31 March 2013

family + friends

Who would have thought Easter Sunday would be filled with so many hand-knits? (Well, I could have believed it, but I don't think most of my family would have guessed they'd get so involved with some wool this holiday. I suppose it does make a difference if said knitted objects just happen to be wrapped around one totally adorable one-month old infant. Little Brooke was passed from loving arms to loving arms this afternoon, and she barely made a peep.

Speaking of Peeps, don't you just love the cake above? It's a creation of my cousin, Gretchen. She said she found the idea and instructions on Pinterest - so have at it. I love the little nesting birds on top of the cake. The grass is made out of coconut and green food coloring - tasted great.

The patterns for little Brooke's sweater and bonnet can be found here and here. (You have to be on Ravelry to access these patterns.) For the bonnet I followed the instructions, and then as my images and posts over the last week show, sewed the two pieces of ribbon together and then sewed the ribbon to the bonnet with my sewing machine. It took some wishes and gentle cursing but it all came out right in the end.

Well, it's been a lovely day, filled with family and friends. Today might be the first and last day Brooke ever wears my yellow bonnet, but it was totally worth it!

30 March 2013

a good egg

Garrett and I have known each other for over four years now, but we've never dyed Easter eggs together before. I think in years past we've just been too busy, also two of the four he's been out of state for some training for the Army, but this year we were together.

This afternoon we dumped out a pack of crayons and it was like we were two kids scribbling silly pictures and patterns - or then we would get quiet and serious and really try to "decorate a good egg." I don't know how we're going to eat a dozen hard boiled eggs, but it was sure fun making them.

The mitts are coming along. I've almost have one finished and I'm jotting down notes as I go, so I'll post the modifications to my Ravelry account when I get them just right.

We've been making quite a few smoothies around here with frozen raspberries from last summer's garden. Are you like us - do you hoard all of your good frozen produce until spring thaw when psychologically you finally believe "yes, we will have raspberries in the garden again this year?" We're that way. The snow is melting more and more over the garden. I should get out there and poke around and see if I can find anything green.

The bonnet is finally finished. I'm going to give it to Brooke tomorrow and hopefully snap some photos to share.

Blessed Easter, everyone. 

28 March 2013

cabin fever

It's been a long winter here in Minnesota. My husband and I went for our first walk of the season a few days ago and there were the strangest sights to be seen. I was inspired.

I hope you are too - as we all emerge from our winter dens into the soft spring sunshine.

25 March 2013

a 19th century obsession

I understand now how Kitty and Lydia Bennet could be so obsessed with trimming out their bonnets in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.

When there is ribbon to be had and lace and buttons - the possibilities are endless. No sooner do you finish trimming out one bonnet than start to imagine making another.

23 March 2013

yellow ribbon

Yellow ribbon in the sunshine. Today I was surrounded by such vibrant colors that I couldn't help but be joyful. Last night I came home from work to my sister, my three week-old niece, Brooke, and Garrett seated in our living room. We ordered Chinese and then talked into the night.

This is the first time Garrett and I have had an infant in the house and I must admit it was peculiar to hear little Brooke gurgle and squeak. Hmmm - I'm guessing it's been a long time since the walls in this house have heard a baby crying. The previous owners were a young couple (no children) and before that an old woman with children long grown.

I can't claim that we were much help to my sister, though. We held little Brooke when she was happy, clean and well-fed, but let Jenny take care of the more highly trained tasks. Brooke is still so little - just eight pounds.

Anyway, our house is now silent. The cat's hiding somewhere, Garrett is busy with homework and I'm up in my studio beneath the gables working. The room is strewn with magazine scraps, seed packets, yarn and ribbon.

The ribbon and yarn above are for a baby bonnet my sister wants me to hurry up and make Brooke for Easter. I've got a week. I hope I can get it done.

19 March 2013

weaving project # 2

I finished weaving project # 2 with the help of my mother.

To achieve the gray stripes we used a combination of two of our gray yarns. They're slightly different shades, which adds a nice depth to the project. The colored stripes came from my Valentine's yarn. (Keep spreading the love, I guess!!) It's all gone now, though. You can find the other yarns here and here.

This turned out to be a special project, because I set up the loom and then brought it to my mother - who finished it. We plan on starting another as soon as I can get up North and teach her how to set up the loom herself. It's nice to be able to share something with someone that I just learned myself.

Hope you all are surviving this most recent spell of winter weather that seems to be effecting the Midwest and Northeast. Today is supposed to be the last day of Winter.

Do you hear that, Mother Nature? The last day.

16 March 2013

the weekend

Ahh, the weekend - time for catching up on sleep, catching up on all of the inspiring things my fellow bloggers have been up to over the course of the week, and time for working on some projects of my own.

But how will I fit all of this in when I've got my nose stuck in a book?

My sister got me a gift certificate to a bookstore for our birthday and I finally used it last week to purchase two novels. I'm reading the first one: Winter Witch by Paula Brackson now. I haven't had so much fun reading a book in a while. This story is a mix of historical fiction, magic and travel writing - it's set in the Welsh countryside in the 1850's. I'm about halfway through and the story which is about a community of drovers (cattlemen who drove their herds to London every season to sell them) reminds me of Rob Roy/The Man From Snowy River/ Practical Magic and a Tim Burton film all rolled into one. Some of you may find this appealing - others a bit bizarre - but I am enjoying myself.

We've been dying more yarn you can find it here.

Oh, and for any of you spinners out there of Irish descent (or just a fondness for St. Patrick's Day) we have something special for you.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

14 March 2013

wait for it

. . . you just have to wait for it.

I've been thinking a lot about change this week, how sometimes the things that need changing in our lives - the things that seem really big and scary - may actually be good for us. It's usually pretty obvious when something needs to be changed - but that doesn't make it easy. We may linger in a bad situation, while complaining about it to anyone who will listen, without making a move to fix it.

The hard thing about change is facing the unknown. The known bad situation is always better than the unknown possibly worse future situation. What if we take action and fall flat on our faces? We tell ourselves that we can cope - and we do cope - by building up a tough outer shell.

It's like that quote by T. S. Eliot that I posted in the beginning of January: "There are only hints and guesses. Hints followed by guesses, and the rest is prayer, observation, discipline thought and action."

We never know for sure where we're going to end up when we act, but we have to try. We have to follow the hints and guesses that weave their way through our lives - and more often than not - change is good for us.

My houseplants and garden help me to remember how change can be good - and vital. Plants transform themselves with blossoms several times a year - part of an endless cycle of change. What if we approached change like that? By blossoming into it and waiting to watch the flowers develop?

Things have also changed with my rose quartz sock yarn project, I've decided that they're no longer going to be socks - but mitts. The pattern was just to lovely to hide under the cuffs of my blue jeans. Spring is on the way, they'll perfect for waiting at the bus stop.

Hope some things are blossoming in your life.

09 March 2013

winter friends

Magenta Moth orchid. This beauty arrived on my birthday and has been in bloom ever since. I usually don't have much luck with these plants, but I'm going to try extra hard this year to keep it alive. I suspect I'm going to have to move it out of my studio, which will turn into a sauna come summer, and find a more temperate - yet humid spot for it.

Kalanchoe. I got two of these vibrant bloomers last spring for my graduation. They sat outside on the sun porch all summer and I brought them in when the temperatures dipped thinking maybe - maybe - I could keep them alive until spring. They've surprised me by thriving and blooming again. I've placed both these plants in my studio, one in the northern gable, the other in the the south. The orange one is blooming first, maybe because it's closer to the glass.

Dried husks of my summer alliums - soon we will meet again.

Cyclamen, minus their vibrant blossoms. I finally cleaned then up and put them in a west facing window after Valentine's day.

I've got the itch to start tending seeds and garden, but since we still have well over a foot of snow on the ground here - I've been caring for my inside friends instead. I think I've set a personal best for houseplants still alive come March this year, but I say that very humbly because at any moment I could over-water something and end up having to compost what I've cared for all winter.

Houseplants make good friends, something green and in bloom is always more interesting to look at than dusty books or knickknacks in the weak winter light. A lot of my success this year has been largely accidental. Kalanchoe, cyclamen, orchids and philodendron seem to thrive more on neglect than constant care. I seem to have found a happy spot in the house for each species, so I'll just zip my lips and not hoot about my success least I start having problems here.

I discovered a wonderful book on houseplants at the library and a great blog - that makes me want to roll around in flowers. Tovah Martin's The Unexpected Houseplant is informative and inspiring. Tovah has some great ideas and advice on both common and uncommon houseplants found in most homes. Some of my favorites were the potted Icelandic Poppies and the Kalanchoe Thyrsiflora (which resembles a giant rosebud) but I'll stick with my buddies for now.

What are your favorite houseplants? 
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