Friday, December 1, 2023

wooly things

Kathy and I made our 7th visit to the Kentucky Wool Festival, which also happened to be its 40th anniversary! We sipped hot cider, snacked on warm donuts, listened to bluegrass music, and of course stocked up on yarn!
I finished knitting a sweater just in time to wear it to the event. It was perfect sweater weather this year! I made a Carved Pullover with Berroco Vintage DK yarn in the appropriately named colorway "Pumpkin." I made a bunch of modifications to the pattern. I just kinda winged the raglan using another similar pattern, and I used another knitter's chart to create a symmetrical mouth. I love how it turned out, and I did get several chances to wear it in October!
I have 3 more Wool Fest-related projects to share also! I loved this Kaiya Mei hat pattern from the moment I saw it. It looks like confetti! It took me a while to track down the perfect yarn with very short, random color changes. I finally found the perfect one from Deep Dyed Yarns at Wool fest in 2021 and made the hat in fall of 2022. I added a fleece band, since wool on the forehead can be a little itchy.

Unfortunately, this hat just desperately wished for freedom. It escaped and was recovered many, many times last year until one time, it just never showed back up in the lost-and-found bin at school. I only hope that it has found a new, loving home somewhere.
And so, Mae needed a new hat. An excuse to buy more yarn at Wool Fest this year! I love the stripes in this colorway called "Home Sweet Home" from Hinkston Handmade (formerly Rock and String). The hat pattern is the Top-Down Ear Flap Hat from Purl Soho. Instead of i-cord strings/tassels, I googled how to make a 6-stranded braid. It took me like, 50 tries, but I finally got it right! I added a fleece band to this one also, and it fits Mae well!
Lastly, this yarn is another Hinkston Handmade colorway called "Constellation." I think the random white speckles are just SO COOL. Kathy gifted me this a couple years ago. I finished the socks almost 2 years ago, but finally got around to photographing them! The pattern is Vanilla Socks, and I love how the heel fits.
Okay we're about half-way caught up on knit projects from the last 2 years. I still have a sweater and a handful of gifts to write about! Details for the Carved Pullover, confetti hat, striped ear-flap hat, and constellation socks on my Ravelry page.

Thursday, November 30, 2023

an apple a day

We had a free weekend at the end of September, so I gave Mae a few activity choices. She selected apple-picking! We went to a slightly closer orchard this year that also happens to be right near a state park. We decided to pick apples and then take a picnic lunch to the park! The weather was beautiful (if only a little too warm to truly feel like fall.)
Usually we're so late in the apple season that it takes us a while to find ones that are good enough to pick. This year, we were a lot earlier and the trees were LOADED with apples. That made it especially fun for Colin since he could actually reach a lot of them. He eats AT LEAST one apple a day, usually as soon as he gets home from day care.
By the time we got to the park, it was even warm enough for Mae and Colin to take off their shoes and play in the water. It was so relaxing just hanging out on the beach, kids playing in the sand, beautiful blue skies, the earliest hints of fall color in the trees. Then the kids fought, and I yelled at them, and it was time to go home.
Back at home, we made an apple pie crisp. Mae and Colin took turns using the peeler/corer/slicer, which makes pie prep much easier. Unfortunately, Colin is now obsessed with the tool and demands that his daily apple be peeled/cored/sliced and served in a bowl, complete with the pile of peel "worms." At least he does the work himself (as long as I set it up and put the apple on it and wash it afterwards.)
What else have we been up to this fall? Colin just finished his soccer season. He liked doing drills but was not a huge fan of playing in the little scrimmages. He spent about 10% of the time on the field playing soccer and 90% of the time playing with sticks on the sidelines. At least I got one good action shot of him with a ball. He even scored a goal during his last game!
We also continued our tradition of going to the Renaissance Festival. The biggest hits were probably the horseback/archery performance, the various acrobat shows, and the giant maze. Mae actually had the patience to solve the maze this year and didn't just cheat by going underneath the panels. She also enjoyed the pirate show but got freaked out once the "gunfire" started. And she thought the mud show was hilarious... until she got splattered with mud. Next year we'll bring ponchos!

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

lord of the rings baby mobile

I was so excited for Colleen and Bobby when they announced their pregnancy, but I might have been equally excited when they requested a Lord of the Rings baby mobile. I love designing baby mobiles, and this was such a fun challenge! I spent lots of time researching costumes and props, designing the characters, making templates, and choosing a color palette. My phone camera roll was just movie screenshots of LoTR characters for several weeks!
Colleen and Bobby requested Frodo, Gandalf, Gimli, Aragorn, and Legolas. I think Gimli and Legolas were my favorite pieces to create. I love their braided details, and Legolas' pointy ears are so cute.
I chose Gandalf the Grey (not the White), because of his cool hat. I was actually able to rework some of my previous designs for these pattern pieces. I modified Dumbledore's beard and the Scarecrow's hat. I did my best to copy the lettering onto the one ring, but I did make one small typo (embroidery-o?). If you happen to read Mordor Elvish, please let me know if it translates to something funny now.
Aragorn's cloak is double-sided so the red only shows from the front. I loved that detail in the movie costumes. I made the tiny ring that hangs around Frodo's neck from a real gold link from an old necklace. It was forged around an awl in my craft room instead of in the fires of Mount Doom, though.
For accessories I made Aragorn's crown, Legolas' bow, Frodo's sword "Sting" (complete with blue "glow" to warn of nearby orcs), and Gimli's axe! I assembled everything to a simple mobile arm that can be clipped to a crib or hung from a hook.
I love how it turned out, and it looks so cute in the nursery!

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

whirlwind weekend

In the middle of September, I accomplished one of the most complicated travel schedules of my life. It involved over 400 miles driving/riding/ubering in a car, 4 miles of walking, and about 1300 miles of flying. But it all went smoothly, and I made it to all my events!

On Friday we met mom and dad at an outdoor venue at a winery for a dueling pianos performance. Mae loved the music (especially the Taylor Swift songs), and we had to tear her away from the dance floor at bed time. Colin spent most of the evening playing ball with Dad on the hill. He was easy to spot even after it got dark because of his light-up (“lightning”) shoes.

Saturday we drove to Notre Dame for the game against Central Michigan. We had a little tailgate party with snacks and drinks in the field where we parked. Mae and Colin had their tailgate literally in the tailgate.
We walked to the bookstore to get "The Shirt" for Mae. It was her first football game, and she really enjoyed it! I was worried she’d get bored in the second half (and wanted to end on a high note for her), so I let her leave at half time and she met Mom and Colin at the nearby playground.
After the game, we went to mass at the basilica (Colin was literally climbing the walls.) Dan went back to Indy with the kids for the night, and I hitched a ride to Chicago with Kelsey and Will to catch a flight out early Sunday. I got to see their new apartment, and I can't wait to go back and enjoy the view in the daytime! I woke up at 3:30 am and was on my flight by 7:30 to make it to Colleen's baby shower later that day. Bobby picked me up and we had a fantastic lunch while Colleen finished getting ready.

The shower was fun, and it was lovely to see friends and family for the first time since Colleen and Bobby's wedding last summer! The weather was a little drizzly, but they had a tent set up in the backyard that was surrounded by grape vines! (I spent a lot of time taking photos of grapes.)
I was so relieved that Colleen and Bobby's baby gift arrived in time. They requested a Lord of the Rings baby mobile for the nursery, which was super fun to design and make! I finished stitching and photographing it Wednesday morning before the shower and then shipped it out, since I didn’t have room in my carry-on! More detailed photos to come!

Monday, November 27, 2023

catching up

I am taking the week off work to catch up on, well, everything. Including the blog! I'm aiming for one post a day this week! Now back to where we left off: end of the summer.

Our annual street party was lots of fun this year. Unfortunately, Mae came down with strep the day of the party and wasn't able to attend! I left her inside with my cell phone, and she got a huge kick out of texting me throughout the event (her messages in blue).
Once she was back on her feet, we shipped her and Colin off to Grandma and Grandpa's house for the half week before school started. They got to do lots of fun things like going to the zoo and the Children's Museum! I'm so glad Mae's antibiotics worked quickly.
School started Thursday and Mae is officially a second-grader! She likes her teacher, has a few friends in her class, and has really enjoyed her extracurriculars: choir and Lego Club! She graduated from an iPad to a laptop this year and is already learning typing. (The flamingo backpack is still hanging in there.)
Mae's case of strep disrupted our plans to visit the Indiana State Fair before school started, but we still managed a day trip the weekend after. Both kids loved seeing all the farm equipment, "driving" the combine simulator, and walking through the interactive kids farm.
At the end of the kids farm, you "sell" the items from your farm and get play money that you can use to buy a package of chips, juice, etc. It was so hot, I was sure the kids would choose juice or a snack, but Colin chose milk. MILK. I couldn't stop quoting Anchor Man, "Milk was a bad choice." He also begged for corn, which seemed like a much more appropriate fair-food choice to me. (The corn pizza I got was the best thing I ate all day.)
To celebrate the beginning of the year, Mae's school district offered discount tickets to see our local MLS team's reserve squad. It was a great chance to see the stadium (our first visit) with discount food and a bunch of Mae's friends. We had a lot of fun!

Thursday, October 19, 2023

lake george

Well, we're solidly into fall, so it seems like a good time to reminisce about summer, right?

At the beginning of August, we drove out to Lake George to visit Mop and Pop. We had so much fun playing outside, swimming, boating, playing cards, and visiting with family! Will was able to join for the first time, so we enjoyed introducing him to all our Lake George traditions... especially playing our favorite card game 10-to-1!
Mae and Colin were content to pretend fish with their toy poles on the dock, but they were very excited for Oliver when he caught a real fish!
We went to the pool a lot during the week. The water was a little chilly, but there were lots of fun inflatables to play with. Colin spent a lot of time just swimming around with his puddle jumper on. At one point, he was paddling around the deep end and spotted a huge frog in the pool filter! We scooped the frog out of the trap and took some photos before releasing it back into the bushes.
I promised Mae a trip to the mermaid store to look for a new best friend for her favorite stuffie, "Sea Sparkles." Dad took us to town on the boat, so we could do some shopping and get ice cream. Mae spent a little while trying to decide on a new mermaid and finally chose one she named "Butterfly." She snuggles them to sleep almost every night now!
The arcade was a big hit again this year. Colin's reaction time was a little quicker than last year, and he was actually able to whack some of the krabby patties when they popped up. I won a bunch of tickets with beginner's luck on Space Invaders, and we filled our pockets with candy from the prize counter.
Many thanks to Mop and Pop for a great visit and a bunch of great card games. Also to Mom and Dad for all the boat rides. And to aunts, uncles, and cousins for making it such a fun trip!!

Sunday, August 27, 2023

lane raglan rash guard

I haven't done much sewing this summer, but here's a little project I finished just in time for our trip to the beach! I made this rash guard using the Lane Raglan pattern (used previously for my taco shirt, lemon shirt, and striped hoodie. I love rash guards for protecting my shoulders from getting too much sun at the beach. Plus, I don't need any help sunscreening since my whole back is covered!
The main fabrics are nylon spandex tricot from El Centenario Fabric on Etsy. The powermesh, lining, and elastics are all left overs from the Take the Plunge swim suit I made last year. I made a size small but took in the sides a little bit more for a snug fit. I also added a shelf bra using a tutorial from Made for Mermaids. I sewed padded swim cups to the "inside" of the powermesh and lined the whole front with swim lining. My first attempt at the shelf bra was way too long and too loose, so I shortened it and reduced the elastic length by several inches. I have plenty of fabric leftover, so maybe I'll make a matching swim suit next year!

Monday, August 7, 2023

surf, sand, sunshine

We had a great vacation week with Dan's family doing all our favorite beachy activities!
(Isn't Colleen's baby bump so cute??)

Mae spent every possible moment in the water. She could jump over waves for hourrrrrs. She got a little braver this year and was even making me a little nervous with how far she was willing to venture out. She'd start relatively shallow and then slowly work her way further out until the surf was up to her shoulders, sweeping her briefly off her feet. Then she'd look a little panicked, catch her breath, and start the routine all over again in the shallow water.
Colin on the other hand, was absolutely terrified of the waves. In his defense, they were pretty big! He freaked out if I even tried to take him onto the wet part of the sand... far away from the edge of the water! Fortunately, he LOVED playing in the sand. He mostly dug holes but also enjoyed a few games of paddle ball.
We had lots of fun activities back at the house also. Both kids had fun with the new splash pad. It was perfect for staying cool in the middle of the day (and for very thoroughly watering a very small section of the yard.)
Colin kept Batman busy chasing this little plane all over the front yard. Mae loves lemonade stands, so she was thrilled when GranE and Batman helped her set one up.
Colleen and I went out for a little paddle around the bay side where the water is calmer. I borrowed a kayak and she got to try out her new inflatable paddle board. My arms were definitely tired afterwards but not nearly as sore as I expected.
One of the best parts of the week was seeing the 4th of July fireworks. I wasn't sure if we'd be able to see the Atlantic City fireworks, since they start a little too late in the evening for Colin. Fortunately there were smaller shows going off all around us as soon as dusk hit. Mae and GranE found the perfect spot to watch them... the lifeguard stand!
Colin decided they were exciting but a little too loud (and he was a little too sleepy), so we walked back to the house for bedtime.
Thanks for a great vacation!