Category Archives: sewing

Hello friends

I started a post about Seraphina’s birthday, one about finishing a quilt for Iain, one about how I thought I was done with blogging.  Not a one of them ever went anywhere.  I know that some of you have been worried and for that I am very sorry.  Others have been sad or frustrated and I apologize for that as well.

I’ve been asked a number of times if I’m no longer in this space for good reasons or for bad and the frank answer is a little of each.

A few months ago we joined a homeschooling co-op.  We meet twice a week for two very long days.  It is both satisfying and all consuming.  I think that for Seraphina it’s like suddenly having 15 new siblings.  She always wants to go so desperately and when we are there it’s running from one thing to the next, all smiles for everyone.  Her current favorite game is to see how outrageously she can behave before Mommy will stop teaching to reprimand her.  When it’s time to leave she cries.  And when we get home, more often then not, she has a complete breakdown and spends the intervening days clinging to me like an infant.  It’s all mommy, all the time, making it pretty impossible to accomplish just about anything.

I’m co-leading a book club for the oldest kids (including Elijah and Iain when he has the time), where we’ve been reading the likes of Wuthering Heights and To Kill a Mockingbird.  And yes, I am  still not-so-secretly in love with Atticus Finch.  Fun fact: I attended the 7th grade book fair as the ghost of Catherine Earnshaw after having donned a lacy nightgown of my mother’s and powdering my face white.

I’m leading a book club for the next level down, including Galen, where we are just finishing up Swallows and Amazons, even though Galen has read it before.  That kiddo is a tough one.  It’s hard to find an appropriate book he hasn’t read.

I teach what I tend to think of as a small, mixed age, Waldorf kindergarten type class, which Seraphina has lovingly christened her “circle time class”.  I have a huge age range, with ten 1-8 year olds.  I lead a circle time with dancing, singing, story telling and finger plays followed by nature crafts.  We’ve made nests and nature weavings and played with snow dough, little clay pinch pots planted out with cress and more.

I’m also assistant teaching two drawing classes and helping out with a singing class.  It’s a lot.  With our dietary restrictions even just the food prep is an ordeal.  We’ve just shifted to a much more laid back, one day a week schedule, with lots of outdoor time and most classes being done until Sept.  I’ll be glad to take a step back and regroup.  Of course we have a singing concert, two performances of a play, an Irish dance concert and a ballet concert, with all the associated dress rehearsals over the course of the next three weeks, so we are still keeping quite busy, but things truly do ease up after that.

This is all the hectic but good developments.  Also in our world…

We were informed that Steve’s job of 14 years is moving several states away at the end of the year, and as we have made the decision not to move with it, there is a lot to consider.

Our ill little one, who miraculously and inexplicably grew well again around Christmas time, just as inexplicably began to decline again by Easter and we’ve found ourselves back in the world of long sleepless nights and seemingly endless worry.  I come unmoored at these times and loose all concept of time or priorities beyond what is in front of me.  I can’t even see beyond that.  It’s not even possible.  Full weeks just drift away without my being able to account for them.

Honestly, the only reason I am managing to finally post at all is that I’m laid up with “post vital cough syndrome”, Pleurisy (inflammation of tissue lining the lungs) and a resurgence of the RADS that hasn’t really given me trouble in over a decade.  In layman’s terms: whenever I try to move about I start coughing so hard that I see stars and feel like I’m going to vomit.

As to my future here, I truly don’t know.  Perhaps this post will be the catalyst that propels me back into regular blogging or maybe this will forever serve as my farewell post.  I feel like it could go either way.  There is so much up in the air right now that I have no idea what the future will bring.

No matter what, please know that this space and your involvement in it has been incredibly dear to me over the years.  Thank you all so much for sharing this little window into our life.  I’ve so enjoyed all of your comments and messages.

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March

And now it is March. Mid-March!  I just can’t keep up! Constant doings, in constant motion. I  thought older kids were supposed to be less work??? What they lack in hands on parenting needs, they sure make up for in administrative work. I’ve spent the last several weeks putting together portfolios of work for every subject that Iain studied in his first two years of high school, so that he can earn all the credits he needs in order to graduate.  I think the scanner is starting to make my brain vibrate.  And all of the paper work!  Forms for end of year dance recitals, forms for the prom, permission slips for outings, registration for 4H events, for school next year, for chess competitions, forms, forms, forms.  One of my favorites?  The back up emergency contact form.  In the event that something happens to my child, while doing his lessons, under my roof, with me present.  For when he finds himself in some sort of dire situation that his teachers on the other side of the state are aware of, but somehow I, in the same building with him, am not.  And somehow they can not contact me…. or Steve-either at work or on his cell phone.  I can’t really formulate a scenario where this would happen, perhaps some sort of crazy hostage situation?  But man, when it all goes down, calling my father, several states away, will help tremendously.

And on the subject of urgent situations, I whipped up some emergency throw pillow covers.  No thought, no planning, just grabbing fabrics at random; old flannel shirts, scraps of linen, pieces of an ill-fitting pillow case and stitching away.  I know you are all thinking, “Melody, there is no such thing as a throw pillow cover emergency.”  And I’m here to tell you that there is!  I won’t go into all the gruesome details, you are just going to have to trust me on this one.

Some little person (I hear she’s actually a snow angel) has a birthday coming up very soon!  Much making and planning under way…

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The Handcrafted Wardrobe: Decluttering Craft Areas

A little update on the 2017 decluttering challenge: I’ve been at it for just about four weeks now and so far I’ve rid our home of 741 items.  I am serious about this.  Conversely in that same time I did come home with a couple of new things.  Circumstances considered, I was very well behaved.  The first series of temptations came during an outing to a rare and used bookstore where everything was being sold for next to nothing.  The second was a craft swap where everything was available for literally nothing.  Books and craft supplies.   My kryptonite.

A hundred and six year old first edition copy of a book that I thought might make a pleasant family read aloud, two children’s magazines from 1937 and 1944 respectively, that have the sweetest illustrations and which I intend to tuck into Mairi’s Easter basket and two old knitting magazines.  Including the six or so books that Mairi, Galen, and Seraphina picked out, we spent $12.

I came home with a few things from the sewing and knitting exchange as well.  There was an entire room full of free sewing and knitting supplies people!  I’m only human.  Still, I dropped off three boxes worth of donations and everything I came home with fit in my handbag.  Not such a bad exchange.

The two designs above are from Bear Brand Campus Knits Vol. 335, cira 1947.  The patterns have rather humorous names such as “Beau Catcher” (Steve checked it out and found the bait inferior).  These two above are “Art Appreciation” and “Collegiate” and I can’t decide which I’d rather grace my needles.

I started sifting through craft supplies before I was truly ready because of the swap.  It’s really an emotional process, much like sorting through sentimental items.  I’m afraid this is one area where I’m guilty of keeping every last thing, just in case.  It’s comforting to me to feel that in lean times I could make whatever might be needed.  But I want to live with more freedom now, not stockpiling for a future which may or may not come.  I’ve started looking at certain fabrics and telling myself that I’ve made my dress or blouse or whatever from it and now I can let what’s left move on to someone else.  It has already served it’s purpose for me.  I don’t have to use up every last scrap.  I’m trying to think less in terms of what I could use, as just about everything falls into that category, and more what I genuinely think I will use.  And perhaps more importantly, what I want to use.

What about you?  Do you have experience with decluttering craft supplies or trying to keep a more minimalist craft set up?

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My birthday was beautiful and I feel blessed.  As a gift to myself I finally, finally, finally sewed the buttons onto my Calligraphy cardigan and blocked it and I’ve refused to take it off since it dried.  It still needs pockets.  I need more pockets in my life.  I’ll get to it at some point.  Unfortunately the buttons seem a bit too small or the holes have stretched a bit too much, either way I might have to do something about that as well.  But none of that is stopping me from wearing it constantly.  The yarn is Swish Worsted in “Doe” (I believe this color has been retired).

I just finished reading The Winthrop Woman.  It was most enjoyable.  I had trouble putting it down.

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January 5th, Our Official Day of Familial Excitement….

Really it all started when one of them decided to be born on the other one’s birthday.  Ever since that year, statistically speaking, 1/5 has been a mostly crazy sort of day for us.

While birthday sweaters were wrapped up with needles still in them and many warnings to be careful in the opening of them so as not to inadvertently drop stitches, I did manage a last minute dress for her.  The pattern is Simplicity 5997 from 1973.  It’s actually meant to be a nightgown (their meaning, not mine), but whatever. The rose covered fabric was thrifted by my mother-in-law.  It’s much paler in person.  I’ve been itching for an excuse to buy some of the prints in Rifle’s new fabric collection, and thought this might just be my chance, but $11 per yard plus shipping versus free and already here?  Guess which fabric won out…  She was quite pleased.  I should have gotten a close up of the vintage floral buttons and hand sewn button holes- sewn with real silk button and button hole twist from a tiny wooden spool- also from my mother-in-law.  Yes, the button hole function on my machine is still not working.

This is the second year in a row where we’ve had to call 911 on their birthday.  Lest you think we just go about calling emergency services for every little thing, these have been the only two times we have ever called.  Ok, well Galen once dialed them by accident when he was 2, but I don’t think that counts (they don’t really care for that kind of thing, by the way).

This year’s calamity involved a chimney fire with flames shooting several feet into the air.  Bless our metal roof and single digit temperatures with frosty snow all around.  And the chimney being run almost entirely outside the house instead of in the walls.  These things and these things alone meant a night of excitement instead of full out disaster.

Seraphina thought that the firefighters were coming to fight us and that we were basically under siege and bravely told Mairi that she would save her.

Iain spent the entire day pretty much too sick to move, poor kid. He did open gifts, but that was about it.  You know your kids are feeling pretty miserable when the whole house is illuminated by flashing lights and surrounded by emergency vehicles with people coming in and out and around every which way and me piling snow boots and sweaters around them in case we are forced to evacuate and two out of the five of them barely bothered to lift their heads or open their eyes or even seem to register what is happening at all.

Also, it would be the case that what felt like half the town would turn out and need entrance to the house immediately after I tore apart the pantry, scattering it’s contents all over ever flat surface in the house.  Along the lines of this…

Only everywhere else as well.  Seriously, that wasn’t embarrassing at all.

Iain is much better now and we did have a belated celebration for him a few days later.

On their birthday, as the fire fighters, first responders, et al left, I resisted the temptation to say that we’d see them next year.  Here’s hoping we don’t!

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Light is returning….

Happy winter to one and all!  And, well, a happy summer to all the rest!

We woke up to snow again this morning.  It feels like it’s going to be a very snowy winter.  We’ll have a white Christmas for sure.  Plans for the day include tea, leftover chili, the baking of sun bread, and Elijah and I settling into some serious sewing.

I sewed a Winter Solstice inspired rope vessel as a gift for our neighbor who always hosts our annual celebration.  I’ve actually made a number of rope bowls/baskets over the last six months or so.  After the holidays I will try to share more.  I feel like I’ve learned a great deal in the making of them.

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Little Autumn Wardrobes

I’ve been sewing up a storm all season.  The girls were in need of cool weather clothing and I’ve been slowly filling out their wardrobes.  These are from early in the autumn.

Seraphina’s wee over-alls were sort of based on this pattern, with a whole lot of changes, except for the elastic flutter straps which I kept exactly the same.  Over-alls are wonderfully warm and practical for toddlers in so many ways, only not so much when it comes to independent potty use.  At those times they can be greatly frustrating.  Elastic straps are the perfect solution.

I made these using leftover fabric from my luna pants and she is the coziest and cuddliest of little sweet loves in them.

I bought this woodland print jersey to make Mairi Rose a dress for her birthday last year, but never got around to it.  There was enough of it that I managed to eek out both a simple tunic for her (at her request) and a little dress for the Violet Girl.  Both patterns were self-drafted.  Their leggings were made from an old velour maternity dress of mine.

Also shown: Seraphina’s Lil Shepherd and Mairi’s old Blackberry Beret (the original, very first prototype for that pattern!). The beret came out of storage with a small hole and since I’m all about the artistic mending these days, I needle felted violet flourish over it before passing the hat on to it’s new owner.

More details on Seraphina’s Gilipeysa sweater….I reinforced with the sewing machine before cutting the steeks instead of the crochet method which I used last time and found nerve-racking.  I like this way every-so-much better and no longer feel the need to avoid steeked projects. Yay!  I covered the steek ends with some sweet vintage trim.

And on the subject of Halloween costumes in later use, apparently Mairi’s work just as well for Seraphine….

Who knew?

p.s. I know that some of you have been patiently waiting for the release of my lace bonnet pattern.  It is ready to go out to test knitters and I actually have several ready made ones to go into my shop as well, but with the holidays I didn’t think people would want to focus on test knitting, and thought it would be best to put it out there in the New Year.  But it is coming.  I promise.  And hopefully the kitty bonnet will follow soon after.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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