Monday, April 30, 2012
Spring is here so it was time to put the sweaters aside and work on a little spring project. This is the Cassia Dress knit to a tunic length. Although the pattern calls for DK weight I used a heavy worsted from Malabrigo (pattern notes here). As I was knitting I thought this is going to be to heavy and warm but the short sleeves and tunic length keep it cool enough to be the perfect spring top.
This is a fairly simple pattern and the result is very cute and comfy. I think I might make the dress version for the summer (perhaps in a cotton?). This pattern was also a chance for me to learn a new knitting skill, the EZ sewn cast off. A really easy cast off method that gives a stretchy edge but one that I'd never even heard off. I love learning new things.
I think this will be my last knitting project for a while. Reason one: I don't have enough yarn to really make much. Reason two: I have a ton of fabric so I'm going to devote my free time to sewing. Yes, that's the plan, but we will see if I can steer clear of the yarn store long enough to get a few sewing projects done.
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Things are warming up around here. It's warm enough for walking around barefoot, leaving our windows open and playing in water. This sunny weather means flowers are blooming, seeds are sprouting and sun hats are a must. I'm feeling the itch to make some warm weather outfits for my girl (and maybe for me too). The seasons have officially changed and I'm so ready.
Monday, April 16, 2012
I recently decided I need some practice with my color work in knitting. I'm not good at it and I tend to avoid patterns that require it. I'm a fan of Alana's work over there on Never Not Knitting so I decided to try her Playful Strips Cardigan for April.
I found picking 5 colors that went well together a little bit of a challenge but in the end the tan, maroon, baby blue and chocolate brown all looked nice together. I used Lana Gatto's Wool Gatto (not my favorite but it was on special at the wool shop so I thought I'd try it). The sportweight also makes it a great lightweight spring sweater. I was so lucky to find these matching vintage buttons in my mom's sewing bin. I love vintage buttons.
The color work was not as challenging as I was expecting. It was just slow going with all the color changes and weaving in ends. The picot edging also added to the duration of this project. But the reality is that Alana has written a clear, fun pattern that gives a very polished and pretty result.
I think I will make this sweater again in the fall. I've already been planning what colors to use in my head. April clearly likes this sweater (although I think most of the appeal is in undoing the buttons) and I do too.
Friday, April 13, 2012
Thursday, April 12, 2012
Avatar Grove is an amazing old-growth forest located in Port Renfrew. The collection of giant red cedars and Douglas firs are what bring people to this unmarked public grove. It also boasts Canada's gnarliest tree.
It was a little bit of an interesting drive just getting there. We had to drive over many one lane bridges some with very little keeping your car from plummeting over the edge. Once there it is up to you to do some bush whacking if you want to see anything of interest. First, however, you must lower yourself into the grove using a rope that someone has kindly attached. Then there is a lot of climbing over falling trees (and these are not small trees), ducking under trees, crawling through thick mud and pushing your way through bushes. Yes, it is a true wild forest.
It was beautiful. We only encountered one other group while on our hike out. It was peaceful. We listened to the river flowing by us, the birds in the trees and the wondrous rustle as the wind blew through that magnificent forest. Avatar Grove is an unprotected forest, it is not part of any provincial or regional park. It was once flagged to be logged, the flags are still there, but no cutting permit has been issued so for the moment it is still there. I hope for my daughter and her children, that no one ever cuts there. Old growth forests are precious and essential to our natural world. The Ancient Forest Alliance has been fighting to protect this forest. You can learn more about how you can help and directions for visiting the site on their website.
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
The real reason for visiting Port Renfrew was so that we could visit Botanical Beach at low tide. Botanical Beach has beautiful tide pools that are only really appreciated at low tide. We were fortunate that we happened to be visiting on a weekend when low tide wasn't in the wee hours of the morning.
The hike into the beach is short and peaceful. Jon and I were marveling at the other-world feeling the trees along the trail lent. Jon said it reminded him of a Tolkien book. We also got to see some wildlife along the way. Some squirrels, birds and one beautiful bald eagle. While on the beach we also got to watch a crow go through the process of flying up and dropping urchins trying to get in for some lunch. It was fascinating to watch.
The pools themselves were lovely. The array of seaweed, mussels, barnacles, urchins, anemones, fish, and crabs was amazing. Nature never ceases to amaze. There was a challenge in getting to some of the deeper pools as all the rocks were slick with seaweed but it was worth the slow going and carefully maneuvering. It was so special to have this sneak peek at what is living in our coastal waters.
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
For a Christmas gift my thoughtful parents gave us a trip up the island to Port Renfrew. It was so lovely to get away as a family and truly enjoy each others company and the beautiful island we live on. So we piled in our car this Easter weekend and headed up the coast.
Our first stop was at French Beach. April was in heaven. She loves to collect rocks and she just wandered along the beach collecting as many rocks as she could fit in her little hands. It was windy but not cold so we could stay for a while.
Finally we arrived in Port Renfrew. The highway into Port Renfrew is narrow and winding and we all had had enough of being car-bound. Our lodge was right on the beach. The weather was warm enough that we could walk barefoot in the sand. There is something so funny about walking in the sand and splashing the wake of the waves while staring up at snow covered mountains.
April hasn't had much barefoot time outdoors simply because it's been so cold. I think she found the sensation freeing. She could have spent all afternoon on the beach. She collected shells and rocks. She felt the seaweed in her hands and dug her toes and fingers into the cool sand. Well we all did some of that. I just sat in the sand, buried my toes in it and took deep breaths of the fresh salt air. It was rejuvenating after what felt like a very long winter.
We had several more adventures in Port Renfrew but those deserve their own posts so stay tuned for those.
Saturday, April 7, 2012
It's the time of year for cheerful colors, cuddly animals and celebrating new life. Easter for us is a celebration of the coming growing season, warmer weather and longer days.
I made April an Easter bag. I used the guidelines from the Purlbee Easter Egg Hunt Bags. I love the cheery goldenrod color with the pink ribbon. Now ric rac is not usually my favorite embellishment but on this bag it looks completely adorable. I filled April's bag with a new book, a couple new toys for the tub and those adorable bunny finger puppets. Again they were from the Purlbee. Easy to put together and oh so cute. Once April has retrieved her gifts from the bag we will used it to hunt some (not so hidden) eggs. I'm not sure she will get the idea but it should be fun to explore outside anyways.
Yesterday I spent the afternoon experimenting with natural dye for our eggs. Now I've tried dying eggs with food based dyes before with mixed results. This year I followed the guidelines I found here. I'm amazed at the results. I love the look of naturally dyed eggs. It's easier to imagine that you've actually found these eggs out in nature.
For those who are curious, the blue is from red cabbage, the red is from beets, the yellow is from tumeric and the patterned ones were leaves wrapped in onion skins and boiled. I can't wait until April is old enough to make these eggs with me. I think I will be using these dye recipes from years to come.
Tonight we will be gathering with our extended family for a special Easter dinner. This will be April's second time trying turkey and I hope she enjoys it more this time. For my dinner contribution I am bringing a couple of recipes from the pages of Taproot (if you haven't read it, it is a fabulous publication). Massage Kale salad with Apple and Goat Cheese (highly addictive) made from the last of the winter Kale from our garden and a Strawberry Pavlova for dessert. My, what a feast it will be!
Friday, April 6, 2012
In the spirit of Easter I made April her own cuddly bunny. Easter is something I celebrate more as a holiday for welcoming spring and all the new life that the season brings. The Easter bunny doesn't really visit this house but animals in general do. We welcome chicks, bunnies, birds, squirrels, really all sorts.
I found a tutorial that used an old t-shirt to make a stuffed bunny. So at 50% off day at our local thrift store, I snagged a super soft t-shirt. The pattern is quite simple if you are comfortable working with knits. I don't love sewing knits on a curve (and there are a lot of curves in the pattern) but I got it. I think the bigger challenge was embroidering a face on light weight jersey knit. Yikes. But it came out looking very sweet and it's definitely soft and cuddly. April approves!
More Easter projects are in the works. We are celebrating our family Easter gathering early this year so expect a post tomorrow about all the Easter goodies made here at our house.
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Sunday, April 1, 2012
I have a love of Anna Maria Horner's Good Folks flannel. Remember these pajamas? Well the next step in this love affair was to make a quilt.
This quilt is the perfect lap size. I had contemplated making a full size quilt for my bed but the fact is that I barely have the sewing space to make a lap quilt let alone a queen size blanket. It is made from twelve 14" x 14" squares and I backed the whole thing with luscious natural unbleached flannel. I try to curl up with this blanket every chance I get. It is so irresistibly soft and Anna Maria's fabric is so colorful and cheery.
Doesn't it just look lovely on my couch with the Anna Maria Horner pillows I made? I have some of the flannel left over and I'm so tempted to make some super soft pillows out of them. Any other ideas for my last scraps of Good Folks flannel?