it's what i do

2nd Nature patterns available now!

... Unpatterns, too!

on the needles

• super-secret design commission for anonymous yarn company

Doux by Julie Hoover
with Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend and Shibui Silk Cloud

Simple Straight Skirt
with Cascade 220

Featherweight Cardigan
with Regia Angora Merino 

in my ears
  • A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1)
    A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1)
    by George R.R. Martin
under my nose
  • An Incomplete Revenge (Maisie Dobbs Book 5)
    An Incomplete Revenge (Maisie Dobbs Book 5)
    by Jacqueline Winspear
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Tuesday
Jul152014

minimal is a verb

The rampage of minimalization continues!

Because I work away from home, my wardrobe is naturally divided by geography: off-day, weekend clothes in PT, workaday clothes in BI. And while I had gone through a major wardrobe re-vamp just prior to taking my full-time job (hello, day dresses! hello, button-downs!), that was 15 pounds ago. And increasingly, over the last few months, I've been frustrated getting dressed for work.

And it wasn't until I went through this wardrobe purge and re-set last night that I realized how fatiguing and saddening it is to flip through your hangers in your closet and reject stuff - it's basically an exercise in saying "No. ... No. No. No. Maybe, but doesn't fit. ... Nope. Nope." How many times should you say 'no' before 8 in the morning?

I've been inspired by a few blogs lately: Into Mind and Un-Fancy to name just two. And the "Project 333" exercise in living with 33 items in your wardrobe for 3 months has excited the innner minimalist in me.

So last night, I took EVERYTHING out of the closet (not hand-knits - that will have to wait for another time), and sorted it into piles:
• LOVE!
• LOVE, but it's too small.
• LOVE, but it's more suited to the closet at home for weekend wear.
• LOVE, but it's not right for this season.
• NO.

They warn you when you go through an exercise like this not to get nauseated by the sheer volume of stuff you've managed to collect in a wardrobe, and not to be daunted by the size of the NO pile, but ugh. Do I ever feel like a First-World Diva. I'm looking forward to taking the NO pile over to the Childrens' Hospital thrift store here on the island, where they can do some good. (Ya don't just dump Kate Spade handbags at the Goodwill, especially if a childrens' charity can benefit!)

The weekend clothes are boxed up, ready to take to the car; the 'too small' clothes are in one underbed bag (hope springs eternal, and they are fantastic pieces, built to last, so when I lose this extra weight thanks to "Younger This Year," I'll bring them back out with joy); and the off-season clothes are in two other underbed bags. The space beneath the bed has been vacuumed (yay! side benefit), and it's amazing how this feels. I had no idea how much taking off-season clothes out of a closet could help me feel more relaxed about getting dressed! A total eye-opener.

I kind of want to just stand in front of the closet and stare. (Boyhood and I call this "watching the baby sleep" - you just love to soak in the impact of what you've accomplished with a big project like this.

Three hours later, and I have a functioning wardrobe with room to breathe, and any number of great outfits to plan with pieces that fit, are easy to wear, and don't make me feel like I'm fat or too hot all the time.

Phew! As Boyhood said this morning when I told him what I did after he went to sleep last night: "Honey, you're on a roll!"

Saturday
Jul122014

always more tiny

Our move two years ago into this mildly smaller house (1200 sq.ft. down from 1400) was a great exercise in refining our lives and the things we lived with. When Boyhood and I were moving our possessions, we took advantage of the fact that it was a 5-block move to "high-grade" our stuff. We took the things we truly loved, and had a lull of a few weeks to consider everything we'd left behind in the old house. Did we miss it? Was it really great? If not, it's gotten purged.

Fast-forward a few years (has it really been almost 2 years since we moved into the Red Cottage?), and the steady creep of 'stuff accumulation' has led to fewer hangers in the (already tiny!) closet, a dresser drawer filled with socks, underwear, loungewear I can't identify....

And then once I watched "Tiny" on Netflix, it was settled. A purge was in order.

I've also been following Project 333, and while as a clothing maker I have a profound wariness of getting my wardrobe down to 33 items (all the sweaters! all the scarves! would I have to stop knitting?), I'm longing for a simpler wardrobe - especially as I move from space to space for work and weekends.

So, ladies and gentlemen, I give you: half my wardrobe. (The half that's at home - there's another load just like this in my work-week living space).

I'm about to pull out the things I know I love to wear, the things that are easy and a good expression of myself in the world. The things that fit, that fit with one another, and are fun to wear.

In another pile will go the obvious donation items: things I'll never wear again, things that really don't fit, or things I've just gotten over or worn out enough to let another person have a crack at them.

In another pile will go my off-season items (right now, that's winter) - we have a separate space upstairs where I can store these until they come into rotation.

And a third 'oh god, I can't decide!' pile will get boxed up, put under the eaves upstairs in deep storage, and if I don't miss it in a few months' time, it'll get donated too.

Will I get down to 33 items? Maybe for here, for my weekends/off time at home... Then I'll winnow the work clothes down to a similar number, and start sewing my ideal wardrobe to streamline even more!

Stay tuned. Excited to be documenting the process. (And glad to be back in the blogosphere!)

Sunday
Oct062013

suddenly, fall

and - we're back!

I don't think I'm alone in feeling like Fall is the true beginning of the year. It may seem perverse on the surface to mark new beginnings as the trees lose their leaves and the garden beats a full retreat, but the general drawing-in after a busy summer feels right (especially after the spectacularly sunny summer we enjoyed up here in the NW corner!).

So I'm feeling a bit more bloggish these days - there are some neat new developments around here, like our little guest house next door and its big space for sewing and blocking, my renewed interest in gardening and cooking, and an emerging resolve to learn two new skills: guitar and sewing. These would all be fun to document and share... can you teach a 45-year-old knitting dog new tricks?

Stay tuned.

Sunday
Mar242013

an FO-Filled Weekend

What a weekend! Boyhood and I did some chores, and some more last moving-out of bits from the house... and I finished not one, but TWO sweaters!

I finished my second Bailey, out of Rowan Lima, and wore it all day yesterday, and didn't get too hot at the office!

I also got around to weaving in the dozens of ends (from all those stripes!) on my Maine-Cruise Tempest Cardi!

That got worn to the shop today - and good thing, too, because both of the dear friends I went on the cruise with were there for my knitting circle. They were just as as excited as I was to see this one done!

Of course, all this finishing left me feeling so virtuous that I was hell-bent to start something new (ahem), but the yarn gods decided to reinforce my better leanings and ensured that the ONE color I wanted in the new yarn was out of stock at the shop. So it's back to the rosy glow of virtue for me -- I've resumed my Tilda, and with just the fronts to do, I should be nearly done with that in a week or two!

Thursday
Jan242013

progress!

The year is starting off well!

I have TWO FOs to report:

1. A linen-stitch scarf (loosely based on Jo Sharp's "Umbra Scarf" [of sainted memory]):

Yarn: Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran, in 3 colors
Needles: Um... US 11? (been knitted for so long, I can't remember!)

This one was knitted, and then stalled at the fringing stage... perhaps because I'm not at heart a fringe-y person, and I dislike untidy edges.

I resisted finishing up the fringe, and it got stuffed in a bag for the last 4 years or so.

When I pulled it out the day before yesterday, all I had to do was tidy up some existing knots, cut a few new lengths of fringe to supplement its natural complement, and give the fringe a haircut!

Ta-da: a great cozy scarf, suitable for gifting this year (that is, if Boyhood doesn't snag it first). 

2) A snuggly alpaca cowl!: 

Yarn: Cascade Eco Duo (1 skein)
Needles: US9, I think

This was the silliest little non-pattern: provisional cast-on X sts (enough to make it wide enough for a cozy cowl); work in garter stitch for 28", or until it's long enough to wrap well around the neck and make a good cowl; graft the live sts to the loops from the provisional cast-on with Kitchener stitch to make a loop. Done. The End.

Which doesn't explain why that last bit took me a year to get around to!

•  •  •  •  •

The cowl was my first official FO at a 'UFO party' my friend Renae threw for The Knitting Ladies of Bainbridge last week. Here's the basic recipe:

Take
1 excellent hostess and 1 fantastic home;
Add 10 or so dedicated knitters;
Marinate for a few hours in a delirious mixture of spinach dip, bacon-wrapped water chestnuts, lemon bars, brownies, and champagne;
Roll in yarn and needles and chat and laughter.

Later, bake in a lasagna pan with two kinds of lasagna and finish off with some lovely salad.

But be aware: this recipe does require a little clean-up!
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