December 12, 2014
December 11, 2014
The Littles enjoyed the snow covered hill next to our house quite immensely before the rains came. Watching them race down the hill on their sleds and snowboards and hearing the screams of both fear and excitement brings back the days of my childhood when sledding was a winter sport to me. We always stayed out longer than we should have, ignoring the numbness that enveloped our hands and feet, not realizing how cold we really were until we stepped into the house and felt the rush of heat from the wood stove. Oh, those memories of childhood...
The days of December are flying by, as they always do. December is just one of those months that even if it were twice as long as all the others, there still wouldn't be enough days in it. Even though our fluffy snow has turned to slush and ice due to all the stormy rains we have gotten, I am thankful for the bit of a lull it has provided. Due to icy conditions, I cancelled two appointments this week, and postponed piano lessons, allowing me some luxurious time at home to work on my Christmas knitting and sewing projects. I will be cutting it very close, but I think I will make it. It is a mess outside, but as it has been said, "there is a hidden blessing in everything."
Thanks to Little #1 for taking the photos.
December 9, 2014
In all the Christmases that I have celebrated in my life, both as a child and an adult, my family has always cut our Christmas tree off our own land, many of them beautiful, but others landing in the category of a "Charlie Brown" Christmas tree with their sparse or misshapen branches, crooked trunks, or spindly tops. For some reason, though, those little trees were always my favorite, reminding me in a symbolic way of the lowly Christ child's birth in a stable and his glorious position as King of Kings. In the past few years, our eldest daughters have taken it upon themselves to take the traditional walk through the woods and bring home the honored tree. This year, though, after two trips into the woods, they just couldn't find a tree that met their expectations, and they solicited the help of their dad.
You may be looking at these photos and gasping at the size of the tree Hubby is cutting down. I did when I was told the story. I was horrified that such a big tree would be cut down just for its perfect top, but my horror quickly turned to relief when Hubby explained that this tree has a dual purpose. The top would take its honored position as our Christmas tree, and the bottom would later be used for lumber in the construction of Hubby's work shop.
I do love our Christmas tree and the festive atmoshpere it has added to our home, and I hope that we can contiue the tradition of hunting for a Christmas tree on our land for many years to come.
December 4, 2014
It's so good to be reacquainted with my sewing machine again. I have lots of little projects in mind that I would like to work on this winter, but first things first. With Christmas only being days away (really), work on Little #8's quilt has been my sewing priority. It's a simple quilt, nothing fancy, but that is the kind if quilting I like. I think of how, out of necessity, my grandmother, my great-grandmother, and the many grandmothers before her would have used whatever fabric they had to make quilts that would keep their family warm all winter long. Although I find the more detailed quilts with carefully chosen fabrics beautiful and am in awe of the time and patience it takes to create one, I enjoy using scraps of cloth that I have saved from other projects, creating something useful and warm from what may not otherwise be used. I like to think that I am quilting in an old-fashioned way.
I've always looked at quilting in two ways...one as a form of art and the other as a useful craft. I do love all manner of quilts and hope to someday work on one with a real pattern and design, but I will have to get over my uneasiness in choosing those fabrics. I actually get quite overwhelmed when it comes to choosing coordinating cloth from the endless bolts of quilting fabric, and I am amazed by those who can narrow the choices down and choose just the right colors and patterns to compliment the design of their quilts. I am so taken in by the artistry of quilts such as these, but I am also so drawn to the simple charm of quilts such as this and this. Someday I may get brave and enter the fabric store with confidence and a plan, but for now, I am enjoying using whatever fabrics I already have and seeing what the outcome is.
For this particular quilt I used an old blanket (one that was from Hubby's childhood) in place of the batting and a flannel sheet as a backing. I sandwiched the layers and pinned them together...I think this actually took more time than sewing the squares together. I then laid down strips of masking tape to use as guidelines for the quilting. I am about half way done with the quilting. I am not sure what technique I will use for the binding, but I am anxious to finish and have one more gift complete.
December 2, 2014
Good morning to you all. It's good to be back. I do hope you all enjoyed a blessed Thanksgiving and are experiencing a beautiful start to your new week. With the feel of winter heavily upon us, I have finally gotten back into the groove of knitting and am working on a number of Christmas gifts. I've finished knitting two of these headbands and am working on a third. I still have to block and sew the ends together, but I am so pleased with the way they are turning out. The pattern is very simple to follow and knits up quickly. I was able to use left-overs in my remnant basket, Capra Cashmere, Andean Treasure, and Swish Worsted. These warm little headbands will be tucked into the older girls' Christmas stockings.
I'm still working on the Little Bud's sweater for Little #9. I had intended to have this sweater finished for her to wear last spring, but after slamming my hand in the car door, I was unable to knit for several months. When my finger finally healed, summer was in full swing, and I hardly ever picked up my knitting. A row may have been knit here and there while sitting on the porch, but usually I ended up tearing more out than I knit. Now that I am back in the swing of knitting, I still am having difficulty finishing this sweater, and it haunts me and taunts me, sitting in my knitting bag begging to be completed. I want this sweater done! I have decided that I am going to do what it takes to finish it in time to give it to Little #9 for Christmas. I am working on the final sleeve and (hopefully) will be able to block and sew on buttons very soon. I do hope she likes it.
I've also been working on these boot cuffs. When my older girls told me they wanted colorful socks to wear with their boots, I thought these cuffs would be perfect. I chose Chroma Worsted, and I am having such fun working with this yarn. It's fascinating watching the stripes evolve. The finished pair was made using the Sugar Cookie colorway, and I am now working on Vermont. When I started this project, I realized the needles I needed were already being used on the sleeve of the Little Bud's sweater. Not wanting to wait until I finished the sweater (that beautiful new yarn just had to be worked with immediately), I decided it was time to learn the magic loop method of knitting in the round. After many unsuccessful attempts, I finally found this tutorial (for dummies) and was able to make sense of the process and successfully knit a few rounds. I am so glad that I was forced to learn this method because I now love it. I just want to keep knitting up these cute little boot cuffs...oh, goodness, just another thing to keep me from finishing that nagging sweater!
Even though my days are still very full, it feels good to finally be at home most of the time, doing the crafts and handiwork that I enjoy so much. In fact, due to freezing rain, the entire day on Sunday was spent at home tucked inside our cozy home, and Hubby practically insisted that I do nothing but sit in my chair and knit. I made no argument.
November 21, 2014
I have been inspired by SouleMama to take a moment ...
November 17, 2014
My sewing machine and I finally reacquainted ourselves after many months of being apart. I found myself with a bit of free time yesterday, so I set to work on a quilt, a simple design with five inch squares made from scraps of cloth I had been saving from other projects. I sewed three quilts for my eldest children last Christmas, and I am hoping to get a few more done this year. My hope is to eventually give each of the Littles there own mama-made quilt. Little #7 specifically asked for his "own blanket," and I hope that he will be happy to find this quilt under the tree on Christmas morning. It felt so good to sew again, and I'm looking forward to carving out a bit more time this week to continue working on the first of many sewing projects of the season.
I want to take a minute to thank sustainablemum for the tip she left in the comments on Pressing Cider. It makes complete sense, and we are definitely going to give it a try next time.
"We were given a good tip from a local Apple expert. She suggested freezing the apples before pressing them, you get even more juice out of them. We tried it and it works. We pressed them from frozen although it is probably easier to slightly defrost them first." ~sustainablemum