Friday, May 30, 2014

Corner of the Pasture

The corner of Mabel's pasture. I tried to get a picture of her but the camera startled her and she backed away, then starting scratching her neck with her back hoof--and that made her look Really Crazy.

But here's hoping for some Jersey cow glamor shots very soon!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Clara's Knitting: Lattice-Stitch Scarf

Clara's lattice-stitch scarf made from lace-weight alpaca with a little silk.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Knocking Off Dottie Angel

I've run into this charming floral smock here and there on the internet; it's from an Etsy shop called Dottie Angel. It's not currently available for sale, but I thought it would be fun to put one together myself.

 For a jumping-off point I used a simple, over-the-head sundress pattern with side ties. Since I wanted short kimono sleeves (or wide cap sleeves: I'm not sure where you draw the line), I laid a different pattern over the shoulder to get that in place. Then I picked out a large pocket from an apron pattern, and put it all together.

 The smock works because of the careful placement of the casings. In the front, there are two casings for the drawstrings, and they are out towards the side seams. In back, the casing is centered across most of the dress. Keeping a smooth front is so much more flattering than gathering all the way across the middle.

You can see that I added a center back seam so I could make a sway-back adjustment and remove the extra fabric from the curve of the back. I used bias binding to finish the neckline, and narrow-hemmed the sleeves.

This makes a sweet and perky housedress!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Bistro Again, Because I Love It So

This pea gravel courtyard has been the best outdoor upgrade since the pool! Today it rained, and it was the first time in a week we haven't had dinner outside. And we don't just eat, we sit and visit . . . and keep sitting . . . and find it hard to get up, it's so very pleasant. 

The Composer stuck citronella torches in three corners, and I got my potted geraniums. We may be out here til winter comes again.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Alabama Chanin Gored Dress: Plum and Paisley

This is my experiment with a paisley border--the beige shapes are all appliqued on and then stitched around in two rows of running stitch.

The embellishment goes all the way around the dress. And since I lengthen the dress by ten inches, and extend the cutting lines on out at an angle, the skirt is almost a complete circle--quite a bit of border!

I used Alabama Chanin medium-weight jersey in Burgundy, with Nude scraps for my paisleys.

The neck is bound with my new favorite stitch for binding--a blanket stitch turned around backwards so that the horizontal bar sits right beside the raw edge. It makes a very firm, no-nonsense stitch and doesn't compete with the fancy frills of the embellishment.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Clara Folding Linens

After the funeral lunch there were tablecloths to launder.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Pea Gravel in the Bistro

Behind the Schoolhouse is wonderful seating area surrounded by mature shrubs. I dreamed of the day we would turn it into a pea gravelled cafe-type spot, and that day came this week. . .  in the middle of a very busy day. The landscaping men pulled up in a dump truck full of gravel. We were preparing for a house concert that night, hosting overnight company, making homemade ice cream, and, at nightfall, would learn of a horrible death in our close community of friends.

Since pea gravel waits for no man, The Bistro was completed by dinnertime. The next morning we all took our coffee and tea out to the table, and our singer-songwriter houseguest carried a stool and his guitar out into the cool air, and sang and played the beautiful words of Psalm 34 to us, and we could taste and see that the Lord, indeed, is good.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Honeysuckle and Privet

Highlight of May: the combination of privet and honeysuckle. Breathe deep, it doesn't last long.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Yes, 'Tis Mabel

This weekend we welcomed a lovely little cow into our lives. She's staying in our pasture through the summer while her own fencing gets built. She's half Jersey and half Holstein, expecting a calf in August, and completely freaked out by human contact.

She's in our fenced-in pasture with five little goats (they ignore each other), and my goal for the week is to get her to come when she hears the bucket of treats a-rattling. 

She is absolutely adorable, a Disney cartoon of a cow. Hoping for close-ups within a few days. And oh yes, her name is Mabel.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Paisley Stencil Work

I'm using Alabama Chanin's "Paisley" stencil on a new dress. I didn't bother stenciling the design onto the wine-colored cotton, I just made some very general chalk marks for placement. Then I used the stencil to trace the cut out shapes in the nude color.

The applique is done with just an overcast stitch, but now I'm outlining all the shapes in both colors--the buff and then the wine. The running stitches are my favorite--so easy. Wrestling the curling little tendrils into place for applique, not so much.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

A Draped Knit Top: Simplicity 1716

Sewed my first-ever sweater-knit project--a very fine gauge knit of unknown material. Viscose perhaps? Hancock's had a bin with unmarked remnants in it, and I only spent $4 for it. It's a gorgeous soft gray-green, one of my favorites.

I used Simplicity 1716, choosing the draped neck, the 3/4 sleeves, and the plain front.

I would not say that sweater-knit is the most fun ever to work with. No I would not. But the shirt went together nicely, and drapes nicely.

If they thought I was going to try topstitching the back of the neck on the machine, they thought wrong.  I chose a toning embroidery floss from the stash and just used a running stitch to hold that back binding down. And give things a touch of class.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A Free-For-All for Columbines

It's a columbine free-for-all out here in the back yard. They are everywhere, even in the paths. They are all the same (clearly successful) color.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Graduation for Two

And then, without catching our breath, we rolled right into graduation weekend. Felix graduated from college with an honors degree in Biology, summa cum laude, in only three years. He collected many of the departmental honors and also got a six-figure National Science Foundation grant that will cover all his expenses and much, much, more for the next three years.

Do I look proud?

The Composer's proud too.

And Bella is finished with high school! Less of a moment, but quite significant as next year will be completely different. She'll be overseas working in an orphanage for most of the school year, then come back and start an occupational therapy degree the next fall. She absolutely loves working with children.

There they all are. We had such a satisfying, blessed weekend. Saturday we had an all-family dinner, all the grandparents, and one of my brothers and his family. We hustled to serve eighteen people within an hour of returning home from commencement. 

The menu was low country boil--potatoes, corn on the cob, shrimp, and sausages all thrown in a pot with seasonings (I borrowed a high-powered outdoor burner and very large pot from my neighbor).

Being truly blessed in my friends, I called on Carol to provide slaw, corn muffins, and a giant fruit bowl, which she delivered to the house while we were gone.

 We ate outside as it grew dark, then enjoyed turtle cheesecake and raspberry-filled chocolate cake, and hot tea. Yet another friend did the baking (and delivery. She's headed for pastry school, but if you ate her cake you would not think she needed to go learn anything!).

What is better than seeing your children enjoy each other?

Maybe seeing Giles two weekends in a row?

 My mother brought a huge supply of pickles! Thanks!

And citronella candles kept the mosquitoes at bay.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Fetching Clara

The morning I got back from my trip to New York to see Giles, we left to go pick up Clara and all her worldly (summertime) goods.

 It was great heading north because we got a do-over on spring--we drove back into the time of lilacs and tulips. 

We have to squeeze Clara's cello into the car when we travel, so we were glad she could leave some things in storage on campus. . . 

Because the car got pretty full once we visited the ethnic grocery store, the chocolate shop, the vintage store, and the needlework store, in the one day we had to spend while Clara finished tests, returned books, and packed up.

I realize there's no picture of Clara here, which might make you think we didn't actually fetch her, but we did! Proof tomorrow.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Plants in the Bronx

I'm visiting Giles for the weekend and today he took me to the Bronx Conservatory. Neither of us had ever been before, and it was delightful. Though it took a while to get there. 

The weather was perfect, the flowering trees were at their peak, and the orchids were astounding. 

Thursday, May 01, 2014

A Plaid Dress for Scootering

This is New Look 0959 again, with a very different look. A scootering look. The pattern has bias insets in the shape of a band at the hem and also the sides of the bodice. However, trickily, this plaid is printed on the diagonal. So the bias pieces appear to the naked eye to be cut on the straight grain. 

This is just some sewing trivia that makes me happy.

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