Monday, July 18, 2016

Delicious

I have quite a bit of fingering weight yarn right now, so I've decided to start working through that stash! An obvious solution is baby socks or booties, and after seeing Ginny's versions of the perfect-fit newborn socks I was sold on that particular pattern. Not that there is anything to "sell," because Kelly very generously offers it free of charge! 

The yarn is the very first skein I bought when I "really" started knitting about two years ago -- A wool angora blend made by Moss Hollowe. It's delicious on the fingers.








Also delicious (to the palate) -- blueberry cobbler, made by me with assistance from Rosa (who helped me "glob" the dough on top of the berries). I reduced the amount of sugar, because I often find that I like desserts just as well when they're not super sweet. It didn't take us long to polish this off! By the by, why don't I make cobblers more often? They're so simple and satisfying.






Delicious for the eyes? A wildflower from the seed mix I got for the kids in the Spring. I should have bought several packages for the space we planted, but I didn't realize just how few seeds there would be! At any rate, I had no idea what the name of this flower was until I came across it in the comments on one of Ginny's posts. (I've just discovered her blog, Small Things, and have been devouring it in my spare time!). It's Nigella, otherwise known as Love-in-a-Mist, and I will be planting more of it next year. Much, much more -- I'm quite in love with its exotic delicacy.




I'm grateful for these little delights to savor.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Old-Fashioned

I decided to brave the summer Saturday crowds at Colonial Williamsburg recently, because Saturday is the only day to see the fife and drum parade. Turns out, the crowds were fine -- but the traffic! Well, we managed to make it in time to see most of the parade, and it was actually nice not to walk the entire length of Duke of Gloucester street (twice) with three littles in tow. 

In my mind, I see Williamsburg in vignettes -- and that's how I tend to take pictures there, too. I've taken my share of "landscapes" (how many pictures of the Governor's Palace does one really need?), but most often I find myself closer. And these are inevitably the pictures I'm most pleased with at the end of the day.








Incidentally, my pictures would turn out much better if there weren't so many tourists! Which is, I daresay, exactly what all of those people with cameras are thinking of the pictures they took (in which I feature with my own camera!). *wink*  




I am quite taken with the fuzzy-knobbed heads and the furrowed bovine expressions of this pair:




I thought to bring along some books, and before we left we plopped down in the shade of a tree on the Palace green and read together, while Laddie moseyed about. I'd recently gotten Mary Geddy's Day in the mail, and it was well worth the $4 it cost used. We got to tour the Geddy house on this visit, which the littles were quite excited about! They even tried their hand at a game of "Put and Take," or "Captain Morgan's Revenge." 

The other book we brought along was A Horse's Tale: A Colonial Williamsburg Adventure, which is a sweet little rhyming story that I found at our local library. I'm not sure I'll purchase this one, since it's so easy to borrow -- but it was the perfect read for our visit!




 Rosa very excitedly pointed out a town crier who was announcing an auction while we were there -- just like the book (though minus the tail and whiskers!).

After our stories, we had a game of tag on the green, spent some time watching an enormous ant hurrying frantically to nowhere-in-particular, and finally made our way back to the van. More traffic on the way home (maybe we'll nix summer Saturday visits in future...), but well worth it. I'm seeing a wagon in our future, as the kids' energy tends to flag long before I'm ready to go...

Friday, July 15, 2016

The Wowligan

When I saw the Wowligan (the "wee owl cardigan") pattern by Kate Davies, I was in love. I adore knitted owls, I adore cabling (a good combination!), and I adore little girl sweaters. I'd purchased four skeins of Knit Picks Galileo yarn in "Gosling" ages ago, intending it for a sweater for Rosa. It matched the pattern requirements, so I started this as soon as I finished my Left Bank Cardigan. 







Oh, love! Where to start? The yarn was luscious to work with -- 50% merino, 50% viscose from bamboo. It's silky and wonderful. The pattern was also a treat! It's knit bottom up, so I had a lengthy period of "knit, knit, knit." Then you knit the sleeves... Then you attach everything at the underarm and keep going. 

In retrospect, I'd add stitches to the cast on for the sleeves, and reduce the number of increases. The cuff fits Rosa,
but I'd prefer if it were a little roomier.


Then, at last, the owls! At first I was going to reduce the number of owls (and even did the math and knit a few rows that way), but then I realized that the "dead space" between each owl is basically the wrong side of stockinette stitching. It looks fine with just two stitches between each owl, but looked a little odd with ten stitches. So I frogged back and knit the owls as instructed. 





At this point, I've opted not to add button eyes for the owls. For one thing, I didn't have enough tiny buttons. For another, I was a bit concerned about the effect of SO MANY BUTTONS around the yoke. Looking through the finished Ravelry projects, I saw some that I loved, and some that I didn't. I'm happier with a "subtle" owl, so there we are. I might go back and stitch some eyes with a darker yarn, but that's not likely. 





I found three perfect buttons in my stash -- They're the same taupe-grey as the sweater, with hints of mauve and teal when they catch the light. Understated, like the owls.



I need to work on my "banding" skills, since I still can't figure out how to pick up stitches. Pick-up-and-knit
I can do and I've made it work for me, but I'd really like to get the hang of just plain picking up stitches!


The only real problem I had with this sweater was that I nearly ran out of yarn! Perhaps my gauge was larger than I thought (I'm horrible about swatching!), but I realized shortly after adding the sleeves to the bodice that I probably wouldn't make it to the end. And having purchased the yarn about two years ago, there was almost no way I'd find some in the same dye lot. I made a desperate decision to omit about 8-12 rows at various points in the rest of the pattern (some before the owls, a few "in" the owls, and perhaps one after that?). The pattern photo showed the yoke coming up pretty high on the model's neck, so I took my chances that this approach would work. To my relief, it did! I had very little yarn left over at the end, so I think I made the right choice here. The sweater is a tad roomy on Rosa, so it will perfect for this year -- and maybe next? I can't wait to see her wearing it.

This sweater only took about 40 days, which was encouraging! I think I'll be starting on another "selfish sweater" soon, using some mohair yarn that I purchased over a decade ago, during one of my optimistic "I'm REALLY going to knit this time! REALLY!" phases. I've come close to getting rid of it so many times, but I think it's actually going to be used now. It would feel good, you know?

But first, some tiny baby socks, because socks are something I want to try and who can say "no" to newborn socks?


Raveled here.



Wednesday, July 13, 2016

SOOC

Very rarely do I not edit a photo -- even if it's just a minor tweak (a little more contrast, retouch that piece of lint, deepen those shadows). But once in a great while, a photo comes out just right. I would say "when the stars align," but I have a feeling the stars align much more often than I end up with a SOOC (straight out of camera) photo. 

I had one of those moments recently, though, and here it is! 



The lilies are blooming like there's no tomorrow here in Virginia -- orange, crimson, goldenrod yellow. But the lily in the photo above is by far my favorite, with its ruffled petals and glorious peach-and-maroon hue. It's a lovely sight indeed!



And why are you anxious about clothing?
Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: 
they neither toil nor spin, 
yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 
But if God so clothes the grass of the field, 
which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, 
will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 
‘What shall we eat?’ 
or ‘What shall we drink?’ 
or ‘What shall we wear?’ 
For the Gentiles seek after all these things, 
and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, 
and all these things will be added to you.

Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, 
for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. 
Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Matthew 6:28-34



Monday, July 11, 2016

Things are Warming Up

I mentioned recently that my almost-4-year-old was still using her infant swaddling blankets at night. Lately (by which I mean "for several months") it has become difficult to cover her toes and her torso at the same time. It was time for a change! Not that she really needed a warm blanket in the middle of summer...

The blanket is made from Minky Lattice Soft Cuddle Rose Water (how's that for a tongue twister?!). You know I'm a natural fiber kind of girl -- linen and wool are generally my favorites. But I also love a soft blanket, and thought Rosa would, too. As it turns out, I was right. She describes it as "cozy," and the way she snuggles up with it is exactly what I was hoping for.

Besides, how was I supposed to pass up that subtle lattice pattern? And it really is unbelievably, incredibly soft. Laddie kept coming up and rubbing his face against it while I was working on it!



The blanket is lined with cotton sheeting, from Target's Simply Shabby Chic bedding in "pink paisley." Oddly enough, I was willing to buy minky fabric for one side, but insisted on 100% cotton for the other side! At any rate, I am very satisfied with the feel, look, and price of the cotton. The print is muted but feminine. I bought a twin sheet set on sale for about $20, which has left me with plenty left over to update the rest of Rosa's bedding once she moves to a larger bed. I probably would have paid much more for the same amount of yardage.

Cutting the minky was a pain -- so many "fibers!" I used this Self Binding Blanket Tutorial by Heather, and loved it. I had been trying to figure out how to bind the blanket (I'm not a fan of the traditional Wright's baby blanket bindings, but couldn't think of anything else), and this was the perfect solution. The only change I made was to use my own measurements (roughly 40" by 65" for the finished blanket) and to reduce the size difference between the two fabrics, which resulted in a narrower binding. Granted, sewing minky to a sturdy cotton was not ideal, but while there are a few "flaws" it came out just fine. I sort of forged through this project, just eager to be done!




This blanket is large enough to last for many years, and even once it's outgrown as a comforter it should work very nicely for a lap blanket. Rosa is usually full of questions while I'm sewing, but for once she didn't ask. So the blanket was a surprise for her, and it made the entire process well worth the effort to see the look of delight on her face when I presented it to her!

I'm now half-way through my recent fabric purchase (I have another linen skirt to post once I take some pictures!), and I'm determined to keep up the pace. Here's hoping!

Saturday, July 09, 2016

The Selfish Sweater

I started a Left Bank Cardigan back in August. Plenty of time, I thought to myself, to knit it up before the cold weather comes in. But, oh, how I underestimated my skills in the procrastination department! After making a good start, I set it aside and did absolutely nothing for months. By the time I picked it back up in April, I was convinced I might have it done for winter. Next winter. I finished it up in May -- and, much to my surprise, actually had a chance to wear it several times due to a chilly Spring! It's quite comfortable, and I adore the color. There's just enough of a pattern to be interesting, without overwhelming the sweater (and the ribbing makes it super stretchy!).





Loved the pattern, my only possible beef being that I don't really like the shaping at the neck in the front (it has kind of a "bend," where I'd prefer a smooth "slope"). But that's a small quibble, and I would not be surprised to find myself making another in the future!





My one big goof was the buttonholes -- I have no idea what happened, since I counted very carefully, but they are definitely... off. Not to mention very difficult to even find! Apparently I need to work on my buttonhole skills... I will likely wear this cardigan open or only buttoned at the top, so I may just leave it. but I have plenty of yarn left should I decide to re-do the neck band.





This was my first "selfish sweater," and I can't wait to wear it again in the Fall! The yarn was Knit Picks Palette in "Mauve." Lovely to work with, and I somehow ended up with an entire extra skein. Did I buy too much? At any rate, an extra skein of fingering yarn won't go to waste!





I really never thought that I'd be here one day -- knitting sweaters that I'm actually willing to wear in public. After so many failed attempts at knitting, I thought it just wasn't in my DNA! Perhaps that's why I take such pleasure in it now. Sewing... well, I've been sewing forever. While I enjoy sewing, I usually sew for the finished project, not because I enjoy cutting out fabric or hearing the whir of the machine. But knitting? Knitting is all in the process, isn't it? The gentle clack of the needles, the soothing repetition, the frogging back. *wink* I think it might be even more therapeutic than sewing.

In the time it's taken me to take photos and post them, I've finished another sweater -- on a smaller scale, this time. Photos forthcoming!

Raveled here.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Thank you, Mr. Mayhew

Katie in London has been on my "Books for Littles" board for quite some time now -- I still can't remember exactly how I discovered it (quite possibly on one of my rabbit trails of "recommendations" from another book!), but it's taken me this long to finally look it up. Fortunately, our local library had both Katie in London and Katie in Scotland. If you've been a reader here for any length of time, you'll know that I'm a devout Anglophile, and these books are the perfect way to indoctrinate... I mean share... that love with my children. *wink*





These books represent everything I love in children's picture books. The illustrations are so charming and whimsical, yet accurate enough to give a real sense of the places that Katie visits with her brother Jack and her grandma (who is "the sort of grandma who likes adventures," by the way). And I do love the James Mayhew both authored and illustrated the books! The stories are sweet -- whether the children are gallivanting around Scotland with the Loch Ness monster, or touring London on a magical stone lion from Trafalgar Square (which Little Man pronounces "Fatralgar"). No fights, no bad attitudes, just charming adventures with stops at museums, art galleries, and famous sights.

Would I consider them successful with the younger set? Let's just say that I've been asked several times lately to fix Rosa's hair in two pony-tails "like Katie's," and we have been watching endless videos of bagpipers, caber tosses, demonstrations of the highland fling, and even the trooping of the color at the Horse Guards Parade (apparently fascinating to a 3 and 5 year old, despite its rather lengthy nature!). We've browsed through folders of pictures from my last visit to England (has it really been nine years?). But best of all, Little Man told me longingly that he hopes to go to England one day. And what do I say? "Amen to that!"

It may be a while before we make it across the pond, but we'll be reading plenty of Katie in the meantime. Thank you, Mr. Mayhew!


PS -- There are many other "Katie" books, mostly dealing with art, that I can't wait to explore! Mr. Mayhew has also written some about Ella Bella Ballerina, as an introduction to famous ballets. There's one about the Nutcracker that I should probably find for my Clara-obsessed three-year-old...

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Spotted

Last year I found the sweetest little anchor sweater at a local charity shop -- made by Gymboree, in perfect condition, and only $4 (which is actually a bit of a splurge for me at a charity shop, but seemed quite justifiable!).  I quickly realized, though, that she had absolutely nothing to go with it! And so, a year later (thank goodness the sweater was too large!), I finally did something about that.

"Something" is a white linen skirt, made from the scraps of a fitted sheet I made several years ago. It is quite literally a rectangle with a single French seam, a double-folded hem, and a double-folded elastic casing. One of the easiest projects I have ever made.






I did want to spice it up a bit, though -- so out came the metallic gold Martha Stewart acrylic paint, as well as the fabric paint medium. I used several stencil brushes to make dots in different sizes, but I used the handles instead of the bristles! Rosa came in while I was doing this, and begged to help. As a result, a few of the dots are not quite where I would have put them myself... but her delight in being able to help with her own skirt is well worth it. 



You can just see a bit of her "Topsy Tail" int his photo -- perhaps the only good
thing to come out of the 90's! *wink*

Note to self -- it would be considerably easier to paint the fabric before the garment is made! A paper bag kept the paint at bay, but it also meant I had to wait for one side to dry before painting the other side. In any case, I'm glad to have a fully "functioning" outfit for so little effort and expense! I am quickly learning that if a retailer wants me to buy something, all they need to do is plaster it with anchors. I love all things nautical (and did even before it was a trend!), and my husband is in the Navy; what do you expect?

Hope you had a lovely Independence Day, my American friends! I explained to Little Man that 4th of July is kind of like our country's birthday, and he suggested that we have a birthday party. I love the way that kid thinks!