Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Posie's Polar Bears

The weather has turned here and it is really starting to feel like winter.  And the Christmas making is going full swing.  I've got a few nice little things to share which have already been completed.  (yeah maternity leave and baby naps… they are a wonder for the productivity.)

New handmade Christmas ornaments
I ran across the Alicia Paulson blog and store a few months ago.  I'm not sure how I have missed her beautiful photographs and posts – not to mention the shop – for so long. I'm addicted now.  This fall I've so enjoyed reading along and enjoying pretty views of Portland.  

I just missed ordering the kit for her Christmas ornament collection for 2013, but thankfully there were others from past years that were still available.  I purchased the 2010 kit and started right away on the polar bear.  And the net result is just darling.  I even had enough of the wool felt to make a second, slightly smaller bear. The blue scarf-ed bear is the bear from the kit.  The second is the one I eeked out of the remnant wool and some of my own embroidery floss and yarn stash.

A pair of bears
Making these was a little time consuming, but they are small enough, that you can work on them with a lap full of baby. They might even be easily portable because of their size, although it would be a shame to lose some of the little bits and bobs that make the nice details, buttons, sequins, etc.  But I think that the time put it was worth it.  I love handmade Christmas.

So this year each girlie will get to hang their own polar bear on the tree, complete with their name embroidered with the year on the back.  I haven't yet started on the mitten or red coat ornament, we'll see how much more I can get finished before the actual holiday!  Cross your fingers, and stay warm.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Finished – Fossil Pullover

Fossil Loft yarn feels perfect for fall

It's done… which happened a few weeks ago.  And I've finally photographed it.  I love this little sweater and cannot wait for the littlest little to be big enough to wear it. (Details can be found on Ravelry here.)

Pin oak leaves and acorns

Chose the vintage buttons

And now I'm on to Christmas making… more posts about that soon.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Fossil pullover

Button selection...
Last month when starting the Stephen West mystery shawl, I was all poised and ready to knit with Brooklyn Tweed's Loft.  As it turned out, that yarn wasn't quite the right type for that particular project (see my post about it).  But I was still really anxious to start something with Loft.  So I cast on the McDreamy pullover by Drops design.  It was a free pattern which I had marked as a favorite on Ravelry some time ago.

I knit this sweater out of the Fossil color way, and my notes about the pattern can be found here.  It was a really pleasant project.  Not so fussy that I couldn't pick it up and put it down without losing my place.  And now I'm working on button selection… I'm leaning towards the rounded vintage buttons (closest to the neckline in the photos).  I was planning on going with pink or red to girl-it-up a bit, but now I'm not so sure…
Leaning towards the top button

Friday, November 1, 2013

Mandala meets paper cutting

All in a row

Having been gifted an afternoon without my entourage by my lovely husband, I decided to take on the project of finishing the nursery decor.  I had purchased some pre-assembled frames with mat and glass for 5"x7" work.  There were four of them, and I have been stewing for several months about what "set" of four things I would like to frame for the new little.

My first thought was to purchase four prints from this amazing photographer.  And although I still adore these photos of animals, it seemed only fair to make something for our girl, since I took the time to make something when the small fry arrived.  I just had a difficult time deciding what to do.  I thought about painting something – and then remembered that it's not something that I'm particularly good at – small detail.  I thought about embroidery, but that would be terribly time consuming and likely take me long enough that by the time I finished four pieces, she would be old enough to tell me that she didn't like them.  

And then I settled on paper cutting.  I learned about paper cut artwork when I was about 9 or 10 years old, from the then-fiancee of a Danish exchange employee of my parents.  Her name was Annette and she was creative and funny and always charming.  Her beau was equally lovely, but fewer of his interests coincided with those of a 10-year-old girl.  She gifted my family some holiday paper cut mobiles and then also made a gorgeous Hans Christian Anderson mobile as a going away gift when they returned to Denmark.  And while she was here she taught me a little about paper cutting.

When the small fry was born, I created some botanical patterns/illustrations for paper cutting and framed those in some floating frames.  I'll photograph them someday and share them.  And those have moved to her new room.  

And for the littlest fry I decided to find some pretty and not terribly intricate mandala designs and use those as inspiration.  I had to modify each one a bit to create some balance in the weight of the lines of the mandala.  And also add a few lines here and there for a few "floating" elements that wouldn't have otherwise translated to paper cutting.  

In work

Originally I envisioned backing each space with a different color paper.  But as I cut and thought about it (paper cutting is a nice meditative pastime -– and reportedly so are mandalas), I decided that too much color would be a bit too stained glass, or Rose Window-ish.  And so I settled on using one hue family for each and just highlighting some of the more striking elements of each.  

First and second in purple and orange

I think it worked.  At least I'm happy with the results.  And the up side to choosing this as the artwork for these frames is that I was able to complete the set in less than two days... partial days at that.  

Third in pinks and red

And the small fry likes them so well that she has declared them her own and would like me to return the old ones to the nursery so that she can have the new ones in her room.  We're thinking about it...

Fourth and final in blue

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Fall Start-itis

Now that the carpal tunnel symptoms have passed and the weather has gotten cooler, I want to cast on about one million new projects.

Waistband and stockinette body of McDreamy
I've managed to cast one one new one – the McDreamy sweater for the smallest fry.  I wanted desperately to find a project to use the Brooklyn Tweed Loft yarn that didn't work for the shawl.  And I fell a little in love with the baby model for the photo of this sweater.  How darling is this scowl?  I'm knitting this in the Fossil color way, which is the lightest of the three colors that I have on hand.  And I'm envisioning using some pretty red or pink buttons for the raglan and then making a pair of "big butt baby pants" to go with this... maybe even line them with flannel... for maximum cozy-ness?

I had some help with the photo shoot of this work in progress in the form of the small fry and her fairy collection.  This is Spike I believe...

A little help...

I've also restarted my Knit.Sock.Love socks.  This is the beginning of the Twisted Flower sock in a gorgeous kelly green Koigu KPM that I've had in the stash forever.  I scored it on one of those rare Koigu sales and have been saving it for something special.  I'm excited about this pattern and have recently come into possession of my first ever roll of highlighter tape.  Which means I have no worries about marking my place on the beautiful, yet extensive, charts for this pattern.  I love, love, love twisted stitches.  Some day I need to do a retrospective on my Bayerische socks...

Soon I'll write a little about my nearly finished Loki sweater... I've got a few final details to finish and then I'll let you know what I also plan to finish this fall.

Until then, enjoy this fall weather.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Color Craving KAL

In mid-September I signed up for Stephen West's Color Craving knit-a-long (KAL).  It was kind of a crazy idea, since the release of the first clue happened within a week of my due date.  But two lovely friends of mine were signing up too, and I envisioned lots of knitting time made available while feeding the smallest fry. (This may or may not have actually worked out... )

So the knitting commenced.  I started initially with some lovely Brooklyn Tweed Loft.  I love the yarn. But I didn't read the instructions carefully enough on this pattern, and the twist and stitch definition  made it a less than ideal match for this project.  So I ripped out the first weeks clue (ugh...) and started again with some Malabrigo Finito, which was a much better choice for this project.  The only other change I made to the directions was to knit this on US 5 needles.  I did this because my US 6 needles were otherwise occupied and since I'd already purchased two types of yarn for this project... ahem.  I'm glad that I did this though... the finished object is plenty large.

In progress... actually almost complete

Knitting  the clues as they came without knowing what the finished product was a leap of faith for me.  Being a visual person, I often rely on the photos of the nicely finished object to make sure that my interpretation of the directions is correct.  And this wasn't really an option; which is sort of the point... to be surprised.  

Closing in on the seemingly endless i-cord bind off
I must say that it was a pleasure to knit this.  As I got further and further into the second, third and fourth week, I got more comfortable with the directions. Some of the design elements were repeated and I took comfort in knowing that I was at least being consistent (right or wrong).  But this ended up turning out beautifully, and having taken a look at some other finished projects, I think my interpretation was correct - whew!

I'm happy with my yarn choice too. I think this red really pops and the finished result is something that is fun and unexpected... It's a bit more modern-art-ish than I probably would have normally chosen, but not so strange that I won't be able to wear it.  You can find the details on Ravelry here.

Finished length – nearly 4' long!!

... like a folded pennant.

Best modeled with Dora PJs of course.

Three cheers for Stephen West... I can only say three things about Stephen's knitting patterns, interesting, interesting, interesting!  In design (use of simple elements and geometry), use of color and finished object.  And now my eye is on his Batad shawl... how gorgeous is this?

Sunday, October 13, 2013

A Brand New Little

...and then this happened.  A new and perfect baby girl has graced our family.

And now we are four.

We are all doing extraordinarily well – a little sleep deprived – but wonderful.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Shelter Loki – Work in Progress

Just a quick share of my most recent work in progress...

Shelter Loki Yoke

Late last fall I had the pleasure of visiting NYC with my darling sister on a totally indulgent, kid-free, long weekend.  One of our stops was to Purl Soho, where I scored a few skeins of Jared Flood's Shelter. I had great aspirations for designing a color work sweater for the small fry.  And again I found that my knitting "eyes were bigger than my stomach" and the yarn has been patiently waiting a plan for nearly a year.  So in an effort to be more realistic and not let this yarn sit in the stash for yet another winter, I have cast on a Loki for my girl.

It wouldn't be fair if all the new hand knits were for the much anticipated babe.

So, here it goes, and it's lovely so far.  The colors I am using are: Camper (pink), Long Johns (red), Nest (light brown) and Pumpernickel (dark brown).  Isn't it lovely?  I'm convinced that there must not be any bad color combinations in Jared's color palette.  The tweedy nature of this yarn is the best, and without having blocked it, I anticipate it being fairly light weight and really warm at the same time!

Stay tuned.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Classic Striped Cardigan

Marled Stripes and Flower Buttons
So the knitting did continue... although slowly.  But I've finished our new babe's striped cardigan and it's blocked and ready to be grown into.

I totally fell in love with this pattern the first time that I knit it.  It's constructed from the bottom up and knit in separate pieces until the underarm decreases.  (For a striped version, this is the point at which you want to be careful where you stop your striping.)  And after the two fronts, back and two sleeves are knit to the underarm point, they are joined and the raglan decreases begin.  And the knitting continues until you reach the collar.  It is SUCH a clever way to construct a sweater... I'd try it on an adult version, but I'm not sure how well it would work with shaping and my currently addled cognitive skills (I'm blaming pregnancy brain – isn't that convenient?)

Ready to be grown into

I ended up having plenty of yarn, and was a little bit worried about running out of the red.  I consumed more of that, as the ribbing for the hems of the body, sleeves, collar and button band are all done in red.  But I finished with enough to spare.

The small fry helped me pick out some matching flower buttons, and we used some contrasting blue thread to pick up a little color accent.  What fun it was to knit this.

Finished knit

And I'm day dreaming about the coming days with a new babe in hand, and a bit less water retention.  This pseudo carpal tunnel thing is not much fun for someone who likes detail work as much as I do. Soon enough, I'll get my wish... less than three weeks left until my due date.  Cross your fingers for me.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Knitting (with pins and) Needles

Third trimester fun is revealing itself in some very manageable but subtle ways around these parts.  And I'll open by saying that I feel great.  And I'm cruising through this pregnancy with little to no issues which is such a huge blessing.

The funny and somewhat ironic thing is that I'm retaining a little water, which is pretty typical. And it's so minimal that I likely wouldn't even notice it, except that it's giving me carpal tunnel symptoms.  Which is putting a serious damper on my knitting, sewing, typing, writing, pretty-much-any-repetitive-fine-motor activity.  And so my productivity is down a little because between every second and third row, I'm icing my wrists to get feeling back in my thumb, index, middle and half of my ring finger.  (How funny is that?)  It's not painful, it just feels a little like my fingers are asleep... that "pins and needles" sensation and my ability to gauge how tightly I'm grasping something is a little off.   I'm dropping things a bit more often that I used to too.

Conch Shell hat for the babe.

But the knitting marches on... just a little more slowly.  I managed to finish the conch shell hat from Elizabeth Zimmermann's Opinionated Knitter.  It is such a clever pattern and pretty finished object.  I ended up using the Purl Soho - Super Soft Merino that was sent to me from my Squam friends... aren't they lovely?  It used up nearly the entire skein, and I modified things only by selecting a smaller needle size.  I used US 8s.

And I've cast on another Classic Cardigan from Debbie Bliss in the two skeins of Ella Rae that were also sent from Squam.  I love, love, love this pattern... It's a bottom-up raglan and is pretty easy to stripe as long as you pay attention to your stripe stopping point before you join the backs, fronts and sleeves...

The beginnings of a classic baby cardi

Pretty isn't it?

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Monkey Dress

The finished Monkey dress made it's debut on the 4th of July weekend, on a trip to see some family a little further north.  And it's been worn and washed and I think it's going to be a hit. The small fry seems to like it. A cotton smock is a pretty nice warm weather option, and the sleeves are minimal so there is plenty of air movement.  The hem and yoke are doubled, so the dress has weight where you want it – up high for structure, and at the hem for weight.  And the dress in the middle is single weight so it's cool and flexible.

Have bucket hats, will travel.
Some of the other details that I love about the design of this dress are the notches in the center of the neck and the pocket yokes.  It's a simple element to create and adds a little interest to the garment without making the assembly fussy.

Notched pocket details...

Another Oliver + S success!

And the companion dress

Sunday, June 30, 2013


"Two if by Hand" Polwarth/Silk (85/15)

I've waited so long to catch some CatReading handspun for sale... and last weekend I had just the chance I had been looking for.

Look at this amazing stuff... now what to make of it?  Suggestions?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


Goodies from the most lovely friends

This year I missed Squam Art Workshops.  And missing it was really, really bittersweet.  But it was for good reason.  Our little family is going to be expanding early this fall, and the experts curtailed my travel plans just before the New Hampshire trip.

So the amazing and talented girls that I met there last year went again this year.  And Elizabeth - the mastermind behind the event - allowed us all to share a cabin again.  So it was a rekindling of our little group. By all reports everyone had an amazing time.  And how could you not... Squam Lake is such a beautiful setting and the classes offered are unlike anything I would encounter locally.  This year I missed a photography class, and two knitting classes with Stephanie Pearl-McFee and Steven West.  (So, so sad about missing those.)

Gnome Homes

But my room-mates were the best.  We had planned a swap among us of creative and fun little things.  And I am sure that I got the best gift.  These were made by the lovely Emily and are "gnome homes" for double pointed needles. They are hand-knit, felted and each of their little hats is secured by a length of elastic so that you can lift it off and store you double pointed needles.  How clever is that?  You can see on the red-hatted one that I've got some bamboo DPNs in there already! I'm doing my best to convince the small fry that they aren't intended to be used as new characters in her doll and fairy cast.  And I received hand made soap with a crocheted bag (lovely Jamie), a pea pod pin (lovely Kelly), an initial necklace from the Squam marketplace and some tea (lovely Jen).  And they mailed to me the goody bag from this year, complete with two skeins of beautiful blue yarn. So the disappointment in missing all the fun this year waned a little when all these goodies arrived in the mail.

It's so, so good to have kind and thoughtful friends. I am a lucky girl.

On the baby front, I've just arrived at the third trimester and things are going pretty well.  I've got my energy back and I'm feeling good.  And now that I'm not craving sleep by 8p.m. every day, the creative projects are back on my "radar." So cross your fingers for an uneventful remaining rest of the pregnancy, and more blog fodder sooner than later!

Friday, June 14, 2013


These lovelies are off to their new home.  I hope the recipient likes them.  The largest glass bead is one that I made, and the assortment of other little beads is hand strung on a sterling silver chain that dangles below.
Off to a new home

And something of the same style, but with a different color scheme is now available in the shop.  Click here to see them and a better description.



Sunday, June 9, 2013

Class Picnic Blouse – again

Ready for summer...
This last week or so I've been a little less "out and about" than normal and have managed to finish off all three of the little "Class Picnic Blouses" that I had cut out awhile ago. This is record timing for me, but I must attribute my speed with the simple truth that cutting, sewing, pressing, etc. in a batch process – even a batch of three – makes things so much faster.

Heather Bailey Garden Gnomes

Amy Butler Graphic Floral print

Woodland animals

The gnome version is 3T size, and the other two are 6-month size.  And I'm pretty happy with the way that they all turned out.  I even did a few things wrong (also in batch) which meant three times the number of seams to rip out, re-align, pin and sew. (ugh.)  But it was worth the trouble to have a nicely finished product that I won't be embarrassed to put on our girl.

And the current favorite baby got a new shirt too... can't leave anyone out of this action.

New baby doll smock

And now on to the Monkey Dress...

Thursday, May 30, 2013

In the queue

This spring has been very busy, in all the best ways. And I'm finally sitting down to share some of the more creative things that are in the queue.

We've been gardening on faith for the last few years and this year feels like the big payoff.  Everything in the yard seems to have expanded two-fold this season.  The best part of all of this is that my mom and a family friend of ours are really proficient gardeners, and most all of these plants came to our home after being split from their gardens.  Which isn't just thrifty, but nice to sit and enjoy a little landscape that feels like home.
Hostas, volunteer oregano and lilies
Lily of the valley
Japanese painted fern and creeping jenny

Gnome guarding the mint (hello mojitos)

Yellow-green hostas in the rocks

Love this hosta and it's painterly greens

I've also been knitting a little.  (Stress a little.)  The weather has been so beautiful that it's hard to force myself to sit down and knit when there is so much to do outside.  This is a 6 month version of the Forest Park cardigan.  I'm still planning to finalize the pattern, it's just been on the back burner... Isn't this color great... I think it is called Apricot (Quince and Co Chickadee).

Work in progress

And I'm dusting off the sewing machine and revisiting some of my old and new favorite Oliver and S patterns.  I've been really careful to trace each size of these patterns and not destroy the originals.  And it's fun now to see just how many sizes and versions of this blouse I have made.  No less than four sizes of this pattern have been finished for our girl.  And this summer will be complete with three new versions.  This big coral colored print is an out of production Amy Butler, I think.  The pastel with woodland creatures is accented by red rick-rack in the print.  And really, who doesn't need a blouse that  has garden gnomes on it.  (It's a Heather Ross print from Spoonflower... darling!)

Class picnic blouse - and another gnome.
And my newest Oliver and S pattern is the Ice Cream Dress.  Last year I scored this fun monkey print and there is some major excitement around these parts about wearing a monkey dress.  (I'm fully aware that I need to enjoy the current zeal about wearing handmade clothes now... this surely won't last.) And the other print is something equally fun and whimsical.  It's an alphabet made out of illustrated plants and animals... again kind of woodland themed...   we'll see how these turn out.

Plans for the Ice Cream Dress

Stay tuned for some finished product photos... hopefully soon.