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!