Tuesday, September 01, 2015

The Gallatin Scarf

Here's the finished Gallatin Scarf (the pattern is free!).  

This was a treat of a project, partly because of the pattern, partly because of they yarn -- which was Knit Picks Diadem in Diamond. The Diamond colorway has been discontinued, it seems, but I think Platinum is an equivalent color. I snagged a skein for under $7 almost a year ago, always intending it for a scarf. It's half baby alpaca and half mulberry silk. It feels like heaven.

After a few mishaps (which resulted in more frogging back than I'd like to remember), I got in the groove. It's a simple lace pattern, with a very pleasing result. I did use a finer yarn than the pattern called for (fingering weight instead of worsted), but used the recommended needle size. I like the result, which is a bit airy and perfect for Fall and Spring.

I haven't blocked this, and to tell the truth I'm not inclined to. It would even out the stockinette, though, which would be good -- after the lace portion, I opted for stockinette. Not only was it simpler than keeping track of which row was which, it also seemed more appropriate for my selected yarn.

That choice did result in a bit of stockinette "roll" at the neck, but I think that actually worked out nicely.

Now to wait until temperatures drop low enough to wear it! The weather has already cooled here -- flocks of Canadian geese are appearing overhead, and the morning temperatures are perfectly delightful. It makes me a bit giddy, to be honest! If only the mosquitoes would take a little vacay...

Raveled here.

Saturday, August 29, 2015


Somehow, I'm twenty-seven. I'm not quite sure how that happened? It doesn't seem possible until I look at my tall, lanky four-year-old (four going on forty) and realize that yes, it's possible. It's more than possible. It's reality. My birthday was a lovely, quiet day. I did lots of knitting and very little housework. So a perfect day, really. *wink*

Here's the knitting, by the by -- The Left Bank Cardigan, which is coming along nicely. My very first sweater for moi. So far it's been a wonderful project. The pattern isn't boring, but it's also simple enough to work on while watching something or chatting. Perfect, really. So far, I've only had to frog back 1/2 a row, which may be part of the reason I'm enjoying this project so much...

Leftover Souvlaki for lunch (recipe here, Tzatziki sauce here), which was lovely. Grilled pork, caramelized onions, sliced tomato, creamy Tzatziki -- perfectly fresh and delicious.

The past year was rather eventful -- new baby, new town. More challenges and more blessings than I can count. And now for another year, with unknown challenges and unknown blessings in store. 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

On My Plate

I've had a lot of things on my plate lately. No, life hasn't been crazily hectic (though a bit fuller than usual, actually). Instead, I've had this:

Impromptu flatbread pizzas, made with leftover flatbreads from this Jamie Oliver recipe -- though, to be honest, we don't measure any of the ingredients. Self-rising flour, a dollop of yogurt, and enough milk or water to make a dough. Flattened with fingertips and thrown in the cast iron skillet. They are surprisingly delicious! 

I've had this, too: 

The Gallatin Scarf -- it's a lovely and simple lace pattern, but for some reason I had to frog it twice! The first time I had just gotten past the lace section when I realized I had made a relatively visible error in the very center of the scarf. *sigh* Well, I've finished it up now and can't wait to wear it in the Fall! I'll have to share some pictures soon.

And the best plate-filler of all:

These little tootsies are growing far too fast for my liking! They belong to such a sweet, sweet boy. He is so busy cooing and blowing raspberries and discovering that he has hands and feet. Precious days.

Hoping your plate is filled with blessings, too!

Friday, August 21, 2015

A Trip to the Aquarium

Our littles had their first taste of an aquarium a few weeks back -- taking them somewhere for the first time is always such a treat! It did take them a while to feel comfortable with the sharks, though. I don't think they were convinced that the glass was enough to protect them from the (admittedly alarming) predators. Once they settled in, though, we were hard pressed to drag them away. Pablo took this snapshot while Laddie had a snack in the recesses of the shark exhibit:

This Tomistoma crocodile was hanging out right next to the glass. A bit eerie, actually, the way he calmly surveyed us. So many teeth!

The ray touch tank was probably my favorite bit. I expected them to be rubbery, but the sensation was actually soft and little spongy. And very, very slimy. 

I do love turtles! This one was impressively large. Turtles always seem so serene as they drift about. Which makes me wonder what is actually going through their minds; it would be a bit ironic if they were stressed all the time, wouldn't it?

Sweet, sweet memories with my favorite peoples! 

I can't believe that summer is already coming to an end -- it's flown by at record pace! But I'm quite excited about my first "real" Fall in many years. Just around the corner, now!

Wednesday, August 05, 2015


When a few green leaves poked up through the center of one particularly ordinary bush, we didn't give it much thought. Then calla lily blossoms started to unfurl, and we were suddenly much more interested. Such incredibly beautiful flowers -- pure white, with a matte satin finish. 

But there were more beauties still in store. One by one, the white lilies became tinged with pink.

It almost seems like cheating to have two gorgeous flowers in one -- first white, then pink, with those gloriously curly tips.

So many blossoms that we could afford to cut a few for the dinner table, and enjoy their delicate curves. I wonder who planted them, and why on earth they're in the middle of a bush? 

One of those little mysteries that come with a rental! There's not much point in planting a cutting garden until we settle down for more than few years, so it's a treat to have a little something to tide me over until then.

"And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life. If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, 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, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith."

The words of Jesus from Luke 12:25-28

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Without A(nthro)pologie

When I first saw Anthropologie's Chambray Hanky Hem Skirt in person, I was sold! Unfortunately, the $118 price tag meant that the skirt was not sold (to me, anyway!). Not ready to be thwarted, I found some lightweight denim similar to chambray at JoAnn's and got to work. 

Well, that's not strictly true. I bought the fabric and then waited for a while, because I've recently been suffering from sewing paralysis. I have projects I want to do, with fabric ready and waiting. But I keep putting them off out of fear! Once I cut the fabric, once I start sewing, there is the possibility of failure. Never mind if it's a few dollars worth of fabric. I worry that it won't turn out, and therefore I don't even start. 

But this post is not about my psychological issues, it's about a skirt that I (eventually) completed.

My knock-off is far from being an accurate copy, but it has enough of the primary features for my taste! I opted to make the lower skirt in one piece, unlike the original. One thing I was not expecting to copy was the rear zipper. I have never done an exposed metal zipper before, though I've noticed they're "quite the thing" in recent years. A quick search in my zipper stash revealed a sturdy metal zipper in navy. I decided it was meant to be and went with it!

It turned out to be a favorite feature, and I'm really pleased with how tidy it turned out (thanks to wash-away double stick tape!).

Yes, the snap is copper. It's what I had! *wink* Also, notice the "seam" to the right
of the snap? That was a last minute extension necessitated by not making the tab
long enough. Sometimes the difference between success and failure is a "band-aid."
Just keepin' it real.

The pattern was pretty much made up on the fly, using my measurements and some basic math calculations (i.e., figuring out how big to cut the hole in the lower skirt portion, based on my hip measurements). I love hanky hem skirts, but a full circle skirt starting at the waist can look a little "bushy" in my opinion. Having the circle start at the hips seemed such a brilliant concept. By the way, this type of skirt is just a square with a hole cut in the center. It's a very simple design.

I used buttonhole elastic in the rear waistband for a snug fit -- with a few more pounds of baby weight to lose, I didn't want to invest in tailoring a skirt only to have it too loose in a few months! Unfortunately, it ended up a bit bigger than I expected. It works, but I do wonder if that will still be the case a few pounds from now. It would a nightmare to alter, because the inside yoke is self-lined and I did more top-stitching than usual. Fortunately, I don't tuck in any of my tops, so the elasticized waistband is never visible.

I did have to take in the hip area after attaching the "hanky" portion, because it was just too wide and made my hips look huge. I had already decided to take a "dart" in the circle at the side because the extra fullness wasn't needed near the hips, so I just increased the size of the dart. Fortunately it doesn't detract from the circular feel of the lower skirt.

The hem, of course, is the main feature of this skirt! Because I wanted my skirt a little longer than the Anthro skirt, I had to do a little finagling -- the longer the skirt, the longer the "points" become. I didn't really want them tickling my ankles! So I sacrificed a bit of "pointiness" for the sake of practicality, and trimmed the corners of the square down. The picture below will hopefully show that a bit:

As you can see in the next picture, this does downplay the whole hanky-hem concept a bit, but I think I'm quite comfortable with that.

In the end? I definitely prefer the lyocell (like Tencel) used for the Anthro skirt -- it's silky and has a gorgeous drape. But my fabric is just fine, and is remarkably lightweight. I also wish it was a bit more tailored, but considering the difficulty of construction (the way it was put together made it extremely difficult to alter once assembled) and the fact that my postpartum shape is still changing, I'm happy with the result. I've already worn it half a dozen times, so there's that!

No, it's not lopsided -- I'm just standing a bit funny! 

A new wardrobe staple for my rehabbed postpartum closet, and an effective cure for Anthropologie fever. Now if I can just conquer that crafty paralysis...

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Mint in the Morning

Pregnancy, post-partum, moving -- three stages in life that are not particularly conducive to curating a "normal" wardrobe. Mine was certainly in distress! I've been good about paring down and getting rid of clothes that I no longer needed/wanted, but was starting to feel a bit of a pinch if I let the laundry go longer than a few days. With plenty of fabric on hand, the solution seemed obvious.

I had a mint knit in my stash, purchased from Girl Charlee many moons ago. It's a lovely spandex knit, so it has just enough body for this type of top. The top is a fairly unabashed knock-off of ModCloth's Mid Morning Break top. It's been a while since I've done such a straight-up copy of a garment, and it was rather fun! I used the basic tee pattern that I've tweaked over time. I still make tweaks every time I use it (usually taking in some fabric in the side seams), but it's a good base.

I opted for a "band" at the bottom, like the original inspiration top. It ended up a bit shorter
than my tops usually do, but ti works. I do have to tug it down now and again, though!

Of course, I gave it a bit of my own spin. A keyhole opening in the back seemed just right, as did a little bit of a cap sleeve. The cap sleeve was an easy draft (an elongated "football" shape folded in half -- ta da!), though it ended up sticking out further than intended -- I believe because the shoulder of my pattern was a bit too wide. Never mind, a bit of hand gathering turned that mishap in to another feature. The collar was a relatively easy draft, though I ended up redoing it; my first attempt came out rather uneven! Apparently knit is a bit harder in that regard than woven fabric.

I had to re-bind the neckline after the first time I wore it. I'm used to stretching knit neckbands as I sew them on, but in this case that resulted in a rather wonky, bumpy collar. Not the look I was going for! I put on a new binding, no stretching this time (there really wasn't any need to, anyway).

I have a few other yards of random knits in my stash, which I'm hoping to turn into more tops soon -- it's time to start incorporating some of the fun little details I've collected on my Pinterest boards! Oh, and more on that skirt in the first photo in my next post.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Let's Talk Mesothelioma

This is a departure from my typical "fare," but I was recently contacted by a gentleman who asked if I'd be willing to share some info about mesothelioma -- his wife is a survivor of this particular cancer, so he was interested in getting the word out. Having lost my maternal grandmother to breast cancer when I was quite young, this is a theme close to my heart, as well.

Just to clarify, this is not a sponsored post! There is nothing to sell here, and I was not paid to write this. I am also not a health professional, and what I share here is information I have gathered. So with that disclaimer out of the way, here we go!

Mesothelioma is a cancer most commonly caused by asbestos exposure. Microscopic fibers are inhaled, and the asbestos causes cancer in the linings of bodily organs (especially the lungs). Cancer can appear years after exposure, usually 20-50 years! This long latency period means that the cancer is often not discovered until an advanced stage. Treatment is far more effective at an early stage, so early diagnosis is crucial.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that was considered a miracle product for millenia before the health risks were understood -- which means that buildings constructed before 1975 are especially liable to contain asbestos. Remember asbestos shingles? Apparently it was even added to paints because of its properties as a fire retardant. I recall seeing an episode of Emergency! (one of my favorite retro shows, FYI) where the asbestos blanket was brought out for a victim. Oops.

While asbestos use has dwindled, it is still used in certain products (car brakes, roofing materials, etc.) and many people were or are still exposed to it in factories, historic homes, etc. Considering the risks, it's good to know the symptoms.


You can find out more about mesothelioma here. I sincerely hope neither you nor I ever need this information, but better to be well-informed!

Also, here's a list of summer safety tips from Mesothelioma.com (that website has some great info on mesothelioma, but -- as a disclaimer -- also offers legal services to mesothelioma victims. So, great info, but not without a "vested interest," as you might say).

I hope you all are having a safe and healthy summer, and now back to our regularly scheduled broadcast...