Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Seriously Easy Cloth Napkins

 I live on planet Cloth Napkin and we never, ever use paper napkins at my house (I do use them on picnics) and here on planet Cloth Napkin, the napkins do tend to get worn out and used up, and sometimes I need a whole big batch of new ones. I actually hate hemming squares of fabric. Corners always end up thick and messy.

So I bought a yard of 60" duck at Hobby Lobby and cut it into squares, and zigzag stitched half an inch in from the raw edge. A trip through the washer and dryer, and I have fringe! Granted, some of them need haircuts after the first trip or two through the laundry, but then they stabilize and look halfway decent. Perfectly fine for the everyday dinner table.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Some Easy Jersey Dress Patterns

Here are a couple of Big Four patterns I've been working with lately, with cotton jersey. I love the Alabama Chanin patterns but wanted something with a little more drape and these have fit the bill nicely for my recent projects. 

First up, Burda 7082. This dress has a pleated, not-too-low crossover bodice (it does benefit from a pin or a stitch to hold things together). It also has a built-in sash across the front, with an interesting twist.  I initially tried to sew it as presented in the pattern but it was just too much fabric, so I simplified it to a straight strip across the front. 

And on my second time around, I took a great portion of the center front fullness out of the skirt.

 If you carefully mark the pleats, this is an easy pattern to sew, and very flattering.

I've also enjoyed Simplicity 2369. I did a trial of this in some cotton-poly jersey blend, in the tunic length. I've never worn raglan sleeves before, but something about the drape of the sleeve, and the cut of the front was really working for me! Even in my junky fabric this felt supremely elegant, so I was excited to make it up in a longer dress form, with the same sleeves. Yes! I love the dress, although I've taken off the unnecessary tie to streamline things, and just sewn the crossover panel into the opposite side seam.

There you have it--two flattering patterns that call for knits. Make them plain or dress them up with Alabama Chanin-style handwork. That's what I'm going to do!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Spring Cleaning

Today I started a week of good hard spring cleaning. I've divided the house into five parts and here I go: sitting room, dining room, and living room done.

Daisy's caught the bug and created a little bit of make-work in a clean corner, hand-washing some doll linens and using the *real* iron not plugged in.


The she refreshed herself with a dip into the Composer's childhood box of puppets.
Which is kind of random, but is the kind of detail that keeps me happy as I work.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

A Tea Cart for the Orchids

I've long wanted a rolling tea cart because they are just sort of awesome. I found this one for very cheap, with wood-look metal shelves and brass pipes, and it's fully collapsible.

For a few weeks Daisy zoomed all the dirty dishes from the table to the kitchen in one load, but now I've commandeered it to hold the large number of orchids in my bedroom who are waiting out the winter at a west window.

Then when spring comes, I can zoom them out to the porch.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Shield Your Eyes: A Bright Crocheted Rug

This is what happens when you crochet a rug from leftover bits of orange and red t-shirts. Requires tinted goggles.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Cold Rain

Outside the bedroom window.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Daisy and the Very Large Sock Monkey

I don't even know where he came from, but he's been living in the toy room for several years,

the biggest thing of his kind I'd ever want to see.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Big Breath Out

First the State Department announced that Americans should stay out of Cusco until at least the end of the month. No biggie, unless you just got there. So, no going out after dark, no speaking English loudly in public (not that Felix is speaking English there, I know it's all Spanish and his two new phrases of Quechua, but I know it's loud!).

Then Giles called this morning in a voice I could hardly understand to report that he'd just been violently rear-ended on his way home from Maine, and was missing a front tooth (actually it wasn't missing, later the doctors found it IN HIS LOWER LIP where it was no longer useful). The accident was not his fault--he was stopped for construction and an elderly driver plowed into him. I choose to see God's mercy in the fact that the injuries weren't worse.

The three girls in the back seat were somehow unharmed (thank you LORD) and all of them are being put up in a local church's guesthouse (after the volunteer EMT handed them a business card and explained that he was the pastor and they had a place to stay and food to eat). 

So. Big breath out. God is good.

And there's another table runner in the shop. If you're from Maine, I'm going to give you a 25% discount to thank you Yankees for your hospitality to my boy.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Hello Palette, My Old Friend

I seriously haven't gotten this out in years, everything was covered in dust bunnies under Daisy's bed. But yesterday I realized that I was itching to paint again, so here we go!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Yellow Roses in an Aluminum Pitcher

 Boy these were glowing this afternoon as we headed out of the house. Our good friend celebrated his 50th birthday by hiking fifty miles *on* his birthday, and we met the hikers at the end with big vats of chili in the woods. 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

And Another Jersey Rug

 . . . in a completely different colorway. You can see that between yesterday's rug and today's I've used pretty much all the colors there are (oh wait, there's a red and orange rug coming for the mango lounge). The jersey scrap gauge is sitting on Empty!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Jersey Rug for Daisy

Daisy and I are a rug-making TEAM! I cut the strips, she connects them, I crochet, and she tells me what color to do next (from her little paper list). I love having a project we can honestly do together, as so many things are beyond her little eight-year old hands. But this is definitely a good collaboration, and now she has yet another cozy spot to curl up and read in her room.

A Crewelwork Pillow for Duck Hunters

I've put a crewelwork pillow in my etsy shop; go ahead and look because you know you love embroidered scenes of duck hunting.

Monday, February 11, 2013

First Big Bouquet

Daisy with the first big bouquet of the season. Daffodils!

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Freddy the Pig

Here is some excellent reading aloud--the Freddy the Pig series. We have multi-generational enjoyment going on here, with grandparents getting in on the act and lots of loans and presents changing hands both ways as everyone makes sure they've read them all.

These are some self-respecting animals! Enjoy.

Friday, February 08, 2013

Taming My Jersey Scraps

I've been doing plenty of sewing with jersey lately and the scrap boxes are overflowing. In between projects now I'm cutting them into scraps, attaching the strips, then rolling them into balls for when I feel like making a rug for Daisy's room like she's asking me to.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Please Look After This Bear

He's leaving this weekend for a semester in (darkest) Peru. He'll be staying in Cusco, the city in the mountains that's closest to Machu Picchu, living with a local family, and studying at a language institute: Spanish, Quechua, Latin American history and literature. And then there's the little matter of South American birds.

Today he went to the clinic and got his hep A and yellow fever vaccinations--or, as he put it, uploaded a new defense program into his system with a flash drive--and now he's complaining that his data port is kind of achey.

The Lord bless you and keep you, Felix! The Lord make His face to shine on you and be gracious to you, the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Something Sweet to Listen To

 I stumbled on the band Page CXVI, looking for a recording of "Be Still, My Soul", and have been enjoying their re-worked hymns. You'll like them too if you like beautiful and surprising vocal counterpoints, and very contemporary settings of some hymnal classics. 

They offer quite a bit of music for free--check out "In the Sweet By and By" and "Wash Me Clean."
Download their music here!

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Kitchen Geranium

Thank you, pink geranium, for blooming next to the kitchen sink.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Daisy and the Piano

Last spring Daisy started taking piano lessons--and it was a disaster. The teacher was a terrible choice for her (though she had come highly recommended and was, in fact, the only one I could find)--she loved to scribble all over Daisy's music, kept large smelly dogs, and was prone to asking questions that Daisy found distressing, since they had no answers. 

For a few months she studied at home with Clara, and then those good times ended when Clara left for college. After much calling around, I found a new teacher for both Daisy and Bella this fall, and while Daisy had her doubts about taking lessons from a Strange Man, it's been a wonderful fit.

Still, she really did not like to play. All week her practice time included a lot of discussion on her part as to why she shouldn't--quite yet--try to play hands together. Progress was slow indeed.

However, this story has a happy ending. At Christmas her teacher gave her some Christmas hymns to play, and at that moment she took off for the horizon in a cloud of dust. There is nothing she won't tackle now. She's racing through her book, and never asks for help. I think it was the experience of playing music *that she could check with her ear, because she knew what it was supposed to sound like*, that gave her confidence. I'm excited to see where she goes with piano.

Meanwhile, these little bluebirds in the photo are sitting on a table runner that, of course, is in my shop. And there's a vintage crafting book, *and* I've discounted the one remaining quilt. Happy Monday night!

Friday, February 01, 2013

Frosty Morning Log Cabin Quilt

My mother finished quilting and binding this log cabin quilt for me, as usual (I do the piecing and turn it over to her). I absolutely adore her design choices. 

She picked up on my quilt title ("Frosty Morning") and bound the edges in a surprising French blue printed with snowflakes, and it's just perfect! And here and there she ran a line of embroidery in blue, rather than the expected yellows and pinks.

She has a such an eye for color, I wish you could see her house! Quilt is in the shop.

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