Category Archives: Yarn Crafts

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.

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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.

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Christmas 2017

Seraphina’s Christmas Wish List: Eggnog, jelly beans, chocolate cake, candy, bananas, oranges, clementines, grapefruits.  My mother asked, “don’t you want any baby dolls or toys or books?”  Nope. Just sweets.

Elijah watches old episodes of Bob Ross, Galen watches Elijah, I try to figure out which walls can still fit more paintings.  The northern lights one was my Christmas present from Elijah.  Galen is an extremely prolific painter, but I tend to get fewer pictures of his as he tends to paint at night.

Two books that are perfect for around the time of the Winter Solstice:

Little Snow Bear by Hazel Lincoln has been a family favorite for years.  I believe Elijah received it for his 4th Christmas.  The illustrations are divine and I think they were the inspiration for the painting in this post.  It’s a very sweet and gentle story in which little snow bear goes out in search of the missing sun.  Our copy is worn and battered and greatly beloved.

Lucia and the Light by Phyllis Root was a happenstance library find and entirely new to us this year.  The story is modeled off of Nordic lore, but more modern in tone and appearance.  It had me from the opening page, “Lucia and her mother and baby brother lived with a velvet brown cow and a milk-white cat in a little house at the foot of a mountain in the Far North.  The cow gave milk, the cat slept by the fire, and the baby cooed and grew fat by the hearth.”  When the sun disappears one day Lucia’s mother tells her that they will, “be each other’s sun until the real sun returns”.  The sweet story turns into an adventure when Lucia sneaks out to find the sun only to discover it’s been stolen by trolls!  The trolls, admittedly, were too much for sensitive, three-year-old Miss Seraphina, but I will keep this one in mind for next year.

Life with teens: I have one who walks about draped in home-made whips and another who randomly wears boxing gloves as some sort of bizarre fashion statement.

The baby doll Juliette has been in a somewhat horrifying state for about a year now.  She never really recovered from that time when Galen decided to give her “troll hair”.  And beyond which was getting rather grubby with two years of loving.  When two days before Christmas my neighbor dropped by with some brown mohair yarn I decided the time was ripe for an impromptu surprise makeover.  I do not adore the highlights.  They are what was salvageable of her original hair, plus the little bit of that yarn that I had leftover.  I was afraid that if I used an entirely new hair color she might be too different, so I tried to blend the two.  It’s ok-ish I guess.  I also cleaned her up, refreshed her rosy cheeks and donned her in her new Christmas nightie (of course) she made her grand reappearance on Christmas Eve.

Elijah helped with the Christmas pajamas again this year.  Thank goodness.  It’s too daunting for me alone.  It took 16 yards of fabric to cover those boys of mine!  Sixteen!  We hated the pattern (Simplicity 2771) so much that by the time we got to Galen’s we decided to switch to another pattern entirely (Kwik Sew K3945).  Elijah made that complete set on his own in probably a quarter of the time it would have taken us with the other pattern.  And probably half the size- the others were HUGE!

For the girls I used old standbys.  My favorite Kwik Sew 3423 and it’s bigger sister Kwik Sew 3105.  I used the latter for Mairi Rose’s first Christmas and have turned to them both regularly ever since.  I made them each a pair of pink organic cotton velour leggins for underneath.  And they are terribly sweet and soft and toasty and cuddly in them.

Oh, I almost forgot!  Seraphina’s romper….I was rushing out the door headed for a long car ride and trying to quickly pull together everything I needed for the day’s knitting.  I had every intention of sizing up the Lady from the North Cabled Romper, but something went amiss with my paypal and it decided to treat my payment as a check requiring three days to clear.  Are you kidding me??  So I grabbed a stitch dictionary instead and designed my own as I went along.  I was already well into it when the pattern arrived several days later.

And the chickadee!  I love him so.  It was a little project just for pleasure, started with some friends, mostly crafted on Christmas day, finished a day or two later.  I think I might have to make a tradition of it and make a new bird each year to add to the tree.

 

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Yarn Along: 11/11

Although Ginny, the creator and “host” of Yarn Along, seems to have drifted away from it, I’ve always kind of liked that weekly check in of reading/knitting, especially as a way of easing back into blogging after an absence.

There has been a shift in my knitting since I last wrote about it.  I’ve actually been knitting a great deal, just not posting about it.  My Ravelry notebook is woefully behind.  I’ve been working on a number of projects for my kids and feel as though I’ve comfortably settled back into the way things should be.  It would have been better if I was preparing for autumn, but I’ll settle for preparing for winter instead.  I’m currently finishing up the last strap on a romper for Seraphina, when I have the patience I’m working in the roughly eight-zillion ends on a sweater for Iain, and I’m well underway with a sweater for Elijah (pictured above).

I’m currently reading Little Britches: Father and I Were Ranchers by Ralph Moody with the book club for adolescents that I run at our homeschooling co-op and  The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl  by Timothy Egan with my high-school group.  The upside to leading the groups is that I get to re-read some fantastic books and share them with these children that I adore.  The down side is that it leaves precious little time for me to pick up a new book on my own!

These two actually have a great deal of overlap and relate to each other.  This was not planned, it just happened that way.  Both groups read at a different rate and they just happened to line up.  It’s been interesting for me to re-read the two of them together.  The first is the author’s memoir of  moving to and working the land on a ranch in Colorado at the beginning of the twentieth century.  It’s sort of like the Little House books, only rather harsher.  The second is a collection of information and real-life accounts of the brutal dust storms that absolutely devastated the high plains during the Depression.  Dust storms that were largely due to the settling and plowing up of the prairie sod in places like Colorado, where people where flocking at the turn of the century!  The politics throughout both are just mind-boggling; horrific in many ways and yet somehow not surprising.  Both books are well worth reading and sharing.

I would love to hear suggestions of your very favorite books for the 13-15 year old range!

 

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A sweater for Kathy

I’ve been very flaky, random, and unfocused with my knitting lately.  Usually I have very specific items picked out for the kids, and occasionally myself, which I faithfully knit through the summer, resulting in a relatively warm, woolen clad family.  But this year I’ve just been bopping around aimlessly from project to project.  I’ve mostly been knitting (and crocheting actually) blankets and shawls.  I don’t know what it is, but the three shawls I’ve made for myself in the last year are screaming that I’m in a rut.  The fact is, all I want to do is knit more!  For the longest time I had absolutely no interest in sweaters or hats or well, anything at all that couldn’t just be wrapped around you.  I think I must be going through some kind of withdraw due to not needing to knit any baby blankets lately.

So I’m arriving late to the cold weather knitting party, but I’m here.  I made a hat in-between shawls.  And I’m finally picking up a few sweaters that have long been wasting away on needles.  The one above is complete.  A friend who is relatively new to knitting started this project for herself, found that she was out of her depth and asked me if I would finish it for her.  The pattern is Lucy by c2knits.  I don’t remember what the yarn is off the top of my head.  She knitted the main part of the body of the sweater.  I picked up the stitches all the way around to knit the collar, hem, and front bands.  I told her this part had been fun and she laughed at me.  I also knit the sleeves and am happy to have returned it to her in wearable condition.

I still have several birthday sweaters from earlier this year to complete and several other ideas drifting through this brain of mine.  I think it’s time to get to work.

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Wrapped in Emerald Green Silk…

Pattern: June Bunnies Shawl by Inese Andzane

Yarn: Luminance Lace Yarn, color: Thoughtful

Clarification on my last post: Most of it was written over a month ago and was accurate for that time, but doesn’t necessarily hold true for the present.  I’m feeling much better now.  I’m up and around, back to every day life.  Occasionally I’ll go on a bit of a coughing jag, usually triggered by singing or reading aloud at length, but most of the time the cough is completely gone.  I have to be careful to try to keep my seasonal allergies under control.  My stamina is not great.  By late afternoon I’m totally worn out.  I feel like all of my muscles have atrophied and I fear I’ll never get any strength back.  I’m soft and squishy, like a baby, only I don’t wear it nearly so well.  A month of inactivity, coupled with medications that cause weight gain and my none-to-perky metabolism have weighted me down, quite literally.  I’m still trying to get comfortable in my body as it is now, with its limits, sensations and appearance.

Every time I experience a health crisis it feels like a serious setback and I worry I will never fully recover the level of wellness that I had prior.  It’s a valid fear, as this has been my experience at times in the past.  Not every time, but enough to cause anxiety.  This feeling of forever loosing ground and never being able to make it up?  Not reassuring.  But I am doing what I can to heal under less than ideal circumstances.  I’m falling back on old herbal remedies, slowly trying to bring vibrancy back into this tired body of mine with gentle movement, and trying my best to hold on to hope.

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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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Avocado Pink

“God gave you a mind.  It is your job to use it.  And use it properly.  Do not waste it on negative thoughts or greedy desires.  If you focus your mind and use it wisely, you can achieve anything in this lifetime.  Healing is in your hands, not another’s.” ~Katina Makris quoting her father

A little while ago I dipped some Andes del Campo into the dye pot with avocado pits to make some special yarn for my pink obsessed little one.  It turned the palest of pearly pink-peach, a wonderfully pretty shade.

And this week I knitted it up into a cozy balaclava for woodland hikes and winter outings.  It’s a little late in the season for such a project, but she had suddenly outgrown her warmest hats and a quick, easy knit sounded satisfying.  I over blocked it a bit, but happily she will have plenty of room for next year.

Can you tell from her face that it’s mud season?

I’m currently reading Autoimmune Illness and Lyme Disease Recovery Guide: Mending the Body, Mind, and Spirit.  It’s probably not for everyone, but much of it resonates with me and this library copy I have here is full of little slips of paper marking pages with information that I want to look into further or things I wish to remember or implement.

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SaveOh, and meet Persephone the lamb, our very newest neighbor!

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Mairi Rose’s 8th Birthday Sweater

Details:

I bought the pattern from Scandinavian Knitting Design.  They stock many patterns that are difficult to find in the US.  The yarns all came from Knitpicks: Stroll Tweed Sock Yarn in “Oyster Heather”, “Thirst Heather”, and “Rabbit Heather”,  Stroll Sock Yarn in “Wonderland”, and Comfy Fingering Yarn in “Flamingo”.  The pink shows up better in person than it does in these pictures.  I really like the stroll yarns.  Everything that I’ve made from them has held up well; it doesn’t shrink, it doesn’t pill, it’s soft, light but warm, reasonably priced.  It just really works well for me.  I’m also finding that it holds up so well that hand-me-downs are almost guaranteed, which can’t be said about a lot of yarns and only adds to the over-all value.  Elijah wears his vest daily and not just for quiet, gentle indoor activities either!  It still looks brand new, which is really satisfying after all of that work!

I altered the pattern for Mairi’s sweater a bit by doing contrast cuffs and button bands as well as adding little flecks of a second color between the yoke and hem.

I’m extremely happy to see this sweater finished and in use!

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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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