Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Orchid, Big and Beautiful

I bought this beauty at the grocery store at the very beginning of the year, for $20.

Week after week these huge and gorgeous blooms have filled the sitting room.

Clara in a Brilliant Thrifted Dress

I found this unbelievable ensemble at the thrift store last year. An incredibly tailored silk/wool blend dress and coat--every seam is either piped or bound with bias binding.

Too narrow for me, it worked for Clara when I took up the side seams. I left the excess fabric in place, though, I couldn't bear to cut into those gorgeous seam finishes.

Rhinestone pave buttons do frost the cake, don't they?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Now Knitting: Short-Sleeved Cardigan in Violet

Once again working from Sarah Dallas' Vintage Knits, I'm doing the short-sleeved cardigan with tie-neck in a violet cotton DK. Oh, I love this yarn! Such a luminous color. And I'm thrilled to be doing something with an interesting texture. Why, it's just a short step away from intricate lace, right?


But it is fun.

Friday, January 27, 2012

New Growth on the Fern

I bring my potted ferns inside every winter to sit in the bedroom windows.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Crocheting a Jersey Rug

I am always enthusiastic about ways to *make* a rug myself because why? Because rugs are expensive and never come in the color or size I have in mind.

I've been crocheting one this week with great satisfaction for a completely different reason though--it's using up my cotton jersey scraps. The long, oddly-shaped, useless ones.

What do you need to do this? A rotary cutter (make sure it's sharp, not like in all those other tutorials that encourage you to use a dull blade, right?), cutting mat, and big fat crochet hook. Not even scissors, and there's no sewing. And no threads, best of all!

First, cut those strips. About an inch wide, and they can be across the grain, along the grain, or ignoring the grain. Sometimes mine aren't even straight, they curve around a big wide corner. Crazy, I know. Do not use a cutting ruler, just eyeball it. As you finish each strip, take the rotary cutter and press down on the strip about an inch from the end, so you get a little slit cut just like you see here.

They look like buttonholes. You are going to join your strips with these. Match up the two ends you want to join, and lay New Strip over the end of Old Strip. Match up those buttonholes and poke them open with your fingertip.

With your other hand, take the free end of New Strip and bring it up from the bottom through both holes. Pull gently till the little foldy join is snug and secure.

Attach all five thousand other strips. Just be sure that you loop them together like this right onto your "live" strip. In other words, don't put together a whole long chain offstage and think you'll join them to your crocheting. Because you'll have to pull the Whole Chain through that little buttonhole. Or sew or tie it on. And if you do it my way, there's no sewing *or* tying!

And crochet it!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Soft and Thrifty Cashmere Blanket

Mostly cashmere, that is. As many thrift-store--and personally worn-out-- cashmere sweaters as I could find, and I filled it out with very fine merino sweaters. Felted them, cut out rectangles as big as possible, and pieced them together.

Backed it with flannel, then used the eyelet embroidery stitch on my machine to "tie" the top and back together. Satin blanket binding on the edges.

Then indulged in giving it away as a no-occasion gift to a very sweet friend.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Alabama Studio Style: Relief Applique Dress

Back in the fall I made this plain jersey dress for Clara.

This week I got around to embellishing it with my hand-cut stencil (downloaded from the Alabama Chanin store, for free), and fabric paint dabbed on with a sponge.

Once the paint dried and set I cut out the appliqued petals (slightly larger than the stenciled shape) and stitched them on using the "relief applique" technique from one of the Alabama Chanin books.

Then I added some beads.

Then of course I did the back!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Africa II

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Africa I

Bella and the Composer spent two weeks in west Africa to meet up with a small group of nationals who work at everything from education to evangelism to school-building, health work, agriculture, orphan care, small business development . . . the list goes on . . . traveling with them to document their efforts and help to tell their story.

Giles met them on the way at the airport in Zurich (how cool is it to rendezvous in Zurich, I ask?). Most of the camera work you will see is his.

I won't attempt to caption these images--just enjoy them as beautiful glimpses of an incredible trip.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Daisy and the Goats

She walks down every day, rain, shine, or fog.

Always carrying a few bites of candy for her two favorite little ones, and a crust of bread to fend off the chickens.

The little goats aren't scary, but the big ones are . . . surprising, sometimes.

She considers herself the little ones' "second mother."

And the goatyard is her "second home."

They're so tiny, Nigerian dairy goats, I think.

Phyllis has a sense of humor--these two are named Luscious Kandy and Sinnamon.

Luscious Kandy always takes a bite of Daisy's skirt.

And Sinnamon is a great climber.

And Jezebel loves a Lifesaver.

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