Something new!

Prickly

Not long ago, an image for Berroco's Prickly Poppy passed before my eyes (while reading my weekly email from The Village Knitter, no doubt) and I was immediately in love. I was reminded of an old favorite reverse stockinette cardigan (two of them, actually) that I wore to death, but Prickly Poppy had some cute details, too.

Pattern procured, I emailed Ann & Katy to order the yarn. Berroco Indigo -- made of 100% recycled fibers. I don't have the tag with me at the moment, but I think I ordered either "Faded" or "Relaxed." Either way, I think I'm going to end up with another favorite.

Cast on occurred last night... and away we go!


Weekending: Sunday Blues

Oh, was it ever a blue Sunday... so blue. And I'm not sure I could have been any happier about that!

It was one of those stellar weekends all around -- the perfect balance of time together vs. time alone, time with my grandson, time for garden/yard stuff, and definitely time for creative stuff (though I haven't knit a stitch in at least a week!). I was mindful of and grateful for it all, because it'll be a while before there's a chance at another.

When last we met, I'd stirred up an indigo flower.

I've slowly collected supplies over the past few months. Following their instructions for using Pre-Reduced Indigo Crystals, I ordered all of my dye supplies from Dharma Trading Co. I already had a selection of cotton onesies to play around with, as well as some yarn, but the big thing I was aiming to dye was 2 yards of Limited-edition Lime Organic Cotton Jersey from Alabama Chanin. It's a fabulous color, but it is so not my color... nor any of my people's!

I wanted to dye the fabric all in one piece, so decided on a 20-gallon plastic trash can with a cover for my vat. On Saturday, I mixed and measured... and due to miscalculation, didn't have quite enough Thiox, but proceeded anyway (and ordered more!), and then let it sit so the magic could happen.

On Sunday morning, I put the onesies and fabric in the washer for a rinse+spin cycle to dampen, and spread a large plastic drop cloth between the back door of the garage and the clothesline -- the vat is located just inside the garage door.

But, of course, I started with yarn!

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One hank of Merino-Cashmere-Nylon. It took a lot of rinsing to remove the excess dye!

The onesies didn't seem to soak up as much dye, but I'd also practiced some shibori/tie-dye technique on all but one of them.

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6-month Onesie. Folded and tied with string.

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6-month Onesie. Dunk-dyed, unbound.

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6-month Onesie. Gathered and bound with rubber band.

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6-month Onesie. Folded and tied with string.

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12-month Onesie. Gathered and bound with rubber bands.

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24-month Onesie. Folded and tied with string.

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24-month Onesie. Folded and tied with string.

I don't have a photo of the lime fabric before dyeing... or really much of the after, either. I was alone and there's really no way one can dye and document at the same time! I do have a video, though.

All the onesies, a peek at the fabric, and a quick glimpse of the pre-rinsed yarn. I rinsed the fabric pieces on the line with the hose, and then washed everything (with color catchers). The fabric, being large and not bound in any way, also held a lot of dye.

But wait! There's more!!

Inspired by several finished pieces I've seen lately, I purchased and pieced together the pattern for an Endless Summer Tunic (dress) by A Verb for Keeping Warm and...

Well, I had 2 yards of freshly dyed fabric!

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I cut and sewed on my freshly serviced machine, using my spiffy new walking foot for the second time... until a piece flew out of it, it fell apart, and then my needle broke! But I carried on with a regular foot and stretch stitch, using Maxi-Lock thread, and it worked!

I have a new dress! With pockets, even. I don't think I've ever sewn anything with pockets before. This thing is awesome! The shot above was taken late on Sunday and, because the weekend, I am lacking a good "foundation," and my mirror is permanently ick (but I love it)... I couldn't wait! With the girls in position and properly supported, it's clear that I'll have to stitch up that V-neck another inch (or wear a layer underneath).

Look at that drape! There's still some finishing & fixing to do: I want to fell all the seams and finish the V-neck edge by hand; I need to take it in just a bit under the arms, and also bind the arm edges (I missed that part in the directions). You can certainly expect to see more of these in varying lengths this summer.

And also blue. It's going to be a very blue summer. We're going to have the blues awful bad around here!


Weekending: Saturday

It was quite amazing to realize on Saturday that it had been 39 years since I graduated from high school! It just simply cannot be, and yet the math says otherwise. Heh.

* * * * *

Saturday morning found us at the Outagamie County Master Gardener Association's annual plant sale, where this was a common sight.

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We mainly bought tomatoes; by the time we arrived, they were out of basil and parsley, but had a very good supply of hostas and daylilies (most of which they were practically giving away, and if you have a hosta garden, I'm sure you can relate). They had a good selection of perennials, all very nicely organized, but I have few needs right now in that department. We stopped at a nursery on the way home to pick up a few annuals for planters.

And it all got planted on Saturday afternoon! We may yet have a few iffy nights in terms of frost, but we'll keep a close eye on the situation.

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I stood by with phone in hand, ready to dial 9-1-1, while Rusty did a little trimming of one of the old ash trees at the front of our house. Yikes! There are a lot of small, straggly dead branches in those trees, but there was just a major one or two larger ones that really needed to be taken care of -- and were "in reach."

* * * * *

We also went to an open house at the former retreat center owned by the Capuchin Franciscan Province of St. Joseph, commonly known as Monte Alverno. The property is now owned by the Fox River Environmental Education Alliance (FREEA) and on Saturday local son Cory Chisel was named vice president of FREEA. He presented plans, hopes, and dreams for the property... which may become known simply as The Refuge (if my vote on the subject mattered in any way).

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It's a beautiful property... with many bedrooms -- over 50!! I've always known it to be there but have never been until a few weeks ago when Kate was on a panel of judges for a local photography group and they had their meeting and dinner there. "Monte Alverno" is synonymous, in my mind, with "marriage retreat" because that's the only thing I ever knew of that happened there!

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Not any more. Though, if you wanted to have a marriage retreat there, I'm sure you'd be welcome! Or any other kind of retreat... and, yes, of course I've thought of that!

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Cory and his wife, Adriel, were joined in the chapel area by their son as they sang, and the Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra looked on; the baby was adorable, watching his daddy play guitar. The sound in that space is amazing! It'll be fun to see how things unfold and develop there over time.

* * * * *

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Junah came over for a while in the evening. I took him for a long walk in the stroller. He spent a lot of time going in and out through the back door (he likes to hear it slam!), going up and down the porch steps... always busy and moving!

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He has some favorite cupboards at my house, but this one is probably the favorite... and also the noisiest! I can't think of a more fun way to spend a Saturday night.

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I also made this on Saturday:

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Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.

My cauldron is a 20-gallon trash can, which I stirred with an actual broom handle, and the bubble is called the indigo flower... sitting atop my indigo vat!

More on that tomorrow!!


Weekending

Kate had a meeting on Saturday morning and I decided to tag along to Appleton and meander The (College) Avenue until she was finished.

I wandered into Blue Moon Emporium, a great little shop with an emphasis on locally made goods, and into Studio 213 LLC, which features a mix of art and antiques, etc. I found a little something at each shop and was quite happy.

My eye was caught by a large corner (probably sectional) sofa in the window of Gabriel Furniture. I bought Rusty's Barcalounger recliner there a whole bunch of years ago, but it had been ages since I'd been in an actual furniture store and was compelled to turn around and go in to have a look around.

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This is actually the back entrance, around the corner. Gabriel's has grown over the years, expanding into several neighboring shops along both College Avenue and Morrison Street, visually tying it all together with some of the ugliest facade work ever (the original multi-story building was gorgeous). One of those shops along The Avenue was Shirley's, where I remember shopping with Mom for school clothes... specifically, Polly Flinders smocked dresses come to mind, and the fairly hiddy coat that I had to have in 5th or 6th grade because it had this cool chain belt, and also a dress Mom bought for Sharon but said "Don't tell your dad," so Sharon was scared to death of wearing for fear that Dad would ask her where it came from. (As if.)

I wandered through the store and stepped through a doorway into the part of the building that's pictured above, and it immediately struck me... this was Beverly Lemke's School of Dance! I took ballet, tap, and tumbling there until the piano and violin came along and appealed to me more. I think of it sometimes when I drive by -- that big red section of the wall on the right was actually about that same color then, but was made of huge ceramic tiles and a beautiful ballerina in arabesque was painted in silhouette to fill the area. There was nothing inside Gabriel's that said "ballet" to me as I stood there, but there must still be an aura or something! I can't remember a single detail about my lessons there, though I do have memory of a production of The Wizard of Oz in which I was both a mouse (tumbling) and some sort of dancing fairy (ballet -- frothy pink dress) and Sharon & Karen were bumble bees (ballet) -- but I know that I loved it and have warm fuzzies about it all.

A little sneaky grief, as Carole calls it, crept up on me there and I got a little teary with the feels of remembering all that -- Shirley's, Beverly Lemke's, Mom.

The salesman at the store told me that way in the back, their work area, there's still a ballerina painted on the wall. I might someday ask for a peek.

* * * * *

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Ann & her family were here and later on Saturday we got together at Mom's & Joe's and had a cookout. Mum's wildflower garden is pretty spectacular right now -- just the way she liked it -- with Virginia bluebells, forget-me-knots, bleeding hearts all blooming, not to mention the flowering trees, especially the redbud (one of which is struggling a bit).

We had a wonderful brunch on Sunday, too, complete with mimosas! (I took a bit of a Whole30 hiatus for Mother's Day...)

* * * * *

I finished Clue 5 of Romi's Mystery Shawl 2015 on Friday night, so cast it off on Saturday!

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I wove in all the ends on Sunday, but just didn't have the time for soaking and blocking; however, I did have time to begin contemplating combinations for my next mystery shawl!

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Combo #1.

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Combo #2.

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Combo #3.

The cast-on for Kirsten Kapur's Through The Loops Mystery Shawl 2015 is set for June 1st, and I think it's going to be Combo #1 -- both are Malabrigo Sock.

But there are weeks before the knit-along begins, so who knows!?

* * * * *

In the meantime, I am carrying on with Michele Bernstein's Sophie's Rose Shawlette, having just completed Row 240 of 360 for the main section; then there will be the edging and that amazing ruffle to work. I need to take an updated photo for my Ravelry project page, but I love how it's all working out so far!

I've also been giving some time to the sewing, and have both the front and back pieces of my Alabama Chanin corset top completely sewn; next step is felling the seams. I think I'll assemble the top and apply the binding, and then the beading! This slow fashion is fun... but slow.

But my sewing machine is ready to pick up and the stitch selector knob is moving, and there'll soon be some faster fashion happening (in all sizes)!


Eye Candy Friday

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We took a drive out to Calumet County Park at the end of the day on Wednesday. It wasn't the most spectacular sunset in the history of the world, but it was pretty... it's a pretty park.


TBT: Before knitting...

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Before knitting -- or, rather, I should say "between" -- I did a lot of cross-stitch embroidery! I ran across these projects the other day. The stitching is finished but they've never been framed or "finished" in a way that allows them to be used or enjoyed.

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My first "hobby retreat" was in early December 1992: "Christmas In Williamsburg," sponsored by Just CrossStitch Magazine. The main event was "The Dorcas Haynes Christmas Sampler," a reproduction sampler designed and taught by Darlene O'Steen. It was the first time I'd flown by myself in years, rented a car, drove from Norfolk to Williamsburg... I arrived a day early and remember going to see "A River Runs Through It" that night. It was a lovely retreat.

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I liked kitchen-y designs such as this fruit piece; I also stitched a fun "herb" design for my sister Ann. (And a quilt design for Sharon, a Santa for Karen, duck stamps for my brother-in-law, commemorative wedding and birth pieces, Christmas stockings, ornaments... so much stitching!)

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Sometimes a little whimsy! I love this goofy angel, and I left this piece out the other day with the intention of finishing it... very soon. A small bolster pillow? A hanging? I'm not sure yet...

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I don't recall the story behind these pieces. I'm certain that they were for my mom... but there's already a finished/framed trillium exactly like this one hanging in her dinette. They match designs that were etched into the glass transom windows in that room.

Ha. Obviously, I was as much a process stitcher as I am a process knitter!

I haven't stitched in years, or looked at new designs. It was quilting designs that first caught my eye and interested me in stitching -- I have no idea what's "new," if anything. I still love samplers to death. If I ever take it up again, though, I'm going to need a magnifier lamp!


Baby pants

It felt so good to spend some much-needed KonMari time in my workroom on Saturday. That nice new worktable is wasted if I can't even move around the room!

Over a year ago, when we cleared all of our stuff from the upstairs apartment, I came across some old t-shirts that Kate & Al painted when they were little. I put them aside. Never intending to keep them (the paint is thick, cracked, brittle), I did want to photograph them, though, before I tossed them out.

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The date is right there on the sleeve of Kate's shirt -- Sept. 2, 1990! Almost 25 years ago (don't judge)! Kate was 5.5 and Ali was 3.5 and I was pregnant with Maddy, though I don't think I actually knew that at the time. We did this as a group in the back yard at Karen's house and Sharon was there, too; now and then, I run across a few photos of the weekend. Fun.

There were also these:

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A year or two later, the last two were done at the cabin with paint and glitter (not glitter paint), and the sparkles were everywhere -- in the grass, the cabin, the outhouse, at the shoreline, on the bridge!

I photographed all of them, salvaged or tossed, then cut and traced and cut some more, celebrating the day's accomplishments by making a pair of Big Butt Baby Pants for Junebug.

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It's my second pair of BBBP, and the first in jersey, so I also used my walking foot for the first time (and I am in LOVE with it!).

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Everything's humming on the old Husqvarna, except that the stitch selector knob won't budge. This little workhorse will do knits even better when I can change the stitch!

As is... I made a little right-side/wrong-side error in cutting, so one leg is inside-out, but oh well; and fold-over elastic would have worked and looked better, but I don't have any. The stretch made it easier to ease in the "big butt" expansion panel without puckering, but didn't do the waistband any favors.

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They were a bit of an experiment and I'm calling it a successful one! I learned a lot and Junah's got a (quirky) new pairs of pants.

Ali sent me some action shots:

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They fit perfectly, and I think he likes them!!


Weekending / FO: Junebean

It was a long-overdue, really great, and very productive weekend! I'm not very good at holding back and parceling out the goods, but I thought I'd try and only post about one thing today; the danger is that I begin to think of things left for later as "old news" and/or something else comes along. I accomplished a lot, though, and I could be "Weekending" almost all week!

I'm not even going to start at the beginning. Here's the scene at my kitchen table on Sunday morning:

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One of my errand stops on Saturday was at Joann's to find buttons for Junah's sweater, and I took some time on yesterday to sew them on! That results in an FO!

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  • Project:  Junebean, Devan by Holli Yeoh
  • Size 2T
  • Yarns:
  • Needle:  US 2 & 3 - slightly larger than specified in the pattern
  • Start to Finish:  March 22 - May 3, 2015

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At first I thought that stripey intarsia block at the neck in back would be too fiddly, but I'm not sure how I reasoned that THREE intarsia blocks across the bottom would be any easier? Because they were solid and not stripes?? Heh. As it turns out, I did both.

There was some operator error in the soaking for blocking process and a bit of color bled to the back -- you can see it here. It might come out or fade a bit with another washing, I haven't done that yet. It makes me a little sad, but then I look at the blocks, the stripes, turn it over and look at the front, the buttons, all those MATCHING STRIPES -- I LOVE IT!

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Stripey goodness. Julia's self-striping wizardry is out of this world amazing.

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Oopsie! There's a sneak peek at something else I did over the weekend.

 


April illustrated

I made a point to take and label (with the date) and post a photo to Instagram everyday last month. There are few things I like more than a photo mosaic! Presenting, April 2015:

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1. April 1. Spring is springing. 2. April 2. Decision made; wound and ready. #romimysteryshawl2015 #sophiestoes, 3. April 3. Spent some time with spackle and a putty knife this afternoon, helping my daughter Kate get her first Young Space pop-up art show space in shape for next week's opening!, 4. April 4. "Interwoven & Twisted." Wonderful collaborative work by my friend Pat Filzen & Renee Koch at Art Space Collective. Remindeded of Ruth Asawa's work., 5. April 5. Dude is drinking from a sippy cup (with an assist for the heavy lifting)., 6. April 6. Tis quite a lovely mail day! #alabamachanin #threeirishgirlsyarn, 7. April 7. Unexpected early hour of free time this morning will be spent knitting., 8. April 8. I wanted to knit Junebug's sweater a bit oversized but this might fit him through 3rd grade., 9. April 9. It's been illuminated... and illuminating., 10. April 10. Looking in. #searchlights at #youngspace opening. #youngspaceregen #youngspacewisco, 11. April 11. Lunch with Ali, Junebug, and Ann., 12. April 12. Snowdrops in the wind., 13. April 13. It was great to see all the neighbor kids outside! #sidewalkchalk, 14. April 13. One little bird on a wire., 15. April 15. Sewing up Junebug's sweater., 16. April 16. Happy Birthday to my beautiful daughter Alison!, 17. April 17 y'all. Fresh pedi, sunshine, green grass, 75F or something ridiculous like that..., 18. April 18. The bloodroot cometh., 19. April 19. Work on my worktable proceeds., 20. April 20. Hit the "ORDER" button and called a huge project finished today! Celebrating by cutting out my 1st pair of #madebyrae #bigbuttbabypants on my new worktable and hoping that "baby" pants will still fit my grandson! Using the expansion panel!, 21. April 21. Celebrating birthdays! Maddy's on Saturday, Kate's tomorrow, and Ali's last Thursday. It's a milestone year for one of them and, therefore, also for me., 22. April 22. Thirty years ago today, at 10 pm PST, I began my lifelong journey as a mother. It's the best trip ever, and I couldn't have asked for better companions! Happy 30th Birthday to my beautiful daughter Kate., 23. April 23. 1985. Kate - 1 day old. #tbt, 24. April 24. #WhoMadeMyClothes Couldn't get a decent photo yesterday, but this is what I wore. #imadeitmyself #Repost @vicki.knitorious, 25. April 25. Happy Birthday to my beautiful daughter Madeleine., 26. April 26. Boys, boys, boys, and blocks!, 27. April 27. Embellished! #visiblemending, 28. April 28. Yellow tulips in bloom!, 29. April 29. Day 3 of Whole30. @paleogrubs Dill & Lemon Baked Salmon in Parchment - so good!, 30. April 30. Tonight's work at Knit/Make Night. #alabamachanin

 

I'll take photos again everyday in May, because it's MACRO MAY and I love it.

 


Cooking in parchment

Today is Day 4 of a new Whole30. I have more to say about that, but not today.

I'm not really very organized about it, at the moment, but I have a cohort who is also motivated and that's helping to keep with the program.

The internet is also very helpful. Like yesterday, away from home, when it was decided that salmon would be good for supper... with dill. So I googled "Whole30 salmon dill" and came up with Dill & Lemon Baked Salmon in Parchment from paleogrubs.com.

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Chop & slice some zucchini, season, drizzle with olive oil, add lemon and salmon, season a little more, seal it up in parchment paper, and bake.

COULD.NOT.BE.EASIER. And clean up is a breeze.

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Every time I cook in parchment, I wonder why I don't do it more often. 

Seeing the similar Paleo Shrimp Baked in Parchment Paper recipe guarantees that I'll do it again soon!


Weekending: Embellished

Saturday

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Karen and Ann came to town and we gathered on Saturday to spend a full afternoon doing yard & garden clean up for Joe. It was a great day with perfect weather for such work. We filled 16 yard refuse bags! And I hauled a few more bags worth to the bottom of the ravine.

I cleaned up a lot of willow branches from the deck and wildflower garden. The wind chime that Mother's friends gave to Joe was making all kinds of noise as I made the first pass on the deck and I could hear Mom, "You're Not Doing It Right." "I'm doing it MY way, Mom!" (We had a little back-and-forth.)

As I was working in the wildflower garden (dutchmen's breeches are all but done, dogtooth violets are appearing, Virginia bluebells are full of buds), I remembered when Mom & Joe came to Oregon in May of '85 to meet Katie for the first time. Mom had just begun that project and it was the first year she could enjoy the "flowers" of her labor -- she was missing some of the show because Spring (most wildflowers put on a very short show). She remarked that the garden would bloom only 18 more times before Katie graduated from high school, and didn't that seem like... not very many?? And now it's already been 30!

The kids had a blast. We had a cookout, ate a ton of good food. I even rode my bike. And got a little knitting done to round out the day. (Clue 3 of Romi's Mystery Shawl is complete!)

Sunday

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On Sunday, I had a hole to fix! It wasn't very big, but it was rather obvious... right at the hem of a tunic, about 2" from the side seam. It's a garment that I love and wear a lot; it could not be out of commission for long!!

From the start, I knew I would employ visible mending a la Tom of Holland, and that my experience with Alabama Chanin hand-sewing techniques would serve me well.

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It was a round-ish hole, so I decided to repair it in a circular fashion. I pinned my circle to the back and blanket-stitched around the hole from the front.

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Continuing with the same length of thread, I worked running stitch in circles around the button-holed repair.

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Showing the back of my work! I was quite pleased with the repair, my plan, and how it looked.

But I could not stop.

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I had to EMBELLISH that little patch!

"Why not?!" I chuckled to myself as I pulled out my little bins of sequins and chop beads, channeling a bit of both Natalie Chanin and Marie Kondo... loving my thread, honoring the people who made my clothes, taking good care of my things, thanking my tunic for doing its job so well and making me feel great, sewing...

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Inspired... and thankful for all I've learned from people such as Natalie and Marie.

I love that little patch!!


April Birthday #3

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Madeleine!

We waited at home until Mom & Joe could get there to take Kate & Ali -- they were just returning from a trip. I remember Mom being surprised at how calm I was, waiting for her, waiting through each contraction... I wasn't too worried. We probably arrived at the hospital around 7:00 p.m.

My labor with Maddy was pretty quick -- and I knew better some of the things I could do to help it along -- so when the doc arrived at the hospital at about 8:30 p.m. and saw me still walking the halls, he mumbled something about having been called too soon, and that I wasn't even close if I was still walking around.

I'd had a different doc for each delivery, and even though this had been our family doctor for four years, he didn't know much about my birthing.

Shortly before 10:00, my nurse (the same labor nurse I had for Ali -- she was also an elementary school classmate) allowed me to get up and go to the bathroom. Well, that did it!  I managed to make it back into the bed, and Maddy was delivered a few minutes later by the nurse who was telling me not to push (at that point, I had no choice!) while DH was hollering down the hallway for the doctor who was visiting at the nurses' station. Doc didn't make it back into the room in time, but did knock a few hundred off his bill. The nurse handed me the little baby bundle and said, "Here, hold her; I've got things to do!"

Happy 15th 24th Birthday, Maddy!  (My baby...)

excerpted and edited from original post on 4/25/2006

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Happy Birthday, Maddy Mo!

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I love you!! XO


#WhoMadeMyClothes

I did! I've made some of them, anyway, and I definitely have plans to make more!!

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It's Fashion Revolution Day. Two years ago today, over 1100 people were killed when a factory complex collapsed in Bangladesh -- many of those people were working at making clothing in less than ideal conditions.

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I've recently written a little bit about fashion and how I am paying more attention to fashion and my own style. One of the best things I learned from Mom is that Quality matters. She made (or had made) many matching outfit sets for the twins and I, guaranteeing plenty of hand-me-downs for Annie (though Ann wasn't even on the radar then).

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Even as a single mother of five in the early '70s, driving a 1962 Plymouth, going to school to get her nursing degree, and buying groceries with food stamps, she still managed to buy good quality clothing for herself and for us -- perhaps not as often nor as much as she once had (and possibly not so much for my brother when he was growing a size every 3 months) -- but I knew from an early age that quality = longevity.

Something passed by my eyes the other day suggesting that instead of spending $X on an inexpensive and cheaply made garment, save three times that amount and buy what is almost certainly going to be a better garment -- better materials, workmanship, and maybe better overall process.

Those items were usually worth mending, too. I was never a big fan of mending, viewing it as a tedious chore, but Mom loved did it all the time -- holes in socks, reattaching buttons, sewing up rips & tears, applying patches -- she even mended underwear! My tune changed when I damaged the Alabama Chanin-style Circle Shirt that I made a year ago; it caught on a chair and there was a small hole in the right hip area... which I mended with a little visible mending, albeit a rather subtle and completely apropos circle patch:

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I will soon be mending a favorite tunic that I love and wear all the time; it caught on a table at Knit Night last week leaving a nasty tear at the hem in front. I'm not quite sure how I'll do it, but it promises to be much more visible by virtue of location! I love that tunic so much that I've plans to use it as a pattern to make more this summer.

I've plans for lots of sewing this summer -- some of it by hand, some by machine -- and I was getting a little stressed about how and where I was going to layout, cut, and pin all these projects. Then I saw the most amazing ping-pong-table-turned-worktable in someone's basement while helping my house-hunting friend Ann. I couldn't get it off my mind! Even though we have an unused ping pong table, it's WAY too big for my space and needs, but I found building plans for a worktable and made some notes about desired dimensions, and asked Rusty how feasible it would be.

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Turns out, it was very feasible! Almost all of the lumber was repurposed from Maddy's old dorm loft that's been in the garage rafters for a couple of years. He bought only one piece of wood, plus the laminate top (which didn't need to be laminate, but it was the same price so why not?).

I considered various materials for padding, including carpet padding, but ended up with some 2-foot-square interlocking foam flooring -- two packages covered my 4x6-foot table, with two squares left over for the floor! I covered that with 3 layers of cotton quilt batting, and then we stretched and stapled a piece of cotton duck over all.

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I can iron on it, pin into it, and lay stuff out all over it -- it'll be fantastic for blocking knits! I've already cut and sewn up a pair of Made by Rae Big Butt Baby Pants for Junebug. I haven't inserted the elastic yet, as Ali's going to try them on him first. I made the largest size, but that kid is pretty large... I may be making adjustments to accommodate a big belly!

Have a fantastic weekend!


It Was 30 Years Ago Today

April Birthday #2

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Katherine!

It's Kate's 20th 30th birthday today!  Twenty Thirty years ago today, I woke up at a little after 4:00 a.m.  and started writing numbers down on a piece of paper (which I still have):  4:19, 4:25, 4:29, 4:35 -- 5:17, 5:23, 5:30 -- 6:53, 6:57, 7:03, 7:10 -- some of these were written in Rusty's hand, some of them have numbers following them, signifying duration, I think, and a couple of have the words "very mild" written after them. There's one line that reads, "Shower 3 or 4." The record of my contractions! They pretty much started off at 5 +/- minutes apart and stayed that way all day.

After I sent Rusty to work, I called my doc (the only person I know from Saskatchewan) to see if I should wait and keep my regularly scheduled appointment that day or just come in whenever. (Answer: Come in whenever!) I kept track until 11:24 when I left the motel. I drove myself -- in a manual transmission Subaru, hitting the clutch between contractions -- the 15 miles to Rusty's workplace so he could take me to the hospital.

At 10:00 p.m. PST, I finally gave birth to a 6 lb. 10 oz., 20" redhead. And I began my lifelong journey as a mother -- it's the best trip ever. Happy Birthday, Katherine!

excerpted and edited from original post on 4/22/2005

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Yes, were were living in a motel! We'd just sold the little house that Rusty built at Cape Kiwanda and bought a larger one at Cape Meares. Though we weren't able to move into the house at Cape Meares yet, we were able to move most of our stuff there, and spent about a month in a little kitchenette unit at the The Terrimore in Netarts, OR. Katie wasn't due until after our move-in date, but I filled the basinette with some onesies, blankets and diapers, and stashed it in the closet of our motel bedroom.

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Pretty good thinkin', eh? Kate came a little early and spent the first week of her life at The Terrimore! One of the best things about that was that the motel's laundromat was right across the way, and it was a lifesaver!

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Rusty was in the area last fall and it doesn't look much different!

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Happy Birthday, Katie!!

We all met last night at T-Dub's Public House in Waupaca for some celebrating. The waitress asked me if were were celebrating a birthday, and she couldn't believe it when I told her we were celebrating THREE! There was a big ice cream sundae to share.  ;)

 


Getting Our Kicks

Fair warning: This post is probably going to be nothing but Junebug news.

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Baby All Stars! Junah's wearing SHOES!! The most adorable things ever.

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He's not only walking in them, he's practically RUNNING! Also, CLIMBING STAIRS!!

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He was over for a while on Wednesday, and discovered the playhouse for the first time!

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Same house, different location - Winter 1989 (Ali, left, just a few months older than Junah is now)

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I'd begun sewing up his sweater that morning and took the opportunity to try it on. It is, indeed, very very big, but also so freakin' adorable!!

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I did some little intarsia colorblocks on the bottom back, thinking that I wasn't going to do the stripey square at the neck... but by the time I got there, I just had to! My intarsia work is not going to win any prizes!

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I watched him for a while last night -- after I'd finished the sewing up at Knit Night -- so tried it on again! All that's left is the button band and to find some cute buttons. I am loving that little cardi, and cannot sing high enough praise for Julia's Striping Vesper Sock Yarn. I have plenty of the 2nd hank left, too, so watch for a hat and maybe mittens for next winter!

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Bloodroot! There doesn't seem to be quite as much, but it may also be early.

Have a fabulous weekend!!


April Birthday #1

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Alison!!

So, 17 28 years ago today I felt twinges when I woke up, but decided to go to my preggo exercise class, anyway. That certainly got things going a bit more, but I didn't stop there! I went to work to pick up the resume that I'd been working on for my brother AND delivered it to him at his job.

Things were really going then! I called my husband (to take me to the hospital) and my mother (to watch Katie) and did my best to manage at home until they got there. I tried to remain calm -- Kate wasn't even two and I didn't want to alarm her. I recall laying on the floor while Katie played, bouncing a big ball all around me.

The troops arrived around 1:30. I continued popping Tums like candy in the labor room (as I had for heartburn throughout the entire pregnancy -- just the thought of green peppers made me gurgle), and Alison Louise arrived at 3:30. When they told me she was another redhead, I didn't believe it 'til I saw for myself! Wow!!!

And spring arrived that day! I literally watched the leaves pop out on all the trees from my hospital room. It was Easter Sunday when they let me go -- 70F and we had a picnic dinner outside! Seventeen Twenty-eight years... seems like yesterday.

excerpted and edited from original post on 4/16/2004

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Chunky

Happy Birthday, Ali Lou!!


The rest of the weekend

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There was a beautiful sunny sky on Saturday afternoon. I spent some time under the pergola soaking up some unblocked sunshine!

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The first 70F of the year on Sunday (beating the predicted high of 69)!

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Bleeding hearts emerging... it's definitely spring! 

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Some chores were accomplished, too. I purchased this chair 25 +/- years ago when I learned how to cane. It had a few flaws, but I fell in love with the pressed design and it has served us very well. The other day the legs started to splay, and one of the hip rests was loose... nothing that some glue, clamping, and a screwdriver can't fix!

Inspired by an amazing work table spotted in one of the homes I recently saw with my friend Ann, I also found/marked up and shared with Rusty some plans for a cutting/ironing work table. The original was made from a ping pong table -- which we happen to have -- and tempting, but too big for my needs and especially for the space. There happens to be an old dorm bunk in the garage rafters, though, and it is now destined to be repurposed. I'm so excited to get my work room squared away.

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And family! Maddy drove over for Kate's opening; Annie came down, and Joe was there. This was after Saturday lunch with Annie, Ali, and Junah... a very busy boy!!

I don't know how the weekend could have been better!


Young Space: Open For Business

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And what a fabulous opening it was!! I ran around and took some photos before the doors officially opened -- I'm so glad I did because the place was mobbed all night!

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Kate wrote a round-up at Young Space: re:generation - hit the ground running

The building (or portions thereof) is/was at one time a glass company, a bakery, political party headquarters, and a beauty supply shop. This section has been empty for quite a while... and it's amazing what a coat of paint (and clean windows) can do! Katie replaced quite a few lightbulbs, and she and Rusty built some display panels and pedestals.

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And artist Frank Juarez shared his thoughts on his blog, All About Frank: Young Space re:generation Exhibition in Appleton, Wisconsin (he shared a lot of great photos, I think I spotted the back of my head in one of them)

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Ali and Adam brought KC&T's new portable espresso machine for a try-out, providing coffee and espresso drinks, along with non-alcoholic sparkling drinks and punch, and helping to pour the wine. They were busy!! (That machine is a game-changer for the upcoming farmer market season!)

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The music was fantastic! Searchlights had never performed before an audience before, and that fit wonderfully with the "emerging artists" theme of the exhibition.

Best part of the night #1: A number of people told me that they weren't sure of the exact address, so just headed down to "the avenue" to try and find it... and it didn't take long because there was a very evident flow of traffic to Young Space!

Best part of the night #2: I noticed two wide-eyed women taking it all in and approached them, wondering if they'd "organically" wandered in... and they had! Art educators from the UW 2-year colleges, in town for a semi-annual meeting!!

Check out info about the artists here.

Gallery hours through Sunday, April 26:
Monday + Tuesday: closed
Wednesday + Thursday: 4-9
Friday, Saturday + Sunday: 12-4


Happiness is...

A weekend like the one we just had! It was fantastic, start to finish. I'm still processing!

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Rusty and I walked down to our favorite local tavern for a burger last night, and saw much sidewalk chalk art and hopscotch boards along the way!!

(Grrl needs a pedi!)


National Sibling Day

The Howling - 1982

Per posts on Facebook today, I can see that it is National Sibling Day!

This was Christmas 1982 at Grandma & Grandpa's. Not only does the photo crack me up every single time I see it, but Mom's caption, "The Howling," is icing on the cake. Photo time has always been angsty in our family, but it was usually Sharon feeling it the most!!


Oversized vs. Too Big

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I soaked the pieces for Junebug's sweater yesterday morning! And, darn it, distraction led them to being soaked a bit too long and possibly in water that was a bit too warm, so a little bleeding occurred -- not bad, but there; hopefully less noticeable when dry.

Anyway, HOLY COW! I pinned out the pieces and it's HUGE! I wanted to knit this sweater a bit oversized but this might fit him through 3rd grade. I swatched/measured early on and was pretty right on; and it didn't seem too big while I was knitting... at least until I got to the back.

The front is in two pieces, and I saw no red flags. The sleeves are very roomy, but he's got big baby muscles; still, I may end up recalculating and re-knitting the upper. The back... I kept holding it up and measuring and somehow convinced myself that it wasn't as big as it looked? I don't know. He's always fluctuating size-wise in my mind's eye; sometimes he's huge and sometimes still so very wee. Anyway, this sweater will fit at some point. The worst thing right now is that I might have to knit some more!

Guess what? I like to knit!

I am completely flipping out over those awesome "Electric Revolution" Vesper Sock Yarn stripes, though. They make me so happy!


Cleaning Windows

As promised/scheduled, I returned to the site of Kate's inaugural Young Space pop-up show today to finish cleaning windows. I'd done all of the entry/vestibule windows on the weekend, saving the more important front for last, inside and out.

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Cleaning windows generally isn't my thing, but let me tell you what a difference the right tools can make!! Have you ever seen a pro work? I spent an inordinate amount of time considering and selecting window-cleaning equipment on Saturday, settling on an Unger Pro 14-Inch Window Scrubber, a 16" Squeegee, a big bucket, and some paper towels. I used an old cleaning recipe: 1/2 c. rubbing alcohol, 1/8 c. ammonia, 1/4 t. dish soap, and enough water to make 1 quart.

  

I certainly was sloppy and I got a little wet, but it went pretty quick and was relatively painless. At one point I tried to use an extension pole that the girls were using to paint, but didn't realize that Unger has a dedicated system... and I managed just fine without!

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Sparkle, shine, and reflect!! It's all coming together.

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And artwork continues to arrive... this one delivered today from Greece!


This is how you start a great week

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Yesterday, I came home to find my birthday present from Rusty... exactly 5 months to-the-day later!! Pre-ordered back in late October, I have been patiently awaiting -- and recently stalking via USPS Tracking -- the arrival of Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns!!

Natalie Chanin will be giving a lecture + book signing later this month at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago and I've been trying to figure out a way to go! At 6 p.m. on a Tuesday night, it pretty much means an extra day off of work and an overnighter. So tempted...

Also in yesterday's mail was my first-ever order from Three Irish Girls -- I fell hard last month for A Hundred Thousand Welcomes. No plan yet.

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I was at the coffee shop this morning, as I am every morning, when my phone rang. The upshot of that call is that I had an extra hour before needing to be at work, so I took a seat at the back and had a nice hour of knitting and listening to the hubbub. The mostly all-male kaffeklatsch/welcoming committee that occupies the front everyday had a lot to say to each other about basketball this morning! And, indeed, it's a bittersweet morning. The Wisconsin Badgers didn't win the NCAA title this year, but they had an amazing run and even I (not a basketball fan) have been riveted by them during March Madness.


Weekending:

The weekend was full of many of the things I love, starting with a little road trip on Saturday morning to deliver some Make.Do/KC&T flyers to Bleating Heart Haven. There's a Fiber Frolic/Yarn Hop coming up and we weren't on the list! That'll be corrected next year, and in the meantime Cindy generously offered to help spread the word about us. It was a beautiful morning for a drive!

I picked up lunch on my way to Appleton to feed the crew at Young Space. My girls are just like me in the way that when we're all wrapped up in a project, we often forget to eat. Or just don't. It's hard to stop! The entire place got a fresh coat of paint over the weekend, and I cleaned windows. There are more windows to do, and I'm slated for Wednesday.

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 On Saturday night, we ran down to Oshkosh to visit a couple of spots on the Gallery Walk.

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"Interwoven & Twisted" is a wonderful collaborative work by Renee Koch and our friend Pat Filzen at the Art Space Collective. Renee's knit wire pieces reminded me of Ruth Asawa and the beautiful pieces I saw five years ago in San Francisco.

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I spent some time with this guy on Sunday while his mom & dad took advantage of the shop being closed to get some work done. Kate was working at her space. Rusty was drawing. Maddy stayed home... but we had a nice little chat (and she'll be home later this week for Kate's opening).

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We had a blast!

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After Junah left yesterday, I made my first roasted lamb... and it won't be the last. I've made chops, and that's actually what I wanted, but I relied on chance and there were none. I threw some asparagus in the oven, made some salads, popped the cork on some pinot noir, and everyone came back for some dinner!


Friday: Five Fotos

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It was so nice to take a walk around the house the other day -- a gorgeous day -- looking for signs of life! It was even nicer to find some.

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This was my intarsia tangle at last night's knit night! That is not something I do often, nor am I very good at it... though I think this is my best yet. I'm finished with that part now, so it's smooth sailing to the sleeve and neck shaping, then some 3-needle bind-off, a button band/collar, buttons, et voila!

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Meanwhile, the decision has been made and yarn wound up, awaiting release of the first clue for Romi's Mystery Shawl 2015! We're all chomping at the bit!!

Historically, the first clue of a mystery project is quick to complete, so I'm hopeful that I'll be able to devote most of my knitting time to getting Junah's sweater finished.

* * * * *

Re generation

 It's an announcement, not a sixth photo!

I'll be spending some of the weekend helping Kate whip her first YOUNG SPACE pop-up art show into shape for NEXT WEEK'S OPENING!! It's exciting; she's inspiring. So many wonderful things.


Right Now: April is upon us

Watching... Law & Order UK

Reading... Case Histories by Kate Atkinson

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Knitting... Making progress on Junah's Devan! Fronts and sleeves are done, the back was cast on last night. It won't be long!

Looking forward to... Starting Romi's Mystery.

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Drinking... trying to drink more water!

Wearing... Cropped pants and sandals. It's April. It's time. (I need a pedi, though.)

Organizing... Nothing at the moment. I'm thinking that I need a few days off at home -- a long weekend would be nice.

Celebrating... Whoa. This month!! We begin with two cousins' birthdays today, all three of my girls' coming up, an aunt, an uncle, a nephew, and finishing with what would have been my Grampa's 105th.

Listening to... All sorts of things on Spotify. Boxer Rebellions' Winter Jams playlist, the new Decemberists album.

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Itching to... GET OUTSIDE!

Looking forward... still... to GETTING OUTSIDE! And also (still) the new Alabama Chanin book. SOON!

Needing to... Make sure I have everything I need for an indigo dye vat -- specifically, a large enough vessel.

Delighted by... the first crocus of the season, spotted yesterday! They were yellow.

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Thinking about... Wales. And Scotland and England, too, but it was four years ago today that we were in Wales. Lambs on the mound at Bryn Celli Ddu!

What's up with you right now?


Ten on Tuesday: Between two or more slices of bread

Ten on Tuesday:  10 Favorite Sandwiches

I don't eat sandwiches as often as I used to... like, hardly ever these days... but I sure do love them and sometimes it's the only thing!

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I began riffing on sandwiches last week when writing about cheese, whereby the Top 4 or 5 were already declared:

1. Philly Cream Cheese & Welch's Grape Jelly. On Wonder Bread, of course!

2. Butter & Honey. Mom would make these sandwiches in the morning and pack it in our school lunches. By lunchtime, the honey would have begun to crystallize along the cut edges. Oh, that was the best thing.

3. Peanut Butter & Banana. I also have fond memories of Peanut Butter & Marshmallow Creme, but am very content to leave that there in the memory department. I have, however, continued the pleasure of PB & Banana to the present day (though quite sparingly).

4. Grilled Cheese. White bread with butter, processed American cheese, grilled just so... oh yum! We didn't eat out often when I was a kid, but when we did I always ordered a grilled cheese sandwich (really hard to screw up)... until I discovered fried shrimp!

5. Ham & Swiss. This is my go-to at any sandwich shop... anywhere, anytime, on anything, with a little mayo and yellow mustard. Perhaps with pickles. I love it on all kinds of bread or as a wrap, but probably my favorite medium for consumption is a toasted bagel (plain, egg, everything).

6. Roast Beef & Provolone... warm, with mushrooms. Otherwise known as #15 at the Deli Sub Pub, favorite lunch stop of my early working days. Man, I loved that sandwich.

7. Fish Sandwich. I love fish and I love sandwiches. I haven't eaten at McDonald's in years*, but when I was a more regular customer I always ordered a fish filet.

8. Turkey & Cream Cheese with Cherry Chutney. On toasted granola bread. Served with dill potato salad and chunky applesauce. It's my favorite sandwich at The Cookery in Door County. I sometimes wish I could broaden my horizons.

9. A Classic Club Sandwich. This was a favorite from my even earlier working days -- my first job on my own in Superior, WI. I can't remember the name of the diner I'd go to, but they made a great club sandwich!

10. Reuben. Mmm, a good and very dark rye bread, just the right amount of corned beef, the tang & texture of (well-drained) sauerkraut, and the sweetness of Russian dressing.

Bonus: 11. Gyros. Also a favorite of the working girl... there was a fantastic Greek restaurant called Karras' that we went to often; oh man, the best Greek food around.

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 *Actually, in desperation, we had McD's at O'Hare on the way back from Mexico; of course, I had a fish filet... and I wish I'd been more disappointed! It certainly wasn't stellar, and I won't be a regular consumer ever again, but it would probably number amongst my guilty pleasures if I ever had to make a list of such things.


Weekending

We've been in a bit of a rut and I've packed on a few pounds... opting for what's easy over what's better will do that.

I took back the kitchen over the weekend, and it felt great!!

I'll probably make a Wedge Salad tonight, too, because the thought popped into my head the other day and it's stuck.

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Work continues on Devan, Junebug's new spring sweater. I made the fix to shoulder/neck shaping, so both fronts are finished, and I knocked off a sleeve over the weekend. The second sleeve was cast on last night, and I discovered that I mis-wound the second ball of self-striping yarn so had to stop and rewind. I should be all set now! I'm beginning to think about a slight variation to the back design!

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I also spent some time contemplating color choices for a new shawl. Romi's Mystery Shawl 2015 begins on Friday, and there are two colors. Pictures always seem to help.

Blues

This is a combo that I dyed, and #1 contender for the project.

Indigo-orange

Until this came along. On the left is Sophie's Toe's "Indigo" and on the right, a sherbet-y, salmon-y orange that I recently dyed. It may be reminiscent of school colors to some, but not to me!

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Then I paired the indigo with the lighter blue from the first set and I like that, too.

I think it's going to be the middle one, but I have until Thursday night's wind-up to make a final decision!

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For the past couple of weeks, I've been accompanying a friend to open houses and real estate showings. She lives in an adorable, historic, little house across from a beautiful park, but she has two young boys (5 & 6) and "little" is not working anymore!

Wow. What an education! Other than the whirlwind house-buying-by-committee expedition that I was on last spring with Rusty, Ali & Annie, it's been a long time since I was house-shopping. My friend, also named Ann, has been looking at homes within a certain school district and price range -- everything from new construction to historic, and a much larger pool to choose from that we had last spring.

One day last week, we were at a house just a few doors down from the first house that my parents ever bought! It was a brand new subdivision, then, and I lived there from 3rd to 7th grade, so a lot of growing up. It was so much fun to be in the old 'hood.

I think we dashed around to at least a half-dozen open houses yesterday and I still had that critical eye when I walked through my own back door! "This house has a really nice kitchen," I thought! I'm also very much inspired to get back on the KonMari horse... and maybe to paint my kitchen! Or something! Clean & fresh!!

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Can you believe we're looking at the last day of March tomorrow?!


Future knitter

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Ali sent me this delightful series last night. That's in the corner of KC&T that houses my hobby shop... and I know he's not the first little kiddo to fondle and rearrange the yarn!!

Have a great weekend!


Progress report

It was all going so well. Here's a photo I took a couple of days ago of the Left Front of Junah's new sweater:

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I finished that and started on the Right Front. Knitting along, as one does; shaping the armhole and start of the V-neck, as one does; continuing the V-neck shaping, as one... WHAT? Argh! I totally missed that line about continuing the neck shaping every fourth row for ten times (or whatever) when knitting the Left. There's a bit of ripping in my future. At least Junah's sweaters are still fairly wee.

SLURP

Last night, for the second time in as many years, Rusty and I went to the high school to SLURP! It's a soup supper fundraiser for a few departments at school, including fine arts. Yum! I was hungry and slurped up all of the Dill Pickle Soup (I got the last of it) before I thought to take a photo. I had Old-Fashioned Chicken Noodle, Cream of Potato with Bacon, Homestyle Chicken Noodle, and Tortellini with Spinach. There were many other soups to try, but I was full enough after these five -- and I had even shared some with Ali. KC&T was there to provide coffee and hot cocoa. Rod & Junah showed up, too, and I had a blast following Junah around... it's so fun to observe him in different situations.

Other than the snow (and that's all I'm going to say about it... there was some), it was a really great day off yesterday! Spring will come! I'm knocking things off my list so I'll be able to take advantage of good weather days on the way.