Quilt Reveal

A week before my excellent niece graduated from high school, I started work on her quilt. (For the record, I have seven excellent nieces, each one very different.) This quilt had to be special, because she is so special.


She gave me a clue two years ago, when she was here and mentioned she liked my porch quilt.

And then like an idiot, I waited till the last possible second to begin sewing.  When she and her family rolled through on their way to California this June, the quilt wasn’t done. A surprise? Um, no.

Anyway, I whipped the top out with time to spare but had a terrible time with the back.


I wanted some really fun fabric, something that represented a mutual love.  Something… literature-y.  And I discovered Spoonflower, who made this Jane Austen fabric for me. (Okay, not just for me… but it’s perfect for this quilt.)

Once I had the backing on, I used my amazing birthday weekend away to quilt it.  I planned to bind it on the way to California.  (We know how that went.)  But it turns out the hospital was a perfect place  to do the binding.


And off it went to California to meet my awesome niece.  I’m so proud of her!


On the needles: more frogging

Remember this sweater?
It’s Madelinetosh’s Tiny Tea Leaves. I love this sweater. SweetP loves this sweater. But every time she puts it on, it slips off her shoulder. Just like every other sweater I make.  There’s something wrong about how I do my gauge.

Anyway, she keeps trying to wear this sweater and then takes it back off again and puts it back on the hook.  So I decided to fix it.

First, I frogged it.

Then, as I was doing my gauge swatch, my friend Ruth pointed out that I was twisting my purl stitch. (Three years ago, my friend Heidi pointed out that I was twisting my knit stitch.) You can see the difference here, as the bottom (larger gauge) is twisted, and the smaller (top) section is straight.


So that’s what I’m working on. When it’s done, I’m planning to cast on a spring sweater for myself. I’m sure it will be done just as the summer heats up.
What are you knitting?

needle and thREAD: the porch quilt and Give Them Grace

At the end of last summer, as the days cooled, I thought, “What a great thing it would be to have a porch quilt!”  You know, a quilt that wasn’t an heirloom.  One that wouldn’t mind a little rain (not that we get much rain.)  One that could sit outside overnight without protesting.  One that would make the swing a little more inviting in the cool of the morning or evening.  Or in the late autumn or spring.

In my usual manner of sewing=procrastination from other projects, I began the quilt immediately prior to my Thailand mission.  When I should have been studying, praying or reading.  And then it went in a box of fabric and disappeared from sight and mind.

But it’s April now, and I should be doing some spring cleaning.  (If you’re on Pinterest, you’ll see how much spring cleaning  conversation is flying out there.  How much of it I’ve pinned.)  So instead of cleaning, out came the sewing machine, and I finally finished the porch quilt.

Here is the quilted top, before I bound it.  Calling it a Porch Quilt gave me some mental room not to do any intricate quilting.  And not to stress when the tension was off and the back ended up with some extra loops here and there.  I even sewed the bind on the machine.  I’ve never done that before.

I had so much fun sewing it that I made two pillow cases to go with it.

There were many volunteers to test and model the quilt.


And then the minute Sam came home, he brought it all inside so it wouldn’t get rained on or dirty.
I think I’ll have to remind him what the point of the Porch Quilt is.

Last night I read one of the closing chapters of Give Them Grace.  I’m almost done now.  I have to say I love the concept: dazzling your children with the love of Jesus.  I love the questions it asks, specifically, How does the gospel inform our parenting?  I find that so much of the Christian polemic on discipline centers on Proverbs– which is good, but missing a huge piece of the puzzle.  And the author points out, Solomon (for all his wisdom) still raised a son who lost himself completely.  There is no magic formula, no do-this-and-all-shall-go-well guarantee in parenting.  I really like the idea of parenting from a place of grace, and offering that to our children.  But I find the book’s practical models off-putting.  One of the model conversations lectures (that are to occur at a time of discipline) I read yesterday was more than 400 words long.  I lost count, actually.  It was small print, almost a full page of text.  Another one that struck me earlier in the book was 327 words long, to be addressed to a preschooler after a tantrum about leaving the park.  Seriously?   I’ve already lost my kids at, “Can you tell me what was wrong with that choice you made?”

Find more needle & thREAD conversations at In the Heart of My Home.

FO: Shalom

Yes, this is how I roll: Christmas two weeks away, lots of gifts to be working on, and I knit myself a sweater.


I didn’t intend the purple-on-purple modeling plan, but when it was done I was very excited to show you all.

The yarn was disappearing quickly at the end– when I calculated the pattern adjustment, I forgot to multiply the skein requirement by 4/3 as well.  As it was, I have about 4 feet of wool left.


I’m super happy with the weight and the lack of sleeves. Now I can be warm without my ubiquitous fleece vest and not worry about getting sweater sleeves wet in the kitchen.

Any FOs to share?

Knitting 2012

My best time for knitting is during a road trip (this time was to Chicago for Thanksgiving).


I always make it harder than it has to be– usually by not checking my gauge. This time I didn’t make the time to check my needle collection before we drove. I just shoved all my needles in the car and started my gauge swatches on the highway.  Somewhere in the middle of Nebraska, I realized that I didn’t even own the right needles for the project.

No sweat!  I am creative! I can do math!  I measured my gauge on the needles I had with me and converted the entire project by a factor of 4/3 and began knitting. [cue ominous music]  After I frogging it all after 32 rows which failed to resemble the pattern in any way (and frogging another 16 rows the time after), I realized that my math had rendered a pattern of an odd # of rows into a pattern of an even # of rows.  = disaster.

Take three was the charm.  I modified my calculated pattern and began again, this time with much trepidation and many fewer miles to knit.  Good thing it’s so far to Chicago.  I’m about halfway now, though the yoke is the only part where the pattern mattered, and now it’s just knit, purl, and decrease.  I should finish by 2015.

Here are the two hats that DID get finished.


What are you working on?

On the needles: November

Or, perhaps… what’s NOT on the needles?

I’ve been wanting to get back to my knitting.  It seems to be the only activity that can induce me to sit with my children through a movie, and as I haven’t been knitting, Sam has been holding down the “movie-night” fort alone for quite awhile.

I’ve had Shalom on my mind for a long time but haven’t wanted to fork up the cash for the yarn.  I have a sweater whose wool I love but whose size (or shape?) I don’t, and looking at the pattern again, I became inspired to salvage the yarn.  After half an hour of ripping seams (and according to this tutorial, they are all BAD SEAMS) it became apparent all I was going to get were 1000 yards of yarnlets: 1000 1 yard-long pieces of ramen-like yarn.   I have made about 300g of them into a ball full of knots… perfect for something, but not my sweater.

Then Sam reminded me, “It’s not just another sweater.  It’s your hobby.”  As if that justified anything.  But I ordered a delicious dark purple bulky that just arrived.


SweetP chose this pink ages ago for herself (and a cool variegated one for M) and I finally cast it on.  The weekend’s swim meet was the perfect time for a little knitting.

I have more acrylic (I know, but the children don’t like wool on their necks) for M’s soon-to-be neckwarmer.  (Shh! It’s a surprise!)  I wasn’t going to knit for St Nicholas Day this year… I figured the kids were tired of handknits.  But then two of them independently reminded me that St Nicholas’s Day was coming up and they’d be receiving knit items… ahem.  Had to get cracking.

My friend Ruth was up visiting and went through the bag that is J’s micro-triceratops (the worst UFO ever).  She thinks I’m “so close” and that maybe all I need is a 14 hour road trip to whip it out.  I’ll let y’all know how that goes.


And for O?  Hard to say… he’s so warm-blooded he hardly wears what I knit him.  But maybe a little bag for the things he keeps misplacing?  With a cool button?  He might go for that…

What’s on your needles?  Anything for the holidays?

A Surprise Package

Last week I saw the UPS truck outside our house.  The UPS truck is a highlight of my children’s life.  They could be poster children for the UPS company—they get so excited.  (And every time I see the truck I think of the Bend and Snap from Legally Blonde, so how can I not smile?)  But when the UPS man pulled a box that could have held a washing machine out of his truck I knew he wasn’t coming to our house.

But he was.  Had Sam ordered a new TV?  Was there a mistake?

Nope.  The box was light, as evidenced by the UPS man’s smile as he came up the steps with in on his shoulder.  He set it inside the doorway, and the children started screaming, “Who’s it for?  What is it?”  When I saw my uncle’s name (spelled wrong: “Hurb”) for the return address, I knew.


My aunt had sent me my grandmother’s spinning wheel.


Isn’t it pretty?

But she’d sent it in a ginormous bathtub of styrofoam.

I managed to assemble it.  Now Sam wants to know where we’re going to keep it.  The children want to know when we can get sheep.  I’m wondering where I can get a belt for it.  Ideas?

Book Review: The Art-Full Tree by Jan Gilliam and Christina Westenberger

It’s that time of year: when we start to think about Christmas and Christmas gifts.  If your mind is heading that direction, this is a beautiful book with step-by-step instructions for making historical ornaments, all modeled on early American ornaments found at the Abbey Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum in Williamsburg.

The photography is wonderful, and the “What You Need” lists are comprehensive with not only the consumables, but the tools as well.  You won’t be caught unprepared in the middle of a project.

What I especially like about the book is the note about each of the historical objects, the artist(s), and the creative suggestions for making each project your own.  It’s clear that Jan Gilliam (associate curator for toys at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation) and Christina Westenberger (assistant manager for education for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation) know their stuff.  The projects vary widely, from punched paper to aluminum stars to cross-stitched miniature pillows.  My favorite projects are the felt birds and the Scherenschnitte birds.

Disclaimer: Christina, an old friend who sang at our wedding, sent me a copy of the book last Christmas, but all opinions here are my own.

Handmade Update

I had the crazy idea to knit baby hats for the women delivering babies in my Centering Pregnancy group.  Sam kept reminding me that I have a LOT of these groups, and it would be a ridiculous number of hats.  (From my perspective, that was sort of the point.)  So during Holy Week, I was frantically knitting baby hats.  Cute, no?

We had the baby shower on Easter Monday, and none of my patients were excited about them. Sam wins. I won’t be doing that again. But I thought they were cute. (And they were in this really soft natural organic cotton… I’m sure I’ll knit with it again.)

Take two: M was invited to a birthday party with friends who have American girls. “Could you make them some doll clothes?” she asked. So we did.

First up, the sweatshirt.


I traced Julie and added a half-inch on every seam… and the stupid thing is nowhere near fitting over her head. So take three: skirts. Because every American girl needs a denim skirt and a lightweight summer swirly skirt, no?