The Handcrafted Wardrobe: take 2, a belated post

Trying again here!  And special thanks to Elijah for humoring me with more pictures.

Details: Cindersmoke Shawl in Cascade 220 from dear Corina.

I just finished reading Life Disrupted: Getting Real About Chronic Illness in Your Twenties and Thirties.  I found the last section, regarding relationships, the most useful.  Though what I could really use right now is resources on parenting chronically ill children.  So if anyone has suggestions there, please pass them along.

In her chapter about what she terms “Meltdown Mode”, she talks about how she could handle a seemingly endless barge of medical interventions, pain, and life threatening emergencies with grace and aplomb, only to break down, crying hysterically upon finding the wrong type of salad dressing in her take out bag.  On top of everything else to have some basic simple thing go wrong…you think, “I can’t even have this work out?!?”  It feels like a slap in the face.  I get it.  I’ve thought it.  I’ve done it.

And we all of us have our different break-down issues.  She goes on to say that her chronically ill father tends to lose it over waiting in lines or vague and confusing instruction manuals.  For me, I’ve come to see that clothing is a falling apart issue for me.  It’s hard enough to have the energy to get out the door, factor in corralling and organizing five children, and then to be faced with having nothing to wear that fits right or is comfortable or appropriate as well?  Too much.  I think that was kind of what I was trying to say with this post.  And why this project, which may seem frivolous and silly to some, is so important to me.

A very happy Thanksgiving to those of you in the US.  And I hope that all of you, everywhere, have a great many things to be happy for today. love, Melody

Save

Save

Save

By

Halloween: Part 2

Mary Poppins: Practically perfect in every way!

When I saw that she was looking for something more tailored, I inwardly sighed at all of the work ahead of me for something that wasn’t likely to get much wear.  Then it occurred to me that I was planning on making her a new winter coat.   Two birds, one stone, and all of that, I made her a wool coat for Halloween.  All except for the buttons and button holes, because the button hole stitch on my machine outright refuses to work properly.  I’m pretty sure it’s a conspiracy.

I’ve had a really hard time finding good quality coats for the kids.  They mostly seem to be either ridiculously expensive or ridiculously insufficient.  Girls’ coats are the worst, with the focus being more on fashion than warmth.  We can’t do thrifted ones, because it’s almost impossible to get the chemical smells out.  This whole “puffer coat” trend has not worked for our family either.  We’ve had several coats get a little too close to the wood stove or snagged on a protruding twig.  Turns out they don’t really work well once all of the stuffing falls out.

When we moved to this area, 14 years ago, my regular winter coat was on it’s way out, but I had a wool overcoat that had previously been used for only work and special occasions.  I figured I might as well wear it out, since I wouldn’t have much cause for dressing up.  Much to my surprise, it still looks exactly as it did when I got it, nearly 20 years ago now.  I just occasionally brush the mud off.  Now the kids are surely harder on their outerwear than I am.  But I’ve done a great deal of gardening, hiking, Christmas tree lugging and so forth in that coat and it’s still going strong.  I thought it was worth seeing how it would work out for the kids.  It’s an experiment of sorts.

For the pattern I used Burda Style’s Girls Dress Coat 12/2012 #156.  I often like their sense of style, but find some of their directions confusing.  I’ve used a couple of their patterns in the past and I would be hesitant to use them again; too troublesome.

The main fabric is a heavy woolen coating.  I quilted two layers of batting to the lining inside.  We’ll see how it holds up!

With this costume we also made a new skirt to double duty. helping to fill out her autumn wardrobe as well.

When it was decided that she was to be a “baby kitty” for Halloween, she told me I must be a “mama kitty” and of course it’s impossible to say no to such a sweet face as that.

I had talked myself out of knitting her a sweater for Halloween.  But, while in Pennsylvania, I whipped through my allotted travel knitting much faster than expected, leaving me with nothing for the ride home, which I feared would render me a threat to myself and others.  A quick pop in to the craft store, where I managed the best I could yarn-wise, and this little sweater was well under way after-all. I’m very glad of it too, because really she needed a new sweater; all of the hand-me-downs being in pretty poor shape at this point.

The pattern is Gilipeysa, converted from a lace weight yarn to a worsted weight.  The bonnet pattern is my own and will be available for purchase at some point.  The bonnet and cream part of the yoke are Knitpicks Reverie in Natural (on sale right now!).  I believe the other two yarns are Patons Classic Wool in ‘Grey Mix’ and ‘Natural Mix’.  Sadly, the colors don’t show well in these pictures.

And that finally puts an end to Halloween!

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

By

The Handcrafted Wardrobe: all a blur

I had planned to share my new shawl today.  But the auto focus on my camera has been broken for months now, leaving me entirely dependent on others for pictures of myself.  Clearly, or not so clearly as the case may be, low-light, late in a very windy day, did not make for ideal conditions for an amateur photographer.  This was the very best of the three photos taken.  I’ll try again soon.

Last week I bought myself two new pairs of leggings.  I feel guilty about it, because I don’t think I should be spending the money right now, but also so relieved!  I’m covered, with bottoms anyway, and it just takes away a level of stress.  I now have the yoga pants, my grey luna’s (the blue linen ones are too light weight for our current season), the two new leggings- one grey and one black, and my olive velour leggings.  That feels like enough.  I can work with that.

Part of the idea behind having a capsule wardrobe isn’t just having a minimalist wardrobe, it’s also about having enough.  It’s a balancing act.  I think one of the keys to a handcrafted wardrobe is prioritizing.  Some day I would like to make all of my own clothing, but right now, that’s not practical.  Investing in a couple of basic pieces that I can easily find ready made, that fit and work exactly as I need them to, makes sense.  And it leaves me the freedom to concentrate on the sorts of things that are difficult to impossible to find or very expensive.  Which also happen to be the sorts of things that I derive more pleasure from making.  I can buy a pair of black leggings with ease.  A linen nursing dress or very specific style of wool sweater?  Not so much.

What are making versus buying priorities for you?

I’m not going to bother with the link up for a bit.  If people would like to share, feel free to leave links in the comments!

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

By

Affiliate Updates

I swear, this photo was not staged!  She was just really super excited about the arrival of coconut chips.

Buy bulk nuts, snack mixes, dried fruits, candies & sweets by the pound at Nuts.com!

I’ve been meaning to talk a bit about my new affiliates for a while now.  The two newer additions are Nuts.com and 100% Pure.

We’ve been loyal costumers of Nuts.com for years.  In addition to nuts, seeds, dried fruit and a wide range of flours and the nori we love for snacking, they have the best prices I’ve seen on the arrowroot that we use for grain-free baking.  We buy it in bulk and the price is even better than through a whole sale food co-op.  I really appreciate their selection of certified gluten-free items from dedicated facilities.  Their customer service is superb and their shipping is mindbogglingly fast.  Where we live orders show up the next day (seriously!) pretty much without fail.  I confess there have been times when I’ve placed an order to save on a next day emergency grocery store run.  They offer free shipping on orders over $59, which is a huge boon for bulk shopping.

100% vegan, natural and cruelty free

I very rarely use make-up, but when I do, it’s extremely important to me that it be a safe and healthy product.  When I was looking for make up for our vow renewal, I ended up using a couple of products from 100% Pure.  I especially liked their Fruit Pigmented Lip Cream Stick: Perfect Naked Pink.  So much so in fact, that when it went on sale, I later treated myself to the Perfect Naked Mauve as well.  It’s worth checking in regularly for their special offers.  They offer free shipping on all orders.
The Big Sale at knitpicks.com

And just as a little public service announcement, Knitpicks big sale starts tomorrow!  With up to 60% off of over 1,000 yarns and brand new yarns being introduced.  Very exciting!

Ordering from these affiliates through this blog means that we get a small percentage of each sale, which goes towards supporting our family, for which we are extremely grateful to you all!

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

By

Halloween, Part One

Mostly for the sake of The Grandparents.

Seraphina would have been happy to paint every squash under the sun.  Her second one had a beard, so it could “talk like Pop-pop”.

Considering the number of practical jokes they play on each other, I thought this was very trusting (and possibly somewhat naive).  Elijah had me do his, which was likely a safer bet.

It’s kind of ridiculous, the lengths my family goes to for Halloween costumes, considering the very short period of time they actually wear them.  But it’s kind of their thing, so I try to be supportive and enthusiastic.

For years now the older boys have been trying to convince me to let them go as something scary.  Traditionally our celebrations have always been more about the magic of the season.  We attend a mixed age party, where two of my children are the eldest of the bunch, and I don’t want to be the mother who brings the teens who scare the little ones, my own little one included!  Besides, who needs more fear and evil?

blah.

I feel like I’m daily coming face to face with the fragility of life and I’m heartsick over the woes of the world.  Surround me with images of joy, of honor, of love, of goodness.  There is enough horror and gore.  The earth doesn’t need anymore.  I don’t want anymore.  Real or pretend.

But Elijah finally wore me down,or more accurately, took advantage of my being too exhausted to argue…

Besides, a mother’s hang-ups probably shouldn’t dictate Halloween costumes.  I’m sure it must seem to my children at times as though I take everything to seriously.

Iain had plans to go as a very noble literary figure, brave and true.  I was secretly thrilled, thinking how handsome he would be and pleased too, in my motherly heart, over such a wholesome choice for my maturing man-child.

There were issues with a prop.  And since it’s perfection or nothing round about here, he made a last minute shift…

and went with a different kind of scary, as well as an easy last-minute costume and a cheap laugh. It was a whole lot funnier last week.

And dear, sweet, little Dobby!  Elijah really did a fantastic job with that mask.  When Galen saw these pictures he said, “Wait a minute, is that me?!?  It looks so real!”

I whipped up a quick hood with ears and we fashioned the rest out of an actual pillowcase.  As it turns out, what I learned afterwards was Steve’s favorite pillowcase.  How on earth was I supposed to know the man has a favorite pillowcase?!?

Just a little glimpse of the girls, as their costumes were quite involved and warrant a post of their own!

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

By

The Handcrafted Wardrobe: Refashion 2

First off, I know I’ve fallen behind on answering comments lately.  I’ve tired to catch up over the last couple of days, so if you are waiting for a response from me, it may be there now!  Also, if there is something I’ve missed that you need or want an answer to, just let me know.  We are back in family health crisis mode, so I am not around as much as usual, but I’m happy to answer as I can. 

Remember this ill fitting sweater with multiple holes?

I did a bit of altering and reshaping…

Oh, for goodness sakes, stand up straight woman! Honestly!

I think it actually needs to be shorter to work right over that dress above.  I considered turning it into a cropped sweater for just that sort of purpose, but never did pull the trigger on that.  It works better with other outfits, like over this sleeveless dress with a more streamlined skirt…

But that’s the only picture I have of that combo, titled “blurry ghost picture” and taken in the bathroom at the kid’s dance studio between ballet and modern, when I realized I didn’t have anything to post about on Monday.  As it turns out it didn’t matter because I didn’t have any time to post anyway.

Save

Save

Save

Save


By

Apples, Books, Cider…

Oh, New England!  You just do autumn so well!

This post has been sitting, open and half finished, on my desktop for weeks now.  But I’ve been spread too thin and in need of a break, so that is just how it stayed.

We’ve yet to make a single batch of applesauce, though it’s on the agenda for today, with apples in storage from our favorite orchard.  We have been cider pressing up the road a few times and have made jerky soaked in cider and added apples to our current batch of kraut.  I love the way the flavors of a season seep in everywhere.

I ordered stacks and stacks of apple themed books from the library and these were a few of our favorites.  Click on the pictures to be taken to book details.

Apple by Nikki McClure: If you are familiar with Nikki McClure’s books you probably know that people tend to either love them or hate them.  This was actually her first book, reprinted in recent years for her now wider fan base.  Each double page layout features one of her iconic paper-cut illustrations, opposite a single word.  There is a story line, but I didn’t feel like the younger children had any hope of following it based almost solely on the pictures.  I really didn’t think they would be that interested in it over-all, but it ended up a favorite with both 7 year old Mairi and 2 year old Seraphina.

Save

Save

Save

The Apple Pie Tree is very cute.  Seraphina’s favorite picture is the one where the two little girls are running through the sprinkler.  I like that you can see individual stitches in the sisters knit socks.  Fun artwork in a sweet story following a year in the life of a tree that makes “the best part of apple pies” and the two little girls who love it. 

The Apple Pie That Papa Baked: This one may have been my favorite of the batch, with it’s whimsical illustrations and lyrical text.  It’s a story that builds on itself as it goes along, until the end when you are reading the whole story, from start to finish, as a sort of poem, with the comforting familiarity of repetition that speaks so strongly to little listeners.

Johnny Appleseed: The classic tale, beautifully and simply told as a poem and complete with lavish folk art illustrations, rich in details.  The children loved finding and identifying all of the many animals painted into the landscapes.

Life & Times of the Apple: Handsomely done and full of information, including history, science and folklore, this one is being added to my 5th grade botany block.  I’m eager to check out the other books in this series.

………

The day after the above pictures were taken kicked off a weekend of wild windstorms that swept all of the leaves right from the trees.  We’ve also had some of this…

Though it’s mostly melted now.

November, I am not ready for you!

Save

By

The Handcrafted Wardrobe: Off Track

My heart isn’t really in a true Handcrafted Wardrobe post tonight.  My mind it too full of other things, flitting about, unable to settle.  I do have some finished projects, but no pictures, getting photos of myself being rather a bother and a chore at times.  I have been pondering cold weather needs and adding to my cool weather capsule wardrobe mood board.  I’ve been comparing what I’ve made so far to what I’ve dreamed up with that board to see if I’m keeping on track, and I don’t believe I am.  I’ve been teasing out silhouettes in my mind of a Thanksgiving dress in vintage floral print on a deep wine ground.  Then I think, oh slippers for the baby!  And is there enough of that crimson wool for a bonnet as well? Is that costume plan foolhardy or does it truly stand a chance?   And when will I find the time to make it?  Is my lesson plan for the week full enough??  And off I go again…

This weekend was supposed to be devoted to sewing for children, but ended up being all about cooking instead.  We had our first little snow squall, the fire burned without end and the wind howled and howled.  Even now it continues to whip around the eaves and thrash the trees about.

Both our pork and beef arrived this week.  A whole pig and whole cow respectively, except for the bits of pork that are still being smoked.  As a former long time vegetarian, I am still not entirely comfortable with eating meat, though I make a good show of it.  This, I at least believe, is the best way of going about it.  Local, free-range, grass-fed meat from a small family farm.  The price per pound works out to be around the equivalent of inexpensive cuts of conventional meat, only we get all of the cuts down to expensive roasts and porterhouse steaks, along with the reassurance of a good, healthy life for the animal involved and nutritionally superior food for our family.  But it does require freezer space!  Which was on the tricky side and lead to a frozen harvest cook-a-thon.  I made a huge pot of beef stew with all sorts of autumnal root veggies, turned some summer squash puree into a dairy-free cheese and baked a strawberry crisp, using home-made coconut butter as the topping, as per this recipe.  We had the fresh pork chops Saturday night, cooked with onions and pineapple sage and served with orange and yellow chard.  I grew pineapple sage for the first time this year and I find the scent intoxicating.  It has somehow managed to escape harm despite all of our recent frosts and brilliant scarlet flowers are just beginning to peep out of their buds.  I have delusions of somehow finding a way to winter it over in the garden, though I know the thing is impossible.  Perhaps I’ll dig it up and see how it fares inside.

I still have some thawed chard that I think I’ll turn into creamed chard and a couple of jars of shredded zucchini that I haven’t decided what to do with. We also spent almost an entire day rendering lard, which was a first for me.  Eight whole quarts full! I’ve never even cooked with lard before. And maybe, just maybe I’ll finally sew up that skirt full of pins by my side.

Has the season scattered your focus as well?  Do you find a discrepancy between what you like and the items that you make, buy and wear?  This has always been true for me and I’ve been trying to correct it, but apparently without much success.

Save

Save


By

Amber Glow

Some pictures from before our trip, some from after; a jumble.  Whirlwind life.  I can’t keep up.  Autumn was just starting to creep in when we left our mostly green land, we came back to full swing blazing glory, fast forward a week and most of the trees were bare and talk of winter suddenly seems natural and fitting.  But where did autumn go?  I must have blinked.

My garden and I are estranged.  It’s an uncomfortable and lonely feeling.  I’m doubtful that at this late date any of my awkward attempts at reconciliation will be fruitful.

We got our very first egg, the day before we left, and have had a small, but steady supply since.  But there has been chicken drama.  Did I mention before that we added to our flock?  I wanted no roosters, we now have three.  Which I guess is what I get for allowing the kids to make our poultry transactions.  Two have been well behaved, one has not and that one of course is an especial favorite of the older boys and something of a terror to younger folks.

A garden inspired dinner; steak and zucchini, with a basil paste and roasted garlic.  I read in a book about cutting zucchini julienne before pan frying, instead of in rounds, because it allows it to actually brown.  Cooked simply this way with just a squirt of lemon juice?  Amazing.  I can not stop eating it.

Turmeric Switchel; looks like orange juice, tastes like burning.  I jest, I jest!  But probably an acquired taste for most, though very helpful for an energy boost and pain relief.

funny little note: I just looked at the recipe again, as I linked to it, and I’ve been making it for weeks with double the spices!  I just may need it that strong anyway.

Knitting has been a whirlwind also.  My sweater, still missing it’s measly button band, was cast aside.  The shawl has been blocked and worn a great deal and loved, but not photographed at all.  By the end of tonight I will have four bonnets in need of blocking.   The toddler sweater needs grafting and steeking; two things I readily admit to habitually procrastinating on, but there is a time limit on this one, so I’ll have to suck it up some time this week.

For all of my talk, I haven’t sewn at all and really must get to it.  I think I may have inadvertently bit off more than I can chew re: Halloween this year.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

By

The Handcrafted Wardrobe: Herringbone Lunas

Teenage photographers, in the rain, using a camera without auto focus…  It’s kind of a miracle there are pictures at all.  It really would have been too much to ask that all of the pictures actually be in focus or that I don’t have a funny look on my face, etc.

More Luna Pants.  I didn’t have a chance to talk about my last pair.  My biggest regret with them was that I didn’t have enough of the linen left for the pockets and I used muslin, thinking it wouldn’t be a big deal, but there are flashes of white from the pockets when I move and it looks funny.  I didn’t make that mistake with this pair, which are of a very thick cotton flannel shirting in a herringbone pattern.

I wanted wool trousers, but cotton was a more affordable option.  The linen ones are better for in-between seasons, but these will actually provide a decent level of warmth on chilly days.

In a nutshell: I’m still not sure how I feel about the whole jogger pant trend thing- style wise.  But I really like Rae’s patterns.  And from the perspectives of comfort and ease of sewing, it was clear these would be a good match.  And they are- both comfortable and easy to make.  The fit is good.  I love the pockets. I don’t have a lot of tops that work well with them.

What have you been working on?

 

 

Save

SaveSave


By