July 2009

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So I’ve got to buy some new batteries before I can take any pictures but I’ll let you know what I’ve been up to anyway.

  • WIP: A little knitting with some of my own handspun!
  • My first Etsy listing: two sister skirts for a friend’s daughters, this is going to turn into three, one for the mom as well.
  • A skirt for me out of a really soft rayon jacquard woven scarf, from Nepal I think. I never wore it as a scarf so I decided it needed a new home or a new incarnation. Definitely more wearable as a skirt.
  • A trial pair of knit shorts for me to test a new Mom skort pattern I am working on. Needs a little more tweaking but will work for pajamas.
  • More Sculpey projects than you want to know about or I want to remember.
  • A little amigurumi nutkin combining crochet and knitting made from my own hand-spindled yarn. Appropriate since “ami” in Japanese can actually refer to either skill even though the compound word, amigurumi, has generally come to mean cute animals or objects made with single crochet in the round.

In other news, the girl is finally interested in learning to spell her name. I dropped the garden snips point down into my foot, earning myself a tetanus shot and a round of antibiotics. Next time I’ll wear different shoes.

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    I discovered that my summer wardrobe is missing sleeveless shirts so I decided to make one quickly by refashioning a well-loved long sleeve tee shirt. This shirt may be 10 years old, made by the GAP originally, always long lasting. It was finally getting a bit ragged around the neckline and cuffs though so I cut the sleeves off, cut the neckline lower and used Made By Rae’s ruffle treatment around the neckline. It came out pretty well and comfortable in the sunnier weather we’ve been having. My 3.5 year old daughter kindly took the photo for me. I don’t usually like having my picture taken but she did a great job so I’ll share it with you, tilt and all. :)

    ruffle trimmed tank top refashioned from long sleeve tee shirt

    photo credit: the girl

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    What to do when you get to the beach and it looks like this?

    low tide at Winslow Park beach

    Climb over silky smooth driftwood, splunk through the river muck, carefully examine an empty horseshoe crab shell . . .

    driftwood log

    horseshoe crab shell

    and make sandcastles!


    Add a moat.

    building sandcastles at low tide

    Notice that it looks kind of like a turtle and add feet and a tail.

    sand castle with turtle shaped moat walls

    While you’re digging in the sand, scoop out some river clay and shape a bird with a . . . ummmm . . . pancake to sit on the turtle’s head.

    fresh river clay bird on a rock

    Call it a day and take the kids home to play in the sprinkler. Enjoy your summer!

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    the Yarmouth Clam Festival! This is our first year to attend as residents of the town although we’ve been quite a few times. The parade is a big event and people were putting out chairs on Main Street early in the week. Nice chairs too. It was nice to see that we live in a town with well-behaved chairs that stay where you put them.

    Wednesday evening we took the kids to the carnival before the crowds showed up. We saw lots of the boy’s schoolmates and the kids had a great time enjoying the rides with friends.

    carnival ride with friends

    Friday night we walked down the street with our little red wagon to watch the parade with friends from church. Some highlights included a giant lobster, the LL Bean boot (standard issue footwear up here), and the boy’s fave—a monster wheeled fire truck!

    waiting for the parade

    Rockland Maine Lobster Festival giant lobster float

    giant LL Bean Boot on wheels

    monster wheeled fire engine

    Saturday we walked the food circle and sampled fried clam strips (yummm), onion rings, refreshing Lime Rickeys and a decadent blueberry cobbler while listening to live music from local musicians. Then we did a speed walk through the arts and crafts booths stopping to run through the sprinkler at Hotcopper Garden Art, admire Robert Fishman‘s stunning pottery, and listen to Werner John’s unique flute music. Sorry, no pictures, I figured the kids were being patient enough!

    While there are wonderful things to see and do in Maine at any time of the year, the third weekend in July is a great time to be in Yarmouth . . . just sayin’.

    We had some damage to the ceiling in the dining area due to an ice dam this winter. The old light fixture had to come out anyway and I decided there was no way I was putting it back up after the ceiling was fixed. It was an old two socket track light much like the one over the kitchen sink, very strange.

    I hunted around for the perfect pendant light to hang here as we spend a lot of time at the table, eating and crafting. I think it was also the first major design decision we were making so that weighed on me as well. I decided I wanted to counter all the hard rectangles of the kitchen with a round light.

    In my research about 1950s decorating I discovered that it was very common to mix colonial cabinetry in one area with space-age modern in another! So I decided to go for it and get a crisply modern looking drum pendant from CB2. At 20″ around it seemed huge in the box but it’s a big room so I was pretty confident it was going to look just fine.

    I bought the lamp for an incredible price knowing that it was fitted with a plug so I would have to do a little work to hardwire it. What I didn’t realize was that there was a very important little piece of metal missing from the ceiling box. So after the lamp arrived, I spent about a month hunting around for that piece of metal, not wanting to buy and install a whole new ceiling box in the plaster ceiling. Finally, I had a conversation with my dad who said (of course), “Oh, I’m sure I have one of those.” Thankfully my dad keeps all those sorts of spare hardware pieces that you never know if you’ll ever need again.

    Two days later I was standing on a chair with my hands in the electrical box when my loving spouse says, “I hope you know what you’re doing.” Thanks for the vote of confidence dear. Actually, he was quite helpful, and we were able to get it installed without too much trouble.

    installing new pendant light

    white drum shade pendant lamp

    I’m quite pleased with the results. Now we’ll just have to get a new table and chairs to go with our pretty lamp!


    The girl wanted a fried egg sandwich for lunch and I remembered having seen these several places so I decided to give it a try. One egg, scrambled, fried in a hole cut out of a piece of bread.

    scrambled eggs cooked in a hole in toast

    Big hit, so then I got silly with a chicken cookie cutter:

    egg cooked in chicken shaped cut out in bread

    $1 mesh bath puff

    Take one mesh bath puff, a pair of scissors, 2′ of bias tape or wide ribbon, 2′ of cotton string, about 10 minutes at the sewing machine and voila! a reusable mesh bag for fruits and veggies. The bath puff is held together by a short length of cord, once you cut it you get a really long tube of soft mesh, diameter about 10″. I cut it into 15″ lengths. I sewed leftover bias trim from another project to close off the bottom and then as a casing around the top. I threaded cotton string through the top as a drawstring.

    It’s actually about the same size as the plastic grocery store bags and would hold about 8 apples I guess, maybe 2 crowns of broccoli, etc. I don’t think this mesh is as strong as I would like it to be but we’ll see how it works out in practice. I have another source for some heavier duty mesh but I figured I’d try out my idea with something cheap and readily available first.

    I hate coming home from the grocery store with ten of those clingy plastic bags. They aren’t really good for keeping your veggies in once you get home or for storing anything else for that matter, too flimsy. They are recyclable but still, they have a useful life of about 30 minutes. What a waste. So I thought I’d try out some mesh bags and see how I like them. My big problem will be remembering to take them with me to the grocery store.

    reusable mesh fruit or vegetable bag

    And for anyone who wants to try this themselves, there is enough mesh in one of those bath puffs to make 10 bags! You could probably use foldover elastic on the top edge instead. Might be easier to make and use than the drawstring casing. The fabric trim just looks pretty!

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    handspun BFL wool dyed with red Kool-Aid to a watermelon color

    Isn’t this yummy? It’s handspun BFL (blue-faced Leicester) that I spun on the wheel and then plied and dyed. With Kool-Aid. Yup. I know, I should get some real acid dyes but for now, this is easier. I don’t have to have special dye pots set aside, etc. I just do this in a glass measuring bowl in the microwave and it works. You can dye any animal fiber such as wool or silk with food dyes and a bit of acid such as vinegar or citric acid. The bonus with Kool-Aid is that it already has the citric acid in it. (Here are some good instructions for dyeing with Kool-Aid.)

    I think this yarn is destined to be a little girl bag similar to the one I made for my friend Jan. The girl likes watermelon very much. Would it be too silly if I shaped it like a watermelon? Not with a rind and seeds and all, just a half moon shape. Then I could practice increases.

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    I’ve been in a bit of a funk about sewing lately. Not sure why. I have a list of projects and no motivation to do them. Part of it is undoubtedly due to my new passion for spinning and knitting and the unseasonably cool weather. So I finally kicked myself into doing something last night just to get back into it.

    floral and brown skirt for little girl

    I made this little skirt for the girl out of remnants. I wish I could remember who the designer is of the flower print. There was only a bit of the floral and even less of the almost solid brown I used for the coordinate so I had to get pretty creative with the cutting. It worked out well I think. I added a little dimensional flower cut out of the very last scraps. I stitched the shape on the machine, slit the back open, turned and stuffed it with a bit of cotton batting and then stitched the hole closed, layered the flower center on and stitched through to the waistband. I don’t normally do much ornamentation but this seemed appropriate and was actually really easy to do.

    puffy dimensional flower trim for little girl skirt

    And it doesn’t really show in the pictures but the floral tier is slightly wider than the waist tier so I had to gather the floral panel and pin it to the bottom of the waist tier. Not one of my favorite sewing tasks. But I think it was worth it as the skirt has a nice twirl factor without being too bulky at the waist. The girl even let me take her picture wearing it. I’ll count that as a success. And yes, now I feel like sewing again.

    hand sewn little girl skirt

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    a day at the beach

    We finally got a free Saturday warm and sunny enough to hit the beach. Our first time this summer, I’m going to say first because I sure hope we get to go again! The boy enjoyed the waves as well as playing in the sand, the girl, not so big on the water but we had fun digging in the sand. We also attempted some kite flying—too windy, a little hiking, and some Italian ice. I can’t think of a better way to spend a summer day in Maine.

    sandcastle with driftwood and shell umbrella


    knitted wallet size pouch

    I knit this wallet size pouch out of sock yarn remnants for my friend Jan. I practiced Judy Becker’s Magic Cast-On for knitting socks from the toe up (which will be my next knitting project). So the pouch is completely seamless and knit in the round. The less finish work at the end, the better in my book! I used a random combination of knit and purl rows to add a little textural interest. The strap was crocheted to length. Not really a pattern, just made it up as I went along.

    This was a quick and easy project and would be great for using up bits of yarn from other projects. You could easily add a closure or change the size or proportions of the bag to suit yourself. It would also be a good project for making little gift bags or for making useful practice swatches for patterns for bigger projects.

    wallet sized handknitted pouch on 5x8" notebook

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    I’m a look-in-the-fridge-and-throw-it-all-together kind of cook. Partly because I don’t plan well and partly because I don’t care to use recipes much. I do have favorite dishes that I make, some of them learned from other people or books, but for the most part, I can often be found sautéing chopped onion in a skillet without the slightest clue what I’m going to do next! Cue our friend Chad to walk in the door, say it smells delicious and ask what we are having for dinner. :)

    So, the 5 essential ingredients in my kitchen, in no particular order:
    Oh look that’s only four! Alright, eggs. I’d be lost if I had none of these.

    So what’s on your top 5? I’ll give you salt and one flour/grain as freebies.

    superwash merino/tencel blend handspun fingering, color gunsmoke

    Two cakes of superwash merino/tencel spun and plied to fingering weight on my spinning wheel from the same hand dyed “gunsmoke” roving purchased from Spunky Eclectic.

    I do like the way the color came out. And I wish I’d spun some hand dyed to start with, the color variation made it soooo easy to see what was going on as I was spinning. And by some amazing accident the two cakes are only one yard difference and almost identical in weight which means I spun pretty evenly and they would be perfect for two matching articles. I wish I knew how to do that on purpose!

    But . . . the color! I knew the color was all over the place as I was spinning but I thought it would even out once I plied the singles together. Somewhat. But after I balled the yarn it was obvious that one was thoroughly darker than the other and what you may not be able to see in the picture is that the darker one also hints distinctly toward brown while the lighter one has barely any brown in it. All the way to the core. I’m assuming that if I had asked the right people there would have been suggestions of tricks on how to deal with this before spinning but I didn’t. Too impatient. Sigh. The color differences would be fine for me but I’m a little concerned about how the intended recipient will take it . . . will they look like accidents or intentional siblings?


    We spent July 4th with part of my husband’s family. One of his cousins lives in a 200+ year old house that they saved from demolition and have restored in a gentle fashion. By that I mean they repaired a giant hole that ran through the roof and down through the floors to the basement, swept the leaves and animals out of the corners, etc. and generally took the entire house apart and put it back together, but left the marks of the years on floorboards, window frames, doorways, etc. in a lovely way. They opened up the house and grounds to extended family and friends for a feast, water fun for the kids and dogs, watching the town parade together and enjoying the gardens and the waterfall view.

    The boy’s favorite part of the parade—Revolutionary War re-enactors gun salute.

    Revolutionary re-enactors in a parade

    The girl enjoyed the music thoroughly.


    Cousin Heather, emcee of the fun!

    family gathering

    lilies in the garden

    old mill stonework and waterfall

    bright pink lily

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    Our busy weekend started with a trip with Nana and Granddad to the SEE Science Center in Manchester, NH. Housed in one of the historic mill buildings by the river, the hands-on science center includes two floors of hands-on displays and experiments in light, sound, movement, water pressure, AND the world’s largest permanent installation of LEGO bricks built at minifigure scale (55:1). The installation is a replica of a portion of the Amoskeag Mill complex including some of the important buildings of Manchester circa 1900. It includes numerous buildings, some 8000 minifigures, more than 3 million bricks, flowing water and running trains.

    largest mini-fig scale permanent LEGO installation in the world of the Amoskeag Mill complex Manchester NH train at the LEGO millyard project at SEE Science Center

    I expected the LEGO buildings to be the favorite of the boy who is quite a LEGO fan. He enjoyed most of the exhibits including a pulley lift chair and was particularly interested in a set of guitar strings installed in front of a giant striped wheel which allowed you to see the sound wave patterns, which unfortunately I could not capture with the camera. Use your imagination. (Seen the original Fantasia recently? No? Check it out!)

    img_4649 img_4667

    Me, I’ve always liked old buildings and these are quite beautiful, inside and out. The view of the old stairs are for Annie, the Mistress of Stairs. (Don’t know that about her? Ask!)

    mill building on the Merrimack River, Manchester NH old stairs in mill building, Amoskeag Millyard, NH

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