My dear Martha and Mila arrived yesterday from Boston. They're here this time for an entire week. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!! So happy!
P.S.: Thank you for all of the sweet anniversary comments :) :) :) xoxoxoxoxo
Posie: Rosy Little Things
Where you can find all of my original craft patterns and kits.
My dear Martha and Mila arrived yesterday from Boston. They're here this time for an entire week. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!! So happy!
P.S.: Thank you for all of the sweet anniversary comments :) :) :) xoxoxoxoxo
Amelia's Chicago cousins and grandma were here this weekend and we had a wonderful time! Oh, to be smothered in love like this girl is! After taking everyone to the airport Tuesday, she fell asleep before we were out of the airport parking garage, and conked out for the night at 5:30 p.m. Yesterday was much the same. Oh, my love. Happy girl and happy days.
I started a pink Lilla Koftan. It's funny how there can be so many variations of the same basic sweater and they all look (and fit) a little different. This one's worsted, very chunky. I'm using 7s. I can't find my size 8 needle tips. Second set I've lost. What project could they possibly be sitting on? Agh. Dumb things. I think this pink Lilla will have red buttons, and maybe a red outline, like this one. Pretty cute. The leaves are already drying up and falling off the trees. Autumn thoughts. Plums and seed pods. Knitting for size twelve months. As everyone says, the days go slow. But how fast the year is going! Oh, incredibly fast. Just incredibly fast. She was nine months old this past weekend.
It's in full swing now, this lovely summer. The weather has been glorious, the nights long. The sun shines and the breeze blows. The flowers bloom and fade, and the plums are already starting to fall. The baby is learning to chew, and every day brings new foods to try. My lady loves the water, and taking her to the pool (we went three times last week) is like a dream. She is mellow and trusting and fearless, though quiet at first; she presses herself deeper into my arms as we walk onto the deck, and sits heavily, with her cheek pressed to mine, as I hold her up to see: This is the pool. It's zero-depth, so it's like a beach — you can sit in only a few inches of water if you want. I rub water on her arm, trickle it down her belly. Rub, rub, trickle, trickle: You know this water. And yeah, she does; within minutes she's sitting on my submerged lap, and in a few minutes more she's waving her foot, splashing. Soon, it's all hers: Hands slapping, feet slapping. Her toy boat squirts, her whale-shaped cup drains. Shoulders, arms, belly, legs, back, hair, everything's wet now, and it's good. The sun is white bright and the water shines. Big kids splash and chase and scream with delight, erupting past us. Her face drips; she ducks her head and blinks the water away but then looks right back up, eyelashes dark and glistening. She doesn't cry. She says, "Da da da da da da da da DA." She presses her forehead to mine, still talking, holding her boat. It's the best day of my life. The fountains shoot long arcs of giant droplets or gurgle up small towers of white froth, but all are met with the same quiet observation, and then, eventually, the determined reaching-toward: Give me. Is there anything better than watching someone reach for a column of water with her dimpled baby hands for the first time? Clutch the bars of her crib and try to stand? Open her tiny mouth for even more ricotta cheese? Stretch to touch a bobbing allium blossom, just beyond her fingers? Keep reaching, my dearest darling dear sweet lovey lovey love. Reach, and reach, and reach. I will help you.
Wow. It's July. And supposedly will be 97 degrees today. [SCREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAM.] Ugh. The heat takes every — any — the single — ounce of energy I have and vaporizes it. Poof. There it goes. That one ounce. Up in a puffball of steam.
Previous to reaching this shameful state, I was managing quite nicely. It was cold and lovely. I finished this sweater. I started this one. I made this (which is a great recipe but if you make it, do NOT add 4 teaspoons of salt to the marinade and 3 teaspoons to the sauce — those have got to be typos; add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon kosher at the most). I made that quinoa salad. I worked, I watered. My lady love and I had breakfast here. We walked in the woods and looked at people's gardens. We saw a goat in someone's back yard. Everything was so green and cool and lush and fresh. Then, the temperature rose: Oh no, oh no. I turned on the AC. It kept going up. I waved my arms hysterically, from inside the house, at people walking down the sidewalk: OMG! What are you doing? Be careful! It's too hot to go out!!! I saw a woman running on the track. That was when I was in the air-conditioned car for a minute. I was just agog.
I am nuts.
Pooooooooooool. I need the pool. Going today. Can't wait. Baby's first swimming pool!
My favorite part of summer is now, I think, when everything is still green and plump and hasn't been frizzled to a hollow. Barbecues with old friends, and baby is crawling. We spend our time together walking, or I ride my bike on the sidewalk so we can go as far as we want without my foot getting angry. Up and down the streets, past house after house and garden after garden. This is my favorite thing. The winding. The talking. He says we can go anywhere — and as far as — I want. Ending up at a restaurant, the bead store (yep, working on a new ornament kit), a pie shop. On and on. Amelia is so game. Amelia goes everywhere, does everything, and takes it all in with this placid, happy-go-lucky way she has. There's a sparkle in her eyes, but she is mellow yellow. There are no moments where I do not marvel at this quality. Knawing on her kitty, waving her foot up and down, she's watching. She shows me her bottle cap, her little deer. I like it. I kiss it, her. We rub noses. I ride in front, zig-zagging, about to fall off going two miles an hour and trying not to crash into everyone's rose bushes. Mommy the goofball. Andy buys a guitar made out of a cigar box and puts it on top of the stroller. Can't resist playing it while he walks. We're the ragtag parade, carrying a ten-pound sweet-cream raspberry pie and a stolen daisy.
By the way, brunch at the Woodsman was a delight in every possible way. I had pancakes and very strong coffee and I was about as happy as anyone's ever been about anything, I think.
I told you I'd tell you about Amelia's midsummer dress. It was inspired by a traditional Norwegian bunad, or folk costume. Each region has its own style of dress. Amelia's birthfather is three-quarters Norwegian, and his family is from the Dovre region of Norway. The dovrebunader, like this one and this one, are just so gorgeous. I have always loved these, so I was ridiculously excited to make her her own baby version. I made the pattern by tracing the bodice pieces of one of her basic little dresses from H&M, and then added a skirt that was 10" long by 44" wide. For the embroidery, I used the traditional dandelion-like design on the dovrebunader, and then just chose two other random designs from one of my clip art books. I traced everything onto copy paper and made a copy onto a special paper called Transfer-Eze. This stuff is VERY COOL. When you peel the top (printed) layer of the paper off of the heavy paper behind it, the top layer has a sticky backing. You press that smoothly to your fabric, then hoop it, and embroider away, right through the Transfer-Eze. (See the photo of my embroidery-in-progress in this post.) When I finished the embroidery, I cut out the bodice (adding a seam allowance) and then soaked the whole thing in cool water for just a few minutes. The Transfer-Eze dissolved and disappeared without any problem at all. It was wonderful to use, especially since transfering is kind of a pain, especially on dark colored fabrics. This was my first time using this and I will definitely use it again. The only thing I noticed is that my hand and fingers were a little bit sore after I worked these pieces; you do have to push the needle a bit harder as you stitch, but it's not too bad. I was doing a lot of satin stitch in a pretty short span of time. I haven't really looked into who manufactures this product but maybe I will try to carry it in my web shop because it is pretty awesome. I'll let you know if I do. Anyway, I thought the little dress came out very pretty and it was really cool to make something by pulling together parts and pieces of inspiration.
I also finished her midsummer sweater, and just have to put the buttons on. I think this is the first time I've ever done anything in reverse stockinette. Kinda cute. I think the yoke looks too deep, but maybe I'm wrong. I'll put the buttons (covered, I think, in Liberty lawn) on today and try it on her and see. It's cold and chilly today, so this will be good.
In our yard the rose mallow is blooming, and the hydrangeas are just starting. The apple tree had three tiny green apples but they all fell off already. We built a little teepee (using this tutorial — really easy, really fast, really inexpensive) on Saturday afternoon when it was still sunny and gorgeous. She played in it for a while, though it got kind of hot; there was no breeze, especially in the teepee. After Amelia went to bed, I sat out in the yard and ate pie and watched the darkness arrive and pretty much became infatuated with the teepee at dusk. So far we haven't really used our backyard lights that much because it stays light so late right now, and I can't stay awake! But I stayed out Saturday night and it was worth it. Oh, how I do love a good ambient light source!!! It's sooooo romantic back there now. We had the lights done by this company. I basically told them what I wanted — two strands of light bulbs crossing over the seating area, hardwired into a dimmer switch on the garage wall — and they did the whole thing (even more romantic). I don't fool around with electricity, and I knew we wanted this to be permanent. Neither do I have the details about the cord because Chris the electrician provided that, but it was twisted black and brown, and what I liked about it was that he was able to put the lights into it only and exactly where we wanted them — right over the chairs, and not down the entire length of the cord as they stretch from the corners of the garage to the pergola thing, and then across to the fence (they added a little 2" x 2" board so the cord would connect at the right height). The bulbs are 40 watt clear appliance bulbs. The dimmer is fantastic. I'm really pleased with how this came out. Now we just need to drink some coffee after dinner so I can stay awake and enjoy it.
Oh, and the other outdoor wicker pendant we have over the table we've had for several years, and it just plugs into an extension cord. I think it's like this one.
I did wind up ordering a battery-powered lantern for the teepee, too.
What else. I'm playing catch up today. I sincerely apologize to anyone who is waiting for me to answer an email. I am not good at this and the email just keeps piling up and up.
Wimbledon starts today. Yippee! Does anyone know the name of that little daisy-like plant (feverfew — thank you!), and the pink frothy one (spirea — thanks!)? Those were out in the neighborhood somewhere, but I'd love to plant both of them. Pretty.
***My tablecloth is from Powell's Books for Cooks; the teepee cover cloth is from eBay or Etsy; our bedding is from Pottery Barn; I made my skirt several years ago from cotton calico (don't know the name of it — I'm sorry); and I think the pillow cover was from Pottery Barn a few years ago, too.
I like to stay home but sometimes I really like going out. On Friday we had a super-fun time up in north Portland at Tasty 'n' Sons, Spielwerk Toys, Ink and Peat, and Ruby Jewel. We love to eat out. We take Amelia to a lot of restaurants. She's been going out to eat since she was very wee, and she's always down with it. I take her out to lunch with me quite frequently by myself, but it's really fun when it's the three of us together (and easier, too). Now that the weather is nice it's just so nice to walk around and do stuff all together. The weather on Friday was gorgeous. We bought fancy soaps and a couple of darling little new toys. She had her first ice cream (brown-sugar sour cream — yummmmm). Really great day. I need to remember to take her to different parts of town just to walk around, even if it means driving to get there first. We're getting a bit bored with our own neighborhood day after day after day, and there's just so much else to see.
I finished her Multnomah Falls sweater (except for the buttons) and it's on the blocking board now. I think it came out really pretty. The color is so hard to capture and I don't know why? (Greens are the hardest for me to get right.) It's kind of a classic, dark-moss green. Next on the needles is this one. Reverse stockinette, but in worsted weight. It's already going so fast (being worsted, instead of sport). The yarn I'm using is crazy-gorgeous. Feels like butter compared to the Nature Spun. Amelia's goes to bed between six and seven every night (she is a great sleeper, and has been doing this since she was two months old), so I have several hours of uninterrupted knitting every evening. It's kind of the time where I'm too tired to do anything else (I used to try working, or sewing, or answering emails at night, but it just didn't work well — I am so totally not a night person), so it's really nice to just sit with my feet up and knit (or embroider — I'll tell you about that little navy-blue dress I'm working on, I keep forgetting) and relax. It's such precious time to me. I'm really lucky for it, I know.
We're having some light-bulb strands installed over our seating area in the back yard, so that we can just turn them on at the garage wall with the flick of a switch. I'm hoping that happens in the next week or two. Summer is here and I just want to be outside before the weather turns scorching and I have to go in and cry in front of the air-conditioner vent. Bah.
***The kitty doll is by Maileg and is from Ink and Peat; the little mouse is by Moulin Roty from Spielwerk Toys (and the mushroom is from Spielwerk, as well). Such adorable toys at both of these places.
My finished Cricket, photographed at twilight on the back porch. It's too big for Mimi right now (I think it's a size 2T), but oh how I love love love love this sweater. Isn't it classic? I think it looks very Narnia. It was sort of the perfect knitting experience: Not complicated, but interesting enough to stay interesting. But not so interesting that I ever got stressed out. Enough stockinette that I could chill (while watching Real Housewives of New Jersey [don't tell Andy; he cannot stand it when I watch RH]) and not so much 1x1 ribbing that I went cray-cray switching between knit and purl. I used Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off for the bottom, but I wish I hadn't (though this is an awesome bind-off, it probably is not necessary here, I don't think, and it's a LOT of visible bind-off, AND I did it in knit, not in pattern, which was dumb). I bound off normally (but loosely) on the neck edge and the button bands and I think it's much prettier. I also added a grosgrain ribbon to the inside of the button band (this is in the directions) and I'd never done that before. I think it came out really cool except that my ribbon should have been a little wider. But I was impatient and they didn't have a wider ribbon in that color, and I wanted that color.
Enough about me. But oh wait, if I can say one more thing about blocking your knitting: If you've never done it before, you should really try it. That first photo, without the buttons? That's the same sweater, finished but unblocked. The three photos further down were all taken after blocking. That's the only difference, but isn't the difference amazing? Maybe you have to be a knitter to think so. But blocking will make your sweater (and, I daresay, you) very happy. I block everything, even bunny sweaters. I wouldn't miss a chance. (I'm easily entertaintained. See above.) And as far as hand-washing and re-blocking sweaters (because yes, you do have to block again after you wash, and I only hand-wash handknits), it really doesn't bother me at all. I figure if I can find that much time to put into knitting a sweater, sparing a few minutes to take care of it is kind of a drop in the bucket, and also well worth it. I actually love the process of blocking and I look forward to it a lot during the process of knitting. I think that one of the truly fun things about knitting is just that sense of discovery — what's this thing really gonna be? (That's why knitting the second sleeve and the second sock is such a pain — you already know what it's gonna be.) But blocking, in addition to finishing your piece off really nicely, just ultimately finalizes things, and that seems to provide [to me, at least] that one last element of transformation and surprise (albeit, it's not like a surprise twenty-first birthday party; it's more like a "Surprise! There's a dollar in my pocket I didn't even know I had! Snap!" sort of mild, pleasant surprise) that I think is one of the best parts of making anything.
Chicken and rice pilaf? From Nigella, who I'm in love with again. I wish someone would write a new biography of her. The pilaf was a bit dry, but good. And pancakes, thin and topped only with a bit of sugar the way I like them, for dinner last night, with the leftover strawberries and a banana blended into a Greek yogurt (leftover from Nigella's chicken marinade) smoothie for breakfast. Double snap!
My College Roommate Ann's Swedish Pancakes
1 c. flour
1 T. sugar
1 t. salt
1 c. milk
a little bloop of vegetable oil
Whisk eggs, flour, sugar, and salt together into a smooth paste. Slowly whisk in milk until just combined, then add a bit of oil (just to keep them from sticking) and stir again. Ladle or pour the batter onto the griddle over medium heat, and tip pan to swirl batter into a thin circle. Flip when edges look dry.
Andy's birthday, and our favorite place for sweet birthday lunches, this time made so much sweeter because there were three. Go to Multnomah Falls on the old Columbia River Highway and be enveloped in green. If it's raining, so much the better. Green grass, green mist, grey rocks wet with rain, rocks everywhere, green trees. Everything smells of mud and rock and water and green things. Wildflowers and weeds that flower. The falls are high, and there's vertigo. I've been up on the bridge one time, long ago, and I didn't like it. It's as high up and close to the water and as disorienting as it looks, and I was scared. The shingled peaks of the roof of the lodge, however, just please me so much. Our lunch was delicious. The view from Crown Point: Oh, Oregon: This must be one of your best. (Years ago I splurged on this crewel kit. I was so charmed by it, and every time I go to Crown Point I remember that I never started it, and I mean to. Now it'll be for Amelia's room.) We ended the day with a candlelight bath (oh how she loves the bath!), and I started a sweater for her like the lodge rooftops, and the green forest, and the far-off hills, warm like her dad's arms, soft like his big, soft, sweet heart. Happy, happy birthday, my dearest, darling love. Xoxoxoxo
Tiny flowers everywhere. It's the time when everything is tentative and delicate. In a few months, I won't notice the flowers, really. Everything will be riotous and rampant. I'll be dragging the lurching hose around the yard so the whole thing doesn't frizzle to a crisp. (I say to Andy, back when it wasn't raining, "Hey, why don't you ask for one of those really cool automatic hose-winder-upper things for Father's Day?" He says, "Oh. Okay. Will you get me one of those hose-winder-uppers for Father's Day?" Me: "Absolutely. I mean, since that's what you really want!" Clever Mommy.) But for now, Mama Nature waters it all for me. My plants unfold their wonders, cautious and chilled. I dodge cold raindrops to witness. The unfurling never ceases to fill me with spring fever. And it is a fever, isn't it? You start to feel quite shaky: Let me get into the woods.
If it hadn't been raining, though, and I hadn't stayed home, I wouldn't have been knitting my Cricket, which is coming along nicely and which, I must say, I have thoroughly, utterly enjoyed. Why. I don't know. Everything about it has pleased me. The pattern is sweet. The yarn (leftover bunny-kit yarn) feels good and has a little bite to it, a little spring bite, so the stitches feel defined and reflect the light in a very chalky kind of way that I love (I don't like shiny yarns anymore). The whole thing feels utterly and completely handknit. Do you know what I mean? In other words, you can see the variation in the tension of the stitches, little bloops and frets, places where you put it down and came back to it, places where you stopped and had to keep someone from crawling into the fireplace (always toward the fireplace), places where you fell asleep in the middle of a row, places where you started dreaming about cabins and cocoa. I like yarns that record these things. I don't want them too smooth or so soft that all the bumps and blunders disappear. I want my hand in there somewhere. So she'll know, when she wears it, that my hands are there.
And for some reason, because it feels like fall, I guess, I just want to eat mushrooms. If you take some leftover grilled chicken with rosemary and lemon (thanks to Andy — I have no idea how he does it but I can ask), and you chop up a couple of Portabella mushrooms and saute them in ghee (funniest sentence of the week: Andy: "Are we seriously out of ghee?", which just about made me fall off the couch laughing because — he knows what ghee is? and he's amazed we're out of it??? [which we weren't, which somehow made it even funnier, because we don't have milk or eggs, but we have ghee]), then pour about 1/2 cup of white wine over all of it and let it bubble down to a glaze, then add some salt and pepper and cream and Parmesan cheese and let that bubble down just a bit, then add some al dente spaghetti and get it good and coated, you, too, can have something yummy in your tummy. And yeah, I say things like that now.
* T H A N K Y O U * to every single person who ordered Maggie or her clothes or her supplies in the last few days!!! Thank you very, very much! The sale was wonderful and I couldn't be more pleased. I am so grateful for your orders and your enthusiasm for this little bunny. Everything went without a hitch this time on the web site (I think?) and we didn't run out, which made me very happy and did not give me a stomach ache like it did last time. The amazing Greta is already busy packing and shipping orders and will continue to do that throughout the coming week and next, I expect. I really can't tell you how much I love thinking about Maggies going to good homes all over the world. I'm hoping we'll have Maggie kits consistently in the shop now. I think that will be really nice. I love this job. Thank you for making it possible for me to do it.
We had a very, very, very nice weekend. Man, it was great. The most relaxing one in I can't even remember how long, actually. I needed it. We cooked a lot. Andy made my dad's chili (Chili Lobo; we make it with ground turkey), I made this yummy Dijon chicken and mushrooms with linguine, and Andy made homemade pesto to use in Ina's pasta, pesto, and peas, which is a staple here in the summertime (and, in winter, with jarred pesto, it's really good too.) We had breakfast at one of our favorite places. We got some flowers for my front-porch planter, and Andy planted them for me (the best). I had some help with my verggie garden from a very talented gardener named Alica (but who pronounces her name A-leesh-a, like mine), who prepared and planted my little beds for me. I just knew I wasn't going to have time to do this and it was looking terrible. Now it looks pretty, and we have tomatoes, peppers, basil, potatoes, herbs, flowers, butternut squash, pattipan squash, and onions. I pledged to water it every single day this week, though today it is so cold and the forecast says rain. But still. This I can do.
I cast on a new sweater for Amelia, and this made me so happy I can't even tell you. Every minute of knitting it has calmed and pleased me. After months of making bunny clothes and fussing with bunny patterns and re-fussing with bunny patterns it was a huge relief to just follow someone else's pattern. Oh sweet mercy! And what a cute pattern it is. I'm slightly concerned that the neckline looks overly large on some of the finished ones I've seen. But I think I'll make the ribbing a bit longer, and it will be okay. . . . I don't know. After seeing how fetching she was in her Nutmeg Cardi (made ever so long ago) this past weekend I was so inspired to make her more sweaters. She's growing so fast. (I wish that Nutmeg Cardi pattern came in more sizes; it's just 0-3 months.) It's been too long since I've knit something baby-sized (which feels huge after all the bunny-sized)! This is sized 2T (the pattern goes up to size 10, and there is an adult version, too); I have an idea to knit the ribbing on the cuffs quite long, as well, so the sleeves can be turned up quite a bit without looking funky and wrong-sided. I'm very happy to be knitting for pleasure again.
I think I should take a shower. Amelia is down for a nap. I have a pile of vegetables I'm going to cook up for her and freeze. Clover Meadow is lying on a giant buckwheat pillow and a huge throw pillow that are on the couch, all at the same time. I should take her picture because it looks so funny. It's so cloudy and dark outside. We'll take a long walk when Amelia wakes up. The roses are starting to bloom all over the neighborhood. My beloved peonies are blooming. And my allium (the fourth photo from the bottom)? This is her first year here in the back yard. I am so excited. I go out and look at her every day. She's just about to bloom.
*** My heart and prayers for comfort go out to the people of Moore, Oklahoma. Peace be with you there. ***
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Since August of 2011 I've been using a Canon EOS 60D with an EF 18-200mm kit lens and an EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens.