The Grass is Greener

Tons of photos from our trip to Seattle to share later this week. We had a great time, which was followed by an extremely satisfying - if busy - weekend at home. While you're waiting for me to get my pictures sorted and thoughts organized, I thought I'd share my most recently completed knitting projects.

First up, Grass is Greener, my version of Robin Melanson's Lace-Up Pullover from the Classic Elite pamphlet Sunday Brunch. (Lots more yummy patterns in this book - I'd love to knit them all!) It isn't often that I knit a pattern in the color shown, but I really loved this green. It's a color I'm trying to work more of into my wardrobe. The sweater has lots of small details which make it really special - the lace-up-front (of course), two lovely stitch patterns, the slightly puffed sleeves, subtle vintage-inspired style...

The knitting has actually been finished for a while now. The most difficult part of the project was finding the right ribbon, which is green and white gingham. Sadly, I didn't find the ribbon before the warm weather hit and I'm not likely to wear 100% wool for another few months. I'm not complaining - I'll take the warmer weather! The outfit kind of puts me in mind of "back-to-school" time, so maybe I'll just save it for the first crisp autumn day.

Next up is a quick little beret, the "Just Right" spring beret, knit from Natalie Larson's free Spring Beret pattern. What makes this beret "just right"? 1) The pattern was free and came with two variations - more slouchy and less slouchy. (Mine is the less slouchy version.) 2) I used Lion Brand's Cotton Ease, which not only was very inexpensive, but it also had enough yardage that I only needed one skein. Actually, I had enough yarn to also knit a matching scarflette using same lace pattern as the beret. 3) It was a super-quick knit, almost instant gratification. 4) It goes with everything!

Here's a better look at the lace. I've already worn the hat lots in the last month. I took it on our camping trip, it's been all over Portland, and it was perfect the last morning we were in Seattle.

Ok, that's all from me for now. I've gotta work on getting those Seattle photos for you...


Gettin' Away

The bags are packed. We're taking the train! We will eat, and eat, and eat some more. We will watch the Cubs play/beat the Mariners. We will see my lovely sister-in-law and meet her new kitties. We will walk the city (see all of that eating we plan to do?!). We will visit a yarn store, or maybe two. (Please, Ryan? All these trips to Seattle and we haven't visited even one!)

This is what I'm bringing to keep me busy on the train & at the game:
  • Two [very different] magazines, the June issues of British Country Living and Bust.
  • A pack of notecards to write some shamefully overdue letters to my pen-pals. (Sorry, girls - I'll try to suck less in the future!)
  • My current knitting project, Camellia.
Hopefully I'll have pictures of some other recently finished knitting projects to share when I get back. Also upcoming: pictures from the garden, peeks into a pile of craft books providing me with lots of inspiration, new sewing projects, a collaboration with my sister, and (of course!) photos from the trip.

Hope the first official week of summer is bringing you all lots of new fun and adventures. See you soon!


Shirt-Waist Dresses

Have I mentioned before I'm dreaming of making myself a shirt-waist dress? There is just SO much inspiration out there right now! Anthropologie has a collection this summer, including the one above. How about the detail on the sleeves? Wow!

This pattern by Butterick has lots of potential. I like the sleeve options and the Peter Pan collar. Wonder if it includes instructions for the self-covered belt shown in the picture?

The very talented Kalthleen Frances at Grosgrain just led one of her Frock-by-Friday sew-alongs using this free pattern from Bernina. (Be sure to check out Kathleen Frances's version at her blog!)

The Folkwear Patterns Sporty Forties Dress & Sweater is out of print, but I saw a copy the other day and may just have to go back for it... I love this line of patterns. Well, I've never sewn from one, but still. The illustrations are just gorgeous, but all of the photos of each project look to have been taken in the 80's or early 90's. Great drawings v. Bad Styling. Is it worth the risk?

This shirtdress is from the April 2010 Burda Style Magazine, also available on their website, here. I have been picking up this fantastic magazine for a few months now, but have yet to sew from it. Their patterns come without seam allowances, and I'll admit that I'm a little intimidated. Oh, and of course, I would make use of a few more buttons than the model in the picture...

And finally, one of my favorites, Ceylon, from Colette Patterns. Absolutely lovely.

So, I know I want to make a shirtwaist dress, but can't decide between sporty or romantic. Any thoughts? Have you seen inspiration along these lines that I should be aware of? Or maybe I should quit looking for inspiration and just buckle down & start sewing already?


Dainty Inspiration

Have you heard about the new lingerie patterns by Colette Patterns? Sarai has just released two: Nutmeg and Cinnamon, and they are absolutely lovely. To celebrate, they are running a little contest - Darling Dainties. All one has to do is submit an inspiration board by noon (PST) today. The winner gets a $75 gift certificate to the pattern shop! In light of my recent happy experience with Colette's Sencha, I couldn't resist the opportunity to try to get several more of their patterns for free. So, here's my inspiration board, In The Boudoir. I thought it would be fun to think not only about the actual dainties, but also about what I would wear them under/with and where I would wear them - a pretty boudoir filled with feminine vintage furniture and accessories.

Wish me luck!


Just Finished

Today I have a couple of newly completed projects to share. The first is a pair of mats for next to our beds. I recently relocated the rugs from our bedroom into the kitchen, leaving us in need of replacements. After looking at a couple of Japanese craft books (this one and this one), I was inspired to sew some of my own. It was the kind of quick and dirty sewing project that can be SO gratifying - no pattern required and made entirely of materials on-hand.

The fabric is by Rowan and was purchased on clearance last year at Bolt. The padding is provided by a well worn pair of flannel pillowcases. The backing is plain pale blue and left over from making our duvet cover. I started by cutting the side and bottom seams off the pillowcases and then opening the hem at the top edge. After pressing the newly opened pillowcases and trimming them to the same size, I cut pieces off the top and backing fabrics to match. Then, I sandwiched the whole lot together, sewed around the edges, turned it right side out, and closed the opening. I resisted the urge to embellish the mats because they will surely make frequent trips to the washing machine and it seems that keeping them super simple will mean they wear better.

So, with just an hour or so of work, I have a lovely pair of mats to make stepping in and out of bed a little more comfy. I'm calling them my "Field of Flowers" mats, for obvious reasons. It's kinda fun to imagine tiptoeing through a filed of daisies on the way to dreamland...

Next up is my "Cafe Date" bag, from the Fat Bottom Bag pattern in Stitch N' Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker. I've had the book for several years now and this project has always been one of my favorites. The yarn is Lion Cotton and I only needed one ball. The handles only cost a few dollars, and the fabric I used to line the bag and make the bow was purchased at a recent yard sale. All together, a very inexpensive project.

The crochet was easy enough to do and it has been finished for almost a month. What has been holding me up was the lining. I knew almost immediately that the bag would be better lined and that the aqua gingham would be just the thing... It was just a matter of making the time, which I finally did yesterday. I cut a rectangle of gingham, hemmed it narrowly around the edges, secured some pleats around the top, and then slip-stitched it into place -Taa Daa! The perfect little bag to go with my summer dresses. The most challenging part of the project may just be whittling down the normal contents of my purse to fit into this one!



As we head into another weekend, I have to share a bit more from last weekend... To start off, we joined Lex and Megan for pizza at Lovely's 50-50. The favorite was topped with asparagus, garlic spears, and tartufo. Yum!! We also tried a creamy cauliflower soup and roasted asparagus served with prosciutto and a sunny-side-up egg - both quite tasty.

Photo by Pat Castaldo, from The Black Apple

After dinner, we went to Land for Emily Martin's new show "Lost on the Midway." It was lovely, as was Emily herself. If you're in Portland, I highly encourage you to stop by Land before the end of the month to see the works in person. The pieces have so many small details and subtleties that really don't make themselves apparent on the computer, but give them so much personality. If you can't make it in person, check out her blog for a closer look at the pieces in the show. Oh, and I'll soon be able to give you a closer look at that little sweetie in the oval frame to the left of the shelf holding the dolls - Ryan bought her for me!

Until I can bring my little dancing girl home, I have a couple of souvenirs.

This little guy rolled right up and jumped off my palm after the picture was snapped!

To cap off a wonderful evening out, we did celebrate National Doughnut Day at Staccato Gelato. Ryan brought home a Chocolate Frosted French Cruller, A Maple and a Powdered Sugar. I choose a Salted Caramel, a Ginger, and, of course, a Fairy Princess. Mmmmm... doughnuts...



We made a little trip to our favorite farm last weekend. Ryan rode his bike out, while I followed with the car.

After the long ride, Ryan was hungry and indulged in a Zenner's sausage and a beer by Captured By Porches. Then, we grabbed a pair of shears and headed out to cut peonies. Ryan took over photographer duties so that I could choose my flowers.

The Debutante.


A lonely stand of poppies.

The Farm Store, beyond the flowers.

If we'd been married in June, instead of September, I would've had a bouquet of peonies...

A day or two after bringing these lovelies home, most had opened their petals. Don't they look a bit like a row of can-can dancers? And, they smell divine. Ah, peonies...


Morse Code

Recently, I finished this lovely blouse, which I've called "Morse Code," for the dot and dash pattern on the fabric. I used the Sencha pattern by local design company Colette. It was my first time sewing with a Colette pattern and I couldn't have been more pleased. It's been on my sewing list for a while, and now I'm all fired up to try more of their patterns.

My version is from view three, which has a lovely keyhole neckline. It was a pain to sew around the opening, but I went slowly and it turned out great. I used bias tape for the tie, as I thought a tie made of the blouse fabric would just get lost.

Here's the back. Don't all of those buttons just kill you? I searched around a bit for just the right buttons, and found them at the Button Emporium. You wouldn't think that they'd have been difficult to find, but they had to be just the right size and shape and shade of orange... I have a long torso, so I added a couple of inches at the waist, as well as an extra button.

Here's a close-up of the waist-darts, which give the blouse it's fabulous shape, and of the print of the fabric. The fabric is Smooth Sailing in Harbor Blue, part of the Hampton's Collection by Minick & Simpson for Moda, and was purchased last summer at Fabric Depot's outdoor sale. (Which reminds me, I still need to check out what's on offer at this summer's sale...) I've been saving the pattern for just the right project, and knew instantly when I saw Sencha that the two were meant to be. Sigh.



As I've mentioned, we went camping over Memorial Day weekend with a large group of friends and had a great time. We chose the Deschutes River State Recreation Area because the weather promised to be warmer and dryer than we would find in Western Oregon. It turned out to be an excellent choice. While Portland was cold and soggy, we headed for warm sunshine. Our campsite backed up to the river, which talked to us as we arranged our site, prepared our meals, visited with our friends in neighboring sites, toasted marshmallows over the campfire, fell asleep at night and woke again in the mornings.

We were greeted by this sign. Yikes!

After setting up camp on Saturday afternoon we went for a walk along the river path.

We sat on a bench.

We watched the river.

Later, Ryan waded out into the river behind our campsite.

Our first meal was chicken kebabs with saffron rice and grilled green onions picked up at the Farmer's Market before we left Portland that morning. It was delicious!

Sunset, over the camp.

This sizable family patrolled the length of the campground all day. Each morning, they stopped outside our tent, but we never heard them. Very considerate...

On Sunday morning, after a breakfast of tea and sausage and eggs and coffee cake (all prepared over the campfire. Why does food made over a campfire taste so good?) we took our bikes for a ride. The bike path is situated in an old railroad bed and offered gorgeous views of the river below and the hills beyond.

Later that day, we visited the nearby scale model of Stonehenge. I love the windmills on the hills in the distance.

The views from Stonehenge were just amazing.

My attempt to roast popcorn over the fire after dinner wasn't entirely successful.

The s'mores worked out great, though. I make the gluten-free graham crackers from this mix, by a local company. They're really yummy. I like them better than the regular kind. My s'mores are without chocolate; because for some mysterious reason, I've completely lost my taste for it.

Rain finally caught up with us on our last night. We fell asleep listening to the first drops and woke up to the sound of drizzle accompanying the rush of the river. We had planned another bike ride, but instead decided to spend a little longer in our warm sleeping bag.


Slow Morning

I'm feeling a little slow this week, which is why it's already Friday and I've yet to post. There are so many things to show you, so many things to tell, but I'm indulging in some quiet. Since returning from our camping trip (which was great, and I promise to tell you all about it next week!), Portland has offered nothing but cloudy gray skies and rain. I've decided to open my arms wide and embrace the stillness, then snuggle up with it and the kitties while daydreaming about the busy days of summer ahead. For now, I'm ignoring the to-do lists and the gigantic stack of laundry threatening to take over the bedroom. I have kept the dishes under control, though. Really, it's the little things, right?

See, I'm taking it so slowly that I'm still in my robe and pj's. And it's almost noon.

So, next week I'll be back - I swear - to tell you all about our trip and to show off lots of projects. In the meantime, here's some stuff you might find interesting:

  • Rose Festival is here (hence the crappy weather), and it's Fleet Week. Head down to the Waterfront to ride the rides, stare at the sailors in their Middy's, and tour the ships.
  • Farmer Don's strawberries are ready for pickin' out at Kruger's Farm! Grab your buckets, and maybe some rain boots, and pick as many as you can eat/carry.
  • Tonight, Land is hosting the opening of new works by Emily, aka The Black Apple. The show is called "Lost on the Midway." She's been sharing peeks of her projects over at her blog, and the show looks to be really cool. We're definitely going.
  • Today is National Doughnut Day! Be still my heart! After the show, we might just have to take a detour to Staccato Gelato, who make our favorite doughnuts in town.
  • I feel like there was something else, but I can't remember what. Really, how does one follow National Doughnut Day? Could there be anything more delightful? Free Kitten/Puppy Day, maybe? Oh, well. Guess I'll call it good and go get myself one more cup of tea. Happy Weekend, folks!