Wednesday, October 08, 2014


This is my shaped triangle shawl that I hundred and ten years ago. NOT REALLY, it was actually November 2011. Which seems like an eternity ago when I think about who and where I was then as compared to now. Crikey, my son had only just turned 3.

Anyway, I have knitted the first 29 repeats of the border, which, for my attention span and interest, is about 28 repeats too many. Now I'm at the center point, which is more of the same but with short rows for lovely shaping. And then! Only 29 more repeats down the other side. omg.

I'm gonna do it. Determined not to let another 3 years go by before finishing this bad boy.

Friday, October 03, 2014

museum day live

Last Saturday was Smithsonian Museum Day Live - if you don't know about it, click the link and see if there is a participating museum near you! My daughter and I went last year and this year to my very favorite place: Genesee Country Village and Museum. It's a living history museum with very little gimmicky stuff...just the buildings and interpreters and so much beauty and learning to take in. 

There was spinning and dyeing going on, using cauldrons over an outdoor fire (I bought some indigo dyed laceweight for a shawl), weaving demonstrations, fresh wheaty hearty pretzels being sold by a sweet lady in period dress (they were hung on a branch!), spinning wheels galore, spice and herb grinding to make sachets, the history of chocolate (complete with a hot chocolate sample, oh so rich and delicious), plowing demonstrations and q & a about oxen, a "pioneer woman" who puts all the little kids to work when they visit her homestead (Daughter was sent to gather firewood), and oh boy, the general store...I could spend all day in there. 

The day was so peaceful and relaxing. I can't wait for the next Museum Day Live! Daughter and I will be there.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

prayer shawls

I made a bunch of shawls for the new prayer shawl ministry at my church. 

Everyone at the last meeting had brought shawls and lap robes in shades of blue and green (and my lone tan basketweave shawl). So next up will be one or two in more "feminine" colors.

Thanks to my lovely daughter for modeling!

Friday, September 19, 2014

pjs for my girl

I thought I would make two nightgowns but ended up with one nightgown and one set of pajamas.

Whatever, I do what I want!*

*Eric Cartman

Thursday, September 18, 2014

where did summer go?

Gahhh, I'm not ready! I love autumn but this summer was so darn nice, never going much above 80 degrees where I live, breezy, pleasant...I want to stay in it a little longer. Most years I am chomping at the bit for cold, rainy days, pumpkin flavors and cinnamon scents by now because I'm wrung out after weeks of sticky hot days. Not this year!

Alas, time marches on. School has started (FOR BOTH KIDS OMG MY LITTLE BOY IS IN KINDERGARTEN!) leaving me alone for 7 hours every day. Oh man. I haven't had this life...well...ever, really. Before kids I worked full time so it's never been a case of having every single day to myself. I'm mostly enjoying it, but along with that comes guilt of course. Like I should have run right out and found work immediately after putting my children on the bus on the first day of school.

But I am working. I mean, I feel like I am! The bathrooms don't clean themselves, and the groceries don't just show up. Food needs to be prepped and cooked. And the laundry...oh my word, the laundry. And ironing. And managing the papers that avalanche through the door once school is in session.

I have other stuff in mind to do this year. I may work again one of these years, possibly something within the school district (or some other district with a similar calendar to ours), so I can be home when my children are. Otherwise I have to pay for child care and then I enter the vicious cycle of needing a job that pays well enough to justify the high cost of care but that still leaves me with enough money to make it worthwhile. As you who work outside the home know, the costs pile up...dry cleaning because there is less time to carefully launder and iron work garments, the cost of buying said work garments, takeout/processed foods because time is short, gas to go to-and-from work and childcare, etc, etc. And the sheer exhaustion of trying to work, care for a family, get kids to extracurricular activities, get days off to care for them when sick, and so on.

I am super, super fortunate that my husband has a good job and that we've been willing and able to make things work for so many years on one income. For now, since we don't desperately need additional money to pay the bills (though extra would be so for clothes somewhere other than clearance racks at Target...dinners out...ahhh), and since any work I would do would be a job strictly to earn income rather than a career to further myself in life, I will continue my housewife/stay-home-mom duties.

This year I have signed up to volunteer in the cafeteria at my kids' school a few days each month. I will also be heading in to help my 4th grader make salt maps with her class, to assist with a Kindergarten event, and to work with my son's class in the computer lab, all in the next two weeks. I have been waiting for 9.5 years to do this stuff! I want to be involved with them even more now, in a different way. I made it through all those rough early years and now I want to do this new stuff! Is that not also work? Is that not also worthy of my time? Is a little extra money more important than these things? I really struggle with this and I know it is SO controversial, but I don't believe my children stopped needing me because they stepped onto the school bus two weeks ago.

I don't feel I am wasting those 7 hours I have each day. I believe the laundry, ironing, dishes, baking, cooking, cleaning, shopping, sewing (most recently: 2 pink nightgowns for my coltish girl who fits into zero commercially-produced clothes), knitting (for family, etsy, and charity [prayer shawl in process above]), and general maintenance of our home ARE WORK. They always were, for heaven's sake, it's only in the last 40 years or so that they were pushed to the back burner in pursuit of money. Sure, I will probably do something to make money in the future, but right now it's not the priority. I feel a weird mixture of guilt and pride in saying that. But it's true.

Anyway, that's that. I'm off to make a cup of tea and work on some sewing for my kids. Cold nights are coming and they need pajamas.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

yarn along

Yarning along. Second pair of my "summer of socks" - these are just 60-stitch socks in Knitpicks Stroll handpainted, Cartoons colorway.

Super busy day, got a bunch of kids over here playing. No time to blog!

Friday, July 04, 2014

Happy 4th!


Happy 4th of July!

First socks of summer are done.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

yarn along...better late than never!

Eep! Almost missed yarn along day, but I'm sneaking in under the wire.

I've nearly finished my stripey socks, just 1/2 of the second foot to go. And while it doesn't really qualify as reading, I'm totally geeking out over my new planner, turning each page and getting to know what's in it. I lust after an Erin Condren planner, as many do, but simply cannot justify $50 for what is, at its core, a datebook. This one, purchased on Amazon and using some credit I had, came in at a highly reasonable $7.50 out of pocket.

Now I just have to make some plans to fill it up!

First plan: finish these socks.

Friday, June 27, 2014

summer at last

First day of summer vacation! Yes, our kids were in school until yesterday. Our schools start after Labor Day and end late in June. I now have a rising 4th grader and a soon-to-be kindergartener. Crazy! It is so true what they say: the days are long but the years are short. My babies are no longer babies.

Since we finally have a day with zero obligations and no place to be, I got around to hand washing the woolens, which saw heavy use this winter. I'm sure my neighbors are enjoying the lovely sight of a rack o' wool drying on my driveway, but it is the only available shady and breezy spot this morning.

I even got most of the kids' clothing sorted into keep/share/donate bags. Yeah productivity!

Also: pancakes for breakfast. It's vacation!

On to lunch and the pool since it is in the 80s today. Time to relax.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

peaceful knitting at the playground

Loving that my kids are big now and can just take off at the playground, leaving me under a shady tree in peace. :)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

yarn along

I finished the purple tank from my previous post, tried it on...and it was a sack. I was so bummed out because it was not an insignificant amount of knitting.

So I think for summer knitting I'm going to go for guaranteed success. This morning I assembled a Sock Basket filled with pretty, bright yarns for summertime fun knitting. The two balls are hand-wound from hanks of Knitpicks Stroll, the red is Serenity sock yarn from Joann Fabrics, in the middle there is Kroy self-striping, and the three brights at the bottom are single skeins of Knitpicks Stroll that I grabbed on sale to use for toes/heels/accents in plainer socks. I might use them now, or save them for more wintery colors like browns and greys to create stripes or contrast heels. Either way, they are so inspiring and cheery for me right now. There are two sets of DPNs stuck in there, ready to rock and roll.

This week I'm also re-reading An Everlasting Meal. This is just a gorgeously written book and I remember loving its calm, peaceful pace and message the first time through.

Join up with Ginny and share what you're knitting and reading. What are you planning for summer?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

yarn along

Oh seriously, with the time flying...slow down already, life! I was laughing to myself this morning thinking about how I used to blog every single day, sometimes wanting to write twice a day, because the days felt so long and lonely and boring. Then my kids started growing up and now the days all blend together in a giant whirlwind of passing time.

In other words, it's Wednesday again, and time for Yarn Along.

I started this tank last summer, late in the season, and ended up stashing it away after knitting about 6" of the front. After finishing up the prayer shawl I'd been knitting, I resurrected this tank so I can get some wear out of it this year. I hope it fits and looks, I don't know, appropriate? I'm no spring chicken but I don't have bingo wings and I think with a decent bra this top will be ok. The yarn is Bernat Cotton-ish in the "spinning jenny" colorway.

As for reading, I'm going through plant-based cookbooks right now. One of my faves so far is The China Study Cookbook. The two main dish recipes I've tried have been fairly quick and easy, and my whole family ate them. I also tried a muffin recipe but with no eggs or oil they were dry and blah. 

Join up with Ginny and share what you're knitting and reading!

Thursday, June 05, 2014

bad pictures of a great dress

I made a new dress! I made this pattern once, last summer, and intended to make more but just never got to it. I picked up some quilter's showcase calico at JoAnn for $2.49/yard and used this brown tone-on-tone for Butterick 4443.

I know some people would be aghast at making a dress out of cheap calico like this but frankly, I am kind of sweaty all summer, exacerbated by the fact that my house does not have air conditioning, plus we spend time at the pool many days of the week so my dresses end up smushed into a bag and abused in other ways. I get inexpensive cottons, inexpensive zippers (from Wawak), and this way I can have lots of dresses at a low cost and when they wear out after a few summers I don't feel like I'm losing.

I wish these photos were better because this is a fantastic dress pattern and I'm really pleased with the results. Those puckers in the picture don't look like that in real is just the way the fabric is hanging. The dress is fully lined with lawn (ordered from a few years ago); the pattern calls for lining the bodice but I did the skirt as well. It not only prevents seeing through the skirt, but also gives the dress more body and nicer drape. It looks so much better on a body than on a hanger...I will try to have someone take my picture when I wear it.

Other than a few pairs of shorts for my daughter I hadn't been sewing a lot lately. But I re-watched one of my favorite television series EVER, Wartime Farm, and got the bug to make a frugal frock like they do in one of the episodes. Watching the ladies sit and sew together, making do and mending, lit my fire and got me to the cutting table.

Watching that series again also got me thinking about lifestyle in general. I was so happy, just totally experiencing flow while stitching away, and feeling so excited about this dress and looking forward to wearing it. And I started reflecting on how dressing this way is the most comfortable for me, and makes me feel both comfortable and feminine, but not in a girly-girl way, just in a sort of self-sufficient way. Knowing I can clothe myself (and my family) feels pretty awesome. 

During the school year, when I was driving my son to pre-K every day and interacting with other mothers in my age group, I semi-consciously started dressing more like them. The mom I became closest to dresses very "sporty spice" in workout-type clothes nearly every day. I rarely see her in jeans or what I consider regular casual clothes. It's always yoga pants, leggings, cropped leggings, sporty tops. (Nice ones, not the stained-and-holey yoga pants of parenting articles everywhere.) Lots of the moms at the preschool dressed like that, presumably because they were on their way to the gym after drop-off (?) so I was surrounded by sporty clothes and neon sneakers. And it's funny...I mean, I go to the gym for a run each morning but I only wear my exercise clothing there, then shower and dress in my regular garb. But I found myself dressing more like my new friend as time went on. I even picked up a few pairs of yoga pants on sale at Old Navy (I have never worn them before).

And I am comfortable in them...sort of. 

But now school is over and I am home more, interacting primarily with my son. I'm not seeing other parents much. I'm doing my housework and spending time at the park and library. And I am remembering how I really like to dress, what I really like to do with my time. Sometimes it's hard to be the crafty mama in suburbia. I live where some people our own age hire a lawn service rather than mow their own grass (unheard of in my family...a guy in his 30s mows his own lawn). When they hear I knit or sew or bake bread or any other "rustic" pursuit I get that weird reaction of awe and confusion, like "that's so neat! but....why would you want to do that?" Kind of like when I am knitting a sock in public and some joker offers that "you can buy socks at the store you know."

Well sure you can. But where is the satisfaction in that? I had forgotten, over the course of the school year when I was on the run so much, how much simple, satisfying pleasure there is in DIY. Sitting in church last Sunday I noted that my children and I were all wearing something that was the work of my hands and my sewing machine. That felt so good. 

So, the pictures are bad, but the dress is oh so good. I can't wait to make more and wear the heck out of them all summer long. They're just so me.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

yarn along

Sometimes it freaks me out how fast the weeks go by.

Here we are for another Wednesday Yarn Along!

Still working on the prayer shawl I started last week but now it's about 4 feet long and nearing completion. I will know it's done when the yarn is gone! My book is "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" and so far, over just a few pages, it's pretty good and a little creepy.

Linking up with Ginny at Small Things.

Monday, June 02, 2014

mom's sweat shop

I'm going to start my own clothing line and call it "Skinny Minnies" - it will be bottoms for boys and girls who are not part of the obesity epidemic. 

I cannot find one single pair of commercially produced shorts or pants that fit my daughter off the rack. Everything, including plain old Hanes sweatpants, has to be altered. I have better luck with my son because boy shorts are generally longer, so I can buy my almost 6 year old a size 4 and get away with it. Not so with the hoochie shorts they sell for girls.

And even sewing them myself involves extra commercial pattern fits either, so I have to cut what I believe is her size (8) and then do a little accordian fold to each leg until the fit is right. The above shorts are from last year's altered pattern, simply let out by 1 inch and lengthened by 2.5 inches.

On the plus side, I can pretty much make a pair of shorts in my sleep at this point!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

yarn along

Jumping back into Ginny's yarn along this week.

The knitting is the same thing I showed yesterday, a prayer shawl for the brand new ministry started by some ladies at my church. My mom and I are doing this together, and actually are making the same shawl in different yarns right now. 

The book is Whole by T. Colin Campbell. If you are familiar with Forks Over Knives you know Dr. Campbell. I have lots to say about the topic of food and nutrition but that's for another day.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

the next knit

I had the great pleasure of attending a talk by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, the Yarn Harlot herself, last week. I was supposed to attend with my mom, but she was unable to go, and I waffled on whether I wanted to go by myself or not. This was a knitting guild event, and the organizers are always reminding us that if we want these good teachers to keep coming to Buffalo, we need to show them our support. Plus I've been in this guild for nearly ten years so it's not like I was heading into a room full of strangers! Anyway, I went. Best decision ever. She is SO FUNNY! If you are a knitter or really any crafter, and you get the opportunity to hear her speak, GO. 

In fact, if you go to her site, and read the May 20th post, there is a photo of our guild! I can't find my tiny head though...I sat near the back. 

So yes, she was amazing and funny and insightful, and talked about lots of issues that are important to knitters. I sat up a little straighter when she talked about how for most (if not all) knitters, our favorite knit is...the next one. Everyone laughed but muttered agreement, because isn't it true? The project we are working on is only awesome for about the first 3 inches, and then our fickle brains are on to the next thing we want to make. I know that is true for me. Case in point, in the above photo is the prayer shawl I literally just started, but I keep shooting longing looks at the book underneath, Victorian Lace Today, and daydreaming about which shawl I will cast on.

There is nothing wrong with the pattern I am working on (for the newly-formed prayer shawl ministry at my church), and I don't think there's anything wrong with being excited about future projects. But I know that for me, much of the point of knitting and crafting is the idea of flow. Basically flow is that awesomely focused feeling one gets when fully immersed in some activity (crafting, cooking, playing an instrument, really anything). Frankly, no one needs to knit anymore, and it's not much of a savings (if any) over buying manufactured items, so really the main reason to do it is to achieve this sense of flow. So, I don't know, I just think it's funny that the whole reason most of us knit is for the zen feeling we get, and yet our silly lizard brains are always pushing us toward what's coming next. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

is this thing on?


My baby graduated from preschool yesterday. My sweet baby boy, nearly six years old (his birthday will be on the first day of Kindergarten this September), and I am left wondering where the time went.

This was a challenging fall/winter/spring for me. In large part due to the weather, which, let's be honest, really stunk, and all the driving hither and yon to preschool and speech therapy. And also in part due to the transition we are making as a family. My kids are growing by leaps and bounds, after nearly eleven years of marriage some rough edges are showing (nothing dire, just typical stuff), my 24-hours-a-day time as 'provider of all things' is drawing to a close, and I am faced with what my own future holds. I have felt raggedy and cranky a lot so blogging went out the window because who wants to read that?

You hear so much about what is involved with caring for newborns, infants, toddlers, preschoolers...but not much about what comes next (other than the fact that teens are difficult, but duh, we all know that). What I mean is, where does my focus need to be now? How much does my life become about me? Should I immediately go out and try to find work, like most people seem to expect? Do I get a little "time off" to regroup and just sort of rediscover myself? Is that selfish? Shall I volunteer for every activity at my childrens' school now that I can actually be there whenever I want to be? Should I go all out and really increase my etsy business, to see if that is a viable way to make some income for our family?

I have no answers right now, only questions.

Oh, and about a ton of unfinished projects, ideas for projects, supplies for I will start there, and make these next few months about trying to settle down, untangle the knots, focus, and catch myself up.