Mena is a 23 year old mother of four who recently fled her home with her family in Afghanistan to resettle in Charlottesville. I was introduced to her by my friend Cathy, who had been paired with the family by International Neighbors (IN). Their family has been in this country only a few short months, having arrived here in Charlottesville thanks to the assistance of the International Rescue Committee (IRC). Unfamiliar to our country, our culture, our language, Mena and her husband are also unaccustomed to running their own household, as they lived in a home with their extended family in their native land. While the IRC got them out of their native country alive, IN works to ensure they thrive in their new home. As a volunteer in the Family Friends program, Cathy was paired with the family to help in that adjustment. Continue reading
Having successfully made myself a few A-line winter skirts with a pattern I’d drafted myself, I decided to pull out said pattern to use in in my efforts to refresh my summer wardrobe. I must have put the pattern in a very safe place though, because I couldn’t locate it. I spent two days going through all the piles and bins in my sewing nook to no avail. Realizing I was losing focus, I sucked it up and drafted a new one. Thankfully I found the notes I had made when making the first pattern, so I had those to go by.
Pattern drafted, I quickly got the skirt cut out and sewn together. I was a little too generous with wiggle room in the waist as well as the curve of the hips, as I’ve already had to take the skirt in once and mean to do so again. I need to go back and adjust the pattern as well, which has already been labeled and placed in drawer where I keep all patterns for safe keeping.
The fabric came from a long ago tag sale – it still had the original stickers from the manufacturer. It’s completely synthetic, but lightweight – it feels like parachute silk to the hand. It has this interesting texture to it as well – I tried to capture it in a photo – be sure to click on the close up of the fabric to see it.
Now that I’ve gotten the hang of zippers (it only took close to 30 years of sewing!), I’ve started utilizing them more in things like skirts for a more tailored look. I’ve also realized how much quicker it is to whip up a skirt with a zipper and not elastic or a drawstring. I was in such a rush to finish this skirt that when I couldn’t find my interfacing to do the waistband lining, I texted a neighbor that sews. Thankfully while waiting for her reply, I found just enough to finish the skirt, as the idea of heading out to Joann’s at 4:30 on a weekday was just too much to bear.
The end result still needs a bit of adjusting on the fit, but it’s sort of the perfect Becky skirt – a little wild but incredibly comfortable. It’s already become a go-to for throwing on in the morning with a T for early morning walks with the dog.
Edie asked me a few weeks ago if I would knit a sweater for Betsy the Beagle. I was game and so one recent evening found the three of us humans spending quality time sorting through dog sweater patterns on Ravelry. Of course the one we liked the most is, of course, one of the more complicated patterns. And being that I’m not the fastest of knitters, I knew it could be a while before Betsy got herself a sweater.
One of the items Edie had on her Christmas handmade wish list was her very own personal ‘flair’. That’s our name for the pennant flag garlands I like to make – ‘flair’. I’ve made them for various holiday events – there’s a Halloween one (pirate skull & crossbones and solid black), a Fourth of July one (made out of a dress I made myself in college from fabric I found that reminded me of the old Love American Style logo) and just a fun little party themed one with florals, more of the pirate skull and crossbones and silver lame.
I’ve had a long tradition, since at least college, of aspiring to make as many of the gifts I hand out at Christmas as I possibly can. In years past, this has led to a furious whirlwind of making in the days leading up to the big holiday (like the year I learned to knit and then knit a scarf for everyone on the list in just over a month), but at some point, it dawned on me to start these endeavors earlier in the year. Actually, that may have been the realization that I could give away things I’d canned over the summer and have them be well received. At any rate, I now attempt to have ideas I can carry out well before the calendar turns to December so that I’m not a complete hot mess leading up to Christmas. Because as we all know, when you are a mom, Christmas is serious work, especially when you are a working mother and you stay put at Christmas, meaning it is all on you to pull that magic out of thin air and throwing the compulsion to hand make a slew of gifts into the mix, well, that’s just a recipe for disaster.
Aunt Jenny had requested months ago I knit her a scarf, so after I finished Mollie’s birthday gift, I immediately started on this one for her. Knit of a merino wool in the hourglass eyelet pattern, it has a nice feel and stretch to it. She sent me a photo of herself wearing it Christmas day, so I think she liked it.
For some time, I’ve been kicking around the idea of printing some of my pretty bug and flower pictures on canvases – what’s the point really in taking these images if I don’t do something with them? I took advantage of some online pre-holiday specials and got at least some of my photos printed to share as gifts. I loved the way they turned out, but more importantly, I loved receiving this photo Christmas day of the gift I sent my Uncle Kevin:
My zinnia photo, already hung, right by the front door. I hope all the flower prints I sent out were as well received.
Edie girl, who has come to expect the mama-made gifts, had a whole section on her wish list of handmade items she would like to see. While I managed to outsource some of it to local crafters (like my friend Jen who was totally down with home delivering her lovely bracelets, as well as stumbling upon the sweetest ceramic gnome ornament from Tasha McKelvey), in the days before Christmas, I managed to pull of a flurry of giftmaking that made my girl quite content.
A cozy for her handle-less teamug, knit up out of scrap yarn while watching a movie one evening (the pattern inspired by one linked to by Food in Jars recently). A beaded necklace inspired by a trip to the bead section at Michael’s one day (where I always seem to think I can do that particular craft, get too ambitious, spend too much money only to come home and realize I bought all the wrong things, but maybe, just maybe since I pulled this one off and my friend Joanne, who does this sort of thing for a living (and does it well!) was kind enough to share some more than helpful hints, I might actually attempt this again?) that we debated about for a few weeks before I sat down one night and just did it. And last, but certainly not least, Mr. & Mrs. Gnome, a Wee Wonderfuls pattern that whipped up quick and easy. I used fabrics and trims from the stash, including the old coverlet from her bed for their hair (last seen in a pillow for purple moose, although I’d forgotten how that fabric really doesn’t respond well to being reused, as it’s an extremely temperamental knit) and while I might not be overly wild about the end result (I skipped a few steps I probably shouldn’t have and definitely got a little too loosey goosey with things maybe I shouldn’t have…), she adores the end result, which is sort of the point, now isn’t it?
I realized the other night as I went to bed, I’ve finished all the books and craft projects I’ve had lined up for months, clearing the deck for me in more than a few ways. The so-called ‘happy corner’ got a little cleaning attention post-holiday, so that I can jump in and hopefully spend more time making than I have in the last year or so. I’m not one for resolutions, but I’ve decided I’m going to try to and spend more time with my sewing machine this coming year than I have in the past few.
I don’t know if it was turning 45 or if it’s just been a long simmering dissatisfaction with the winter version of my trusty uniform but I recently decided a change was in order. Continue reading
There has been a much welcomed return of making around here this week as well as some previously scheduled knowledge sharing* which always ends up inspiring more making, a very good thing. Continue reading