Most of my sewing posts start along the same lines.

I've had this fabric in my studio for years, waiting for the perfect project...

This post is no exception. I purchased a few yards of beautiful embroidered border fabric 3 years ago and I've been scared to cut it all of this time. It was so pretty... and I only had a few yards... and I might make a mistake causing me to waste it all... and... and... and...

Because of the border, I needed a garment that might end in a relatively straight line - as opposed to something like a circle skirt. You'll see what I mean in just a sec.

Enter Simplicity 1877.



This Leanne Marshall pattern proved to be just right for this fabric (unfortunately, it's now out of print!).

Awful photo aside, I absolutely love the result!



Contrary to my typical report, I had no trouble at all with this project. Can you believe it?! Working with cotton is such a dream.




My only big alteration to the garment was adding a lining. I also used pre-made bias trim in white, rather than making my own. I was happy to discover that I had it on hand. It saved me a lot of prep time!

I made slight changes to the shoulder flounce - but only to maximize the use of this pretty border. I also eliminated the triangle stitching at the waist. It looked so odd to me!




I would describe this dress as the perfect garden party outfit.

(Ask me how many garden parties I've attended.... that would be none. But I'm now prepared and awaiting an invitation.)


So, I feel like I'm just waking up from a dark, haunting, and very cold dream...

I've just endured the longest, most miserable winter of my life. I didn't fully understand that weather could leave you feeling incredibly drained and uninspired. Depressed, really.

I used to think that any temperature below freezing would essentially feel the same.

{snicker}

I can now attest that -25° F (before the wind chill) does not, in fact, feel like 25° F. And... walking through deep snow is more of a workout than jogging on a beach. And... going weeks without sunshine does affect your emotional well-being. Phew!

We've had 40° temps and sunshine for a few days now and I feel reenergized. It's simply amazing.

So, now that I'm feeling more like myself, I have a lot of catching up to do.

Most of my creative energy over the past months has been channeled into knitting - primarily because you can do that one the couch, in your fleece pajamas, wrapped up in a blanket! I have to say, I've become pretty darn comfortable with it.

So, here's a quick overview of a few of my favorite creations. Get ready for photo overload...

Chunky wool poncho

I absolutely love this piece. I would wear it all of the time if I could. Every time I've worn it out, ladies stop to ask me where I bought it. I've actually made two of these. With practice, the second actually turned out better than the first. I doubled the amount of fringe and it looked so polished!




This pattern came from a book. If you'd like to make one similar, here are a few free patterns:


The Simplest Sweater

I chose this pattern for the promise in its name. It was my first attempt at a top-down sweater. I am pleased to report it was incredibly simple! I've been lax with my photography, but a friend snapped this quick pic for me. 


I will definitely work up this again. Love it!

Colorwork Cowl

Three cheers for my first colorwork project! For this cowl, I used a pattern from The Purl Bee. Truth be told, I really prefer the colorways that they recommend. But, I wanted to use the yarn that I had on hand. I made many, many, many mistakes along the way. Fortunately, the folds disguise most of them!






Honeycomb Brioche Sweater

I could not love this sweater more. I typically gravitate towards free patterns, but I actually bought this one. I found this yarn on Little Knits, one of my favorite yarn sites. Retail, this yarn would have cost more than $200. I only paid $40!



I am very proud of the way it turned out. And it's such a cool look!

This is just a sampling from the past few months. As you can see, I've been very busy (and cooped up indoors!).

Next update... sewing!
Has it really been more than a year since my first post about this bathroom? Even before we demolished this room, we had 6 months of searching for a contractor under our belts. Believe me, it has been a process!

When I gave my last update in December of 2013, I thought we were 5-6 weeks away from completion.

{heh-heh-heh...}

After giving up on our search for professional assistance, we resorted to DIY. My husband has learned soooo much during this process (I've learned not to ask questions about timing). I'm simply astounded by the transformation!

You've seen it a few times, but it's worth sharing the "before" pics again...


And... after!



This was the only vanity in the massive space. Pretty special, huh? Oh, and remember that door to the outside?


Check it out now!


We now have beautiful his and hers vanities, featuring antique glazed cabinetry and granite... touches of brushed nickel everywhere...

We found these great mirrors at Ikea and couldn't believe how perfect they were for the room.


We built in a water closet where the outside door used to exit. It's nice to have a little privacy in your bathroom...


...especially considering where the toilet used to be. The tiny shower has also been replaced.



Because we were doing the work ourselves, we kept the tilework simple. My only real design wish was to incorporate river rock, which turned out to be just the right touch!


The final special touches include shelving we purchased from a local Amish furniture store and gorgeous photography by my friend, Leah, of Uprooted Magnolia.


If I had to define a theme for this space, it would be "Found Things." I think that accurately describes the finishes, decorative items, and the overall process itself.

It is so nice to have full use of this bathroom again. It's been a long year!

This project actually ties up all of our major home renovation projects. We have a number of smaller projects on the list, but none that involve major construction (at this point, anyway).

We're starting on a basement update this week. I look forward to sharing that work as it begins.

I honestly don't know what we'll do if we ever finish this house.

Start over?




I don't think I've ever worked on a project for 9 months.

{Well, other than my pregnancies... the ultimate test of strength, patience, and creativity. Am I right?}

At the beginning of the year, I enrolled in a knitting class. The project? A 12-block patchwork blanket that would serve as an introduction to a variety of knitting techniques. We followed Michelle Hunter's book, Building Blocks.

Nine months later, I have the coziest, most beautiful blanket that I've ever owned.


What a fantastic experience!

More than just technique, here's what I've learned about knitting.
  1. There is no appropriate price that can be placed on a hand-knitted item. More than the materials (which aren't cheap!) there is a huge investment of time, skill, labor... I will never balk at a price tag again.


  1. A gift of something hand-knitted is an expression of love. Seriously. Thousands of stitches, constant attention to detail... More than a gift card or anything purchased "off the rack," it is something that is created intentionally, with thought and care... L.O.V.E.

  1. Knitting is soul-satisfying. It is therapeutic. It is challenging. It builds community. I'm convinced that if everyone knitted, we'd all be happier people.
Having said that, I will confess that everyone in my house is fighting over who gets to use the blanket. I've very carefully outlined the consequences of abusing it, too. 

We'll see how long that lasts.

{smile}





Since picking up knitting last fall, I quickly realized that it is an activity that I can carry with me everywhere — in the car, on the plane, to the park, to the beach...

With my busy schedule, it's become the only creative outlet that I can take advantage of these days.

When my mother taught me the basics — knit and purl — less than a year ago, I never imagined that I could create a garment. It seemed an impossible task. But... I've done it!

First, the inspiration.


This is the Tiger Lily tank by Lion Brand Yarns, a free pattern.

Because most of the work is basic knitting, I thought it would be a good project to start with. I made several attempts to start the tank before actually committing. It begins with 180 cast-on stitches. I kept running out of yarn in my cast-on attempts so I quit out of sheer frustration.

The ladies in my knitting class talked me into picking it back up. These are just the kind of friends that I need... those that hold me accountable and won't let me give up.

It took me a few weeks to complete, but here it is!







I think it turned out exactly as intended. The straps are supposed to softly roll. The seams line up. The decorative details are spot on. Overall, I'm very pleased! The only change that I would make (in retrospect) would be to add an inch to the length.

The best part about completing this project is the confidence that I've gained for moving forward. I have a much clearer understanding of how garments take shape.

That's a very timely lesson as my knitting class is preparing to take on a top-down sweater. As slow as I am, maybe I'll have it ready to wear by next winter!