The Handcrafted Wardrobe: Comfort and the Miracle Sweater

Sorry for the delayed post folks!

That last picture is what happens when Elijah refuses to stop taking my picture.

While I could certainly make a case for the comfort that is this sweater, my posting it today really has more to do with it being finished and photographed rather than cut out and draped over the back of my rocking chair, which is how you would find my planned comfort project.

This sweater had some sort of cosmic destiny.  It was meant to be created.  Everything just fell into place in a way that completely defied logic.  It was like loaves and fishes or the oil lasting for eight days.

For starters, I wanted to make myself two cardigans this year; a heavy duty one for serious warmth and a cute cropped sweater for over dresses to extend their wearability well into the cooler months.  I had thought a good deal about this and had very particular patterns in mind.  The first in grey, the later in brown.  So, when Corina sent me brown yarn, the exact recommended yarn for the pattern I had in mind, it seemed meant to be.  Only….the pattern called for 5 skeins and I only had 3 1/2.  Still I dove right in, resigning myself to either shortening the sleeves or knitting contrast color cuffs or ?

I knitted away and despite my exhaustion and working almost exclusively in the middle of the night when my mind felt addled and dull, it grew, steadily and almost flawlessly.  My fingers seemed to have a mind of their own and inch upon inch of sweater tumbled from them, without my really realizing how.  And the yarn…it held out.  I saved the sleeves for last and carefully divided my remaining yarn, holding my breath as I knitted what turned out to be almost an entire full length sleeve.  I did have shorten the cuffs, but since I’m quite petite, it didn’t matter a bit.  They ended exactly at my wrist.  With the very gentlest of blocking I found there was even enough for a fold over cuff.

A new challenge: July 11th- Thinking Ahead

What have you been working on or thinking about this week?

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And so it begins…

My allergies have been awful this year.  I’m the human equivalent of a machine gun, sneezing in rapid-fire succession, with Seraphina chorusing, “Bless you Mommy!  Bless you, bless you, bless you, bless you!”, one for each and every sneeze like a courteous echo.

It’s a funny thing to have a family of dancers.  Seraphina saw one of those photos above and casually said, “That Galen flying.” As if one of her siblings taking to flight is the most natural and expected thing in world.

I just started reading Tove Jansson’s The Summer Book.  It seemed fitting.  Recital season is over and now the summer begins in earnest. We had our first pond trip of the year.

I’ve been knitting little toddler socks. The Violet-Girl needs socks and I thought that if I used bits of yarn leftover from other projects and knit a pair here and there over the summer, by autumn she could have a nice little stash of them tucked away.

I was asked about a recipe for the chicken soup in this post.  I’m afraid I don’t really have a recipe!  I never do for things like soup.  It just cut up whatever veggies I have about that sound good.  Usual for this sort of soup would be carrots, onions, celery, yam is nice, parsnips, perhaps some turnips or Jerusalem artichokes, maybe some cauliflower.  Add the chopped up veggies to chopped up chicken, cover with home-made broth (that part is important, it makes all the difference in the world), add some freshly crushed garlic or finely chopped garlic leaves and let it simmer until everything is soft.  At the very end I’d add in lots of greens, kale in this case.  Salt to taste.  For this particular soup I stirred in coconut milk and lime juice after everything was cooked.  Fresh cilantro makes a nice addition as well.

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Summer Solstice

The children found a fallen and abandoned nest in the woods, nothing very out of the ordinary about that, but this one happens to be lined with a lock of Mairi Rose’s hair!

Breakfast fixin’s from the garden: garlic scapes, onion tops, sweet thyme, mint, pineapple sage and regular sage to season our sausage patties.  Lemon balm for tea.  Once the sausages were cooked I tossed all the greens from the bottom of the basket; collards, kale and the last of the bolting spinach, in the pan with the juices, added a bit of broth, then covered them and steamed.

 

We usually have a Solstice celebration.  Last week I was thinking about how I wanted to do something special, but I never really got beyond that thought.  The day of, on my way up to put the baby down for a nap, I told them all to come up with a plan while I was away.

This is what they came up with: A picnic dinner in the garden.  Burning the Swedish Torch that Iain made a few months back.  Baking and eating strawberry-rhubarb pie (as we are not currently eating any sweetener or grains and they made up the recipe themselves, this part was kind of gross, but they seemed happy with it anyway!).  And launching rockets.  I added a sun inspired craft and our celebration was complete.

 

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The Handcrafted Wardrobe: On Color

I had a big, full post planned for this week, but I’ve been under the weather these last few days, so you are getting some brief musing on color instead.

It has not been lost on me that all of the creations I’ve shared so far have been blue.  It’s true that the cowl I recently made is grey, but I’m not really sure that will remain mine.  It feels like it maybe should belong to someone else.  And my new sweater is brown!  And done!  Buttons, blocking and all.  I love it and I will post finished pictures of it, just as soon as this heat wave breaks.  Because while I love it, I don’t love it enough that I’m willing to pass out just to be wearing it.

Still, I’m obviously in a very blue place.  The attributes of blue as listed in Knit the Sky by Lea Redmond, for the purposes of a “mood ring” cowl: “sad, fearful, disappointed, exhausted, heartbroken, unappreciated, restless, unable to let go, shameful, hesitant.”

Well, that’s kind of depressing!  Still, I can see how some of that rings true for me at this moment in life.  Though I’m not sure that exhausted is a strong enough word.  The truth is I have been feeling heartbroken and sad for various reasons.

Brown is “rooted, connected, centered, balanced, whole, secure, natural, earthy“.  I feel some of that too, which seems like a step in the right direction.  I’d like to turn that beautiful brown yarn up there, from dear Corina, into something for me, but I haven’t quite decided what.  Four hundred and thirty yards of possibilities.

What do you think?  Can color choice influence mood and vice versa?  I believe it can.  Though not in a one size fits all kind of way.  While there are general cultural associations with certain colors, there are also personal ones.  Like in my case, blue is one of my favorite colors and I find it soothing, which is why I painted my bedroom blue and perhaps why I’ve been so drawn to it lately?

Don’t forget, next week is comfort week!

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knitterly

It’s been unseasonably cool this last week. I wore my new cowl, made a giant pot of chicken soup with lots of greens and garlic leaves from the garden and made angel baby a new bonnet.  I was cranky about the lack of muffin-like things in our current diet, until I found this recipe for Morning Glory Muffins and was somewhat appeased.

I’m working on the cowl pattern now.  I don’t like it when I design things that I then have to model.  It’s awkward.  Perhaps I should stick to writing children’s patterns?

I haven’t been doing much reading, just listlessly paging through random books from time to time, preferably the kind with pictures.

Oh, and I don’t think I ever posted a full length picture of Mairi Rose’s birthday dress, so there is one above.

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The Handcrafted Wardrobe: Aprons

Fabric selection was limited to what I had within the house.  I dismantled my Halloween costume from last year, which started out life as a sheet.

I used this tutorial.  Because like most young women, I’ve dreamed of owning a Regency style apron since high school….roughly corresponding with the release of this version of Sense and Sensibility.  Not a coincidence.

This whole project was a hack job.  I really meant for it to be just a practice piece to make sure it fits and works well for me.  As such I gave myself permission to cut as many corners as possible.  A professional seamstress would be horrified.  Even the somewhat fastidious home sewist would be aghast.  What can I say?  Frankly, it was either fast and dirty or not at all and this is a very useful garment for me.

I should have gotten proper pictures of the back and all, but really my highest priority in the moment was to get my parsley and basil in the ground.  The straps cross in the back, which I love.  It’s comfortably supportive.  I do not like the type of apron that just goes around the neck.

I have some large patch pockets with elastic cinched tops that I plan on stitching to the skirt portion the next time I sit down at my machine.

 What have you been working on?


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simple cookery: pork chops and greens in tangy lime sauce (AIP friendly)

3 pork chops

1 T coconut oil

1/4 C coconut aminos

1/4 C lime juice

1 tsp smoked sea salt

1/2 onion, large clove garlic

spinach or other greens

optional: fresh mint for garnish, cauliflower

Preheat oven to 350.  Slice the onion and roughly chop the garlic.  Set aside.  Heat the coconut oil in a cast iron or other oven safe pan.  Brown the pork chops on all sides.  Set the chops aside.  Place the onions, garlic and smoked sea salt at the bottom of the pan.  Lay the pork chops on top.  Pour the lime juice and coconut aminos over top.  Bake for approximately approximately 13 minutes or until chops are cooked through.

Set the pork chops aside on a platter,  Remove the onions with a slotted spoon and use the juices to wilt as much spinach as will fit in your pan.  Other greens work as well, but spinach is my favorite for this.  You will have to heat it for a few minutes on the stove top with other greens.  Serve the pork chops over streamed cauliflower- preferably steamed in chicken broth for added flavor and nutrition- with greens, onions and sauce.  Garnish with finely chopped fresh mint.

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The Great Button Debate

Despite being slowed down a bit by several custom orders through the shop, the knitting is finished.  It’s now button time.  Isn’t amazing how drastically buttons can change the feel of a piece?  I thought I had found the perfect set, but at a total of six within my collection I was shy the seventh needed to complete this sweater.  So we have the runners up.  I think I’ve made my decision.

I picked up The Gargoyle from the library, which Jasmine recommended in this post and compulsively devoured the entire book.  At one point I found myself weighing the over-under on seriously injuring myself if I attempted continuing to read while chopping vegetables.  Common sense and a modicum of self-preservation won out.  That and the knowledge that one of the kids was bound to walk in on me and point out that I would never in a million years let them do such a thing, which is true enough.

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The Handcrafted Wardrobe: Mother-Son Sewing and Apron Inspiration

Elijah has decided he’s going to start making all of his shirts, since he can’t find styles that he likes in his size.  After a long couple of days last week, when we woke up to heavy rain, I declared a sewing day.  I even changed my plans and opted for a project in a similar color to his so that we could share the sewing machine without having to re-thread.  He completed his entire shirt that day, while I only manged cutting out the majority of my project.  It must be nice to have so few responsibilities!  Still, sneaking in a seam here and a seam there, I made slow, but steady progress.

  On the very day I wished to wear it, shortly before leaving the house, I resolved to quickly finish it up.  Dear reader, this is how almost all of my projects are completed, if they are ever to be completed at all.

At the very, very last minute, I decided that unless I was planning on picking up work as a serving wench, the neckline was much too low.  When Steve walked in on me standing at my sewing machine- because who has time to find a chair?, in my underwear- I can’t very well alter a dress that I’m still wearing, now can I?  sheesh. He paused momentarily, taking in the scene, before seemingly coming to the conclusion that this was perfectly normal behavior for his wife and without a word went back to packing the car.

  My dress is a very heavily altered Washi, but I think I’ll have to save the details for another post because this one is already going to be a long one!

Our new challenge for June 27th is “Comfort”.  Two potential ways of approaching this challenge are the creation of clothing that is comfortable to wear or crafting that is a comfort in the making, perhaps using a favorite pattern that is so well known to you that working with it becomes almost meditative.  I’m sure there are many other ways of working with this theme as well.

Don’t forget, we’re looking at aprons next week!  Here is a selection of free apron patterns and tutorials to intrigue and inspire:

Gathering Apron

Harvest Half Apron

Yet another style harvest apron

Clothespin Apron

PDF Booklet Featuring 27 Vintage Apron Patterns

Romantic, Regency Inspired Country Apron

Edwardian Apron

“Best Worn Barefoot” Smock (a good option for maternity wear)

Recycled Men’s Shirt Apron

Japanese Style Cross-Back Aprons: tutorials 1 and 2 and a  child-mother matching version

No patterns, but tons of inspiration can be found at The Vermont Apron Company’s shop and blog.


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June

“Things didn’t turn out the way that they were supposed to, but what can you do?  You must take life the way it comes at you and make the best of it” ~Yann Martel, Life of Pi

I finished Life of Pi.  While there were some aspects of it that I liked, I did not enjoy reading it. I do not enjoy gruesome violence.  And yet at the end it left me with many things to think about.  And I feel like it could inspire many deep and intriguing conversations.  I think I’ll pass it on to the teenager who has a high threshold for gore and hold it back from the one who, like me, is more sensitive to such things.

“Cake” decorating.

I love the way that rain and dew cling to lady’s mantle.  I have mixed feelings about this year’s garden.  I try to spend any time out there in the front, where most of the flowers are.  Ever changing, wild masses at a distance and pure delicate beauty up close, they are cheering.  For now anyway.  If I don’t find the strength and time to put some serious work in on them, they will quickly be over run, much like sections of our vegetable garden…

In theory a garden bed exists under this.  The back, our beloved kitchen garden, mostly makes me feel anxious and guilty.  I haven’t had the strength for it and the open land is reclaimed so quickly.  It’s over-whelming.  Steve has spearheaded a work team on weekends and occasional evenings.  Slowly, with the help of the kids, the garden is being brought back in hand.  On my own I’ll go out and try to do a bit here and there, only to be thwarted by some minor setback, throw my hands up in the air and retreat.

When she thinks we’re not watching, this one makes a beeline for the stone wall and deftly scales it, hoping to go exploring in the woods before anyone notices she’s gone.  When caught she quickly turns around, with her hands in her lap and a painted on expression of sweet innocence and declares with tellingly over-dramatic force and emotion, “I just sittin’ here!”

uh-huh.

A pair of grey foxes at dusk, as seen through my living room window.  One of the reasons I’m questioning the logic of our potential chicken venture.  

Two new holzhausen, making our front garden seem like a tiny village.

In the last two weeks I’ve knitted almost an entire adult sweater- body, button bands, collar, one full sleeve and two-thirds of a second.  If nothing else it is surely a personal record.  Ironically, this must make me sound like a lady of leisure.  If only that were true.  One of my children has been very ill, in a way that keeps us both up late into the night, every night.  I crawl into bed, desperate and weak, as the birds begin their morning serenade.  Most of the time there is not much I can do, beyond being present.  Luna moths bounce off the window screens, while we watch 60′s sitcoms as a distraction from the pain, our skin becomes polka-dotted with no-see-um bites and, in between providing all the practical care I can, I knit in an attempt to stay sharp and sane.

This summer is not shaping up to be the one I had planned.  In my mind, though I don’t mean to do it, I sometimes find that I’ve already written it off and started looking towards fall.

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