Easter Eggs- a few ways

I love Easter- it is such a beautiful holiday, one that celebrates rebirth and hope. It just so happens that Easter crafting is my favorite! Here is a fun round-up of different egg decorating tutorials I’ve shared over the years. It’s not too late to whip up some Easter egg fun! Playing with natural dyes…

Botanical eggsI love Easter- it is such a beautiful holiday, one that celebrates rebirth and hope. It just so happens that Easter crafting is my favorite! Here is a fun round-up of different egg decorating tutorials I’ve shared over the years. It’s not too late to whip up some Easter egg fun!Natural dyeNatural dye 1 Playing with natural dyes it my absolute favorite! I’ve given detailed instructions in this post, as well as this one, as to how to dye eggs with ingredients you likely have around the kitchen. For the botanical print eggs pictured at the very top, I used natural dyes and this tutorial from Erin of Reading My Tea Leaves. When the boys are a bit older and have more patience, I’d love to try the botanical eggs again! This year, we just used natural dyes, with the occasional rubberband wrapped around the egg to achieve stripes. Their favorite part was then peeling and eating the multicolored hard-boiled eggs! Oh boys.Succulant eggs 1Succulant eggs Another fun egg craft includes blowing out the eggs, dying them and using them as planters for tiny little succulents and flowers. This is definitely a craft for older kids, and more delicate crafters. Blowing out the eggs does take some work! I wrote more about it here. Eggs w pansy Finally, if you are in a real hurry (let’s say the morning of Easter, perhaps!), this craft will save you! Simply cut little hats out of colorful paper and rest them on top of a few eggs. If you’re so inclined you might even draw funny little faces. I think these would be adorable place-markers at the kids Easter table. Have fun and happy Easter!Easter eggs w hats Eggs w hat

 

Stash Busting

I had a thought last year when I was going through my sweater collection…here’s a stash of unused yarn, right here in the form of a sweater that I never, ever wear. The painful part was coming to terms with ripping out a piece that had taken me months to knit, but here’s the thing:…

v-neck I had a thought last year when I was going through my sweater collection…here’s a stash of unused yarn, right here in the form of a sweater that I never, ever wear. The painful part was coming to terms with ripping out a piece that had taken me months to knit, but here’s the thing: when I buy yarn for a sweater I invest in really nice, gorgeous yarn that can withstand the test of time. If that sweater isn’t getting loved and worn, isn’t the fabulous yarn better used in a different, more wearable sweater? The answer for me is a resounding YES. I don’t want anything in my closet that I don’t wear, handknit sweaters included. And so my Liv cardigan got ripped out about halfway and refashioned into a simple, v-neck sweater. And I am thrilled with the results. This fits my style; simple, classic and a bit tomboy-ish. Nothing fancy or fussy. AB5A3648 In other news, I am absolutely obsessed with colorwork. I find it pretty magical to watch the pattern come to life as you knit. All of a sudden where there where just a few random knits of one color, and a few random knits of another, a flower comes to life. It really is magical. The pattern for these mitts was generously shared by leighside knits, the most gifted of all mitt knitters!  I love the pointy tips- so whimsical and elfin. We had a few days of warm weather this week and everyone is whispering about spring. Feeling that vibe I picked out the prettiest quince blossom-color of yarn, which will be made into a birthday sweater for a sweet little girl.  I love looking down while I’m knitting and finding a burst of spring right there on my needles! As we head into spring, what is on your needles?

AB5A3603AB5A3621AB5A3593 *all pictures here by the fabulous Forrest Elliott*

 

Baa-ble Hat

I’m preparing a wonderfully rich post about writing a book proposal but despite my best efforts, I just couldn’t finish it this week. So instead I present you the cutest hat, modeled by the cutest boy. The Baa-ble hat knits up super quickly and is great for using up scrap yarn. As an added bonus-…

baa-ble hat1I’m preparing a wonderfully rich post about writing a book proposal but despite my best efforts, I just couldn’t finish it this week. So instead I present you the cutest hat, modeled by the cutest boy. The Baa-ble hat knits up super quickly and is great for using up scrap yarn. As an added bonus- the pattern is free! It’s funny; as the boys become more aware of my knitting and sewing projects, they are beginning to choose items that they’d like me to knit. Vik saw me eyeing this hat on Ravelry and said “I’d like that hat, mama, with green and blue.” Well alrighty then! He knows exactly what he likes. And when I finished it he wore it for the next three days straight, even to bed at night! I’m loving the ability to knit for my boys and actually have them excited about wearing the finished product.

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Fair Isle Success

I made a promise to try to push myself to learn new techniques and skills this year.  First up…stranded colorwork knitting. For some reason, stranded colorwork always seemed really hard and kind of scary. I posted a picture of my yarn stash on Instagram last week along with a caption about my resolution to learn…

_MG_1935I made a promise to try to push myself to learn new techniques and skills this year.  First up…stranded colorwork knitting. For some reason, stranded colorwork always seemed really hard and kind of scary. I posted a picture of my yarn stash on Instagram last week along with a caption about my resolution to learn colorwork, and a few people commented that I should try YouTube. I was unsure that I could learn via video but it was surprisingly easy! I watched a few videos and then gave it a shot.  I had to get the hang of holding two strands at a time, which was the most challenging part.

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_MG_1894I picked the Schuyler hat for my first pattern.  I found it via Fringe Association and I’m so glad I did.  This is such a beautiful, wearable pattern.  I’m thinking of lining it with fleece, which would make it the perfect winter hat!  Of course everyone in the house is fighting over it, so I already have a second colorwork hat on my needles.  And you know two more will have to come soon after!  At this rate I’ll be ripping through my stash in no time…which can only mean one thing… yarn shopping is in my future!

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The Power of Craft

I hope you had a very merry Christmas. I’ve been bursting to share this story and these images with you for weeks now, ever since I sewed the last stitch on this dress.  Allow me to start from the beginning: this past summer and fall proved to be a very challenging time for my parents…

_MG_1493I hope you had a very merry Christmas. I’ve been bursting to share this story and these images with you for weeks now, ever since I sewed the last stitch on this dress.  Allow me to start from the beginning: this past summer and fall proved to be a very challenging time for my parents as they dealt with many difficulties related to my younger brother.  I saw my mom stripped of so much of her joy as she internalized the stress of the situation and quite frankly, it broke my heart.  I decided that I wanted to use the power of handmade to create something of beauty for her.  I decided that I would finish her Alabama Chanin dress in time for Christmas (you might remember this past summer when my mom and I took a class from Natalie Chanin at Blackberry Farm– this was her garment from the class, which she had barely started).  It was a ridiculously lofty goal what with 6 large panels of applique to conquer, so I decided to enlist the help of my community.  I envisioned an old-fashion quilt circle with women coming together to create something of beauty.  I imagined each stitch sewn with intention and love.  Three amazing women came forward and offered their sewing assistance, and together we created this masterpiece.  I sent them each a panel, and made a little instructional video, and a few months later they sent me back their panels, each completed to perfection.  I stitched up the panels- my three, plus the three others, and finished off the neck and arm holes.  In all it was a six-month project.

bustOn Christmas morning I had the dress swathed in sheets of tissue paper, wrapped in a big box covered in red sparkly wrapping paper.  It was the last gift my mom opened and she was absolutely speechless.  Nestled in along with the dress I had notes from the women who helped to sew her dress:  Kellen Meyer, my sweet Squam friend, was one of the amazing women who lent her talent to the project, along with Amy Mercer, a lovely knitter, seamstress and blog friend, and Ann Ryskoski, a long-time friend of my moms.  The dress fits my mom perfectly- it is quite amazing.  I hope it brings her joy each and every time she wears it.  There is something so powerful about wearing a garment that other hands made for you with love and intention.  This was the most fulfilling and uplifting project that I made this year and it got me thinking: the power of handmade is incredible.  I would love to do this again- craft a beautiful garment for someone who needs a touch of joy in their life.  What do you think?  Would any of you be into that?  Together we could pick someone to receive the gift, and then decide on the garment.  Together we could make beautiful things and spread some handmade joy.  Give it some thought…and keep in mind you don’t have to be a master crafter.  If you can hand sew, you can make an Alabama Chanin piece.  Another idea- an Alabama Chanin sew-a-long in the Providence-area- I’d be happy to host at my house!  Wouldn’t this be a fun way to kick off 2016?!  I’m ready for some deeper, more fulfilling making in the coming year.

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A Style All His Own

We’re having a gorgeous fall here in Providence.  Every street is breathtakingly beautiful, full of fiery red and golden yellow trees.  It is a magical time, and now that we’ve figured out our schedule in a way that makes everyone happy, we’re sinking in and enjoying the ride.  I was thrilled to finish Vik’s first…

_MG_9771We’re having a gorgeous fall here in Providence.  Every street is breathtakingly beautiful, full of fiery red and golden yellow trees.  It is a magical time, and now that we’ve figured out our schedule in a way that makes everyone happy, we’re sinking in and enjoying the ride.  I was thrilled to finish Vik’s first sweater a few weeks ago in time for fall, and even more thrilled that he’s wanted to wear it.  I think I made the mistake of lumping Vik’s style preferences in with Vijays; comfy pants, t-shirts, loose, easy clothing.  It turns out Vik has a style all his own.  He LOVED wearing a tux and shiny patent leather shoes for my brother’s wedding (pictures to come). In fact he loved it so much he wore the full ensemble the day after the wedding to the casual brunch.  My favorite Vik story from that weekend was when he was getting ready for the wedding with my mom- they were in her bathroom brushing their teeth and he said, “I’m going to have shiny shoes and shiny teeth, Grammy!”  Imagine that said with the cutest little 3-year-old lisp. Ohhh, he slays me.

_MG_9788And in preparation for the beach wedding we went to last weekend he came with me to the store and personally picked out outfits for him and Vijay to wear- crisp navy shorts and collared dress shirts.  They looked quite dapper.  And so that brings us to this sweater: Vik has been growing more and more curious about my knitting, always asking who I’m knitting for and wondering when I’ll knit him a sweater.  And so I decided it was time to give it a whirl, starting with a very simple crewneck sweater.  He loves it and wears it with pride.  Makes my heart happy!  You can check out the details on my Ravelry page.  It looks like I finally get to start knitting for at least one of my boys!

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My Alabama Chanin Tunic

Do you remember when I said this dress  would take me about 6-9 months to finish?  Well, I might have overstated that slightly!  It turns out that spending a month in Northern Michigan, away from the distractions and busyness at home, equals about half a year in “the real world.”  I have had so much…

Alabama Chanin tunicDo you remember when I said this dress  would take me about 6-9 months to finish?  Well, I might have overstated that slightly!  It turns out that spending a month in Northern Michigan, away from the distractions and busyness at home, equals about half a year in “the real world.”  I have had so much time up here to kick back and sew while the boys play outside with their friends, go golfing with my dad, craft with my mom, or play Candy Land at my feet.  Their 2 hour afternoon naps certainly helped too (nothing like the water and sun to wear them right out!).  I averaged about a panel a week of this hand-sewn dress, and before I knew it, I was hand-seaming the four panels together and finishing up the neck and arm holes with embroidery (the picture below of the dress from the side shows the hand-sewn seam nicely, and the picture of the neckline shows the herringbone embroidery stitch used to finish the arm and neck holes).  And just like that, it was done!

_MG_7318_MG_7282The Alabama Chanin method of sewing is just incredible.  Hearing Natalie talk about her garments it was clear how much thought is giving to each step of the process, as well as all of the material.  The thread, cotton fabric…everything is chosen with care and chosen for a specific reason.  This is truly an heirloom worthy piece of clothing, and it should last a lifetime.  After making this piece, it is also crystal clear as to why Alabama Chanin clothes come with a hefty price tag.  So very much time is invested into each piece.

_MG_7326If you are interested in making your own Alabama Chanin piece, I would strongly suggest checking out their books, all of which offer very clear instructions, as well as patterns for making your own projects, including the Fitted Tunic, which is what I made here (using reverse applique and the Anna’s Garden stencil).  If you can swing it, I would highly recommend ordering your cotton from Alabama Chanin.  The price per yard is very fair for the quality, and the feel of the cotton is just so soft and luxurious.  You can also order DIY kits from Alabama Chanin and you will receive the pieces cut and stenciled.  You can specify the garment, size, colors, and stencil.  That was what we received at the workshop, and it was really nice not to have to cut and stencil it ourselves.  That way you can get right to sewing.  Finally, I will say this- I loved modeling this as a dress for the purpose of the blog, but in “real life” I will be wearing it as a tunic, most likely over fitted black pants.  It is definitely meant to be worn as a tunic, and I’d feel a bit self conscious trying to pull it off as a dress because of the length.  If you are interested, I’ll style it as I’d wear it this fall and show you how it comes together when worn as a tunic!  Now, I’m moving onto my mom’s workshop dress…there is no way she’s finishing without a whole lotta help!

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Eve’s Immie Tee

A few weeks ago, my friend Sarah welcomed her little girl, Eve into the world.  We all know how I feel about baby girl knits, so you can imagine my delight at being given the chance to knit something special to welcome this sweet summer babe.  I decided on the Immie Tee, which I have…

_MG_5420A few weeks ago, my friend Sarah welcomed her little girl, Eve into the world.  We all know how I feel about baby girl knits, so you can imagine my delight at being given the chance to knit something special to welcome this sweet summer babe.  I decided on the Immie Tee, which I have had my eye on for years.  It seemed like the perfect light knit to slip over a onesie during the summer months, and then later on in the fall, layer over a long-sleeve tee.  Although Eve is just a wee thing, I knit the 9 month pattern, thinking she would have more time to wear it.

_MG_5403I absolutely love how it turned out, and I must say I was thrilled with how quickly it knit up.  It took me a little over a week.  And that is counting the rows I had to rip back when I messed up the lace pattern 😉  You can check out the details on Ravelry here.

_MG_5407Although this knit is super sweet on the hanger, I simply can’t wait to see it on Eve.  She’s a beauty, just like her mama.  And there is simply nothing sweater than a newborn in knits.

_MG_4468On a separate note, I hope all my American friends had a wonderful long weekend.  We celebrated the 4th with family in Northern Michigan and it was perfect.  Now we’re getting ready to sink into a long sweet month at our family’s cottage.

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Blackberry Farm with Natalie Chanin

Blackberry Farm might just be one of the most magical places on earth.  The food…the service…the sweeping views…the tranquil environment.  If you throw a weekend of sewing with Natalie Chanin into the mix, you pretty much have heaven on earth.  Our sewing weekend was the culmination of our southern road trip and we truly saved…

_MG_6350Blackberry Farm might just be one of the most magical places on earth.  The food…the service…the sweeping views…the tranquil environment.  If you throw a weekend of sewing with Natalie Chanin into the mix, you pretty much have heaven on earth.  Our sewing weekend was the culmination of our southern road trip and we truly saved the best for last.  Natalie and her team were the warmest, most inspiring teachers.  Their level of skill, attention to detail and determination to create in the most sustainable, high quality fashion possible was just extraordinary.  As we walked to class, and walked to dinner each night, we were greeted with these views…

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_MG_6202On the first day of the workshop it rained off and on for the entire day.  Of course we didn’t mind as we were busy stitching away.  But when we came out of the classroom we were met with this incredible fog, which had rolled in over the mountains.  I grabbed my camera and wandered for the next few hours trying my best to capture the ethereal feeling.

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_MG_6128I must say that in all of my travels I have never experienced such food and service.  Blackberry Farm has won several James Beard awards for both, and it was easy to see why.  Much of the food served is grown on the property, and that which they don’t grow is sourced from local farms.  The quality, freshness and presentation were incredible.

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The property is comprised of something like 4200 acres, all nestled in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains.  You can walk the property for hours and never run out of places to explore.  I wish we had time to partake in the many activities- fly fishing, horseback riding, kayaking, canoeing, hiking- the list goes on.  Mostly, I wish I had time to indulge in their spa services 🙂  The spa itself was such an incredible building.  Someday my home will be modeled after their spa…and I will live forever in quiet peace and white surroundings.  All kidding aside, by the final day I was dying to get home to my boys.  It was the longest I had ever been away and I felt completely undone by the end.  When I woke up yesterday morning to both of them jumping in bed for morning snuggles, I finally felt at rest.  I felt whole again.  My true peace will always be with them, and that is something no spa service could ever top.

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_MG_6032I don’t think I have quite processed all that I learned and absorbed during my time spent with Natalie.  I am completely addicted to her hand sewing process now and though it will take a good 6-9 months to finish my piece (of course I had to choose one of the most intricate patterns!) when it is finished, it will be a masterpiece.  Of that I am sure.  Natalie’s story was inspiring, and her fortitude as a business women was pretty incredible.  She has built the company she has always wanted- from the ground up, and with many mistakes, bumps and bruises along the way.  But she always stayed true to her belief that there is inherent worth in handmade items.  Trying on pieces from her collection, and flipping through her sample swatches (below) was breathtaking.  And although I am grinning like a fool, I simply had to include the picture below…

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A Basics Tank and Alice Top

Before leaving for Squam I revved up the sewing machine and made myself a few new tops.  I have been on a bit of a losing streak with my handmade attempts lately- a Scout tee that was way too short and totally unflattering, and a sweater that might very well get ripped out and re-purposed. …

_MG_5022Before leaving for Squam I revved up the sewing machine and made myself a few new tops.  I have been on a bit of a losing streak with my handmade attempts lately- a Scout tee that was way too short and totally unflattering, and a sweater that might very well get ripped out and re-purposed.  I’m happy to announce that with the Basics Tank and Alice Top I successfully overcame my slump.  In fact, these might be two of my most favorite handmade tops to date.

_MG_5018While at Squam, Kellen, Felicia and I took a little drive through the beautiful countryside trying to find the perfect backdrop where we could photograph some of our handmade wardrobe.  This weathered gray barn was pretty much the most perfect backdrop ever.  If there had been a way to tow it home behind my car, believe me I would have.  I need a weathered barn in my life!

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_MG_4974I didn’t alter the Alice Top at all, and it fits perfectly.  I was a bit nervous about the shoulders- I was concerned they might stick out oddly and end up looking like shoulder pads.  I didn’t use interfacing, and I think this is key to allowing the shoulders to drape nicely.  When I make my next Alice I might drop the neckline slightly- it is a bit high for my liking.  Other than that- this is an amazing top and an extremely well written pattern, though it was challenging for a seamstress of my level.  The fabric I used is from Nani Iro’s Spring 2015 line of double gauze.  The Basics Tank, on the other hand, is a very simple pattern which easily allows you to lengthen the tank.  I added an extra two inches to the tank, and I am really happy with the length.  I am in love with the Kokochi Double Gauze that I used…it is a dream to wear. If you are looking for some fun summer sewing, I’d highly recommend these two!  Now tell me….what’s currently on your sewing table?

IMG_3673*all photos by Kellen, except for the last one, which is by Felicia…thanks girls!