Category Archives: WIP

The Handcrafted Wardrobe: Simplicity Seeking

First off, I want to say thank you for all of the kind comments on my last post.  I’ve read them all, several times.  And I wish I had the time to write back to each of you, but that’s just not possible right now.  I sincerely thank you for the words of comfort, encouragement and support.

This week I’ve been planning a handcrafted wardrobe on a smaller scale, for my dear Mairi Rose, who is very much in need of clothing for the autumn.  I came up with a pretty simple plan with just a handful of different patterns and shapes: a basic sweatshirt-tunic type thing*, a playdress, leggings.  I have a pajama pattern that I might alter to make her a pair or two of elastic waist slacks with elastic gathers at the ankles in a sturdy fabric for hiking and climbing trees and that sort of thing.  And I think I’ll do a basic, quick and easy peasant dress for nighties and maybe cut it short for a blouse or two.   I’m really proud of myself for keeping my plans minimal and reasonably do-able.

I realized that this sort of simplicity is really what I need within my own wardrobe making endeavors.  A set of capsule patterns for a capsule wardrobe.  Easier said than done.

I was once invited to join a group of dear women in encouraging each other to be creative.  While I was honored to be asked and delighted to be involved with these lovely women, I was totally baffled by the idea of needing encouragement in this area.  Frankly, if people really wanted to help me out, they would create some sort of support group that teaches people to resist creative urges.  Or perhaps find something that could just siphon off all those surplus creative juices that so often turn me into an inspiration fueled crazy person. Because, like so many other areas of my life, this is what happens when I come up with a good basic plan…. the “and maybe…”s start up.  And maybe I’ll make this alteration to that pattern and this one and that one, effectively turning into drafting an entirely new pattern, which is neither quick, nor easy, nor simple.  Or I’ll come up with a collection of basic patterns and maybe decide that I should just add in a few other ones just for fun and maybe a few to add interest, etc., and it snowballs.

Less stress, streamlined sewing, comfortable basics, these are really what I need right now, so I must find a way to gag the muse and get on with it.  Perhaps if I just keep uttering the words, “Keep it simple, keep it simple, keep it simple” over and over again?

Do you think you could come up with core patterns to be repeated for a basic wardrobe and stick to it?  What would you include?

*I now see that this pattern has been retired, so back to the drawing board on that one.

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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: Refashion Candidates

First up some details about my sweater in progress.  I’m making a Calligraphy Cardigan (love that name).  I think it will be just right for all of those autumnal hikes I’m praying I have the chance to take.  It’s not my highest knitting priority at the moment, but I’m still hoping that putting in a bit of time here and there will let me finish it by cool weather.

My “Just for Fun” project is nearly complete.  I really needed something frivolous and not the least bit serious to counterbalance some intense situations in my life.  And while it felt like just what I needed in that moment, I was also making it for a specific event, which has now passed (because rushing and pushing myself for something entirely unnecessary was decidedly not what I needed) and now I have absolutely no idea where I would ever wear it.  I’m feeling a little panicky, like autumn is bearing down on me, and perhaps this particular detour was not such a good one?  I now need to get very serious about some practical sewing, not just for myself, but also for my children.

I thought I would start by trying to make something of a couple of pieces which currently aren’t of use to anyone, but still have a bit of life left in them, and seeing if I could make them useful again.

This first sweater was accidentally sent to us.  I believe it’s a men’s sweater.  When I asked the two man shaped people in my house if either of them was interested in it they scoffed and looked at me like I was nuts.  It’s not like I picked it out!  I just wanted clearance to cut it up!

It’s 90% cotton and 10% cashmere, so quality fabric worth trying to make something of.

I’ve had this basic cotton cardigan for maybe 6 years now?  Every outfit that I put it over suddenly turns all frumpy, and not in a good way.  Plus there is that weird, slightly off thing with the button band and also, this hole…

This was one of my favorite shirts of Steve’s because it’s incredibly soft to cuddle up to.  But it’s life as a men’s shirt was cut short by a building accident….

Classy, no?

I have no idea what’s going to come of any of these projects, but there is nothing lost by cutting them up and giving it a try.  Something to think on this week: is there anything around your house that’s just dying to be made into something new?

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boyish scenes and other bits

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SaveA while ago, possibly months even (?), someone wrote to me asking if I could post a picture of my on-going blanket project.  I replied that of course I could!  And then promptly forgot about the whole thing.  Better late than never?

This project is just over a year old now.  In terms of size perspective, Iain is right around 5′ 10″ and the blanket is folded under in such a way that maybe 1/2 to 2/3′s of the width is showing.  I had kind of thought that maybe it would be nice to finish it for this autumn, but I ran out of yarn ends to add to it, so I’ll have to keep completing other projects for a while to replenish my supply.

More about the blanket here.  And here is another in progress photo.  Looking back at these old posts and knowing where we are at right now, all I can think is that this has been a very hard year.

I haven’t done much reading this week, but when I do I’m back to reading Living Language as I start trying to flesh out the coming school year.

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days of pink lace

I’m still reading and enjoying The Summer Book.

I’m trying to pull myself out of a long standing food funk.  Breakfast one day last week: Cinnamon-Raisin Meatballs, broccoli from our garden and half a Japanese yam.

I’ve gotten out of the habit of making sauerkraut, even though my children love it and it’s excellent for them and good too just to have around to pad out meals.  After years of successful kraut making, we were experiencing problems with mold growth.  It was frustrating and wasteful and at some point I just gave up.  This time I used this method, packing it in a Fido Jar to ferment and it turned out beautifully.  We get our jars at our local Farmer’s Supply, but you can also find them here.

I’ve also been experimenting with making vegetable based “cheeses”.  I added some fresh herbs from the garden to the batch above.

Speaking of the garden, these purple radishes have grown amazingly this year.  I wish I could remember what variety they are!

The first pair of little toddler socks are done and seriously a more adorable, little, rosy, lacy pair of tiny ankle socks has never been seen.  I always want to nibble her toes when she wears them.  They are made of yarn leftover from this dress and bonnet.  Would you just look at her perfectly precious, tiny baby self?  Darling little love of my heart.

There are so many small projects going on all the time here, but little to no time to share them.

The chicken coop is well underway!  So far we’ve managed to use all salvaged materials.  Once we get to the siding I think we’ll be investing in some local rough-cut lumber.

Someone discovered her old Moses basket!

Do you know the trick of blocking hats and bonnets over an inflated balloon?  Just blow it up to about the size you need and balance it on a bowl.  Or, as in this case, with a very tiny bonnet, a large mug.

One of my oldest and dearest friends just found out that her fifth baby is going to be her first girl.  If that isn’t a reason to knit a pink lacy bonnet, I don’t know what is!  (you can’t tell me that there is never a reason.  I simply won’t believe you.)

This is my Flora Irene pattern again (also here and here).  I have three patterns either ready or almost ready to go out to test knitters.  But the test knitting process requires my being ever available and quick to answer questions.  And as my over-flowing inbox will attest, that is *not* in the cards at the moment.  frustrating.

Oh, have I mentioned it’s reversible?

I often get asked why I don’t talk more about chronic illness and how it effects our lives.  I guess the simple answer is that there is enough heartbreak and sorrow in the world.  And I’d rather devote my precious little time to trying to put some beauty and joy out there.

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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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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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Handcrafted Wardrobe: Summer is A-Comin’ In

Around every corner there seems to be someone in need of me, at every hour of the day.  I’ll have to wait until next week to share my project.  But I’m very much looking forward to seeing what others have been working on!

If you haven’t been doing so already, do have a look at the comments on these posts!  There are many interesting conversations happening.

Happy Monday friends!

 


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May Day

I’m so pleased with everyone’s enthusiasm for The Handcrafted Wardrobe project!  I am ridiculously excited about it.

I have no brain for original blog post titles.  I’m worn out today.  It’s been raining constantly.  It’s kind of depressing.  And soggy.

By carrying Elijah’s sweater vest about with me through out the day and knitting a stitch here and there, I think I’m on track to finish on time for his birthday.  fingers crossed.  I’m starting to think about projects beyond.  There are three sweaters I want to make myself.  Alright, there are thousands of sweaters I want to make myself!  But, there are three that I want to make right now.  Which is not in line with my current no-yarn-money status.  I’m making an effort not to resent my doctor for taking my yarn money.  I know he’s just trying to help me.  But if he comes in to my next appointment with a fabulous new hand-knit sweater, we’re going to have words.

May Day was beautiful. Not the weather of course, though it didn’t rain too, too much.  I taught Mairi and Galen how to knit i-cords and they made us garlands like these to wear.  I didn’t bring my camera; which fell somewhere between consciously deciding and outright forgetting.  I wasn’t sure how much I would be up for; my strength waxes and wanes, so I brought a sleeping bag and spread it on the grass beside the maypole and tucked sweet Miss Seraphine up with me.  But when everyone grabbed a ribbon, she jumped up, declaring, “Serasina need to get bow!” and ran off to join in.  She held the tail end of Mairi’s and she danced the entire time.  In the very last 30 seconds or so, when everyone was rushing around trying to tie up the band standing under the maypole, as is our tradition, a friends scooped her up and ran the last lap around with her.   I have requested at least one photo of her epic dance from someone who did take pictures.  I would like a memento of that for posterity’s sake.

I’m currently reading Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up.  Sad but true: I am a hopelessly disorganized and chronically messy person who reads cleaning and organizing books for pleasure.

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flowers and books and wool

I just finished reading To Kill a Mockingbird again, so that it will be fresh in my mind for discussing with the child I’m assigning it to.  That’s one of the nice things about homeschooling, you find yourself actually re-reading the classics instead of just thinking you should.  I am every bit as in love with Atticus Finch as I was twenty-odd years ago.  I’ve moved on to Sensible Physics Teaching (I know how you all envy my crazy, madcap life!).

What a difference a week can make, in terms of both weather and knitting alike!  I don’t want to jinx myself by saying it out loud, but in the back of my mind I’ve kind of been thinking that maybe, just maybe, there is a chance of finishing this vest in time for his birthday?  Of course all of those ends in need of working in must be taken into consideration.

He selected all of the colors.  All except for one are very close to the shades in the original.  He couldn’t find a yellow in the yarn we were using that suited, so went with a dark green instead. I’m not sure it has enough pop.  That star motif seems kind of murky to me.

In other knitterly news, I finally broke down and bought a set of interchangeable circular needles.  Remember Seraphina’s sweet little birthday romper?  The part I didn’t mention was that I managed to break 4 needles on that collar!  The first one was a valid break, just the strain of a great many stitches (almost 400 I think) on a well crafted teeny-tiny wooden needle.  The next three however were complete negligence on the needle manufacturer’s part.  For my birthday, Iain and Elijah plopped down what turned out to be a really cheaply made set of circular needles in front of me and declared that I was never allowed to complain about not having the right needle again!  This was a very sweet an thoughtful idea of course.  But when I couldn’t slide the stitches down the needle at all or the needle slipped right off the cord, dropping most of my stitches off the end, I quickly found other things to complain about!  Thankfully they were in bed at the time, so I was left twitching, muttering to myself, and wishing we kept hard liquor or some sort of sedative in the house, away from their scrutiny.

With a sigh I realized I needed to replace two of those broken needles for Elijah’s vest.  The more I thought about it the more all this buying a needle here and there, as needed, was getting ridiculous.  So with a friend’s encouragement and after assuring my family that chipping in for this would be an early Mother’s Day present that would make me deliriously happy, I took the plunge.  And can I just say, I LLLLLLOOOOOOOOVVVVVVVVE them!  I mean so much.  I can’t believe I didn’t do this sooner.

After a whole lot of deliberation I went with the 4″, small tip set with regular points and I am very happy with them.  Also almost every size needle I ever knit with is all organized in this one tiny packet.  I’m still amazed by that.  It seems like nothing and yet it’s everything.  Brilliant.
KCCO

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