reine {FO}

Last week, I finished knitting a sweater.  I’m so proud of it, so happy with how it turned out.  And can we all please just pretend like this is the first sweater I’ve ever made for myself?  Can we please forget about the purple-and-gray variegated knitted-tape yarn t-shirt sweater monstrosity that I made back in college?  Ok, good.  So, presenting…my first sweater!

Reine, by Alexis Winslow, using Brooklyn Tweed Loft in Woodsmoke

I used the recommended yarn (Brooklyn Tweed Loft) and followed the pattern to the letter.  I decided not to make the pockets, though, because I wasn’t confident that I could sew them on perfectly or that the extra weight would be very flattering on my hips.  I love this yarn knitted at this gauge…it really lives up to the name Loft, so light and airy.  Alexis Winslow, you are a genius.

beautiful reverse stockinette stripes trim the hem and sleeves

Because I omitted the pockets, I had a full skein of Loft leftover.  I’m knitting a quick hat, Norby by Gudrun Johnston.  I think it’ll be the perfect thing to wear while raking ALL THE LEAVES this fall (because there’s seriously a mini forest in my backyard…3 trees in our yard, plus 3 or 4 neighboring trees that hang over the fence).

I’m not sure what inspired it, but lately I’ve been pulled back into this world of knitting, and I’m amazed by how much it has changed just in the last couple of years.  There are so many more 100% American-made yarns available.  So many more patterns that are really designed to be worn, with great attention paid to proportions, current tastes, and timeless details that will last past the current season — afterall, if you’re going to spend $100 and a month of your life knitting a sweater, you want it to be something you’ll wear forever, right?  When I first started knitting 11 years ago, most of the sweater patterns I came across were boxy, weirdly short, and incorporated novelty yarns.  They looked homemade, and not in a good way.  Not that it mattered much, because it was so rare to find a pattern that was available in my size.  I think that is, for me, the greatest thing about this new knitting pattern landscape — designers who take the time and effort to expand their size range.

I’m already dreaming about which sweater I’ll cast on for next.  My short list:

  • Benedetta, by Carrie Bostick Hoge, using Brooklyn Tweed Loft in Cast Iron or Long Johns.  Another great goes-with-everything cardigan.
  • Sister Olga, by Olga Buraya-Kefelian, using Quince & Co. Lark in Kumlian’s Gull or Fjord.  I’ve heard such great things about Quince & Co. yarns, and I’m eager to try them.  This sweater looks like the perfect thing to wear out to breakfast on chilly autumn weekends.  I can almost smell the pancakes & warm maple syrup.
  • Strokkur, by Ysolda Teague, using…???  I’m not a big fan of Icelandic wool (is this knitting heresy?), so I want to make this in a fabric that I would want to wear every single day.  Maybe Quince & Co. Osprey in Peacoat with Egret & Winesap?
  • Dresden, by Kirsten Johnstone, using Brooklyn Tweed Loft in Cast Iron or Meteorite.  I love the idea of adding a vest to my wardrobe, and a knitted one would be even better.
  • Trillium, by Michele Wang, using Brooklyn Tweed Shelter in Plume.  A simple cardigan from the latest Brooklyn Tweed collection.  I wouldn’t change a single thing about this sweater, including the color.  But dang, it takes a lot of yarn.

What do you think?  Which sweater should I knit next?


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backyard surprises

Buying a house in the dead of winter has a few advantages: prices tend to be a little lower, there’s less competition from other buyers, and most of the houses on the market have probably been there for a few months (making sellers more willing to negotiate).  But be prepared for a few surprises in the spring when things come alive…

What we thought were pretty bushes lining the back fence turned out to be 6-foot high weeds.  My beautiful crabapple tree lost her pretty pink flowers the day after this picture was taken, and now she’s dying from a slime mold.  Vines are kind of a bitch.  Clover has taken over the front lawn on one side of the driveway.  So. Many. Dandelions.

But after borrowing some tools from a neighbor to chop down the weeds along the back fence, we were surprised to find a good-sized peony bush.  Because it had been hidden from the sun, the 7 or 8 buds hadn’t bloomed yet.  A few days later, as they were coming into full bloom, Flavio cut the peonies for me to make a beautiful bouquet for our kitchen table.

Now I’ve bought a sketchbook and a field guide to help me record & identify some of the plants growing around our property.  Morning glories, Queen Anne’s lace, and so many green things.  Surrounded by nature’s beauty and the wonder of Creation.


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Memorial Day weekend, we had our first visitors at the new house: my beautiful mom and her dog, Xena.  It was really our first weekend in the house too, because the previous weekend we had been in Wichita celebrating our niece’s first birthday.  We spent two whole days relaxing on the deck, hula-hooping in the backyard, eating lots of good food, drinking iced tea, and listening to Paul Simon.  It was the perfect way to christen our new home!

Xena, who normally runs so fast & so free that her vet thinks she’s probably part greyhound, seemed lost in our huge backyard.  It wasn’t until late Sunday evening that she finally found the courage to gallop and play fetch.

I really enjoy cooking for my mom.  There are very few things she refuses to eat (although, come on Mom…cucumbers? how can you hate cucumbers??), but mostly we have a similar philosophy about food, very vegetable-centric.  We both eat meat – in fact almost every day – but we enjoy it best as a component of the meal, not the focus.  I never want to stereotype the Midwest here, and this concept of “meat on the side” isn’t new or original to us, but it’s not popular with the rest of my family.  I get a lot of comments like, “Your food is so fancy.  Can you cook something regular for us?”  And I don’t mind, really.  If you’re my guest, I want to fix something you’re going to enjoy, or else what’s the point?  But I love cooking for my mom because she loves the food I love.

Admittedly, the first meal we had during her visit would’ve gone over well with anybody in my family (my brother’s comment on Instagram: “Finally something my speed!”).  Grilled steak tacos with roasted baby peppers, homemade pico de gallo, lime mayo, and queso fresco.

But the second night?  Probably wouldn’t have been too popular with anyone but my mom.  I made the eggplant ‘pizza’ galette that I wrote about here last summer.

The weekend ended on kind of a weird note, with an explosion at 7am, my first ever call to 911, fire trucks, and a poor squirrel that got caught in the power lines.  Haha, but up to that point it had been wonderful, and I can’t wait for more people to visit us here at the Tree House!


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maggie rabbit {handcrafted}

My Maggie Rabbit, wearing the dress & shawl patterns included with the bunny pattern. I knitted her shawl with Sublime Baby Cashmere Merino Silk DK in Miss Scarlet.

Do you know Alicia Paulson?  I first heard of her when I saw Stitched in Time at a bookstore several years ago.  Her second book, Embroidery Companion, is my favorite craft book and taught me most of what I know about embroidery and cross-stitch.  She also sells many crafting patterns on her website, including this adorable hand-stitched felt bunny and all of the sewn & knitted clothes to go with it.

the Little Raglan Sweater, made with Brown Sheep Nature Spun Sport in Ash

I made this little rabbit back in March, when Flavio was in California for a tech conference.  I had wanted to buy one of the fabulous kits that Alicia put together with beautiful Liberty of London fabrics, but they sold out in a matter of hours.  So I just bought the PDF pattern, tracked down the really nice felt she used (so much nicer than the craft felt they sell at Hobby Lobby), and used some fabric from my stash.  And you know, I’m really glad I did it this way.  I’ve seen some pictures of the bunnies that other people have made, and – while the ones made from the kits are beautiful – the ones made from stash fabric just seem to have more personality.

the Little Hooded Coat, made with Brown Sheep Nature Spun Sport in Mallard

Anyway, Alicia recently published the first few in a series of Maggie Rabbit wardrobe patterns.  It took me about a week to knit the three little sweaters, and I plan to work on the sewn pants soon.  I did buy some fabric & buttons to sew a couple of the button-down shirts, but after looking at the pattern, I’m not sure my sewing skills are quite there yet.  But I guess I can’t learn if I never try, right?  🙂

the Little Knitted Dress, made with Brown Sheep Nature Spun Sport in Sunburst Gold


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May was such a busy month for us.  Moving, cleaning up our old place so we could return the keys, unpacking, entertaining our first visitor.  And in between all of that, Flavio turned 32, and our niece celebrated her very first birthday.

Flavio’s birthday was on the Monday following the weekend we moved into our house, so by necessity it was a very low-key celebration.  For dinner, I made pasta with bacon & lots of spring vegetables, including fresh fava beans.  I’d never cooked with fresh favas before, and although I knew I was going to have to shell them twice, I didn’t really anticipate how long that was going to take.  Made worse by the fact that it took more than 45 minutes for our stove to simmer a pot of water…I completely gave up on trying to get it to boil.  (Later I discovered that the burner I was using has a switch that can change it from a small burner to a large burner.  It was flipped to “small burner,” so the heat was concentrating on only about a 6″ diameter circle.  And, of course, the switch is broken, so we can’t flip it to “large burner” until we figure out how to fix it.  So, probably no canning happening here this summer…uffa!)

Flavio’s birthday “cake” was an apricot custard tart with almonds.  I made this once before, last summer when we had a little picnic under a big leafy tree at Centennial Park.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have any powdered sugar to sprinkle over the top this time, and it really needed something like that because the apricots were a little too tart for me.  But it was probably perfect for Flavio, who’s not too crazy about sweets.

Hadley’s birthday was the very next weekend.  Boy, that little girl sure does have a lot of people who love her!  I was happy we got to spend a little one-on-one time with her the day before her party, to give her our presents on her actual birthday.

The party was Hello Kitty-themed, with lots of pink balloons & streamers everywhere.  So fun & girly!  Hadley had a ball eating her sparkly Hello Kitty cake.  Because, wellcake is awesome!  Some of the truest things in life are learned the earliest.



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settling in

Today we officially Moved In.  We still have a few odds & ends (and almost all of our food) at the old place, but our furniture is here.  Our cat is here.  Our life is now here.

After weeks of eating convenience foods because we were too exhausted for proper cooking, it was nice to finally slow down and enjoy the process of making dinner for ourselves.  Nothing fancy, just a bunch of random vegetables that sounded good to us, tossed together in a bowl.  Tender leaf lettuce, shaved carrots, radishes & cucumber sliced paper thin, green onions, crunchy bean sprouts, tomato, avocado, roasted sunflower seeds, and tangy crumbled chevre.  All dressed very simply with salt & pepper, olive oil, and white wine vinegar.  It was exactly what we needed.

Now Flavio and I are sitting out on our deck – sipping sambuca, listening to music – while the sun sinks low and twilight sets in.  We’re surrounded by bird calls and the lingering smoke from an afternoon barbeque competition at a nearby park.  Perfectly peaceful.


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I hate moving.  The packing, the in-between-ness, the overlapping bills.  This will be my 4th move in the last 3 and a half years…you’d think that by now, I’d be a total pro at it, but nothing could be further from the truth.  I am a terrible mover.

This time around, the worst part seems to be the effect that all of this chaos is having on the cat.  Poor little thing.  We’ve stripped away her sense of security, and she’s been very clingy in those rare moments that we’re home and sitting down.  Whether it’s curled up in my lap on the sofa, or sitting under my chair at the dinner table, or even perched on the edge of the bathtub while I use the toilet…she just wants to be near me.  Hopefully she’ll be back to her aloof self once we move her into the new house this weekend.

Only three more days until I get to live in my pretty little house!! 🙂

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