April 9, 2018


Morning Pages Journal #2. I get the fattest notebooks
I can find!
I am feeling all "joiny" right now! In addition to the Yarn Along from the Small Things blog, I have decided to participate in the Instagram #The100DayProject. I came across it last Thursday, poking around on Instagram while waiting for my dad at OHSU at his cochlear implant pre-surgery appointment (You can get into a lot of trouble in 2 hours. At least I didn't buy anything ... I think. Well maybe a book or two. Thanks a lot, Amazon.)

First, I found Kim Werker's #yearofmaking2018 as I follow her (and sort of worship her). Then as I looked around at what that was, I noticed someone used Kim Werker's hashtag, and another one, the #The100DayProject one. Very interesting, I thought. In my waiting room stupor, I was weak. I joined them both. After all, they are related, right?

As I get back into my crafty self, I felt like these sorts of games/challenges/groups/participations/insanities/whatthehellamIdoings could help me along. After all, a lot can be accomplished in 100 days, or in 365 of them. And I like the framework of it all, even if am late to both games.

For my #yearofmaking, and per the rules, I am posting anything I made or worked towards finishing that day. Tonight, it was an old pair of socks that I've recently picked back up: Wendy Johnson's Rosebud Socks from her book, Toe-Up Socks for Every Body. They seemed slow and hard months ago, but now suddenly they are not only not-so-bad, they are fun! I am not feeling so terrified of getting lost in the lace pattern now -- why? Don't care; I'm just glad for it!

#The100DayProjecct seems a little more "formal," if you could say that. The rules say to name your project, and post something you make/made every day. Seemed like they should be related to each other, as in a greater project. I had to think about that one. My mission on this is still a little bit in development (I had trouble getting a project name that was not already taken, for example!), but I have decided to post one photo every day as it relates to my journey -- no, overused word -- my commitment to discover through The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. 

My adult daughter handed me the book three years ago, announcing to me as she was working through it herself, "Mom, you're a blocked creative. You need to do this, too." So I did it. I went through Julia Cameron's program. It was so shockingly powerful, moving and healing. It was raw and difficult -- the sort of thing that as you work through it and you find yourself sobbing, and you are not sure if the tears are of of sadness, anger, relief or all three. Sometimes they might feel really happy and you may find yourself sobbing and laughing at yourself at once.

I will be posting more blog entries about this experience, but I can tell you: thinking back now, and re-reading my morning pages (journal entries as named by Julia Cameron, the author), I believe I only scratched the surface that first time around.

Me painting my kitchen ... YELLOW! Totally
crazy, I know...
This past week was serendipitous. I was not working. My kids were on Spring Break and visiting relatives. I had time to reflect while I took my parents to appointments and painted my kitchen and pantry. I had quiet time to write and read, knit, journal and write ... and think. And it was during this week that it occured to me that I should probably do the Artist's Way again, to revisit it, and to learn more. And it was this week that these other opportunities knocked to help me along.

So, here I go. Maybe you want to come with me. I have provided links to all the pertinent information above. Who knows what we will find?

My project for #The100DaysProject : #100photosonlivingacreativelife .  As I said, I plan to post one photo per day, and mention something important to me that was revealed by working through Julia Cameron's program. I realize some of the things I will say will be universally true, but they became true for me for the first time in my life three years ago. I am still working towards living freely as a creative and I love that the passage into that life never ends.

My "Cool Morning Socks," all finished! 

April 4, 2018

Yarn Along {April}

I recently started following a knitting blog called Small Things. I have really been enjoying it. The blog is lovely to look at, with soft, ethereal photos of writer Ginny's large family and homestead. It is a peaceful place of beauty and you can check it out here.  In her latest blog post, Ginny is encouraging all of us knitters/crocheters and otherwise fibery folks to share monthly what we are working on and what we are reading. Let's face it, in our group, we also tend to be bookish. You can follow along -- and play along -- by following the instructions over at Small Things on the Yarn Along blog page here.

I am following along, too, using the blog here, and Instagram! You can find me over at Instagram as freckledgirlknits.

Here is my entry for this month:

I just finished listening to The Golem and the Jinni on audiobook from our local library's digital checkout system, Overdrive. I loved the book. It is a fresh sort of fantasy story, with a lot of middle eastern and Jewish folklore and legends woven in. I feel like I learned a lot of new things while reading a compelling story about two mythical creatures brought to New York against their will in 1899. I will say no more, except that the book is not just an adventure. It raises a lot of questions and will get you thinking.

Now I am reading The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte by Syrie James. I didn't have high hopes for a book like this one, as I was uncertain that a modern person -- even an English scholar -- could capture a voice for the story that rang true. After a trusted bookish friend told me how much she loved this book, I borrowed it from her. Now, halfway through the book, I purchased my own copy! I am simultaneously listening to (re-reading) Jane Eyre through the CraftLit podcast (binge listening to that last one, as this book was done on the podcast some time ago), and the two are wonderful together! Heather Ordover of CraftLit, English teacher/professor brings wonderful insights into the writing and times of the authors, which makes the books she presents thoroughly rich. Amy Rose and I are also listening weekly to the current CraftLit book, Anne of Green Gables once a week. For you knitterly readers, Heather Ordover also happens to be the author of What Would Madame Defarge Knit? and What Else Would Madame Defarge Knit?

The socks I am working on currently are a free pattern on Ravelry called Cool Morning Socklet by Marlene Berghout. I really like the pattern. The designer is very thorough in her instructions and even includes a little tutorial for her unusual short rows (new to me, anyway!) which include "twin/shadow stitches." I am using some old leftover yarn from the very first sock class I took years ago from local Portland designer Chrissy Gardiner. The yarn is Dream in Color Smooshy in Happy Forest colorway. I only had 46 grams left (if I frogged the little sample sock from the class... which I had to do) and it is just going to finish the second sock!

Said goodbye to this tiny sample sock from my first knitting class ever. The lace on the back was horrendous,
anyway! I had no idea what I was doing.

Love the easy-to-follow lace pattern on these socks

The unusual gusset and short rows are pretty attractive

April 3, 2018

Amy's Dress: Easter Post #2

Just getting started! New fabrics have good smells and wonderful
If you have been reading the blog for a while, you know how much I revere my Grandma Miller. You can read the post about her here. She is the reason that I craft. I used to spend one or 2 weeks out of every summer -- sometimes twice -- at her house, sewing. Sometimes she'd show me a different skill like knitting (which I did not get back then) or crocheting, but most of our time together was spent sewing. Grandma Miller made a lot of my clothes in grade school and most of the time, my Easter dresses. To her, this was as natural as breathing. Born in 1903, and the oldest of nine children in a Dakota farm family, she was expected to help her mother run the house, and that included cooking and sewing for everyone. And sew, she did. All the time. It was her identity. At 90 years old, she was still sewing clothing, and repairing and hemming things for everyone in her retirement community. Everyone trusted her to do a wonderful job -- and she did. I want to grow up to be just like her.

I like to transfer my patterns to Pellon pattern tracing material,
in order to reuse them someday in other sizes.
While I have gravitated largely to knitting, I still sometimes sew. And, when I do, I love to sew apparel. I want to
become better at it -- with fitting, for example -- but for now, I have at least honored Grandma Miller's memory by making my girls Easter dresses almost every year. This year was no different, except that Annie was at her dad's this year, leaving Amy Rose and myself. 

My own dress is not finished yet, but I am working on it!! Amy's dress, however, is complete. It had tricky parts, as all projects do, but overall I'd say this pattern was pretty simple and straightforward.

Things I liked about this pattern include the
Pellon comes on bolts and can be purchased relatively inexpensively.
It also saves your pattern, just take a bit more time to execute. I trace
my patterns with a black ball point pen. Be sure to get all the markings down!
lining for the bodice, which encloses a lot of raw edges and helps the top lie flat and smooth. I also like how it leaves options open to change up the appearance of the dress, but this is also tricky, as it makes the pattern more complicated to read. 

Overall, I'd say most patterns do not have enough interior finishing for me. I hate the idea that as soon as you wash a new article of clothing, the inside seams fray, even if just a little. I realize the manufacturers are relying on the sewer to know how to finish as they'd like, but I am sometimes lazy and I just want to be told what to do in the instructions! Last year, I did finish the inside of Amy's fancier Daisy Kingdom dress pattern as I went along, closing in all the seams with bias tape. And it does look really nice. Maybe I'll go back and do that this time, we'll see. Don't hold your breath.
The pockets and ties went on before sewing front to back. I like that in a design! Made it easier than it might have
otherwise been.

I used a helpful Youtube video on turning a tube inside out this time. You can find it here.
 I used a knitting needle instead of a skewer as shown in the video,
and NO, do not use the pointy tip! Mine went through the fabric!!

Another reason to transfer your pattern to Pellon is that patterns are not available forever.
This one is no longer made. I found this out when I went to Joann's to get a smaller size, after
measuring Amy Rose and finding out that her chest is narrower than my pattern by 3 inches!
Since the pattern is out of print,  I made the dress narrower by placing the front
and back sections off the fold of the fabric by 3/4 of an inch, making
the whole thing 3 inches smaller in total. Worked great!
(If there had been other necessary alterations, this would not have
been as easy!)

April 2, 2018

Happy Easter ... mostly through eating...

Hello, all! I hope you all had a blessed and wonderful Easter Sunday. We did our usual visit to my parents' church for their Easter cantata, which becomes more charming (and powerful) each year as the entire church continues to age (and, thus, shrink as well **sad sigh**). The amazing fortitude that this little band of baptists possess is inspiring. Through my parents, I have been a part of this church for about 32 years, and how this aging and now-dwindling population continues to keep absolutely everything going is nothing short of mind-blowing -- from maintaining the enormous (and now largely empty) building and grounds to keeping every single outreach program going, including a bus that picks up any person needing a ride to and from church. Following the lovely Easter program given by these saintly people, we had a very early breakfast with my own aging parents (my dad is turning 88 this year!) and then said our goodbyes to them for the day, heading home for more Eastering.

At home, I am responsible each Easter to serve dinner to my husband's family and our kids (whichever of them are available!). For this task, I start cleaning and then cooking a few days prior to this, and any, holiday. And now, with my new eating habits, I have been learning (starting with last Thanksgiving) to make things a little differently, while still making them delicious. I figure everyone can eat a little better; why do I have to be the only one? Aren't I sort of responsible for my family's well being?! While my menu is not perfect (I had a stomach ache for a few hours after eating the frosting on the carrot cake, but it was worth it for one -- or two -- servings!)

Here are some pics and recipes/information to follow!

On this year's menu: 

Gluten Free/Soy Free Carrot Cake from Divas Can Cook, new recipe to me and WOW! Not necessarily dairy free, but can be made that way. See recipe. (I just noticed I accidentally put dessert first. Oh, well.)
Gluten/Dairy/Soy Free Scalloped Potatoes from Faithfully Gluten Free, new also, and WOW WOW! This one is also very low in fat -- and it was such a hit that my family demands it be put in regular dinner rotation. I did have to cook it longer than directed, like 15 more minutes in the oven and I covered it as the potatoes were not getting cooked well enough at about half-way through. Next time, I'd cover it from the get-go, uncovering it for the last 15 minutes of baking.
Gluten/Dairy/soy free carrot/jicama/parsley/golden raisins salad using the base for Whole30 Carrot and Jicama Remoulade, page 138 in the Whole30 cookbook. That recipe is not online for free, but includes making your own soy free mayonnaise, which I keep on hand, and adding dijon mustard and lemon juice. As you see, I put my personal ingredients here in my recipe "title." Plus, I added 1 tablespoon of sugar to mine. BTW, if you have this cookbook, make ALL the recipes on this page as a meal -- it's really good. And don't be afraid to play!! TWEAK those ingredients! I make my salad more than double, using a zillion carrots (ok, like 8) and a large jicama, but I don't exactly double the dressing. It just doesn't need it.
Costco Ham. No romance here, just made it straight up off the package, because people love it. Ok, and expect it. :)
Roasted Asparagus I thought I had my own recipe, but turns out that Ina Garten makes hers just like I do. I am flattered and defer to her. Get the recipe here.
Deviled Eggs, my own recipe. I don't eat them as they are not "safe," but I will share the recipe: hard boil about 12 eggs, cool and peel. Halve the eggs, smashing up the yolks well in a good-sized bowl. Whisk in about 3/4 cups mayo and 1 tsp or so of dijon mustard. If you can't whisk it after a few go-rounds, add more mayo until you can -- just watch not to make it too thin. Once you are happy with the consistency, stir in: 6 sliced green onions, 6 slices chopped cooked/cooled thick bacon, white pepper to taste and about 1.5 tablespoons of Ranch dressing mix (powder). I sometimes get crazy and add 1/4 tsp of onion powder AND 1/4 tsp garlic powder as well. A few finely chopped dill pickles and/or olives don't suck in this recipe, either. Once done with all your own personal experimentation, generously sprinkle the whole platter with paprika and freshly ground black pepper.  And what the heck, toss more green onions on the top. It's so pretty!
White Nut Bread, from Betty Crock's New Picture Cook from 1961. NOT GF/DF. But it's so lovely, I wanted to make it for everyone. It feels just -- Eastery. Since there is no recipe online close to this, I am taking a chance and sharing mine. I love this loaf. It is huge!! Bake for the time it says exactly and don't freak out when it looks like it's getting too tall. Mine has never run over the sides of the glass pan I use:

After Dinner, of course, and Easter Egg hunt! Since it was raining outside, we did ours for Amy Rose indoors!!

Daddy made it pretty challenging. We are still findings eggs...

March 28, 2018

Pelle Test Knit

Another test knit for Gabrielle Danskknit! I came in dead last of all the test knitters, but I finally finished this lovely little raglan sweater with interesting -- and simple -- cables down the sides is called "Pelle." You can buy the pattern here. Sizes run from newborn to adult large -- and I know we all love that kind of range. It makes patterns so much more useful.

My Pelle sweater is made from a yarn that has been in my stash for a while. It is a lovely, squishy-soft aran weight yarn from Classic Elite called "Majestic Tweed."  It is a wool, silk and angora blend, and, while it is discontinued, there are others like mine. Doing a quick bit of research, I found that Noro made some similar yarns such as "Retro," and "Vintage," and there is yet another yarn called "Juno" by The Great Adirondack Yarn Company  Look around your stash! You might find one of these. Or, do your own thing! If you look at the list of Pelle projects on Ravelry, you'll find loads more ideas.

Using my yarn, my size large sweater required 1,174 yards/584 grams of yarn to complete. I added an inch of simple short rows about 3 inches into the raglan shoulder section to raise the back a bit, as I feel like that always improves the fit for me. I made the arms longer as I just have weirdly longer arms, and I set out to make the sweater several inches shorter than written in the pattern. But,as I started this project in September of last year, only finishing it up this past month after my health finally improved (You can see the blog post on that here), my sweater is now about 2 or 3 sizes too big. I originally wanted it to be a high hip-length sweater, for example, and, as you can see, it now is nearly a tunic! I don't plan to frog it or change it now! It is very cozy and I am just so happy to be able to finish it and wear it. To me, it is a symbol for a brighter future and how much better I am doing, now that I can resume my favorite pastime: knitting!

On a recent weekend trip with my husband to Astoria, Oregon (one of my favorite place in the whole world), I brought the sweater. It kept me warm and happy in the chilling and surprising wind that can suddenly blast off the Columbia River (The mighty Columbia never produces a gentle "breeze.") My husband was kind enough to take photos of me in the sweater in front of the Flavel House Museum, and I love how the green of the sweater plays with the green of the grass on the grounds ... of the Flavel House Museum (...in the house that Jack built... sorry ... had to make the joke...).

The back looks sort of sloppy now, but the short rows are
still there!!

I have a lot of knitted lovelies in the works, along with some sewing, too! Stay tuned for more knitterly eye candy and fun!

If you like this sweater, you can find more from Gabrielle Danskknit on Ravelry here, or on Instagram here!