Category Archives: Yarn Crafts

Valentine’s Day

I made myself a dress.  After reading all of Jane Austen’s novels last year, an empire dress seemed inevitable and not made any the less likely by having binge watched Bridgerton.  I amused myself with full on Regency hair to boot, because it’s not like I was going anywhere and it kind of made me laugh.  There are worse things to be than a Jane Austen character for the day!  When I was young people used to swear that I looked just like Jennifer EhIe in Pride and Prejudice.  I’m not sure that the resemblance still stands, but if there was ever a time for it to show, I suppose it would be while I was dressed like this.

I made my littlest love a dress as well.  I haven’t really sewn in a year.  The last thing that I made was a dress for Mairi for a dance last Valentine’s Day.  There was a quickly thrown together Halloween costume fiasco, where Elijah practically propped me up at a machine and handed me everything I needed, while I just settled for trying to make sure that things stuck together, but that doesn’t really count.  I sewed Mairi two dresses last year and Seraphina none and this is a very sore spot.  The fact that Seraphina gets piles of hand-me-downs, both from Mairi and friends, and had at least ten new-to-her and perfectly lovely dresses last year and Mairi had zero hand-me-downs from anyone, means nothing to her.  All that matters is that I sewed Mairi dresses and not Seraphina.

I bought myself the fancy little French violet candies, in the charming little tin, which have been kicking around the back of my head for two decades.  And now I taste like violets.  I thought about getting roses, because it would be fabulous to have roses right now…maybe pale, pale apricot ones?  But decided that it would be wiser to invest in a new house plant to pad out my rather paltry indoor garden.  I spend a couple of weeks obsessing.  Did you know that Etsy offers tons and tons of house plants??  I did not.  Game.  Changer.  In the end I wanted so many that I couldn’t decide on just one, so I didn’t get any at all, which is so very like me.  As it turns out, a friend ended up in possession of a whole bunch of just past their prime flower bunches and she left one on our driveway.  So, there were flowers after-all.

I put little piles of pink foil covered chocolate hearts next to each of their plates because, as it turns out, candy is as welcome with my adult children as the six year old.  The kitties got heart shaped treats and catnip.  The home-made sugar hearts (and flowers and chicks) went out with the girls’ valentines.

Dress details:

Mine is the Folkwear Empire Dress pattern.  Hers is cerisier en fleurs on top, with just a simple skirt I whipped up on the bottom.  All of the fabric came from our old homeschooling co-op, where we maintained a community fabric stash.  It was two old duvet covers with coordinating fabric on front and back.  By the time I got to them, there had been some random head holes and things hacked into them in wild form, by children playing who-knows-what game.  Luckily there was still enough fabric left.  We over-dyed it and the yarn for Seraphina’s with avacado pits and peels because I look god-awful in white and, besides, nothing in this house stays white for long.

I resisted the temptation to add on the optional train, but oh, it was hard!  Highly impractical, I know, but gosh, it would have been so much fun!  Still making a dress from the late 1700′s/early 1800′s seemed eccentric enough.  I actually think I’ll be able to get away with it as regular wear, without too many people pointing and giggling.  Certainly without the ribbons in my hair.  And probably dropping the sash as well.

These days I try to live part time in a fantasy.  Balanced with as much time as I can endeavoring to be very, very present with my kids.   It’s easier to pretend myself a stricken fairy tale character than to fully face the very unromantic, though still somewhat tragic, medical and practical realities of my world.  I’m not really ready to look at everything head on.  Just a periphery glance will do, thank you very much.  Or maybe the modern day version…those gorgeous women on Instagram who swan around in dreamy dresses, putting pretty little touches around their homes, and writing their rose covered lives out like poetry.  Yes, I think I want to be her for a while.


Episode 5: Updates All Around

Or, In Which I Blather On and On….

“It is something to know what to do with ourselves when we are beset, and the knowledge of this way of the will is so far the secret of a happy life, that it is well worth imparting to the children.  Are you cross?  Change your thought.  Are you tired of trying? Change your thoughts.  Are you craving for things you are not to have? Change your thoughts; there is a power within you, your own Will, which will enable you to turn your attention from thoughts that make you unhappy and wrong, to thoughts that make you happy and right.  And this is the exceedingly simple way in which the Will acts.” -Charlotte Mason


On My Needles

My second set of videos are now live!  Yes, I said set, because it’s in two parts again.  It seems that my camera only likes to record for just over 20 minutes, but based on my first two attempts, I seem to like to talk for approximately 24 minutes.  So I’m either going to have to learn to talk faster or to say less!

A long-time blog reader told me that watching these videos is like imagining a character in a book and then meeting that character and being totally surprised.  The really funny thing is that it’s the same for me!  How I look, how I sound, my style of speech… all totally strange and interesting to me.  Really?  That’s me??  If didn’t have the experience of recording it, I don’t know that I would believe it!

Show notes down below….

My poor trashed garden….


The Mini Wrap by Fox & Folk

Isis Tailcoat (because I misspoke twice for goodness sake) by Kari-Helene Rane

The No Frills Cardigan by PetiteKnits

Thrysos Yoked Blouse by Teresa Gregorio


Yarn Along June

I’ve been puttering my way through reading lately.  Picking something up, putting it down.  Just looking at the pictures.  Reading a paragraph or a page or two and then skipping ahead a hundred pages.  Some books lend themselves better to this than others.  Cookbooks for example.  Some knitting and sewing books.  Or this one: Carl and Karin Larsson: Creators of the Swedish Style.  So many pretty pictures to look at!  And short captions to read to kind of get the gist of it all.  I did read the whole of the chapter devoted exclusively to Karin and found it very interesting.  Also, there is a child’s dress (designed by Karin, of course!) featured in several of Carl’s paintings, that I totally wish to recreate for Seraphina.

I read around two-thirds of Soulful Simplicity by Courtney Carver before it had to be returned to the library.  I’d like to finish it some day.  This is Home: the Art of Simple Living is my current putter, but I’m not finding it as exciting as I had hoped.  The photo on the cover is probably my favorite.

I’m all sorts of flitty and flighty these days.  There are reasons of course.  Since my concussion, back in March, I’ve struggled with reading leading to headaches.  It’s getting better.  Much better than it was, surely, but I’m not quite back to normal and I haven’t yet found my usual groove.  Also, the book supply has been spotty since Steve has been unemployed.  He used to drive by the library every day on his long ride home from work.  I would order books on-line and they would just magically show up with him when he arrived home.  It was a good system.  Perhaps it was a little too easy, we generally had 30-40 books out at any given time and sometimes upwards of 65!  Now trips to the library are rare.  We have a grand total of three books out at the moment.  Often by the time we finally pick up a book, it’s nearly time for it to be returned.

My knitting has been much the same.  Usually I knit my way through much of the day, during car rides, while talking on the phone, as I teach… but my brain is still struggling to coordinate multiple things at once.  And more often then not I still find myself dropping my knitting back in my lap after only a stitch or two so that I can concentrate on whatever else is going on.  I’ve made some serious strides with this in the last couple of weeks and I’m hoping to find that I’m back to my old self soon.

In the month of May I finally worked in all the ends on the twin sized blanket that I crocheted for Seraphine, I knitted a tie for Iain to wear for his senior photos, I made a bonnet for a friends baby, and I photographed not a one of them.  I discovered that mice had made a stash of quinoa in the scrap blanket that I’ve been knitting on sporadically for the last several years and I decided that it’s time to get it finished up, out of that work basket and in use.  I’ve been putting in some work on that and inviting others to do the same.  It will be a generous full-queen size when all is said and done and I probably have nine or ten inches worth of length to go.  And just two days ago I decided that I would really like the option of wearing the blue sweater that I had been working on, before I started bopping all over the place, to Iain’s graduation next week.  So for the time being I’m concentrating on that and sort of nervously knitting away.


Yarn Along January

Over the holidays and on book club break I was so excited to have the luxurious freedom to read whatever I wanted.  Of course I ended up spending the better part of December previewing Christmas chapter books, trying desperately to stay ahead of my prolific young reader.  BUT, but, but, there has been other reading as well.  One day I had about 5 minutes to spare at the library on our way back from an appointment and I practically ran through the aisles, pulling books joop, joop, joop.  No time to really read or consider.  Gut reaction, judge a book by it’s cover and move on.  Below is some of what I ended up with.

Deer Valley Girl: I know many people love Lois Lenski, but I have to say, the “he said…”, “Then she said….”, “she put down the box”, “see spot run”, style narrative bores me.  I prefer books to be descriptive and nuanced.  Perhaps this is not the best representation of her work?  I don’t know.  But I do know that it’s 145 pages of large print with pictures and it’s been in the house for like a month and a half now, and I still haven’t made it through.

The Rules of Gentility  It takes place in the Regency period, so think Jane Austen, only with a twist because instead of just telling the story outright, it’s told from the perspective of the main characters’ thoughts and is therefore often hilarious and far “proper”.  Quick, light, humorous, rather dirtier than I assumed and just so much darn fun it was the perfect vacation read for me.  I could use a solid month of reading books like this, along with some simple knitting and a whole lot of tea and quiet.

Brown Girl Dreaming: Picked up with one of my book clubs in mind, with everything else I’ve only read a small section, but it drew me in right away and I already feel like it’s one I’ll be eager to share.

Bellefleur: Having read one book by Joyce Carol Oates that deeply resonated with me and another that was well written, but didn’t quite strike the same chord, when I spotted this the thought of luxuriously immersing myself in an epic long book by her sounded just delightful.  It took me a while to settle into it.  Halfway through and I felt like I’d already read three or four books and yet still was somehow unsure of myself within this book.  It’s long and jumps all over the place.  There are endless characters and ever more being introduced.  On one page you are in the present time (present to the story anyhow) and the next you are a 150 years earlier.  It’s strange and eerie and haunting and sometimes quite dull and confusing and astounding and with all of that I’m still really enjoying it.  I’m in a race to finish because books clubs have started up again and my reading time is limited!

Depletion and Abundance: Life on the New Home Front: I was introduced to this book by a friend of the author and I have to say, I had trouble putting it down and I’m now passing it around to other members of the household.  Overlooking a few editing snafus, this is an amazing, life changing sort of book.

A Country Affair: Not at all what I expected in picking it up.  I had to come back and add it in because I actually completely forgot that I had read it.  I found a library receipt thing and went, “Oh yeah..”  I think we can deduce that it did not make much of an impression on me!

I actually finally, finally, finally finished the Sweater That Shall Not Be Named.  Though it still needs to be blocked and I seem to be taking my sweet old time with this, just as I did with the whole rest of the project.

I’m working on a Lopi sweater for Elijah, who is uber-impatient and keeps implying that it’s taking forever, when in fact it is really not.  It’s pictured above right before I attached the sleeves to the body for the yoke.  I’m now through the vast majority of the yoke.  I cast on round about the first week of November….for a men’s sized fair-isle.  Not. taking. forever.  Actually going fairly quickly, considering he knew going into this that I had some other projects I needed to work on as well.  He always seems to start in on me when he’s sitting somewhere in the vicinity of my feet (which doesn’t seem like the best plan), so I just poke him with my toes a bit, tell him to give me a break, and keep on knitting.

I also knitted myself a pair of slippers, though I don’t have any pictures of them and they don’t really stay on my feet.