Wednesday, November 06, 2013

the yellow sweater

A day off of school for one kid and a sick day for the other left me with an entire day trapped to get stuff done at home (yesterday). Once I got the eleventy-billion loads of laundry started, I hunkered down to finish a languishing project.

I haven't knit sweaters for my kids this year because...*sob*...they just won't wear them. And I can't say I blame either one. The classrooms at my daughter's school are kept at an uncomfortably warm temp once they turn the heat on for the year, and my son, well, he just wants to wear sweatshirts and fleeces to pre-K. Wool is definitely not on their list of comfortable clothing materials.

Last spring, however, my son and I were in Joann's looking for something and he fell in love with some bright yellow plastic buttons. I told him if he wanted to pick out some yarn to match, I would make something for him using those buttons. So he found some Red Heart in a very banana, canary, Big Bird yellow and hugged it like it was his most beloved stuffed animal as we finished our shopping. 

It's acrylic, and I thought "oh gross" but hey, he thought it was sooooooo soft and it is washable, so that's a plus. I mean, nearly all our homemade sweaters were acrylic when we were kids because that's what my mom could buy in the stores. 

I started it in the summer. It was not so much fun. The pattern is fine (Knitting Pure & Simple #981 children's neckdown cardigan again) but the acrylic on size 9 needles was tough on my hands. So I worked on it a bit here and there but not with great gusto.

Then I felt guilty because it's getting chilly and he could actually wear I hate starting new fun projects when old ones are languishing. So I made myself do it and blasted out the sleeves and button bands in the last few days. 

The yarn itself is not terrible. I think if I were crocheting an afghan I would enjoy working with it again. It was just a little stiff and plastic-y trying to knit it into a sweater. But pretty good for the price, that's for sure. We'll see how it washes and wears. 

And gosh, if he isn't the cutest little birdy on the block. 

Thursday, October 31, 2013


Happy Halloween! I don't get real jazzed up about Halloween, but now I'm rethinking that policy. I got to be there for both of my kids' holiday experiences at school (this is still such a cool novelty to me!) and it was pretty awesome to see everyone so into it. I did break out my black & orange stripey knee socks but now I'm thinking I could at least stop by Target or Old Navy and grab a Halloween shirt (on sale).

My son is obsessed with Minecraft (if you don't know, ask your kids) and has talked all month about being "a Minecraft guy" for Halloween, so my husband tracked down the $20 cardboard box head and he's a happy kid.

Yeah. It's so weird. I don't know.

Daughter, on the other hand, is living out my childhood fantasy for me. Behold:

Don't mind the sneakers. One can only do so much in the name of authenticity, and black button shoes were not in the budget. McCall's 9424 is the pattern, and despite how it may look, it is SUPER easy. I let her choose any small print from the "Quilter's Showcase" line at Joann's (on sale for $2.49/yard) because it was the least expensive option. (I've decided so many farmers were broke in the old days because they had to buy so much flippin' fabric for their womenfolk.) The apron is plain muslin.

She loves it, and besides Halloween she can wear it for "Pioneer Days" next year in 4th (!!!) grade.

The weather is insane today...pouring rain when we woke up, then dry-ish, now starting to be windy, and about 65 degrees. Most years we are chased inside after trick-or-treating at about a dozen houses because our hands are freezing. This year we might last a bit longer! Hopefully the rain will continue to hold off so we can have a fun night out there with our friends.

Ok, gotta go switch the laundry and throw some dinner together so we can get to the important part...CANDY!

Happy Halloweeeeeeeeeeeeen!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

pulling it together (sort of)

Life has changed so, so much around here. I thought I was busy when my kids were little, and believe me, caring for my son when he had his medical issues after birth and having therapists here every day for the better part of 5 years was certainly a lot of work, but it is really different these days.

I spend too much time in the car, shuttling children (mostly my son) to and fro. 

Look, car I understand moms who talk about working a few rows while waiting in the carpool line. I always leave a little early to pick up my son (just in case of traffic, weather, etc) and now I'm that mom, knitting away and listening to the radio at pre-k pickup time.

But it works! I finished something! I had one extra skein of Fishermen's Wool and it was just exactly enough to make a vest. I love an extra layer to keep my core warm in the winter.

Besides all the driving around I've finally been able to go on field trips with both of my kids. That might not seem like a big deal, but when my little boy was born and required so much of my time and energy for the following 5 years, I never knew if I would get to do that kind of "normal mom stuff." Finally, with him in school every morning, I can do it. And it is awesome!

I think it's a general rule that all pre-k classes must go on one fire house field trip. It was so much fun watching my son and his classmates swarm all over the trucks. So glad I could be there to see it.

What else? Some normal fall stuff:

Apple picking with the fam.

Some baking now that the weather is cooling down.

My biggest challenge now that I'm chauffeur mom is organizing my time. And so far I stink at it! I'm barely getting through all I want to do because I guess I'm just not organized enough. It's getting better, but this morning my original plan was to cut out Daughter's halloween costume:

But it's a beautiful, chilly, sunny fall day and I felt moved to go to the farmer's market. Which I did, after pre-k drop off. And then I spent 45 minutes chopping veg to make crock pot minestrone.

And now I'm here talking to you.


Off to pre-k pickup now. My knitting is coming along with me, of course. And at least dinner is underway. So there's that. :)

Friday, September 06, 2013

a whole new world

I don't really like it when people just put all their pictures in a huge stack like this, with no explanations, but it takes forever to sort them all out with the new(ish) blogger interface and get all the justifications and alignments right so today it's what I'm doing.

We are off to a great start for the new school year...and this year it really is a whole new experience. In fact it is what I've been waiting for since September 2, 2008, when I first learned that my son wasn't going to have a 'typical' childhood. Daughter started third grade (omg) and my baby boy turned 5 and started pre-K. We chose to keep him out of elementary school for one more year and put him in a "kindergarten readiness" preschool program, designed for 5 year olds. There are only 5 other kids in the class and surprisingly 4 of them are girls (4 girls and 1 "kind of naughty boy" according to my son).

As my son has quite literally never been away from me other than to have surgical procedures or to stay overnight at Grandma and Grandpa's house (my parents), this was a huge deal for both of us. He still struggles with a severe speech impairment and pooling of saliva that leads to drooling so I was terrified he would be teased or somehow ostracized because of that. He does take medication to curb production of excess saliva but it is not perfect. Thankfully the teacher is awesome and is totally rolling with it, and we're just dressing him in dark shirts so it doesn't show as much when it happens.

And long story short, he LOVES school. He is so happy when he is there, and comes out dancing and hopping around, asking to go back the next day. He has also started a new speech therapy program at our elementary school, which he will be doing 5 days/week. I'm definitely a taxi driver this year, and hopefully will be getting lots of knitting and reading done with all the waiting time!

Some summer knitting has been completed - socks for Daughter in Patons Kroy, a soaker for the etsy shop in some leftover Wool of the Andes (winter night colorway, size 0-6 months), a chunky little 3-month size cardigan to donate once I put some buttons on it (earns money for a local hospital), and Ene's Scarf, using yarn purchased when my husband and I spent our anniversary weekend in Toronto.

Well, it was definitely a crazy week and things feel a bit hectic for me. I need to get organized and get into a groove so I can feel more productive. I have so many projects I want to do! Fall weather is coming, it's prime-time for knitting, plus there are more quilt patterns I want to try and I keep stumbling across adorable cross-stitch patterns I want to make.....definitely need to research crock-pot recipes first.

I hope everyone is settling into autumn routines and enjoying somewhat cooler temperatures. I'm loving cruising around blogland and watching the seasons change through everyone's crafts. Fall is the best!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

too hot

It's official...I prefer cool or even cold weather to this soggy, stinky, swampy hotness. The air is thick and heavy, and the only thing to do is hide in my bedroom in front of the air conditioner (I shudder to think of the upcoming electric bill) or float around in the pool doing nothing. At least when it is cold you can pull on some knee socks and another sweater and get stuff done. I'm a task-oriented person and have a lot of trouble just sitting around. I like to do stuff! Perhaps this weather is God's way of slowing me down, forcing me to surrender to just bobbing around in the water, watching my kids play.

The only knitting going on has been a few Etsy orders, which have kept me pretty busy. I've even managed to sneak in a few ready-made items along with custom orders.

I'm kind of excited that Patons has finally come out with some new, nice colors (hello, what took so long for basic navy and green?) so I think I will take a few skeins along on our upcoming midwest vacation to make up some samples.

Let's see, what else? Oh yes, my husband and I celebrated ten years of marriage (!!!) last week and took off to Toronto for a weekend alone. We had no big plans other than tickets for The Wizard of Oz (which was outstanding). We wandered the city and took in the sights, ate and drank and napped whenever we felt like it, and...we visited Romni Wools. There is just no way to describe the place, which is tucked into a rather nondescript block just at the edge of the Toronto Fashion District (itself enough to knock me flat) on Queen Street West.

I've never seen so much yarn. It is a huge shop, stacked floor-to-ceiling with every yarn in creation. And then there is a basement, a labyrinth of 5 additional rooms, all sale priced. Lucky me, in July the entire store is 20% off, including the sale stuff. I could have stayed in there for a week but didn't want to torture my patient husband, so I had him pick out some sock yarn (the gray Jawoll above) and I got two skeins of Estelle Yarns Baby Silk Lace (70% baby alpaca, 30% mulberry silk) in a beautiful raspberry colorway. The prices were crazy good. I am already making a plan to return - luckily Toronto is easily a day trip from where I live!

After dithering for months over what yarn to use for Ene's Scarf, which I've been dying to make, I finally jumped in with the new stuff. It's luscious and feels amazing in my hands... as long as I'm sitting about three feet from the air conditioner.

Stay cool, everybody!

Friday, June 14, 2013

7 day quilt

Lately I've found a lot of stress relief at my sewing machine.

This quilt was cut, pieced, quilted, bound, washed, dried and photographed in 7 days. Which might tell you how much stress I've been under for the past week! It's ok, everything worked out fine, but it was a tad tense for me so I took it out on my stash. :)

This has been my view for many days. The quilt is just 5 inch squares of anything and everything in my cotton stash. I used up a number of scraps, and ended up with an 81" square. The entire thing is quilted 1/4" on each side of every seam, and I did it all on my trusty Bernina 1008. I do love that machine. And I have super Popeye muscles now from holding it up while I quilted. Cripes, it was heavy! 

For the backing I managed to cobble together enough of a lovely Nancy Halvorsen purple (very old, a fall line from around 2002?), and I bound it with a green Moda marble that's been sitting in stash for 10 years as well. Actually I've been doing such a good job of using up stash, it was one of the only pieces large enough to cut 300+ inches of binding strips from.

The batting is inexpensive Hobbs Heirloom cotton, which I don't love but it will do. I do prefer Quilters Dream or Warm & Natural/Warm & White, but this was affordable and drapes nicely so I can snuggle up under the quilt.

Overall I am pleased with this. It's a nutty hodgepodge of colors, prints, scale, etc., but I think in the end it works. When I think "quilt" I think of enterprising frontier women using up scraps of calico dresses, aprons, shirts, and whatever else they could get their hands on. I think this is somewhat true to that ideal, as there are many pieces of calico here that began as little dresses for my daughter from the time she was about 2 years old. It's fun to look over it and remember the things I've made.

So much satisfaction in finishing something this large. Yep, my stress is relieved and I am happy with the result. Have a great weekend, everybody!

Tuesday, June 04, 2013


Got some fat quarters or scraps you don't know what to do with? Quick, gather them up and make a buttercup bag! The pattern is free, and it is excellent and easy to follow. This little bag only took maybe a couple of hours start to finish. The only mildly fiddly part is sewing that top band to the pleated bottom section because it's a curve. But the pieces fit together properly so it isn't even hard.

This purse is fully lined and has a wee pocket that's large enough for a cell phone or small personal items.

You are supposed to not be lazy like I am, and go buy a magnetic snap for the closure, but I didn't know if I would like the pattern and I would rather poke myself in the eye than go to Joann Fabrics most of the I didn't go get one. Now I am kicking myself because this bag is freaking adorable! I will be making the trip to buy a bunch of snaps so I can make lots of buttercup bags.

This will be so great for a summer date night, or a quick trip to the store when I just need a wallet and phone (you know, instead of the satchel I usually haul around with crayons, snacks, water bottles, coupons, knitting, etc, etc).

I'm going to brew up something hot and caffeinated, and pick out some fat quarters to make another buttercup. Thanks for the great pattern, Rae!

Monday, June 03, 2013


I can't stop making pillowcases!

I'm pawing through my (dwindling) fabric stash looking for 1-yard pieces of cotton because I just can't get enough of 'em.

In an effort to clean out and pare down I've been hauling bag after bag out the door to Goodwill or the Salvation Army (I've taken out at least 6 enormous trash bags so far). Last weekend I attacked the linen closet and dumped the eighty-bazillion polyester blend pillowcases that came from my Nana's linen closet when she passed away 16 years ago. Before that I'm sure they sat in that closet for YEARS because my Nana was raised during the Depression and she basically hoarded everything. Anyway they weren't even very nice ones...I did keep the amazingly wonderful percale cases with the tatted and crocheted our collection has really shrunk. A lot of our cases that came with white sheet sets have discolored or just started to fall apart from years of use and being washed in hot water with bleach, so voila! I put my stash to good use replacing things we actually need, which is my favorite kind of sewing to do. Plus these are just way more fun than plain white!

The two in back are currently on my kids' beds. They were 1-yard cuts of gorgeous Moda fabric gifted to me by a lovely blogging friend many years ago. I couldn't bear to slice them up for quilts so they've been marinating in the stash waiting for the right project. The vintage kids playing is on my son's bed, and red riding hood is on my daughter's bed.

On the bottom left is some Laurel Burch cat fabric, on the bottom right just a rose and green stripe (it is a Ro Gregg fabric from about 6 years ago or so). Those first four cases are just a simple 1-yard cut of fabric with a deep 4-inch hem. I can put up some photos of my process if anyone is interested, but it is seriously basic, just fold one edge over 4.5 inches, then fold the raw edge under .5 inch and hem. That's the cuff. Then simply make french seams to close the case. Ridiculously easy!

The blue floral cases were only slightly more complicated to make, using the excellent tutorial by The Crafty Gemini. Her youtube channel is packed with great tutorials. These cases are great if you don't have a full yard of one fabric. You only need 24" of the main fabric, 12" of the cuff fabric, and 2" of the contrast band (which is optional).

The weather is perfect for sewing this week (nice and cool!) so I'm off to make more stuff!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


 The holiday weekend was so, so nice. The weather was lovely, in the 60s with sunshine and blue skies. We didn't do a whole lot, but on Monday we took the kids to Griffis Sculpture Park, a very cool place about an hour south.

We only saw a fraction of the 400+ sculptures because it was muddy and frankly, because Hubs is not that much of an outdoor-family-fun kind of guy. I was lucky to get him to come at all.

I've visited several times over the past 20 years and really wanted the kids to experience it too. I will definitely take them back, probably in the fall when the leaves are changing, to see more.

Then the weather changed over to cool and rainy, rainy, rainy. We had gray skies and thunderstorms for two days and it was awesome. I really dread the upcoming hot, humid summer. Mama is just not cut out for it. I enjoy the more temperate days. Plus, duh, on those days I can get more sewing and crafting done!

 My son requested a "4th of July shirt" (I don't know why) so we found some patriotic-looking shirting on sale at Joann's. Whoa, I thought the shirt looked blurry because of the plaid but now I think it's just a crummy photo. Whoops.

I realized once I'd started placing the pattern pieces that plaid is trickier than I remembered. I tried really hard to line things up so it wouldn't look crazy.

I'm kind of proud of how the pockets came out. I fudged the placement so the darker vertical lines of the plaid would match up. 

And I'm pleased with the collar, even though I technically put it on backwards...the interfacing ended up fused to the wrong piece but it lays fine so no one needs to know, right? I love making these little shirts, they are immensely satisfying despite not being all that difficult. Even my husband is impressed, and after showing him all my projects for the past 10 years it takes a lot to make him really sit up and take note. He even said he would wear one if I made it for him! I'll probably do one or two more for my son to get better at making this pattern, and then move on to a pattern with a collar stand. Learning new skills and stretching beyond my abilities is so essential to my everyday life, because otherwise I just feel like a maid/cook/laundress and that's no fun at all.

Speaking of learning, I'm sure I'm the last person to figure this out, but youtube is PACKED with awesome videos and tutorials about garment construction and sewing in general. (Those Crafty Gemini "sausage" pillowcases are in my sights!) It's incredible how many people, including professionals, are willing to give of their time and skills to help others learn. I can't get enough!

I've also been stitching away at my giant sampler, finishing up the alphabets in the center as well as the frame surrounding them, and moving on to an urn and leaves. Very relaxing.

And of course there is knitting. I haven't settled on a big project to make right now so I'm just doing socks. Good enough for now, and quite portable for the playground runs that are becoming more frequent as the weather changes.

So that's what's going on in my neck of the woods. What are you working on?

Monday, May 20, 2013

circle of diamonds

When my husband and I first met I made no pretense about my hobbies. Within a few weeks I was happily knitting and/or crocheting while we watched movies together on the couch. He was very supportive, but I do recall him saying it was a really neat hobby, but I wasn't going to start knitting shawls and doilies and old lady stuff, was I?


Oops. Looks like I knit a doily.

Oh well, so what, it was fun! I am always looking for a new and interesting challenge to keep growing my needlework skills. This was a combination of knitting in the round, lace, and using cotton thread.

I'm not planning to knit up a hundred of these and drape them all over the house or anything, but I might make a few more. They are a small, satisfying project and they do look nice here and there.

This one is at home on the piano, snuggling with my fiesta ware vase* and candlesticks.

Well, it's 80 degrees and a bit humid (barf), I have one kid with sniffles and one home sick from school, and nowhere to be this afternoon so I think I'll get everyone settled down for a rest and spend some time with my alphabet cross stitch. With a glass of ice water. In front of a fan.

*Oh my word! I have thought this was a vase since I received it as a wedding shower gift ten years ago, but looking it up I discovered it is actually a utensil crock! No wonder the opening is so wide...I just thought, since it was given to me with the candlesticks, that it was decorative and meant for flowers!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

lots of spring sewing

I know, I know, first I'm all, "I'm back to blogging!" and then I vanish for weeks. My excuse is that allergy season has hit HARD this year and I've been really miserable. No one wants to listen to me whine, so I've just stayed quiet. 

The upside to hiding in the house with all the windows closed is that I've had lots of time to sew. In fact, I've done more sewing over the past several weeks than I've done in the past several years. I don't have photos of everything because much of it has gone into immediate use. 

We found that this year it is impossible to fit Daughter into any store-bought shorts. And believe me, we tried. I dragged that poor child to every store in the mall to try on every brand and style. If they fit in the waist they gave her wedgies. If they were long enough they were too loose. There was no winning. Even the adjustable waist kind were hopeless. Absolutely nothing fits. So I started out by making a total of 9 pairs of shorts between my two kids. Some for wearing out, some for sleeping. Because in addition to no shorts for Daughter, when the weather turned warm I also discovered my son had no warm-weather pajamas. 

These kids and their nonstop growing. Sheesh!

So let's see, there were shorts and pajamas, two dresses for Daughter, three sleeveless tunics for me (one lawn, one linen, and one "mystery fabric" that's some sort of lightweight cotton), some pique capris for me that were so ridiculous they went straight to the donation bag, and the above "church shirt" for my son. (That's what we call shirts with collars around here, to keep him from showing up at the breakfast table on church mornings in a t-shirt.)

Hopefully I'll be feeling better soon - usually the end of May brings the end of the severe allergy season - and I can get outside with the kids and better photograph some of the stuff I've been making. 

Oh, and lastly, here's a stern warning for the sewists out there:

I can't believe I'm even showing this, I'm so ashamed of myself, but I thought it might help someone else. I was stitching the collar on my son's shirt, and using lots of pins because it's fiddly. Somehow I broke the cardinal rule of NEVER EVER sewing over a pin (it was buried in multiple layers of fabric). The needle hit the pin and bent so badly it's now curved. I am hoping and praying the needle bore the brunt of that stupid error and my machine is ok inside. It seems to be fine so far. But let this be a lesson, friends. Never, never, never sew over pins! I don't care what your mom or your grandma or the old lady down the street who taught you to sew is NOT a good idea, ever. You can do potentially hundreds of dollars of damage with one little pin.

I'm off my soapbox now. Hope you're all having a good weekend and may the pollen counts where you live be low!

Monday, April 29, 2013

x stitch

Oh, I'm also going through a bit of a cross-stitch obsession.

This is my latest (not my own design):

I'm on the second-to-last alphabet for this center section and then it will be on to the elaborate floral borders. So. Much. Fun. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013


Finished the Birds in the Air quilt top today!

It's 56" x 64" right now but needs borders. I have no idea what to use, but it definitely needs something plain and/or neutral to give the eye a place to rest. Gosh, this is a busy quilt top...I'm not sure if it's awesome or awesomely bad. 

Here's a closer look:

Pretty wild! I used everything but the kitchen sink in this. I have to live with it for a bit to decide on borders, then I'll get it quilted and take some better photos of the finished product. For now I'm packing up the sewing and getting started on some spring cleaning. Daughter's 8th birthday party is this weekend and the house is a wreck. Maybe because I've spent all my time sewing lately? Yep.