Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Icelandic Sweater

Did you know March is Icelandic Wool Month?! Ever since we visited Iceland, Jeff has coveted  handmade Icelandic sweaters. The problem is that they are ridiculously expensive.

When you are in Iceland spending an excessive amount on food and lodging, coughing up hundreds of dollars for a sweater is less than appealing. Since Jeff and I are cheap, he assumed for years that I was just going to make him one. Ha! Why does he think I know how to make a sweater? In both my distant and recent memories, I know I have uttered this statement at least three times: "Jeff, I am never going to knit you a sweater. Ever. So please remove that from your life expectations."

...I knit him a sweater...

The problem with making somebody something for Christmas is that you have to do it all in secret. Anyone with a child will tell you that secrets are not easy to keep with little mouths that talk. 

For 3 months, everyone in the house was talking about the blanket Mommy was knitting for Baby KJ (a rumor I personally started). By the way, it took me a god's age to make this because I really only had time to work on it a few hours a week. Stop judging me!

I had to restart the bugger 3 times. Please feel sorry for me. When you cast on hundreds of stitches using tiny little needles this is no small task. One time I was a good 8 inches deep into the project when I realized I had twisted the knitting at some point. *@#^$%@#!

Starting off is easy once you get over the initial cast-on drama. You really just knit in the round for the body and the sleeves. I put stitch markers at every 50 stitches, and a different colored one at the halfway mark, to easily keep track of counting.

Once you get to the sleeves it's business as usual. Keep knitting in the round until you get to the desired length. I made the sleeves and body a little longer for Jeff, since he is taller than the average global citizen.

When it came time to join the sleeves to the body...now this is where it started getting tricky. I have an image that I took on my phone. I will spare you from that image since it is poor quality.

At this point we were really getting down to the wire. Christmas was around the corner, and I only had a few days left to finish the project. I made excuses to hide from Jeff for hours at a time: my mom needs help wrapping presents, my brother needs a babysitter, I have to help out at church. Lord, forgive me for all the lies. On Christmas Eve it was finally done (after I spent 4 hours that morning knitting in a Starbucks).

I blocked the sweater in the upstairs shower underneath towels and the thickest Harry Potter books on our shelf. I crept upstairs early Christmas morning and quickly wrapped it after weaving in a few loose threads.

In conclusion, knitting a sweater (especially in secret) is not for the faint of heart. Be prepared for late nights and voluntary seclusion. If you decide to tackle such a project, hopefully it will be worth it. In my mind, this sweater will be passed on to our son and grandchildren. May they appreciate it as much as I am imagining. Who am I kidding, it will be at Goodwill in 15 years.

A few things to note if you are considering such a project:

  • The pattern I used is from the Handknitting Association of Iceland. The kit I used included the pattern, the yarn, and all the knitting needles I would need. The website also offers free pattern downloads, but I thought the price of the kit was worth it, considering the yarn was authentically Icelandic and of high quality. I think it was around $90 at the time plus shipping.
  • If you decide to use yarn from Icelandic sheep, be aware that is is very course and slightly scratchy. This does not mean the quality is inferior. On the contrary, the yarn is more lightweight, durable, and waterproof than other softer wool options you will find on the market. If it protects Icelandic sheep from harsh climates, it will do the same for you. Jeff wears a shirt under his sweater to protect his delicate, American skin. 
  • Lettlopi (pure Icelandic wool yarn) can be purchased from the Handknitting Association of Iceland, but I also found some at this shop in Western Washington. You can order online from Tolt Yarn and Wool with extrasuperduper fast shipping. I know this because I just bought some Lettlopi to make a sweater for myself! This is a much more economical way to complete the project since you do not have to pay international shipping, and you can get the needles from Joann with coupons one week at a time...I told you I am cheap. I got this pattern for my sweater, but you can use a free one from the Handknitting Association of Iceland.
  • When knitting the fair isle pattern, do not knit too tight or too loose. Keep one ball of yarn to your left and one ball to your right, making sure to stay consistent on which one gets looped under/over to avoid twisting. If my memory serves me right, I believe the "under" yarn will pop more in the pattern, so plan accordingly.
  • Have fun and take your time. Expect mistakes, and embrace a missed stitch - hopefully it will be under the arm and no one will notice. Otherwise, I am here for you when you have to backstitch.  
The kids and I went on a pilgrimage to Tolt when we were in the Seattle area last weekend. It was everything dreamy that I was imagining, and no one gave me the stink eye when my toddler was pulling every reachable pink and purple skein off the shelves. Definitely visit them if you happen to be near Seattle, and snatch up one of their cute mugs. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Making a Modern Concept Quilt

I was looking through some old photographs and realized I never fully shared the quilt I made a while back, other than on Instagram.

This quilt took a pretty long time for me to make. Like, months...more months than are in one year. In my defense I got pregnant and lost steam, as you do. It was originally supposed to be a wedding present for one of my best friends. My present to her was not puking at her wedding instead. I think she was thrilled to receive such a gift. Anyway, one thing led to another and it became an anniversary present instead...anniversary plus a few months.

So here's what I did. 

I knew the happy couple loved visiting Mt. Rainier when they lived in Seattle, and that area meant a lot to them. I found a picture they had taken while hiking, then went to town trying to recreate the scene in a modern, textile format.

Some of the fabric I used was left over from the previous quilt I made, and the other pieces were acquired to fill the colors that were needed. I think cutting fabric is my least favorite task of all tasks that could possibly exist in this world, and try doing this task during the first trimester. Sheesh. I'm sweating just thinking about it.

Once I got over my anxiety and finished cutting (after Alice was born), Jeff helped me arrange the strips. I should mention that it really only took me another 30 minutes of cutting. I hate how crippling anxiety can be.

Anyway, then I sewed the rows together.

Next, I joined all the rows and trimmed to a rectangle, adding more strips to the ends when/if needed. 

 Here's a picture of the sweetest baby there ever was, since that's how old these pictures are. 

My friend's favorite color was turquoise (it was even her wedding color), so that explains the background color choice.

(Try to ignore my feet.)

This quilt may have taken the back burner for a little longer than originally planned, but I am so glad I was able to wait for Alice to arrive before finishing it. She was the sweetest little baby helper ever. And I did manage to finish it in less than 2 years, so small victories. 

The good news...I signed up to make another quilt for Everett's school auction.
The bad news...this means I need to start cutting fabric pieces pronto. Help me!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Months of Making

It's been a while since this space has been updated. A lot has happened in the last few months: holidays, ski trips, birthdays, and making memories. I think these days of the kids being young, innocent, and happy will be our best. As challenging and busy as this life can be, it is so rich, so full of good things.

I have dedicated a lot more time to creating things these past few months. Starting with Everett's Halloween costume. Luckily I didn't have to put too much work into it, and I was able to add wings to his dinosaur costume from last year to create a dragon.

There were wings that came with the Simplicity 1765 dinosaur costume pattern, but I just could not get them to look right, and Everett seemed pretty bummed by the way they turned out. So I decided to go rogue and design them myself to create a more cape-like effect - something I thought he would love since all his friends would be dressed like superheroes.

Yes, I wear Christmas pajamas all year. 

I used the costume for dimensions, added a seam allowance, then cut 4 pieces of the hand-drawn wings. After sewing the right sides together leaving the large (body) sides open, I trimmed the seams, turned right-side out, pressed, then top stitched around the outside of the wings to give it a finished look. To attach the wings to the body, I pressed down the large/body/open sides a bit to close off that last area of the wings, attached them to the body near the original costume seams, then did my best to stitch along the original lines. A couple hand stitches along the shoulders, arms, and wrists finished the look.

Alice's unicorn costume from last year still fit like a glove. She was just the sweetest. I died every time she walked up to a door and said, "Tricky Treat."

It was a fun and crazy Halloween! Someone please remind me to take the afternoon off work next time though, because feeding two littles and getting them dressed before the chaos began was a little much.

Other highlights from our autumn included harvesting all our squash, making pumpkin pie with said squash, preserving seeds for next year, visiting the arboretum, planting hundreds of bulbs for spring blooms, Everett's first Harry Potter symphony concert, walks in the leaves, beginning the wallpaper removal process, and Everett starting a new school.

Even in times of struggle, may you always find ways to create in your life, may you always find joy in the ones you love, and may you remember these times with fondness.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Book Club {Self-Help}

Mama's been reading a lot of self-help and nonfiction books recently. Before you start rolling your eyes and wondering if I am a loon (the answer is YES), please know I am not having a nervous breakdown or anything. My wits are still about me, and we are all managing life pretty darn well, despite the fact that we cannot seem to stop getting sick.

It's just that there is sooo much going on in the world, and I kind of feel like my emotions and thoughts are being controlled by others. Not in a #fakenews sense, but maybe kinda? I don't really know. What I DO know is that I've read some really good books about life, parenting, and relationships in the last few months, and they have given me some great tools to make me feel like I have control over my actions, thoughts, and emotions. Because you only have one life, so why should you live it in fear and uncertainty?

I am not perfect, and I do not follow every word of these books every moment of my life. Some of them admittedly do not resonate with me in every chapter. For example, I don't hate my kids and I am not cheating on my husband. However, I love reading about the experiences of others, how these individuals engage with the world during these events, and how I can equip myself with tools for dealing with moments of stress and uncertainty.

Love Warrior: This book spoke to my soul. I started reading it, not realizing it was a memoir, and could not believe how much I identified with what was written. It was like reading my diary, even though I don't have one, but a hypothetical diary. I am not sure if men would be able to relate to Glennon Doyle, but I think it would be helpful for them to see a woman's world through an honest lens. I am a huge Glennon fan. There is a reason she is so successful, and that is because she is wise AF. You go Glennon Coco!

Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind the Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living: This book would most likely resonate with working moms or Pinterest moms. I will warn you that there are some Christian themes, and she kind of bashes other denominations at one point. However, once you move past the God stuff it has some really great advice. And if you are a Christian you will love the way she integrates faith into her daily life. God or no God, this book is a keeper.

The Danish Way of Parenting: I've talked about The Year of Living Danishly on this blog before. I do not want to sound redundant, so I will not list it again. However, it was a very eye-opening book for me. Wanting to dig deeper into Danish life philosophies, I thought it would be helpful for us to learn how Danish principles are manifested in parenting. The Danish Way of Parenting dramatically changed the way we interact with our children. I do not want to hype it up tooooo much, but to me this book is a major key to successful parenting. Give me all the hygge. 

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk: Jeff and I are only a few chapters in on this one, but we have already learned so much. What I like about this book is how the parents can do exercises together. The author describes scenarios, and the parents then discuss the different ways the problem can be addressed. Jeff is a counselor, and he is constantly saying, "This is good stuff."

No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame: This is the first parenting book we purchased, and I discovered it at a good time in our lives. Everett was a busy toddler who threw tantrums left and right, and I needed Janet Lansbury's words of wisdom to assure me that I wasn't raising a complete psychopath. Because let's face it, toddlers rock your world in a way you never thought possible, and they question every form of reason you thought came programmed in the human brain. Janet taught me to embrace Everett's independence, and to frame it as a successful tool that he will need during his life. Not all of her stuff has worked for us, so if there are any other Janet Lansbury fans out there I would love to hear how you implement her ideas!

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: Don't let the four-letter word in the title scare your delicate self away. I think everyone would benefit from reading this book. I do not have much in common with Mark Manson, but he is very wise. This book is about taking responsibility for your life, prioritizing what matters most, and accepting consequences for your choices. Read it! There is a reason it is a bestseller.


So there's my list! I've read others that didn't make the cut (you guys, Brene Brown is better at TED Talks than books, and Bringing Up Bebe is cruel and heartless after reading The Danish Way of Parenting). Let me know if there are any more I should read! I am also always looking for good fiction.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Snapshots 08.29.17

Years ago my dear friend Stacey gifted me a packet of lavender seeds for Christmas. I planted them at our old house and loved having them. The bees flocked to them in summer, and the dog often smelled of lavender after walking through them to visit with the neighbors on the other side of the fence. 

I was able to extract lavender seeds from those plants and started a few seedlings at the new house. Only one has survived so far because I forgot to have a friend water them when we were out of town for 2 weeks, and that plant is now being smothered by pumpkin vines. Fingers crossed!

Just in case we lose our beloved lavender forever, we stole a few stalks from the old house before we left. Now they adorn the windowsill above our kitchen sink - along with some rocks we found at the ocean, and a flower Everett picked for me.

I have always wanted to plant coneflowers, and Jeff's mom and I found these on clearance. Now is a great time to plant echinacea. It's another one bees love. Everett was fascinated watching this bee do his job on these flowers.

Progress on our front yard. The MIL planted some Annabelles for us. Having her around is like having a good little house elf. I can't wait to see these bloom over the next few years.

We have spent almost every evening outside enjoying these beautiful summer days. I am looking forward to fall, but sure will miss all the colors of summer. 

Scavenger hunt and magnifying glass in the park.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Summer Staycation

Last week I was supposed to play the role of "Solo Cool Mom" on a backpacking trip through the wilderness. I had been planning this trip for almost a year, I have been training for it since December, I bought a new backpack and had everything packed and ready to go. But sometimes life happens and you randomly get mastitis.

Life occasionally hands you lemons. I believe the only solution is to make the most of what you have. Jeff's mom was in town to help out with the kids (you know, because I was going to be gone), and it was wonderful getting to visit with her.

She made us pesto, planted some new plants for us, made us meals, played with us, and kept us sane. 

In retrospect, it was a good thing for me to stay home. I got to rest, relax, and rejuvenate - all of which I clearly needed having developed mastitis. I was so sick that before my MIL came my mom had to help us out every day (there was one day I just slept in her bed all day while she occasionally brought me food in bed, medicine, and Gatorade).

Here is my mom advice for the week: make sure you have people in your life who are willing to help in times of trial. Surround yourself with people who raise you up and inspire you to do good things. It's easy to get stuck in a rut, but when we moms have a village, we can accomplish anything.

Shout out to all the moms out there, especially my moms.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Snapshots 08.15.17

We recently stayed at an old friend's home in Seattle. She was out of town, but all the little pockets of detail in every corner made it feel like she was there with us. They live in a small apartment, but I could not get over how personal and loving the space was. It reminded me how much I love the  places in our home that make this space unique and wonderful, and bring us little bits of joy every day. I thought I would start sharing little snapshots to showcase these special things and places in our lives.

Anyone who has tried to purchase a Japanese maple knows how much it can set a buyer back. Many years ago, maybe 6 or 7 years, I bought a tiny Japanese maple from a local nursery for $28.00. It was about 10 inches tall, and I was told it is a rare breed of maple that would cost me hundreds of dollars at full size. It lived proudly in the front yard of our old house. Multiple gardeners and landscapers commented on it over the years, as it is not a common breed seen in the average yard. It grew and grew into a full, beautiful tree, and I told the realtor we were taking it with us to the new house.

A 90 degree day in June is not an ideal time to transplant a tree, but we didn't have a choice, and naturally it went into shock.

We didn't have time to do a stellar job with this transplant, and we later learned we should have cut back a bunch of growth on the tree before we attempted to move it. Because we didn't do this, the tree decided to sacrifice a portion of itself, hence all the dead leaves.

But beneath all those dead leaves you can find vibrant and healthy new growth.

Every day there is new growth, and promise that this thing just might make it through the move. I will be so sad if it dies. It is irreplaceable and priceless, holding much physical and emotional value. There is no way we could afford a new one, and the nursery that sold the seedlings is now closed.

The same new leaves 2 days later.

The garden was not what it usually is this year. However, I did manage to transplant some squash in the new garden beds Jeff made for me, and they are thriving. Is there anything more endearing than a pumpkin?

And of course we are just living our lives, loving spending these precious days together. Some days are easier than others (Mondays and Tuesdays are usually nightmares), but I try to snuggle and love on my crabby baby/toddler during those bitching witching hours.

She plays with his toys, he comes and bugs her.

Trucks are everything.

She woke up with crazy hair and I just had to document it.

She is happiest when she is playing outside.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...