Baby Captain America (Romper #2)

There was a lot of sewing during my at-home mini vacation... a lot! Mending, seaming, hemming, embroidery, applique... both by machine and by hand.

I've had another attempt at a romper for Junah on my list (here's the first), and that happened on Monday.




This time, I used the same old Simplicity pattern (#5049... which I've since acquired in 2 more sizes) mashed up with a modified & upsized Simply Summer Romper, a free pattern (12-mo size) on Craftsy.

The things I love most about that Simplicity pattern are the facings (possibly my most favorite thing), the shoulder snaps, and the 2-piece back.


The free pattern offered a little guidance with shaping for the one-piece front, and I was excited to try the snap crotch.


Seven snaps total, top & bottom, are possibly a bit of overkill... haha!


The fabric came from a thrifted t-shirt.


Centering the design on the front meant that I was a little short of fabric for the straps. That happened with the giraffe romper, too, but my fix then was quite rushed and haphazard.


This time, I took the few extra minutes needed to do it symmetrically... and nicely. Top stitching even.


I also did just a bit of top stitching under the each arm to secure the facings. And, this time, I also hemmed the legs.

Forgetting to make corresponding adjustments to the facing pattern pieces, but not discovering that fault until after cutting, meant that I didn't have enough t-shirt fabric. I dug through my scraps and found some fabrics that corresponded well enough. I quite love how that worked out.


I'm so happy with how it turned out. It's at least a hundred times better than the last. There's still room for little tweaks & improvement, but I feel like I'm on track.


Baby Captain America doesn't do windows (unless you like fingerprints!), but he's happy to help sweep the deck!

Also, I'm dying over those shoes...

So, I took a few days off...

I took a couple of days off early this week. With the weekend and my normal day off as bookends, I had a total of 5 days off... most of them at home, often alone... and I'm not sure I can express how wonderful it was!

It was nothing short of GLORIOUS. And also quite productive!

The first day (Saturday) was actually spent mostly in the car -- driving back and forth to Minneapolis with Kate to attend the wedding of one of her high school friends. There was lots of knitting sewing time. (Truth: I don't really enjoy knitting in the car all that much.) (Y'all can kick me out of the club if you want.)


When I'd snipped the ties on the shibori indigo-dyed onesies, I also snipped into the fabric of one of them! It left a tiny little hole on the front near the shoulder.


So I fixed that.


The wedding venue was 514 Studios in downtown Minneapolis. The ceremony, dinner, and reception were all held there... it was an intimate wedding and quite lovely!


Instead of cake, there was a gorgeous dessert buffet. That "donut"? A "Chocolate O." Brownie base, chocolate glazed chocolate mousse "donut shape," caramel center, and topped with a chocolate disc and gold leaf. It was amazingly light and delicious... as was everything.

It was a long, long day but I'm glad I went along to help with driving. We got home at about 2 a.m. and fell into bed.


Junah was over for a while on Sunday (or Monday or Tuesday... I really don't remember) while Ali & I regrouped for a project day we planned for Wednesday. That boy is a flash these days, but he stopped for a sec to check out my yarn winder... wearing the repaired onesie and a cute kerchief that his mama made.


It didn't take him long to figure out how it worked! He came into the house with one shoe on, and left that way; we were all amazed that he never took it off... busybusybusy!


I started, worked on, discarded and/or finished many projects over the extended weekend. One of those projects was this Ale Asylum Hopalicious tool caddy for my workroom.

Stay tuned.

Mom and Dad

It's a year today since my mom died.


I miss her everyday... every minute of every single day.

I miss the random phone calls at work: "How do you spell ______________."

Like I'm a dictionary. And I was... for her, on demand.

I miss spending the day together... antique or garden shopping, going out to lunch, checking out this new place or that favorite haunt.

I miss her asking my opinion about things.

I miss asking for her opinion about things.

I miss talking.

I miss cooking with her, helping her prep for a big family meal or a holiday celebration.

I miss everything about her. And I suppose I always will... and that's okay. That's the way it is.

* * * * *


It was Father's Day on Sunday. We haven't seen or talked to each other in a few years... for various reasons, each our own... but I took a chance and called him on Sunday. We had a nice chat.

"We still have Dad."

Day off doings



Not on Tuesday's summertime bucket list, but definitely on The List was replacing the dead hibiscus tree by the garage. It was always a late starter/bloomer... and last year it was given up for dead as June, July, August, even September went by without a sign. Then, in early October, someone spotted some green sprouts, but man... that had to be one stressed out tree. Yesterday, we put it out of its misery and replaced it with a flowering pear (which we'll have to keep in check a bit in that location). Anyway, it looks great and nicely matches our color scheme.

I spent plenty of time in my workroom, cutting & tracing pattern pieces, cutting fabric, and seaming. So far, the center back seam is done, and I was thrilled to employ my new Clover Wonder Clips!


And also, the much less expensive Attmu Multi-purpose Craft Clips.


These clips are fantastic for a variety of craft purposes, but the main thing for sewing are the markings... I have those clips lined up along the edge of my fabric on the 1/4-inch mark.

The Clover clips are about $16 for 50, and the Attmu are $12 for 100. I used both yesterday and, from my experience, except for the Attmu clips being a bit darker red in color, there is virtually no difference... the Attmu clips' spring may be a tiny bit more stiff. Both brands come in a case, of sorts; the Clover is a rectangular plastic flip-top case (the operation of which took me way too long to figure out), the Attmu is a clear plastic cylindrical container with a screw top.

In the name of research, I now have 150 plastic clips and it's nearly certain that I'll never run out!


Why wait?

The summer bucket-filling commences today with the start of an Alabama Chanin A-line Dress!

A-line Dress-1

I'm making a custom length between tunic and the shorter dress, using a single layer of Alabama Chanin medium-weight organic cotton jersey in a color called "Blue Slate."

A-line Dress-2

I'll be using black thread to sew it all together.

A-line Dress-3

If there's one step I'm likely to skip in this process, it's basting the neckline and armholes... but not this time.

I've plans to embellish with embroidery and beading, inspired by some photos that I ran across on the WWW last winter.

Drip, drip, drip...

Ten on Tuesday: A Drop In The Bucket

Ten on Tuesday:  10 Things On My Summer Bucket List

Oh boy, there are so many things and most of summer still sits before us...


1. Dyeing. I've quite a few things in mind to throw into the indigo vat. I'll be doing a dye day with my sister and nephews one of these days, too.

2. Sewing. An Alabama Chanin A-Line Tunic is going to get underway tomorrow, I hope. I have plans to embellish! I have already begun making the pattern for another tunic, and want to make & refine at least one more square-neck. In addition to some lovely fabric, I've an overflowing bin of t-shirts and scraps to play around with -- making things for Junah is in mind for some (but definitely not all) of that.


TTL Mystery Shawl 2015 at completion of Clue #1.

3. Knitting. I'm currently working on (and enthralled by) Kirsten Kapur's TTL Mystery Shawl 2015; I will most certainly finish it this summer. I'd also like to finish my Prickly Poppy cardigan (it's slow going, but it's going) and Sophie's Rose Shawlette (it got stuck on a zipper pull in my knitting bag... I am afraid to look).


4. Day-tripping... a visit to Door County will be coming up sometime this summer; it may wait just long enough 'til those blossoms are ready-to-pick cherries! I haven't actually gone cherry picking since I was in about 6th grade.


5. Baseball! I've already been to one Wisconsin Timber Rattlers game for Stitch 'n Pitch, there's a company picnic coming up in August, and we're working on a family outing next month!

6. Cycling. I really want -- and need -- to get on my bike and ride for more than a mile at a time! We'll miss the Door County ride/beer festival out of Baileys Harbor this weekend, but plan to do the fall ride out of Sister Bay again later this summer.

7. Cooking. I've been trying some new recipes lately, with inspiration from the Whole30Recipes Instagram feed... and I'd like to continue that!

8. Tidying. Life has been busy, but I need to get back to the life-changing magic!

9. Reading. I've printed off a Bingo card, but expect it will last me far longer than the summer. I'm really looking forward to some of those squares! Currently on my nightstand is The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe, which I am enjoying quite a lot, but may have to take a break to read Still Alice by Lisa Genova for book club!

10. Time off-ing. I've arranged a couple of extra days off next week, to start... I am SO looking forward to it, and to using that time to accomplish some of the above!

Giraffe Romper for Junebug


Stop! Stay back, yoga mat!

Every once in a while a company called Artsonia sends me a notification that one of my nephews has had new artwork from school uploaded on their site. It's always fun to see the boys' projects and I am able to order their artwork printed on all sorts of items, from mouse pads and coffee mugs to tote bags and t-shirts.

Until now, I've appreciated their creations but never ordered anything. Then, a few weeks ago, I received notice of this:


...and my heart skipped a beat. First of all, ADDISON! Second of all, GIRAFFE!! And third of all, HAVE YOU EVER IN YOUR LIFE???

I immediately ordered as large a t-shirt as I could, with the idea of refashioning it and making something romper for Junah. Unfortunately, I was so excited that I didn't read the full description of the shirts and ended up with a shirt made of 100% polyester instead of 100% cotton.


Going in head-first, I pulled out this old pattern that was Mom's... I'm not sure why I have it (and just a couple of others), but I do. I knew I was in for it right away because the pattern has two pieces for both front and back, with shaping for the legs, and I wanted the front to be all one piece. Without thinking too hard, I made some adjustments that I thought would compensate.


I muddled my way through and posted the "finished" photo above to Instagram.


The original photo shows that I hilariously cropped both the messy top part and the terribly wonky bottom/crotch area in that photo. I wasn't too broken up... because polyester shirt. I was (and continue to be) all about THAT AMAZING GIRAFFE! If the romper didn't work out, I'd reclaim the giraffe and put it in a frame.

Experimental as it was, it would still be nice if Junah could wear it! I did a little after-the-fact research and concluded that some sort of gusset was in order. The seam ripper appeared & fixing commenced:




I had done some weird cutting and couldn't come back from that. I also had no idea how it was even going to fit him so I just did some stitching instead of hemming. The whole thing was sewn on the machine using a stretch stitch and Maxi-Lock thread.

It's not going to win any prizes, but it turned out pretty cute overall. I know what to do to fix it next time (and also found some patterns more in line with what I'm trying to do)...


And seriously, how cute is he?


Ali said that he had a big cloth diaper & cover on and there was still plenty of room; it bunched up a little around his diaper from sitting/standing, but it wasn't pulling anywhere.

It was a great learning exercise. The next one will be a bit more refined, and there will likely be a few more after that!!

North Carolina - Part 3 (Carl Sandburg)

Until we checked the admission price (especially as related to the time we'd actually spend there), we'd considered visiting the Biltmore Estate on the southern edge of Asheville on Saturday.

Instead, we drove a little further south to the Carl Sandburg Home, a National Historic Site run by the National Park Service. And what a wonderful decision it was!


There's a nice hike up to the property from the parking area, and soon enough the house comes into view.


Carl was born in Illinois, his wife Lilian in Michigan; they met in Wisconsin when they both were members of Wisconsin's Social Democratic Party. Strong ties to the Upper Midwest/Great Lakes.


In later years, Lilian raised dairy goats. The barn, farm, and milk house exhibits were terrific... oh, those outbuildings!


Katie made friends with the kids.




Chickens, too!


The original chicken house is enormous!


Inside the greenhouse, above.


When in North Carolina... BBQ for lunch again! This time, it was at Hubba Hubba Smokehouse in Flat Rock, and it was fantastic! We obviously loved the idea of deviled eggs as a side option! I knew we were officially in the south when I saw pimento cheese pop up on the menu a couple of times.

And, you guessed it, we hit the Blue Ridge Parkway one last time...


We made it to the top of Mount Mitchell, the highest peak east of the Mississippi, but the very top was in the clouds! So cold and windy, too. 


I considered buying a sweatshirt, but reason prevailed... we were only there for a short time before heading back down.


* * * * *

We got up SUPER early on Sunday and made the trip home in a day.


One last breakfast.


We put our flag on the map in the cottage -- the third visitors from Wisconsin!


We said good bye to our sweet cottage.


And after a long (but pleasant) day of driving, hello to HOME!


Thanks North Carolina! I hope I see you again someday! (The end.)

North Carolina - Part 2 (Black Mountain College)

After lunch on Thursday, we did a little shopping in town -- a resale shop, a used book store -- and stopped at a local pub to buy a gift certificate for our phone-finding bicyclist!

By then, it was time for Kate to head to the local coffee shop to meet up with Adam Void and Chelsea Ragan, two artists she's connected with in various ways over the past several months, all with similar interest in BMC. It was a big bonus for us that they had the opportunity to meet.

While that happened, I went to the Black Mountain Yarn Shop!!


I found these three beauties -- Traveller by Dragonfly Fibers (from left to right: Black Pearl, Cherry on Top, Dragonberry) -- to make Range by Andrea Marquis. The shop sample was intriguing!


And this: Folktale by Fable Fibers... the gorgeous colorway is called Black Mountain!

Just before I could get into any more trouble at the yarn shop, Kate popped in and said that Adam & Chelsea were taking her to the BMC sites at Blue Ridge Assembly and Lake Eden, and would I like to go? Hell yeah.


The former Robert E. Lee Hall, now known as Eureka Hall.


Adam and Kate heading toward the Gymnasium.


Camp was in session!


I insisted on another "tourist" photo.

The campus at Lake Eden is now privately owned, so we didn't galavant much; we were able to see the iconic (and nearly faded to obscurity) frescoes painted on pylons of the building by muralist Jean Charlot.

Adam & Chelsea invited us to their house, and the cyclist called just as we arrived. I went to meet him and retrieve the phone while Adam, Chelsea & Kate visited, took the tour, looked at artwork, and discussed future plans. (Yes, future plans!)

After all that, we stopped at a local grocery and added olives and avocados to our provisions, and had dinner in (as we did most evenings).


It was a busy day!

* * * * *

We made the short trip to Asheville on Friday.


We visited the Asheville Art Museum where, among many other things, there's an installation by artist Sharon Louden. People are encouraged to take selfies there and post them on various media sites, which I did (on Instagram). I tagged Sharon (but not Kate) in the post; Sharon happened to be attending Super Script in Minneapolis -- a conference fabulously captioned by none other than Norma! Sharon immediately responded to my post on IG, and then responded to a completely unrelated Facebook post of Katie's in a #Superscript15 group. Katie, who would have been in MN had we not already had plans for NC, was following along with Super Script (all weekend), and I told her that my friend Norma from VT was doing the captioning! It was just the weirdest set of small-world circumstance, taking place in the background in about 3 minutes, connecting us all.


We had a very tasty lunch at Farm Burger. Strolled and visited some shops...


Home Crafts, located within the Historic Grove Arcade, was full of all sorts of fiber goodness! I walked away with a hank of local alpaca.

Swannanoa is a community located between Black Mountain and Asheville and we traveled through there a lot, passing by Okie Dokies Smokehouse every time! The smoker was right out front and there was always something cooking!


So Friday night was Barbeque night! Kate had ribs, I had chicken and pulled pork... and hushpuppies. (When in North Carolina...)


And up the Blue Ridge Parkway again for a lovely sunset!

To be continued...

North Carolina - Part 1

On departure day (Tuesday), Kate was off of work all day and I was off at noon. I finished packing and we loaded the car and were on the road by about 2 pm.


Just like tourists! A photo with a cheesehead-wearing fiberglass cow!

We righted a wrong on our way south by stopping at the Mars Cheese Castle -- a Wisconsin landmark for as long as I can remember, just north of the WI-IL border (the original store opened in 1947). We stocked on up cheese, Italian meats, and some of the best artichoke dip I've ever had (it was made in Greece and wasn't creamy, just lovely chopped artichokes and olive oil). (Not that there's anything wrong with creamy artichoke dip!)

From the road, we made an overnight reservation in downtown Indianapolis. We thought we'd make it there by around 9 p.m., but it had been raining hard and there were accidents and backups galore in Chicago-land, so we didn't arrive in Indy until after midnight.

Up early on Wednesday, we drove all day... through the rest of Indiana, Kentucky (via Louisville and Lexington)... with plenty of stops!


William Whitley House - Stanford, KY (south of Lexington)
The first brick home built west of the Alleghany Mountains.

We continued south through Tennessee (Knoxville... Nashville will have to wait), and finally...


...arrived in North Carolina!

With lots of curvy roads through the mountains (and stops), we didn't arrive at our destination -- an adorable little cottage a mile from Black Mountain, NC -- until around 9 pm but found the lights on, and this:


I had mentioned in early correspondence with our airbnb hosts that the main reason for the trip was because of Katie's interest in Black Mountain College (it was the subject of her Masters dissertation last year in Scotland). (You can read Kate's related posts at Young Space here & here and, for the curious or interested, there are lots of links within those links!) They'd made a trip to the library and checked out every available item on the subject of BMC! Kate already owns them all, but the gesture was so incredibly nice, and set such a nice tone for our visit! We watched the DVD before heading to bed.

* * * * *

On Thursday, I woke up to the sound of chickens (aka, providers of our breakfast)!


The view from my bedroom window (through the screen).

We did a little exploring after breakfast, stopping in at the Visitor Center and also at the Swannanoa Valley Museum. SVM had a nice display about BMC, and some very interesting local history exhibits and displays.


Among the things that turned my head was this blanket at the BMC display.


And a Clevenger Sox machine!


It was fascinating! There was also a nice fiber arts-related display -- looms, wheels, winders, etc.

We also took a drive up the Blue Ridge Parkway for the first time.


It's so beautiful -- and such a lovely highway. It is very well cared for, with limited access points, a reduced speed limit, and gorgeous views.


It was such a gorgeous view that Katie needed to take photos with all of her photo-capable devices. Turns out, she left one of them -- her phone -- on the back of the car and we drove off without a thought. After discovering that it was missing, we tore the car apart (at least twice), backtracked and retraced our steps, walked a ways along the highway...


...and by the time I took the photo above, I'd called her phone a half-dozen times, we'd stopped in at the local U.S. Cellular location, and had made a couple of stops in search of disposable cameras (which we obviously found). Having lunch and drowning our sorrows at the Black Mountain Bistro (fantastic seafood chowder!) and planning the rest of the day, Kate asked me what time it was. I reached for my phone, which was ringing, and I said, "You're calling me!" By the time I'd fumbled around, I'd missed the call, but eventually connected with a man who said that he was bicycling on the Blue Ridge Parkway and found a phone! He'd randomly stopped to fiddle with his water bottle and saw the phone when he looked down. "It's in pretty good shape!"


And, indeed, it was. There was just a little "smush" of the glass screen protector on the lower right corner... doing just what a screen protector is supposed to do!

She was without the phone for most of the day, though, as I didn't meet up with our cyclist friend until he returned in the early evening from his ride.

To be continued...

Weekending / FO: Romi's Mystery Shawl 2015

I found myself on Saturday morning with just enough time to soak & block a shawl before running off to meet Annie for lunch.


I used three blocking wires, threading one down the center of the shawl, and the other two at the top. I folded the shawl in half, anchored the sides with the wires, and pulled out and pinned the points.


For one thing, it's a big shawl and wouldn't fit on my Block 'n Roll mat; for another, it's arguably a little less work this way; and, lastly, both sides turn out the same!



Rusty took the glamorous FO photos modeled by yours truly. (Dirty garage door!)


Isn't it a beautiful design? I love it. Here's another photo...


...I'll upload the rest, including some more detailed shots, to the Ravelry project page.

Best laid plans amok. I have posts in the works/on my mind about North Carolina, a new dress, a romper for Junah, a new shawl... and I'm held up by photos. I transferred a bunch off of my phone to the computer yesterday and, well, I'm just a bit photo-challenged at the moment!

Here's one from the weekend, though.


I'll try to make some sense of the rest tonight!

Macro May 2015

I didn't exactly take a photo everyday, but I took and posted a photo for every day and, mostly, it was actually on the day. Sometimes I ran out of daylight... or energy!


There's a little knitting and sewing, much flora (though not always flowers). All of the photos were taken with a Samsung Galaxy S6 and a Photojojo Phone Lens (Macro). Most of the photos were taken at home or in my yard in Wisconsin, but some were taken in North Carolina... not that you'd ever be able to tell! More on North Carolina soon!

The photos (and descriptions) can all be found in my Instagram feed, and viewed larger in the Flickr set.

Have a great weekend.

New threads

On Memorial Day, another men's 4X t-shirt was on the block (aka, my new worktable). I used a favorite Eileen Fisher tunic to make a pattern template, drew some chalk lines, and started cutting!


The length was perfect, so I kept the already finished t-shirt hem.


I sewed the new side and shoulder seams by machine, using a regular presser foot (since my walking foot blew apart) and Maxi-Lock thread. The thread cone doesn't fit on the machine's spool holder, but it worked just fine to set it on the table right below; I think I knocked it over only once. I felled the machine-sewn seams by hand, a la Alabama Chanin.


It's a "pretty simple" tunic -- square neck, two main pieces, front and back exactly the same.

I finished the cap-sleeve armhole edges with binding attached using a plain parallel stitch.


Then, there was that "simple" square neck to finish. I probably spent twice as much time working on that neckline as I did on everything else! I decided to finish it with a mitered edge and used the instructions given by Nancy Snell, "Miter Corners for a Smooth Finish," included in A Primer on Sewing Knits on the Threads magazine site.


I sewed the corners and attached the binding to the body by machine


Mitered corner neckline detail.

Then I smoothed and basted -- very loosely, because I was flying by the seat of my pants and the possibility of a re-do was looming large -- on the right side, about 1/4" or maybe 3/8" from the edge, hoping for it to nicely curl. And it did.


Very loose basting!

My eldest (rather fashionable and stylish) daughter has coveted my new tunic, so I know it's a good one! It's been washed and worn a few times already (we did not depart for NC until the dryer buzzed)! I love it and will definitely make another one or two.


It's black, so terrible to photograph -- I doctored every single one of the photos above in order to actually be able to see something!Blackmountainself
Trust that I'm wearing it here, last Friday, at an overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway at sunset.

I am still working on my Endless Summer Tunic! I brought it along to NC, and even worked on it... it won't be long. I love that thing!

Ten on Tuesday: Tunes

Ten on Tuesday:  The First 10 Songs On My Favorite Spotify Playlist

We listened to a fair bit of music on the way to Black Mountain, NC, and back, and all of it was on Spotify. The playlist we listened to most was BOXER SUMMER JAMS by The Boxer Rebellion. (I've been listening to that playlist since it was called WINTER jams!) It was perfect for a road trip.

1. Think Of England - Bear's Den

2. On Your Own - Fryars

3. Don't You Find - Jamie T.

4. First Mind - Nick Mulvey

5. Every Other Freckle - alt-J

6. Sparks - James Bay

7. Bring Back The Wolf - Submotion Orchestra

8. It Takes A Lot To Know A Man - Damien Rice

9. Fur Hildegard von Bingen - Devendra Banhart

10. Diamonds - The Boxer Rebellion


Vacations at the lake

None of us ever tired of the vacations at the lake. In fact, even as I write this, 68 years after my first visit to Bear Lake, we are having a family reunion at the Turtle Flambeau (Flowage) this September weekend in 1999. All of our six kids and their families including our 9 grandchildren and 9 great grandchildren will be there.

The early vacations at Bear Lake were just one week, and usually our reservation was in June when the fishing was good. The big 2-story log cabin 29 miles from the nearest town was well furnished and comfortable. This was at the end of the road and there were no neighbors around the lake then. So it was quiet and isolated.

In those early years, electricity had not yet reached that far and that presented a refrigeration problem. Grandpa Blum and Uncle Paul tried various ideas to generate power. Because it was not always successful, we packed accordingly and pioneered it for a week with canned goods and a crate of live chickens for fresh meat!

Our packing list for just one week was enough to fill a trailer -- especially the years when we needed diapers (no disposables then).

Did I say "vacation"? (It got better!)

excerpted from my grandmother's 2001 memoir, "A Look Back"

* * * * *


The Blum Cabin at the Flowage viewed from the island

It's June 1st and I've been thinking of my grandparents. June was their month at the cabin! We would usually visit sometime in June, too.


Vicki and Great Grandpa Sutton near the boat house on the island be continued.

Ten on Tuesday: Memorial Day Weekend 2015

Ten on Tuesday:  10 Things I Did Over The Weekend

1. Rusty & I took a 7-hour RT drive on Saturday to attend my nephew's graduation party.


The chocolate fountain was a hit... look for it next at a summer birthday party!

2. We stopped on the way to visit Maddy at work and have lunch!


We managed one not-so-goofy picture.

3. My niece took some pictures of my goofy sisters and me.

4. I slept in until 9:30 a.m. on Sunday. That's crazy! (Obviously, I needed it.)

5. I did some finishing/fixing on my indig0-dyed Endless Summer Tunic dress -- all that's left now is some handwork (felling seams).

6. Junah came over for a delightful few hours. He is unmistakably communicating his wants and desires, both vocally and by pointing. The boy loves to point! He is also officially running now.


7. On Monday, I decided that it was time to make another tunic! This time, I used an existing garment as a template to make a pattern and cut up another men's 4X t-shirt for fabric -- it was the perfect size. It's a very simple design, and I did some of the sewing by machine, but it still took all day! The learning curve in figuring out a mitered-corner finish on the square neckline would account for a great deal of that.

8. Ali rode her bike over with Junah in the trailer. The weather was iffy all day -- clouds, rain, sun, rinse & repeat -- but they found a good weather window and it was good to be outside. Junah loves it outside!!

9. I helped with supper last night, made a run to pick up trip supplies, and watched the last episode of North & South.

10. No knitting! It will definitely be coming on the trip, though... both the current sweater and shawl. We leave this afternoon!

And that's that. I hope you had a great weekend!

Right now: On the cusp of summer

Watching: For the first time ever, North & South (any version). (I don't understand how this has flown under my radar for so long.)

Reading: Olive Kitteridge. It's been on my nightstand for ages! There are a lot of books on my nightstand (because it's actually a small bookshelf) and I'm going to read the books I've been collecting there or get rid of them! Maybe I'll hit a BINGO along the way! (And check Mary's post for a fun contest!)

Knitting: Prickly Poppy (see yesterday).

Dreading: I've been to the dentist and have already paid the piper for new tires... I guess there's some work on the brakes to be done soon; other than that, I see nothing too dreadful on the horizon!

Humming: Florence + The Machine - Delilah from the upcoming new album, How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful.

Drinking: Lots of fresh citrus in sparkling water, over ice. So refreshing! I mix it up -- sometimes all one fruit, sometimes a combo. Lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruit... I love the tartness! Occasionally, I plop in some frozen raspberries for color and yum.

Celebrating: My nephew's high school graduation! We'll be making a day-trip drive north on Saturday for the party.

Listening to: Birds in the morning. I love waking up to birds singing.

Itching to: Finish & wear my AVFKW Endless Summer Tunic (dress)! Fixing & finishing are fiddly (totally my own doing) but progress is being made!

Looking forward to: a short road trip with Kate to visit Black Mountain, NC. She has larger purpose, I'm going along for the ride, as I've never been to that part of the country. I've heard there's a great yarn store in Black Mountain, and lots of great shops and things to do in and around Asheville.

Needing to: Pack my bags! The project + camera bags threaten to far outnumber those for clothing + toiletries.

Delighted by: The new & aligned tires on my car! It's the little things...

Inspired by: Makers and Doers.

Something new!


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!


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.


6-month Onesie. Folded and tied with string.


6-month Onesie. Dunk-dyed, unbound.


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


6-month Onesie. Folded and tied with string.


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


24-month Onesie. Folded and tied with string.


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!


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.


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.


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).


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!


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!


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.

* * * * *


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!


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.

* * * * *

I also made this on Saturday:


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!!


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.


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.

* * * * *


2015-05-10 11.47.02 1

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!


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!


Combo #1.


Combo #2.


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



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...


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.


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.


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!)


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...


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.


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:



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.


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!).


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.


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:


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:


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!


  • 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


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!


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


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:


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


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.


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



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!)


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.


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.


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


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

But I could not stop.


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...


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

I love that little patch!!