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The Holy Grail of Knitting Patterns

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I learned to knit when I put my children through Waldorf school. My poor son hated knitting and would offer to trade me chores for my knitting his flute bag. I loved it. He did not understand.

I decided the first year that I’d learned to knit fairly well that I’d make them stuffed animals. I bought an adorable pattern on Ravelry, ordered beautiful yarn for each of them and sat down to whip them right out.

elijah

Holy hannah… they were made with tiny needles and there were stitches I’d never seen and didn’t make sense to read. I got the first half done and ended up with a blue trunk/head object that looked like blue fuzzy scrotum. Ugh.

I’d already fantasized about  a darling matching set of hand-knit Elijah elephants dangling out of stockings on Christmas eve/morning. I knew I didn’t have time to spend the time getting them done by the holiday, so I started to search for someone that could make them. I Googled “knit animals, knit toys and knit for children… and found the most amazing and inspirational woman.

Julie Williams, of Little Cotton Rabbits.

Her blog popped up and I fell in love with her little English garden. I grew to admire her as I read about her knitting peacefully with her Autistic son. I loved how she spoke about her daughter. Most of all?

lcrgang

I wanted one of her little animals so badly I was considering bribing someone who won to let me buy theirs. Julie was a mother and woman first and the demand for her beautiful creations far exceeded how many she could produce. People stole her ideas left and right and still, and whilst defending herself; she did the best she could to knit as many as possible. People began to complain the sales were rigged and whined that they were being intentionally denied an opportunity to have a coveted Little Cotton Rabbit. She would list them randomly and it was the basically the luck of who got there… but there did seem to be people who sat and did nothing but hit the refresh button in anticipation of her listing one for sale. I remember reading a comment from a woman that had three of them. I was instantly bitter and could not believe she would continue snatching the treasures up while some of us didn’t even have ONE yet! I realized I was obsessed.

bunny

I was never lucky enough to win the opportunity to buy one.

She finally had to resort to using a random number generator to choose who got to the chance to buy one. I gave up.  She’s been the first link in my computer for years.

My ex got married a few years ago and my daughter was nervous about her first trip on an airplane without me. She was clingy weepy about it and I wanted to send something small and made with love to comfort her in my absence. I sat down with my needles and copied the bunny I coveted, to the best of my ability. It was absolute hell, but Bailey the Bunny was exactly what my baby girl needed to feel safe. I sprayed her tummy with my perfume and wrapped her in her suitcase. She loved her and I swore I’d never make another one…. until my favorite Aunt had a baby girl. I used the beloved Alpaca yarn I’d had stashed for a special project, and Vera the bunny was sent off with great love.

bailey

I’ve tweaked my pattern over the years, but I always felt a little… wrong about the whole thing.

I’d absolutely copied her pattern as best I could- and it wasn’t to cheat her or avoid paying for something. I couldn’t buy one…. and she didn’t sell the pattern.

Bailey and Vera were gifts of great love and SO hard to knit… but more than that- I’d loved those cotton bunnies for so many years and wanted my little girls to have one.

Along those lines, I’m making all of my Christmas gifts this year and I’m determined to knit something for everyone. I would love to knit everyone something special, though I can’t imagine being able to pull it off this year.  I tucked a sleepy baby in my bathrobe and sat down with my tea this morning to look at patterns on Ravelry. I clicked on the Little Cotton Rabbits page and nearly fell off of my chair.

You can buy the bunny pattern.

bunnyforsale

You can buy the dress pattern.

dresses4sale

There is a Santa Claus.

I bought them immediately and opened directly to the foot, which is knitting purgatory. Baby Quinn’s bunny still only has one leg. I read the instructions and nearly cried. It’s so perfectly neat and beautifully simple. Just like everything I’ve seen about Julie.

I’m both honored and excited to share this link. Go buy this pattern and fill the lives of the little ones you love…

With REAL Little Cotton Rabbits.

I’m still so excited I feel like Santa came early… and seeing the little foxes lets me know that someday… if I’m patient and wait my turn…

She’s going to sell the elephant pattern too.

I’m beside myself with geeky knitter joy that I can actually make my babylove a REAL rabbit, just like the beautiful creations Julie’s made that have evaded capture.

Now I can give my darling knitter friend S the link to the REAL pattern… because I still can’t find one of the 5 post-it notes I wrote my borrowed pattern on.

I’m so incredibly happy to be able to support such a wonderful woman. I have 2 bunnies already started and I’m happiest most of all that two of them will be dangling out of stockings this year!!!

omgcute

Foundation

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I have an old cedar deck on the front of my house, and in one spot, the boards are being pulled a different direction by the house. I know a problem when I see one. Thankfully after 37 years I also know when it’s a problem I am not equipped to repair by myself. It’s a foundation issue.

Such was my life. Being pulled in a million directions results in you neglecting the priorities you really want to prioritize. I was scattered. Flailing. Desperate.

Not at all how anyone would like to be described.

And just like these boards of mine, I started from the top and have worked my way down. Ish.

I had faith in love again and was disappointed when it went sour. It happens. I’m definitely jaded at this point and have happily burned my V card. I intend to live out my life with a houseful of happiness. (and a dozen cats).

I’ve learned to recognize when I’m not good at something and let it go. I realized how much I needed my mom in my life, and we’ve never been closer after realizing that it’s time spent, that counts. She’s given me a million things over the years, but the week she spent with me after my baby was born wove the frayed ends of our bond back together again.

Ripping down the foundation means you have to put it back together brick by brick… and you only use the bricks you know to be the best. You pick your favorites and leave the broken empty bullshit in the pile.

When you only foster and encourage the best parts of you, every day counts. I’m living proof of the power of having faith in yourself and the ability to change your life.

I had a beautiful baby in July and she lights my life in more ways than I can describe …while she grins and poops at the same time. I still pinch myself every time she wakes me from the four hour power naps I survive on. She wakes up with a big smile and we get our routine on with a little Biggie Smalls. She’s my little Muffin.

muffin

My day begins with a diaper to change, diapers to wash. Jammies to hang up. Smiley baby to nurse. Lunch to pack.

Her big sister is a full fledged teenager, fighting me when she spots my weaknesses. I love her to bits and remember what it was like with her big brother and realize it’s just how they are. I’ve had a baby in each stage of my life. My teens (19), my twenties (24) and now my thirties (37). It’s all so different and similar at the same time. I have so much more patience now- and I feel bad for my older kids because they had the drill sergeant asshole mom.  The midlife crisis mom. Muffin gets the best of me. The weathered, hardened and tempered steel strong lady I’ve grown into. The mom who know knows dessert for dinner is healthy sometimes. The everything-can-wait-let’s read-another-book mom. The mom who makes the damn kids help in the garden. I’ve learned through success and failure to focus on what’s important and leave the rest behind.

I miss my coworkers. I miss having something to talk about beyond baby smiles, infant milestones and canning…. but I’m loving my life these days. I’m living in the moment and treasuring each one.

yarden2013

I grew that damn enormous acre of vegetables and it’s downright terrifying how many heirloom tomatoes I have. A thousand pounds, perhaps? More? It’s beyond epic. It’s a biomass.

toms

Gardening while growing a human is not for the faint of heart. I pulled off the impossible. It was spectacular- and froze last week (Thank GAWD) It wasn’t bad while I was pregnant, and actually helped my back feel better. It was soothing while I was nesting and needed more to clean. It’s amazing how many weeds I pulled with a 45 inch waistline. Muffin was born right when it started to produce and things got a little crazy. You can’t take a newborn into the blazing sun and the weeds grew right along with the plants, which I never found time to fertilize.

somanyheirlooms

Thank God, all the angels & saints too… because I would have had to call the gleaners to help take some of it away.

 

pantry

I’m canning with a newborn, which is intense- to say the least. I dice tomatoes… then sing patty-cake. Nap time for baby means running a few dozen jars of sauce, salsa, tomatoes, etc through the canner. My pantry is beautiful, and I treasure these months I’ve been devoting myself at home, full time. I love having all the laundry done. I smile when I see a fresh tablecloth on the kitchen table. I like cleaning light fixtures. I’m contemplating painting. It feels good to make home feel cozy and beautiful again. Getting rid of the excess and only keeping your favorite things results in a nice tidy home full of everything you love most. All bets are off where my crafty stuff is concerned.

One cannot own too much yarn, fabric or buttons. These are facts.

I’m baking again which is sinfully good and terrible for my ass at the same time. I roasted a baby sugar pumpkin from the garden yesterday and I’m making a few pumpkin rolls today. The house smells like a mom lives here again. I can’t even get a thigh in my old jeans. Damn. Pregnancy at 37 doesn’t go away as fast as it does when you’re younger… but I’ll get there. Right after this pumpkin roll… 🙂 I really don’t care, to be completely honest. I’m focusing on being a great mother, being a better friend and appreciating the people and season. There’s plenty of time for working out when this baby isn’t so tiny and new. If this sweet chubby babylove of mine is any indication, my breast milk is more like heavy cream.

hat

I spent nap time sewing for my baby sister yesterday. Her baby is due any day and they did not find out their baby’s gender. It’s fabulously exciting, but a pain in the ass when you’re buying or making gifts. I hope like crazy it’s a girl because her and Muffin would be so close in age. Either way, it was so nice to fire up the Pfaff again. I padded her presents with baby potatoes and actually managed to get it in the mail in time to make it there for her shower… I hope.

I started running again this week after trading a years worth of garden produce for an awesome jogging stroller. Muffin loves it and I’m happy to resume a healthy habit that makes me feel so much better.

Rebuilding a foundation takes time and patience but having strong footing makes all the difference. Ridding yourself of the junk that holds you back and drowns you out, frees up a lot of time to focus on the things you love.

So I’ve cleaned the house, put away enough food for a damn army and knit 4 hats, a sweater and one bootie.

homegrown

I grew a baby, grew a garden and kept stacking away on my new foundation. I’ve only used the bricks that make me a maternal bad ass with a black belt in organic gardening. I threw out the bullshit, burned the trash and life has never been more peaceful.

One of these days I’m going to get around to fixing that deck.

Date with destiny…

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It should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me, that I’m  that I’m only beginning to let myself enjoy this crazy in love feeling.

I’m an expert optimist. The glass is always half full, and though I’ve seen it empty a few times in the last year… all of a sudden… it runneth over. 😉

The baking began yesterday… and continued on pretty late into the night.

Oh how Jenni bakes when she’s from the tip of her nose to the tip of her toes, beaming happy.

Marshmallows…sugar cookies: purely because I wanted to cut out hearts… lol… go ahead- gag… carrot cake cookies and granola and on and on and on…

All tied up in pretty red waxed ribbon, complete with my favorite vanilla bean caramels.

Joy makes me bake, sew… etc. My Mormon roots come screaming out and I turn into my favorite version of myself. The happy domestic goddess.

Complete with a dress, heels & apron.

One of my oldest friends stopped by and surveyed the fruits of my inspiration.

M- Holy shit… you’re not fucking around, are you? You’re really serious about this guy. Caramels even… dammmnnnn Betty…I haven’t had those in years.

J- Hungry?

M- Lemon tarts? Lemon BARS? Ooooh coconut….

My kitchen is a veritable smorgasbord for the munchies crew… because I don’t eat any of it.

Weird, huh? I don’t touch it except making frosting and checking the sugar level.

I have a bowl of basil, romaine, grape tomatoes and fresh mozzarella with balsamic vinegar and sea salt, sitting in front of me.

I have a bakery-full of delicious baked things in my kitchen.

He brings out the girl in me that I love best. Jenni Crocker-Stewart.

I have a dozen things I’m knitting, and enough treats coming out of the kitchen that I’ll naturally appear to be succeeding at my diet because the rest of my friends and family will all put on weight due to my falling in love. It seems pretty win-win, if you ask me.

Nothing lets me smile and create at the same time, like being in the kitchen. ♥

He inspires me so delightfully, that I naturally occupy myself with the other things that make me happy, in his absence. I’m painting the kitchen…. and perhaps a bedroom. I’m sure all my friends will be wearing new hats by the time I leave, and I guarantee they will have ALL put on weight.

So here… because I can’t spoil all of you with cookies and caramels… I’ll share my recipe. Make them- they’re delicious…and use Meyer lemons if you can find them. ♥

Lemon Bars

Ingredients:

For Base

  • 2 cups sifted flour
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup butter

For top

  • 4 large beaten eggs
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1/3 cup lemon or lime juice
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon or lime rind

Directions:

  1. For the base mix the butter into the flour and sugar.
  2. Mix with hands until it clings together.
  3. Press into a 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan.
  4. Bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned.
  5. For the filling, beat together eggs, sugar and lemon juice.
  6. Sift together flour and baking powder.
  7. Stir into egg mixture.
  8. Pour over baked, cooled crust.
  9. Bake at 350°F for 25 minutes.
  10. Cool and sprinkle with powdered sugar.
  11. Cut into bars.

They’re amazing. Enjoy… and smile while you make them- it makes all the difference in the world.

Heels don’t hurt, either.

😉

Get it done, batgirl…

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This being the 5th year blogging, there are days I think I’ve run out of stuff to ramble on about and I am absolutely buried in canning… and I have 3 pear trees to pick today. Ugh…

I would rather be doing just about anything else… which is good, because I have to pick a tiny black dress to go with my nun habit, and I have work later…

Perhaps my Bucket List is in order? Or maybe just  a pause from my actual t0-do list to write one that is more in keeping with what I really want to be doing? At any rate, here it is.

1. I want to go to school. Any school. I miss it and I can see myself becoming a lifer if I end up permanently single. I’d like to actually pass algebra at some point. I’d love to learn a few more languages. I’d love to take a stained glass class. I’m a skill hoarder… I love learning something new and I love writing on paper with a freshly sharpened pencil 🙂

2. I want to fix everything with my son. It weighs on me every day and I miss him terribly.

3. I want to run a marathon. Weird huh? I’m happiest when I’m running regularly. The endorphins are no joke- and between the running and the knitting- I’m happily celibate. Sorta.

4. I want to have the nerve to push the envelope. I want to be brave enough to take a leap of faith purely to see if I really can have have everything I want. I want to kiss hope right on the lips.

5. I want to build my treehouse. I know this sounds ridiculous, but it’s been unfinished since we moved in and it drives me INSANE. I want a roof… so I have to learn how to do roofing. I want it to have a staircase, and even attempting stairs for the hot tub was the absolute WORST thing I’ve ever tried to make… so the stairs are posing a looming threat. I want it to have flower boxes and a door and honestly… I completely understand I sound like a lunatic. I always wanted one, and my kids weren’t that interested… so I’m determined to build it for myself. With my big old pile of wood from the Dirty Boat Thief.

6. I want to go everywhere. Being a young mother and raising two children means life at home. I want to see everything I haven’t seen and go places I never thought to consider. I could do without snow. I’m cool if I don’t see Antarctica. Ever. If you’ve seen one snowbank, you’ve seen them all.

7. I want to be happy, anywhere. My Bestie has the big house and the shiny new car and everything you could think would make life perfect, and it’s still just as hard. She works just as hard, it’s just as hard to juggle kids and responsibility and she still wants to be happier. Financially secure or struggling, I want to be happy anywhere that lands me. I want to always be able to see the silver lining.

8. I want to take my mom on vacation. Somewhere fun- somewhere out of both of our elements- just to show her how much I really love and appreciate her. She’s become my right hand, my wife- I don’t know what I’d do without her and I want to be able to show her at some point.

9. I want to go tank diving with Sharks… I know… it’s something not many people can understand but I’ve wanted to since I was a little girl. The tip of South Africa, mmmmm…. can’t wait. It makes my heart race just thinking about slipping into Shark filled water…

10. I want to be the friend people call when they need help, the daughter my mother can rely on, the mom my kids love and adore, and the love of someone’s life.

11. I want to finish my flower tattoos, have the balls to do all the other outlining stuff and really love each one more than the last. It’s an unexpected love of mine and I treasure them. They’re all so significant, even the purple orchid from lousy Nathan. It’s the one I see the most next to the cherries on my wrist… and it always makes me think of my dear friend, my Tattoo Diva. I have the best time hanging out with her and the story of Nathan and his fake tattoos is just one more funny part of our friendship. ♥ her. ♥ my tattoos. Always want more… mmmm needle therapy- the best money can buy.

12. I want to learn to sail. I can remember sailing with my stepdad as a little girl, but he never let me help. I watched some random movie the other night and realized I was ignoring the dialog and watching what he was doing with the sails.

13. I want to learn to fly a plane. For several reasons, some of them not so nice, but ultimately, I’m a little afraid of heights, and though I love to fly… I’d feel even better if I knew I could take over if need be. I like to be prepared.

14. I want to learn to Scuba dive. I love snorkeling… I could spend an entire day chumming pretty fish with crackers. I love it- so it’s natural I’d want to take it a step further. My dive-master friend gives me shit constantly about being a floater, lol… and I will absolutely make him eat his words at some point.

15. I want to get a family picture for my mother- who has never had one. I’m working on making this one happen just after Christmas, but this has been on the list for years. Hopefully my son will be in it too.

16. I want to have the money to pay people to keep my garden weed free. Even for just a year. I swear- that’s what I’d buy if I won the lottery… a weed free garden to enjoy. I missed my garden desperately this year but I just didn’t have the time. The thought of other people weeding it for a year? Holy… that’s right up there with Coach.

17. I want to throw half of everything I own, away, or give it away, or all of it. I hate the burden of possessions. I only need a few things to be happy. My kids, my family, my little dogs, my friends and my knitting. Dishes I could live without. Laundry? Ugh. I could happily survive with a few cashmere sweaters, a few black shirts, a few white shirts and a few great pairs of jeans…. and a few thousand dresses with pretty heels to match. It’s my own damn fault I’m drowning in clothing.

18. I want to blog. Always. Regardless of the pressure to write books, travel the world and be sinfully blissfully happy? I am always thankful for the 20 minutes a day I sit down and write. It’s sometimes the only time I sit down all day.

19. I want to abandon the cold. Permanently. I wouldn’t mind coming home to visit at Christmas to see the snow… but I really loathe winter. It’s pretty for a minute, and then it’s just an added hassle in my already chaotic life. Getting up an hour earlier to shovel, sucks balls. I want to plant gardenias around the entire perimeter of my house and wear as many of them in my hair every day as I can fit. I hate the cold. I want to garden year round.

20. I want to read a book a week. I’m not taking the time to read right now and I feel dull. I have too much to do to even list and it’s sunny, so I should be planting the rest of the garlic. I’ll kick myself if I don’t… but I’m not. I’m reading a book. I’m taking it easy for a change, curling up with little Tucker Max and I’m committing to at least crossing one of these things off the list at some point.

I could keep going but sheesh… this should keep me occupied while I’m not working and knitting.

Happy Monday- the first one I’ve had off in nearly a year. Cleaning, baking, and trick or treating later…

Close to the perfect day, Amen.

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