Yarn Along

Yesterday Seraphina said “yarn” for the first time, over and over again, while sweetly sitting and playing by herself with a lovely basketful.  I don’t know that I’ve ever been more proud or pleased.  I called everyone from all over the house to come and hear her.

I’ve made a decent dent in Iain’s birthday sweater (above), though I confess to neglecting it a bit this week as I seem to have developed a crush on Galen’s birthday sweater, which has left me rather preoccupied.

I’ve been reading Nelson Mandela’s Conversations with Myself, partially to see if it’s a good summer reading option for the older boys.  I’m enjoying it, but I think that without at least some background and a general feel for the course of events, it might be hard to follow.  The entire book consists of snippets of conversations and correspondence, none of which is presented chronologically.  Which isn’t a criticism.  It works for me, I just don’t think it’s the best option as an introduction to Mandela’s life.  I think I’ll try Long Walk to Freedom.  I’ve not read it before.



Before leaving for our trip, I went on something of a sunhat sewing bender.  The large males of our clan have their own thing going on.  Steve is a baseball cap kind of guy.  The. End.  The older boys rock their own personal farm-hand-style looks; Elijah in his well worn cowboy hat and Iain in an old, hand-me-down straw hat.  Everyone else?  They got new hats….

Seraphina’s is the same old Angry Chicken Bonnet that I’ve made more times than I can count.  This one was made from fabric meant to match a little half-finished dress that’s been sitting on my sewing table since, oh, November or so…, trimmed with off-set, butter yellow, velvet ric-rac.

I don’t think I ever shared the most recent winter bonnet I made for Mairi using this same pattern?

We found out that it was going to be bitter cold the night before one of her outdoor (obviously) nature programs and I wanted something that was going to cover her ears and wrap around her cheeks.  Of course I had to be able to make it quickly and with supplies I had on hand.  I made this using scraps from my coat.  I also managed to eek out an extra pair of mittens for Galen that night, using the same material, but I don’t think I ever took pictures of them and they have long since been packed away for the season.

On to Rosebud’s summer accessories…

She said she wanted a hat in greens, yellows, and oranges with flowers, hearts, leaves and other “spring things”.  I wanted a hat that would offer a lot protection for for her very fair complexion.  I did what I could!  At one point it was going to be patchwork with different fabrics for each section of the crown, but the fabrics refused to play together nicely.  I simplified it and came up with this, which she seems to be pleased with and which clashes with her bathing suit something fierce!

This lovely reversible hat pattern came from the My Childhood Treasures Etsy store.

While the girls received ribbons, silky bows and velvet trim, Galen got lots and lots of top-stitching on a sandpiper covered hat, in his favorite color, made from the free Oliver and S Reversible Bucket Hat pattern.

Pathetic attempts at self portraits….

Why yes, this is what my hair looks like towards the end of a week camping.  Sexy beach-y waves, my backside!

Mine was made from the same pattern as Mairi’s.  All of the hats were made with fabric left over from other projects, but I thought it best not to bore you with listing them all!



(except for yarn)

I just finished reading The Good Life Lab: Radical Experiments in Hands-On Living.  It was fine, I guess.  I never really got into it.  A childless couple who are into conceptual art and electronics, living in the dessert and essentially homesteading.  It’s wonderful that there are so many ways for people to step to the side of consumer culture and take more control and responsibility for their own lives.  They just came at it from a very different angle, most of which doesn’t really apply to my life or really appeal to me either.  I think it’s very unlikely that I’m going to be doing a lot of prickly pear cacti wildcrafting in the mountains of New England!

“The chains of the body are often wings to the spirit.” ~Nelson Mandela

I’m still working on that blanket.  Approximately, 49,840 stitches so far (I don’t know what my thing is with knitting math lately).  It’s been something of an obsession for me.  A great many of those stitches, especially in the beginning, where knit laying down with eyes closed.  Many times I would pick it up as a distraction, to try to knit through pain, both physical and emotional.  It’s been kind of a life line for me.  If I can just keep knitting this blanket, full of the past and making way for the future, just maybe everything will be ok.



Galen and Mairi Rose: In the garden!

Seraphina: After watching me cut her brothers’ hair, she climbed up into the chair (this one is a great climber!), wrapped the towel about herself and pulled her hair out to the side, going, “eh! eh! eh!”  Since I can think of almost nothing that would induce me to snip off those precious curls, we made a great show of combing out her hair and pretending to cut it.


happy go knitting! :)

Her favorite game at the moment!

I just finished reading Knitting Rules!: The Yarn Harlot’s Bag of Knitting Tricks.  I think it would be a wonderful edition to any knitter’s library.

The pattern for this adorable sunsuit was translated from Norwegian.  The title of this post is how it concludes.  It’s possible that I walked around the house for like a week telling everyone to, “happy go knitting!” and giggling.

I left off the ribbing around the legs.  I don’t really know why.  I just thought it was fine without it.  I added in some extra room at the bottom to make sure it would easily fit over a big cloth diapered bum.  As it turns out, I don’t actually think it was necessary, but this way she’ll probably get an extra year of wear out of it.


Our Trip

What to say? We arrived late, due to weather and left early, due to weather. The trip home was what I deemed an adventure (!) when speaking to the children and thought truly treacherous with a shudder to myself- washed out roads, low to no visibility, etc. With all the time in the car I knitted an entire little dress and started a wee sweater. I read the better part of Home Grown while trying to convince an over-tired toddler to drift off to sleep.

We never actually made it to the ocean, though we did spend some time at the bay. I feel that lack distinctly. A summer without standing in awe at the vastness of endless waves seems incomplete.

We stayed in a yurt for the first time and were introduced to an ice-cream shop that had a (comparatively) huge selection of gluten and dairy free treats. That was a find! Hello, salted-caramel ice cream topped with hot fudge! Everyone was thrilled, including baby girl who devoured an all fruit smoothie.

Mairi Rose and Galen were in a Summer Solstice play. Galen, a dapper fox in his old Halloween costume. I made Mairi’s costume from this dress of mine. I took it apart and put it together so many times trying to work out the pattern, that the bust never laid right. I did work out that pattern with it though and have since made another dress utilizing it.

I documented a sunset on the beach one night with sleeping babe beside me while Steve and the kids were off on a sandbar, playing frisbee.

The whole trip had a detached from reality feel to it and it’s hard, looking back, for me to really feel that it actually happened. There were many good things, but the underlying theme was one of feeling unsettled and disconnected. This is the same trip that we’ve taken for, gosh eight or nine years now. All of the families involved are, or used to be, ones that we were close to. But we moved away from all of them quite a while ago now. And for most this is the one time of year that we see them. Time marches on. They all see each other regularly and many new families have joined the group. We’ve been replaced many times over and really we are just an afterthought now, if we’re thought of at all. Each year I feel like we’ve been more and more removed and this year the whole family felt it keenly. As Galen said, when he came back to our campsite, dejected, on our first evening there, “No one remembers me.” It’s not that our old friends no longer care for us, or vice versa, it’s just that our lives don’t relate to each other the way that they once did.

Add to that the fact that this is the second time that I’ve come home from this particular trip with Lyme Disease and I think this may well have been our last year. At least for a while. Just last year I was musing about how long this tradition would go on. I suspect it will continue on for a very long time. We just may no longer be a part of it, which is something I hadn’t really considered. This yearly trip has been a large part of our lives. Letting go isn’t something that I do well and I confess, I’m struggling with this. We had a really good thing going while it lasted.



Iain: Deep into making plans to build what sounds like a very impressive tree house.

Elijah: Head waiter at the “Eat What We Have” restaurant, where meals are exchanged for favors and often come at a high price.

   Galen and Mairi Rose: Built a “people moving machine”.  Also built by Galen this week; a boat named “The White Turkey”.

Seraphina:  Screamed to go up in the “people moving machine” and cried when we took her out.  Since the change in weather she wants nothing to do with clothing, but she’s all for strawberry smoothies!

Clearly they are all feeling much better this week!


5,869 yards of yarn

Recently an acquaintance made a comment about my making a good deal of the children’s clothing.  She said that obviously I had a lot more free time than most people.  It was the kind of comment that I would usually just let slide.  But, without missing a beat or so much as even looking up from what he was doing, Galen (age 9) firmly replied, “No, she has less time, she just uses it more wisely”.

Up until now, the only yarn that I had purchased this year was the yarn for Elijah’s Santa hat.  When we started taking a closer look at our finances and trying to figure out where exactly our money was going, I was very curious to see what I spend a year in craft supplies.  When we worked it all out I actually thought it was quite reasonable, considering the sheer quantity of clothing, gifts, toys and other practical items that I produce for our household each year.  Even so, I challenged myself to drastically cut my spending this year, mainly because it’s one of the few expenses that I, and I alone, am in complete control of.  And so I’ve not bought any yarn.  Or any fabric for that matter.  I do a lot of “shopping at home”, trying to get creative with what I have.  I was considerably helped along by a friend who decided that knitting was not for her and passed her small stash on to me, for which I am very grateful (and probably a good deal less twitchy).

Knitpicks just had their big summer sale and I decided it was time to break my yarn fast and purchase yarn for next years’ birthday sweaters.

I knit and create because it’s who I am and I honestly believe I would go stark raving mad without it.  I justify it by being fastidious about my projects to insure that the items I make cost less then they would have to buy.  I also like to think that my clothing is more ethical.  It’s true that the supplies have to come from somewhere and I confess, I often don’t know exactly where, but at least one level of potential sweatshop work is eliminated.  This is getting more complicated as children grow.  It takes a great many skeins of yarn to cover Iain these days and my creations no longer seem like such a bargain.

I asked the children if they wanted any kind of say in this year’s sweaters.  Two said they wanted to be surprised.  One is too young to express an opinion- don’t get me wrong, I’m sure she has an opinion, this one is full of opinions!  She’s just not yet capable of fully articulating it.  One gave some color ideas.  And one selected an intricate, six color, fair-isle in fingering weight yarn.  uh-huh.  I would get all indignant, but I think we all know I had that one coming.

I thought I would chose a really feminine color for Mairi this year, since last year’s sweater was olive green and the year before a grey-blue.  Besides, I was in that kind of mood.  Of course when I looked at the catalog with her, I learned that all of her favorite yarns just now are blue, green or brown.  So much for that!  I went with a pretty cornflower blue instead because it seemed a little out of the ordinary.  I went with pink for Seraphina out of sheer rebellion.  Of course it’s not in the least the shade I was looking for.  Even with all of the yarn options out there, I can’t tell you how often I go looking for a very particular color and can’t find it.  I want to be the person who decides on yarn colors.  I think that might just be my dream job.


Merino Kids

I’m specializing in sleeping baby pictures this week!  My Sweet Wild Violet in the most darling little pajama set c/o Merino Kids.  With the recent cool and damp, she’s practically been living in these while we keep close to home, healing and slowly recovering.  She’s sleeping in them yet again as I type this.  This beautiful merino wool doesn’t even have a hint of scratchiness.  I wore one of the pant legs on my arm for a while to be absolutely certain.  Butter soft.  I love how the cross-over style adds an extra layer of warmth over her chest and I’m positively thrilled that the bottoms accommodate a cloth diapered bum!  That is such a rare find these days and I get so sick of worrying about the chill on her exposed back from ill fitting pants.  The raspberry color is terribly sweet.  I swear it makes her skin glow and I just can not stop kissing her scrumptious wee self!  (Though really that’s nothing new.)  I wish she had another set (or two, or three!).  It’s going to be the perfect under layer come cold weather.  But I kind of feel like they are too cute to hide away.  Maybe some sort of coordinating jumper?  Food for thought and raspberry kisses to dream on.  Now if you will excuse me, I have a soft, wool covered, rosy, little love-bug to go cuddle up…