Category Archives: snapshots

While we were away….

The last picture is of our arrival back home.

It was the week we discovered Seraphina’s love of slides.  On the way down the sky worked up a sampler as we encountered every kind of cloud imaginable.  I randomly took pictures of and off bridges.  We collectively discovered that while virtually useless in the country, when stuck in the suburbs, sidewalk chalk may well be one of the best things ever invented. I knitted a whole shawl, from start to finish, in less than a week, then cast on a cool weather cardigan for our littlest one.  My hands ached with knitting.  It’s possible that a simple textured shawl may be just about the most perfect sort of travel knitting.  We visited with sisters and aunts and uncles and grandparents.  Memories were made.

It was not easy.  Three of seven days in and lacking a co-parent, I found myself with three children who wanted to go home and one who wasn’t keen on coming in the first place. I coaxed and spoke of visits with Grandma and a trip to the Renaissance Faire.  They rallied.  Somewhat.  For segments of time.  The “better period” lapsed. My mother got sick.  A migraine set in.  Everywhere was loud; trains and traffic and sirens, and crowded and smelling of exhaust and lawn spray.  I’m sure all that was true on our last visit, but is just seemed so much more so this time.  Towards the end of the (marathon) week I started having visions of myself walking through my own front door, collapsing on the floor in tears of relief and fervently vowing never to leave the house again.  For a twist, I actually found myself sitting on my parent’s living room floor, the morning before returning home, after a grand total of 1 1/2 hours sleep, crying over what I’m not even sure I know.  Many people needed different things from me and it was not possible to accommodate them all.  There was heartbreak. It all seemed very tragic at the time.  And no, this is not how I usually behave.  My nerves were just that frayed.  Sensory over-load.  Too many, too fragile people to hold the space for.  As it turns out, we were decidedly not ready for travel just yet.

Coming home we left what felt like August and drove on into November.  I didn’t weep or make any dramatic declarations, but after the car was unpacked and the kids sent off to bed, I did sit with a cup of tea and stare at the fire for a good long while.

It’s chilly here now.  We missed peak foliage at the pond.  I’ve been thinking of making Mairi Rose a winter coat.  Quite suddenly it seems to be time to stop thinking and start sewing or come up with a plan B.  I’m glad and ready to be back home with my sewing machine.

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Back to (home) School Pictures and Sewing

Usually I take their back to school pictures over the course of about half an hour after lunch on our first day back.  This year it took me three solid weeks just to get everyone photographed and another two to edit the photos.

Mairi’s new dress is an Oliver and S. Playtime Dress.  The bodice is linen.  The skirt and sleeves were made from an older fabric that came from my mother-in-law, the style of which somehow reminds me of hand-me-downs from my own childhood.

Elijah as been at it again and made himself a new shirt for the new school year, complete with a double piped and hand-embroidered yoke.

See how they’ve grown….

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2012

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cloaked in goldenrod

“She watched her little ones walk around their only world, the one that she was creating.  She hoped that the wars within her would not break upon their delicate shores.” ~Marie Mielke, Soul Gardening: Issue 18

I’ve always been a collector of quotes, but I find I am especially so just now.

Yes, I’m rather obsessed with the chickens.  But mostly I wanted portraits of each of them to include in my garden journal.  One of the roosters tried to crow for the first time a couple of weeks ago and let out this hilarious half-crow, half-squawk that made Elijah and I look at each other and burst out laughing.  It has improved since then….if you can consider loud, jarring noises…occurring regularly…. during the only hours I have a shot at sleeping, an improvement.  Seraphina’s crow is improving as well.  She hides her face in the hem of my skirt and, “ruh-rah-rah-rah-roo”s her heart out.  I don’t know why her face must be covered with my skirt to do this, but apparently it must. Mothers know so little really.

A single golden, glorious day, where, at least for a little while, all seven of us were together and well enough to be out and about.

Our new batch of sauerkraut includes both red and green cabbage, beets and carrots and looks like a big jar of confetti.  For a quick meal last week I seasoned ground beef, kind of as I would for tacos and served it over yams with fried onions, chopped cucumber, and veggie cheese.  That one is going on the meal plan, for ease if nothing else.  Though really it was quite delicious and hearty as well. Radishes, grated carrot, fresh herbs, avocado, all sorts of things could go on top.

Between us, we collaboratively made a new set of napkins.  There were five of us working on them in one way or another, but I think Iain ended up doing most of the sewing.  I have another set in a coordinating print all cut out and waiting for a rainy day.

Our back door has been broken for a while, but it’s now to the point where I can literally put my hand through to the outside.  I found a potentially beautiful wooden one to replace it, but it required a great deal of attention.  Every night for a week, while dinner cooked or the kids did their after-meal chores, I’d go out and work for 45 minute or so.  It’s nearly ready now.

Elijah is trying to grow a giant pumpkin.  It got a late and rough start.  While I don’t think it’s going to end up county fair worthy, it is filling out and shaping up to be the biggest pumpkin we’ve ever grown.

A new nature study necklace for my shop, which is now open, though I’m still in the process of setting it up.

I’ve made a reservation for two nights in November at a tiny lakeside cabin nearby.  It’s to be a big surprise for the children.  I don’t know when I’ve ever needed a vacation more.  I’m now eager to finish my sweater, as I picture myself wrapped in it while watching mist rise off the water, sitting on the cabin porch, steeping in the scent of pine trees, chilled damp earth, and wood smoke.  I only have one button band left to go.  And pockets.  I do believe it shall have pockets.

It’s such a hard season to keep up with posting regularly.  This happens every year around this time.  I think I usually get into a groove again in October?  Meanwhile, I find myself not getting around to it day after day and then putting out these massive monster catch-up posts every two weeks.  Such is life.

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Holding and Held

What to say? Galen has started work on Christmas presents.  Cucumbers and zucchinis are coming in.  The chickens are getting big…soon there will be eggs. It remains to be seen whether or not we will be able to eat them. At a time of year when most other gardens, ours included, are a fiery mass of colors, our front garden is having it’s white moment. It’s calmly beautiful, though short lived.  My favorite crimson rose is about to bloom again.

I’ve barely been knitting at all.  My head is swimming with lesson plans and meal plans and sewing projects and cold weather house preparations to be made.  I’m envious of mothers that have childless periods of time in which to think and work uninterrupted.  I could be so much more effective if I had the mental and physical space to plan and prepare.

The chickens aren’t the only ones growing.  I’m keenly aware that not just one, but two of my children will be able to vote in not the current, but the next presidential election!  I have two high-schoolers this year.  Iain is actively working through the state required steps for getting his driver’s license.  This growing children thing is getting serious!

My “baby” is no longer a baby, but an extremely active, clever and mischievous young girl, perhaps the very 2ist two year old I’ve ever encountered.  Last week when she was doing something naughty and being quite cheerful about it, I told her it wasn’t funny and she looked at me and replied, “I laughin’…”

This week marked a right of passage for my oldest daughter as well.  After many months of comments like, “There are only two people in dance class who don’t have their ears pierced.  You know who they are?  Me and Galen.”  And being assured that having pierced ears makes for a loving sister, with a sunny disposition, who does her chores without complaint and always remembers to put her clothes in the hamper, etc.  We finally agreed to take her to get her ears pierced.

Not being one to take for granted that the conventional way of doing things is always the best way and feeling really uncomfortable with the idea of some random kid at the mall putting holes in my child’s body, I did my research first.  Based on what I read, I decided that a professional piercer using traditional methods (as in a needle, not a gun) was the way to go for our family.

I nervously gave her some relaxing and pain relieving herbs in the waiting room before hand. She didn’t even bat an eye.  She didn’t flinch or whimper or cry, her eyes didn’t well up…she was just totally chill.  That girl is pretty hardcore.  We’re using chamomile tea bag compresses now, in addition to regular saline rinses, to help with healing and reduce the risk of infection.  She’s pleased as punch.  I don’t think there has ever been a gift she’s liked so much.

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harvesting and a sweater for every occation

The garlic is in and at least a few blueberries made it to the freezer.  I had really hoped to make it back to the blueberry farm again by now.  We thought the tiny girl would just park herself somewhere and gorge away, blueberries being her very favorite.  But she took her task very seriously and was determined to fill her own little basket.  She went off on her own (we kept an eye on her of course).  We kept asking if she wanted to pick with one of us and she would reply, “No, I pickin’ with myself!”

It’s birthday sweater season, where my knitting project is dependent on who happens to be in the room with me.  I have one color work sweater where I feel completely certain about the color selection, but nervous about the pattern and a second one where I’m completely at ease with the pattern, but nervous about the color selection.

I actually haven’t started Iain’s sweater yet. My gauge is so horrendously off that I haven’t had the courage to face it.  Ravelry had the wrong yarn weight listed and I was silly enough not to double check with the pattern.  Every time I sit down to try and figure it out I think,”OR I could just pick up one of these sweaters I already have started and have a nice relaxing knit.  Yes, that does sound quite good.”  And I do just that.

It occurred to me that this is my last week of summer in which to accomplish anything.  Next week our schedule explodes and we are thrust into a full scale, full on, hectic autumn schedule.  Where did the summer go???

I’ve been frantically trying to get the house and our lives together, but I’m so easily sidetracked.  My ridiculous mind keeps having nagging thoughts like, “hmm, maybe we should try to paint the bathroom real quick?”  A perfect example: yesterday I sat down on the futon with a basket of fabric to sort through.  As I was cutting off scrappy ends and tossing them into a trash bag, I was acutely aware of the flat throw pillow I was leaning on.  Let’s just say that the situation escalated and Steve came home from work to find me sitting in the middle of a huge pile of stuffing and bits of random fabric, pulling apart packed together fibers and blistering my hands chopping scraps up into teeny-tiny little flecks.  These things happen, right?  I’m happy to say that we do now have three fluffy pillows to recline on at the end of our long hard days. Of course, they are now too big for their pillow cases, so there is that….

I’m sometimes alarmed by how much my life resembles an episode of I Love Lucy.

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The Handcrafted Wardrobe: History

My father recently acquired some old family photographs.  I want copies of every single one of them, but so far I’ve only managed to scan a couple.

The baby in that top one is my grandmother.  Would you just look at my great-grandmother?  Pearls at the beach!  Ack!  I love it.  The second one is my grandmother again, but a bit older this time.  All of those ruffles slay me.  The last one is of my grandparents together.  I’ve had this one for a while now and that dress has really got to be one of my absolute favorite dresses of all time.  I have no idea what color it actually was, but I always pictured the bodice in a dark green velvet, with the skirt being a warm ivory.

And this one….

Is really completely off topic, but the boy on the left there is my father and I just really think that teenage Elijah looks a lot like teenage dad.  And I also kind of think Elijah would dig that jacket.

Over the years I’ve discovered that I adore fashion and clothing, and yet I have absolutely no interest in current trends.  A huge part of the appeal for me is the story behind the garment.  And it just seems like the only story behind most modern styles is that so-and-so famous person wore it and it caught on.  That means nothing to me.  Which is not to say that I’m not influenced by current fashion.  We none of us live in a vacuum!  Everyone’s views and tastes are shaped by the time and environment that they live in.  I’m just not passionate about it. 

What really fascinates me is where clothing and history meet.  Those times in the past where situations arose that shaped a style.  Events that may not even seem to have any relation to fashion at all, but which in retrospect, have had a huge impact.  Think of the invention of the bicycle and how it was really the start of the downfall of the strictly bound corset.  Women suddenly had this new found freedom in a mode of transportation that was relatively inexpensive and socially acceptable for them to utilize on their own.  The only catch?  Dressed as they were, they couldn’t bloody well breathe to make it up those hills!

In particular I’m truly intrigued by those periods of times where clothing yourself and family was a struggle, say during wartime or a depression.  What really inspires me are those times when women, and men too I’m sure, but mostly it was women, looked at a situation and said, “okay, we’re going to make this work, but we’re going to make it beautiful too”.  Times when creativity and ingenuity were paramount.  Think flour sack dresses or blouses cut just so, to use a minimal amount of fabric while still remaining feminine and flattering.  Think of women going in droves into factories and farm work and needing to keep their hair out of the way for safety’s sake.  That could have been a strictly utilitarian endeavor, but women went and cultivated styles that were glamorous instead.  Have you seen some of the dresses and other articles of clothing from after WWII made of silk maps?  With cloth rationing still on the escape maps printed on silk being brought back by soldiers must have seemed as good a source of fabric as any.  Look at knitting in times of lack, when stripes become en vogue and intricate fair-isles made from odds and ends, along with whatever you could harvest from a worn out old sweater, start cropping up. Even the rebound effect of luxuriating in fabulously full skirts and the completely frivolous use of fabric after rationing was lifted is an intriguing glimpse into a particular period in time.

As I said, it’s the story that captivates me, whether it be a hand-woven fabric made in some ancient tradition, the alchemy of yarn dyed with local flora, or a little snippet of embroidery that’s the mark of a doting mother’s hand.  Perhaps that’s why I’m so drawn to making clothing.  Hand made garments have their own unique tales to tell.

For a lavishly illustrated look at some of the fashions of years gone by, taking you all the way back as far as we can gather, check out Fashion: The Definitive History of Costume and Style.  It does not disappoint.

What about you?  Are there any eras you are particularly drawn to?  What is the appeal?

Last week I forgot to announce the next challenge!  It’s August 15: Just for Fun.

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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 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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