Friday, November 18, 2016

Decorative Gourd Season...

It has taken me nearly three weeks to finish this post – phew.  Here we are in November and closing in on Thanksgiving.  October went by this year at a frenetic pace, and with some unseasonably warm days.  As I began to write this post on November 1st, it was 77-degrees out.  It was so nice to be able to wander without wearing multiple layers, or paying a heating bill.  On the other hand, Iwas ready to switch to the cold weather wardrobe and enjoy some comfort food.  It feels now, three weeks later that the weather is finally changed.

Sunrise on an impromptu camping
And it's compliment...

Frost Pears
The girls and I have been reading up a storm lately.  We've just about worn the cover off of Wolfie the Bunny.  And we also were lent a copy of a Captain Underpants book.  And that was an even bigger hit.  And how could it not be... with characters called "Professor Poopypants" and a name conversion guide that designated my girls as Falafel and Oprah Bubblechunks.  So funny.  They giggled and giggled.  We are entering the era when any kind of bodily function association is wildly funny.  Beware the Halloween jokes... I won't burden you with them here.


Halloween was fun.  Our inadvertent theme was "spots" this year.  We repurposed a jaguar costume for the peanut, and the small fry was a dalmatian.  They ran and ran and ran.  House to house, telling jokes and ogling the neighborhood Halloween decor.  We carved pumpkins that my parents grew from seed and made sugar cookies. It was a successful holiday.

On the making front, things have been a little slower.  I've been spinning a bit, and slowly chipping away on a couple knitting projects.  The big excitement is that I'm planning to attempt an Alabama Chanin-style project in a week or so with my dear Jen.  We've got several yards of jersey cotton, Natalie Chanin's book, and a load of ambition.  We'll see if we emerge with anything wearable...  I'll be sure to post back here, even if the end result is a large t-shirt-turned-potholder.  Cross your fingers for us.
Nest Fibers – Falkland Wool


Sunday, October 9, 2016

A Change in the Air

Fall is here.  Halloween decorations are coming out.  Costumes are being discussed.  School is in full swing.  The fast pace of my work in the summer months has slowed.  I feel like cooking again.

Simple and lovely self striping socks

This weekend, leaves started falling in earnest from the Ash tree.  Sweet gum balls are starting to litter the lawns in the neighborhood.  We made an early morning trip to Soulard Market for produce and came home and put together a delicious pot of butternut squash bisque.  (Recipe compliments of my friend Jen.)
Nest "Amanar" spun in a gradient

Three ply (Chain Ply)

Wool Silk blend

I've been spinning more, and knitting some new things, and another batch of wool arrived from Nest. I always feel like saying this is my favorite season... it might be.  But I say that every time the weather changes... it's probably better to say that I just like living where the seasons are marked by real changes in the weather.

Fall sweater plans for the Peanut.

The garden is nearly done... one lone eggplant remains because it bears a little eggplant that might grow a bit yet.  Raking leaves will soon be upon us, and my parents shared a car load of gourds and squash for our fall decor.

Cannot wait to greet their "Pop"

We drove home in the middle of the week to make sure the girls got to participate in harvest for at least a few hours.  I will forever love the smell of fall air filled with corn dust, and dry earth smells with a subtle undertone of diesel fuel.

To be spun next - 100% Finn wool - isn't it pretty?

I hope that your fall is off to a good start.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Birthday Adventures and Furniture Nostalgia

People are getting older around here.  And this fledgling girl gets so excited to be a year older... this year was one of transitions.  Gone are the crib and the toddler toys, and a new, old big-girl bed and some bigger kid toys have arrived.

Make a wish

There was a chocolate cake with chocolate mint ganache... we don't fool around with bland cakes.  They are so seldom baked around here that I like to make the fun ones for birthdays.  This recipe was from the Baked cookbook, of the namesake bakery in Redhook, Brooklyn.

Birthday friends
I had a chance to experiment with fondant molding too.  The peanut very specifically and consistently requested that her cake be adorned with a bunny, a turtle and a squirrel.  So thanks to a little surfing around pinterest for fondant animal inspiration, I came up with these.  They worked quite well, even if the bunny did try to lay down just before the candles were lit.

In progress
And the big gift this year was the big bed.  Her sister got the same on this birthday, and she was very excited to have a big bed of her own.  I am the fortunate new owner of this charming twin bed from the furniture left behind in my grandparents home.  I have the fondest memories of spending nights there as a little girl.  Noni loved yellow, and this was the cheerful bedstead in the smallest bedroom upstairs.  In the summer you were guaranteed to sleep on crispy clean cotton sheets, probably with a floral pattern.  And in the winter it would undoubtedly be flannel... that upstairs was chilly, which made the bed that much more cosy.  

I am so excited to have the opportunity to put this bed to good use in our own home and update it a little for our girl.  Lots of love then and now around this well used piece of furniture. 

Sanding and sunshine

Ready for a new coat of paint

Not too subtle to go with her cheery new quilt
Earlier this year I made a log cabin quilt for this anticipated birthday.  Most all the fabric for this project was remnant material from garment projects or other pieces here and there.  And the log cabin pattern is so easy to put together.  I'm not much of a quilter... but I really wanted her to have a quilt of her own.

Log cabin debut

It was a good birthday.  There was plenty of family, laughter, sugar and love.  She got lots of attention and spent the day at full tilt, until the car ride home when she promptly passed out.  Oh, to be three again.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016


Good bye sweet summer.  I'm always ready to see the end of the heat and anxiously anticipate the cooler weather.  And we've been pretty industrious around here since I last wrote... my pictures are better at showing what we've accomplished in the last few weeks, so here goes...

We tried on last falls sweaters and they still fit, which is great news – but probably won't prevent me from knitting more sweaters for my little people.  These are knit in Jill Draper's super wash wool called Hudson... one of my all time favorites.  The patterns are Lori Versaci's patterns which are classic and well written.

There was a bit of travel, so I knit some socks... the yarn was gifted to me by the dearest girl, Jen. They remind me of the confetti frosting that my sister and I used to covet.  The kind with the completely artificial tasting rainbow chips in it... and made your teeth hurt from eating too much of it. (Which we may have discovered after "stealing" a can of it from Mom's pantry and secretly eating it in my sister's closet... sorry Mom.)

And proof to the earlier point, I finished this very pretty and fine gauge sweater for the small fry.  It's lightweight and she loves it and I hope it makes many trips back and forth to school... The yarn is Crave Yarn One hand dyed by the lovely Amor, who I had the distinct pleasure of meeting and spending a class with in June at Squam lake.  You should look her up, you will not be sorry.

There was a small amount of spinning.

And the stairs and the banister and spindles finally got sanded and stained, after a mere 18 month delay.  We're pretty happy with how they turned out... and even more excited to take that "project" off of the list.  Hurray!

And last but not least, my thoughtful and talented better half build this "house in the house" as the girls call it.  It's a play house – ingeniously build over the opening of what was a full closet.  And it has become quite the place for entertaining friends, storing dress up clothes and locking your sister out of.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Spin, knit, deliberate.

I've been knitting and spinning and working and playing and doing my civic duty for the democracy like crazy this last few days.  The civic part of that was jury duty... the work and play part are just the normal keeping on... and the knitting and spinning was employed primarily to offset the weight of being on a jury.  Thank goodness for democracy (and wool, to distract my mind in the evenings). 

We're looking forward to fall around here... not to say that we are wishing away summer, but we've tried on and adjusted school uniforms, bought school supplies and new shoes and are gearing up for another season of peewee soccer (or in our case organized socialization of first graders).  

This morning is especially peaceful... coffee, Elton John's "tiny dancer" filling my ears, the girls absorbing the Olympics, my better half off enjoying some visiting friends and me with a few moments to record these projects...  I hope your morning is equally lovely.

 June Nest Fiber project - color way called "Boardwalk"

Attempting to create some blocks of color in the singles

Three ply result
I did get some spinning in last weekend... and am working hard not to overspin the fiber...  You'll see what I spun with the May fiber is so very tight, that the wool actually feels like cotton... not ruinous, but not what I was going for...

In progress
"Simple but Effective" cowl
Modeled by our tiny dancer...
complete with a pirate smile.
Waist length cowl
The May fiber was this beautifully dyed Targhee wool... which I spun and chain plied.  And then knit it into a cowl which will be a Christmas gift for a dear friend of ours (who has no idea that this blog exists).  It will definitely be warm, it's a dense and heavy 8oz of wool all packed into a conservatively sized cowl.  (In other words, way over spun.) Modeled by our ever-willing-to-be-photographed girl.  I think I included the last picture just so I'll have a record of her hair when time passes... 

New beanie

Keeping our heads warm in August
 And lastly, I took this girl of ours to the local yarn shop and she attached herself to this skein of bright pink wool and announced a need for a new hat... and I was happy to oblige.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

I'm sweating

It's July, and we are having the appropriate weather here in the Midwest.  We've been to the pool, we're watering the garden and quietly thinking grateful things about air conditioning.

Navajo plied Targhee wool from
Nest fiber studio
We've had a great summer so far. We're miniature vegetable gardeners – growing cucumbers, peppers and herbs for ourselves, and tomatoes for those voracious city squirrels.  Our little garden is also producing parsley, basil and sage and thinking about maybe generating an eggplant or two.

Our creative juices are flowing as well.  The small fry has been dabbling with watercolors this summer, and rarely a day goes by where she hasn't drawn something with that box full of colored pencils.  She's also trying her hand at knitting.  She's asked me to show her, and she'll get the hang of it for a few stitches and then the tension gets weird and she'll let it sit for a couple days and then come back.
Art and home grown produce

The peanut is a talking machine this summer.  She's picking up everyone's phrases... and chatters to herself while busy with the events of her imagination.  She's building a new level of trust with Georgie the cat and loves to go to the library.

Handspun "Garden Party"

I've been working on some knitting and sewing.  Slowly, things are getting made.  I finished that gigantic shawl, and then set to work on a cardigan for the coming school year. I spun a bit too and I've got some socks in (slow) progress too.

On the sewing front, I've deconstructed my favorite old silk tank top and am attempting to reconstruct it from some Liberty Tana Lawn.  It's coming together well, I think.  At least it appears as if it's going to fit, and I'm happy with how it's working so far. Just some finished arm holes and a hem and I'll be in business.

Slow Fashion

In the meantime, I hope you stay cool and entertained doing something creative.