squares and strips, ready to be used in a quilt or whatever. I hope to do this with all the calicoes I'm using this Spring and Summer. Otherwise all the crazy scraps from dresses, tops, and shorts get jammed into a big bag or bin - where they just sit, getting more wrinkly and less appealing. A nice, neat box of squares is definitely more tempting.

And it results in a lot less waste! This is what remains from that 2 yard cut of fabric. Mostly selvage edges and tiny strips. (Yes, they could be used in string quilts, but I don't make those.)

I hope to finish this dress up today and make a start on another. Or maybe I'll make tea and curl up with more knitting. We'll see where this sunny day takes me.

Monday, February 14, 2011


No one really tells you, when you become a stay-home mother, that it is pretty much a totally boring job. It's also largely thankless, but we mostly know that, I guess. After nearly 6 years of stay-home-ness, I am bored out of my mind. In the dead of winter in a cold climate, there is little to look forward to each morning...making meals the children will not eat, cleaning up after the children, watching PBS, playing playdoh, painting with watercolors, doing mountains of laundry, listening to the wind rattle the windows, more cleaning up, etc, etc.

I've scheduled many playdates this winter in an effort to combat the cabin fever, but inevitably someone gets sick or something comes up and either I cancel or our friends do. We've all been sick since Christmas, almost non-stop. We were on the upswing for about a week, until Daughter brought home another nasty virus from Kindergarten. AJ just managed to squeak in for his surgery last week, though his nose was stuffy. Another couple of days and he'd have had chest congestion and a fever like his sister. Luckily those symptoms showed up after the surgery day. He is, in fact, sound asleep right now (11:45 a.m.) and has been since 10:30, because he barely slept last night. He was restless and feverish, crying almost constantly. Which means Hubs and I are exhausted as well.

It's just a crappy, crappy time of year. I'm going through the motions but barely getting anything done. It's all too easy to just sit and browse the internet for hours on end. I grab a ball of yarn here and there and work on something, but I'm not feeling inspired. It's all just busywork to pass the time.

Here's the marled sweater I showed a couple weeks back, now finished:

Knitting pure & simple neck-down cardigan, size 2-4. My little boy is getting big! This took nearly a whole skein of lion fishermen's wool. US 9 needles for the body, US 8 needles for the ribbing.

It went really fast and was pretty satisfying, so look what I found in my yarn trunk:

Another orphan skein of fishermen's wool. Another neck down raglan? Sure, why not.

I'm making an attempt to cheer up and look forward to spring:

This yarn has been hanging around since I was pregnant with AJ, waiting to be made into socks for Daughter. I'd better do it now, as her feet are almost too big to squeeze 2 socks out of one skein. I'm hoping to put these in her Easter basket. We try to go really minimal with the Easter candy because no matter how we beg and plead with my in-laws to lay off, they inevitably show up with enormous baskets filled with chocolate and junk. So I go with one very small chocolate figure, some jellybeans and m&ms, and some sort of useful item (like socks) or a book or something.

I'm pleased with myself for actually working through my stash a bit so far this year. I keep most of my yarn in my old college footlocker, and I can now close the lid easily, without sitting on it. That means some yarn is definitely gone. With little else to do and sick/post-surgical children lolling around the house, I might as well keep cranking out the knits, using up all that yarn I've been collecting for so many years.