Friday, September 12, 2014

Fall sewing and knitting plans.

I already had fall knitting plans (I always have knitting plans), but I hadn't given much thought to any fall sewing. My garment sewing this year has been practically non-existent...I've made one Renfrew, another one for a pajama shirt, and a pair of flannel pajama pants. Yes, that's it. It seems that ever since I became so obsessed with knitting and fiber, sewing sort of fell by the wayside. Add that to the fact that I'm not really comfortable with my size and weight right now, so sewing clothes for myself just hasn't been a big priority.

But I really do need some new clothes. I've realized that the majority of my good clothes (as in, clothes that I wear out and about...not the old t-shirts and jeans I wear around the house) are ones that I've made myself, which is good. But I wear the same things over and over. Other than two pairs of jeans, I haven't bought any clothes this year, and like I said, I really haven't made any either.

So it was perfect timing when I saw that Sarah is hosting a Fall Essentials Sew-Along, or FESA. But it's not just for can knit (or crochet) items, too! There are seven categories and you can make as much or as little in as many categories as you choose. The best part is that it runs from the beginning of September until the end of November, so even though I don't anticipate making much this month, I still have two more months to participate! :)

Here are my plans and the categories that they fit into...

Fashionable Foundations for Frosty Weather

This category is for skirts, pants, etc. I could definitely use some more skirts for church. I've been wanting to make a full, chocolate brown, Penelope-inspired skirt for years now, so maybe I'll finally get on that if I can find the right fabric. And I'd like to make some more printed cotton skirts from my favorite skirt pattern, McCall's 5431. (Ignore that pajama pattern on the left...more on that later.)
Chic Chemises for Cool Climates

This is for any type of blouse, sweater, etc. The Miette cardigan that I'm currently knitting will fit into this category. I'm hoping to sew at least three Renfrew tops. A short-sleeved one in the blue and lacey striped knit (if this fabric looks familiar, it's because I've used it before with my favorite Renfrew...I love that one so much that now I want to make a short-sleeved version), a black one without the bands to wear with skirts, and a long-sleeved version out of the navy blue and gray striped knit.

A couple of years ago I heavily altered Simplicity 2447 into a button-up shirt pattern that I really liked. I need to make a few more changes to improve the fit, but after that I'd like to use the blue polka dots (same fabric I used for my Hawthorn dress) and the blue floral to make a couple of shirts. I've had that brown plaid forever and I want to make it into a button-up shirt, too, but I won't be using that pattern because I don't want to have princess seams with the plaid. I'd also like to sew some sort of cozy flannel shirt, but I don't have any definite ideas for that yet.

Fabulous Frocks

I bought this lightweight denim last year to make another Hawthorn, but I'm not so sure anymore. I love the idea of the Hawthorn dress, but I always feel a little uncomfortable in mine because the neckline feels too big on me. I'm constantly adjusting it, plus the facing in the back won't stay in place. Now that I think about it, though, I messed up a bit with the collar, so maybe that's why I'm having issues. If I do make this, I'm going to try the longer sleeves.

I really want to find a perfect dress pattern. I love the look of dresses but it seems I'm usually more comfortable in skirts and tops...maybe it's just because I haven't found the right pattern yet?

Tender Tootsies

Socks and slippers. I want to finally finish my red socks, which I haven't worked on in months. Oops. Then maybe I could squeeze in a pair of worsted weight socks, considering I can finish those in just a few days. :)

Those Cozy Nights

Pajamas! Whenever I get store-bought flannel pajamas, they fit me perfectly until they're washed once or twice. Then they shrink up and become 4 or 5 inches too short. At the beginning of this year, I made myself a pair of really long flannel pajama pants, and I wear them all the time when it's cooler. I want to make at least one more pair (from the Simplicity 1762 pattern above, which a few changes), plus at least one Renfrew pajama top.

Baby, It's Cold Outside
This category covers hats, coats, mittens, etc. And this is where my knitting plans conveniently fit in. :) I'm planning another Hermione Loves Ron hat (this time in purple), a Fields of Wheat cowl from some purple Madelinetosh, another Hitchhiker (which I've already started), these mitts using orange Madelinetosh, these scrunchy mitts, and a pair of colorwork TARDIS mittens. And possibly more. :)
What about you? What are you hoping to make this fall?

Thursday, September 11, 2014


So...we have a new kitten.

Several weeks ago, my mom and sister-in-law heard a noise coming from the motor of Mom's car. When they looked inside, they found this kitten. (The skin on his chin was pulled down a bit, as you can kind of see in the first picture, but other than that he was fine.) After asking around if anyone was missing a kitten or wanted one, we realized we'd be keeping him.

His name is Knightley. Yes, that Knightley. (He showed up the day after "If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more," on Emma Approved, so it seemed fitting because my head was full of Emma and Alex.) I didn't want to sound too much like Mrs. Elton, but adding the "Mr." is just a little too pretentious for such a tiny kitten. So Knightley it is.

This is the first time I've ever had a kitten (and been able to choose a name for a cat!). My parents got my childhood cat, Annie, before I was born. Our other two cats came to us in random ways when they were a bit older. (Jack was my grandma's cat and we took him after she died...Ollie was left behind with us after my brother moved out.) I don't think I was prepared for how incredibly adorable and mischievous kittens can be! Knightley can be curled up in my lap sleeping soundly one minute, and the next minute he's tipping over my trashcan or trying to eat tissues.

As for the other cats...Jack has handled the new addition really well. He basically ignores him. (Accepts him? With cats, I don't think there's much difference between the two.) He'll put up with almost anything, unless Knightley tries to chew on his tail- then Jack gives him a few hard swats on the head and the matter is settled. Ollie hasn't adjusted quite as smoothly. For the first few days, he would hardly leave my room. By this point, he'll get within a foot or two of Knightley...they've touched noses several times. But if Knightley makes any sudden movements towards him, Ollie hisses and makes the most awful growling noises. And occasionally they swat at each other. Still, this is progress. :)

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Lovely links and things.

Over the past week or two I've been gathering up inspiring or fun things...they weren't enough for posts in themselves, but all together they make a pretty collection. :)

- I finally got my hands on a couple of issues of PLY magazine! I've read the first issue cover to cover and flipped through the twist issue, and so far it definitely lives up all of the wonderful things I'd heard about it from other spinners. (I think I'll be subscribing soon, but I really want to get the Color issue, which is currently sold out but will hopefully be reprinted.)

- Stumbled across a knitter and designer named LinnĂ©a. Her projects are so pretty, and I love the colors she uses! Her style is how I'd ideally like to dress: lots of sweaters and cardigans over dresses in floral prints and autumn-ish colors. And handknit socks over tights...that look is suddenly so appealing to me! Why don't I do that? (Probably because, if I'm wearing tights, I'm generally going to church and wearing church shoes rather than boots.) She also has a blog that shows off her lovely style and photography!

- This yarn is basically the perfect shade of green. I'm picky about green's usually too dark or too lime or neon. But this one is perfect! From that same company, I also love this colorway.

- I am so smitten with the Pride and Prejudice board book shown above. I came across it in Target and couldn't resist. The colors and illustrations are ridiculously adorable! The proposals page really makes me smile, especially the Mr. Collins and Lizzy one. :) It's a counting book, so there's not much of the actual story there, but I doubt you'll buy this book unless you're an Austen fan, anyway. The bookworm in me just loves the idea of introducing my favorite characters to my future children when they're still babies (though, let's be honest here, I mostly bought this book for me). I even saved nearly $4 by matching it with the Amazon price.

- Speaking of books, I'm a big Boy Meets World fan, so of course I was excited to hear that Danielle Fishel (aka Topanga) has a book coming out! Better yet, it looks like it'll be a funny memoir about awkwardness, which is something I can definitely relate to. I know it won't be all about BMW, but I'm hoping there will be some stories about the show in there. The book comes out on Tuesday! I'm even more excited about Cary Elwes' memoir about the making of The Princess Bride, which comes out next month. I'm really in the mood for memoirs and biographies lately, though I haven't been able to read any since I'm still in the middle of my Harry Potter reread.

- I can't get enough of Madelinetosh yarns. Those three skeins above are ones that I'm currently hoarding. :) The yarn is expensive so I don't buy it very often and it takes me a long time to pick out just the right pattern, if I don't already have something planned when I buy it. I bought the purple and orange recently knowing what projects I'm going to use them for, but I've had the turquoise for a year and a half now and I'm just now deciding on a pattern. Madelinetosh even smells good. (I used to roll my eyes when I read some knitter writing about yarn fumes, but it's true: I've become a yarn sniffer. How did this happen?)

- I'm glad that one of my favorite bloggers, Amanda over at Hey Porkchop, is posting again after a summer hiatus. The best word I can think of to describe her blog is cozy. It's like perpetual autumn over there, and I love it! She's so inspiring with all of her knitting and quilting and cross stitching, and her pictures are gorgeous, too.

- I had been eyeing Quaere Fibre's Doctor Who inspired yarns for the longest time, but they were always a bit too expensive for me. I just happened to be browsing Etsy on Monday when I realized that the shop was having a Labor Day sale: everything 20% off! Of course I took advantage of that, and managed to get some spinning fiber, too. :) There were only three DW yarns in stock then, so I went with the merino/silk singles yarn. I wouldn't use singles for socks, but it will be perfect for another Hitchhiker! I love blue yarn anyway, and this colorway is inspired by one of my favorite DW episodes (Vincent and the Doctor). I can't wait for it to arrive.

- Andi Satterlund is hosting a knit along for her Marion cardigan pattern this fall, and if you buy the pattern before the KAL starts on September 10th, you can get it for 20% off! I would be joining in if I wasn't already knitting on her Miette pattern. :)

So...mostly yarn stuff. I'm sorry if you're not into that. :) Over the past month or so, I've been so busy knitting things for the craft fair I'm attending next month that I've hardly done any knitting for myself. I've squeezed in a bit of time for my Miette cardigan, and I finished the body of it yesterday (yay for the quickness of cropped cardigans!).

But mostly it's been knitting hats and baby bows and things not-for-me, which I'll admit is tough for this selfish knitter. :) I keep seeing all of these wonderful patterns I want to try, and every once in a while I go through my yarn stash to look at it and pet it. Just to remind myself that in a few weeks I'll be able to knit what I want to knit.

(Trying not to realize that after the craft fair, it'll be time to knit a sweater for my niece's first birthday and then time to start working on Christmas gifts. Where has this year gone?)

Monday, September 1, 2014

What I Read: August

August was a good reading month for me. :) Here's what I read:

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, by J.K. Rowling. Continuing my reread of the Harry Potter series this summer! I absolutely love this book. It was my favorite of the series for a long time. You can read my thoughts on the book and the film here.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, by J.K. Rowling. This one was also my favorite for quite a while! I still haven't finished writing my book/film review for the blog yet, but it should be up soon.

What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew, by Daniel Pool. I finally finished this book, which I'd been reading off and on since last year! The information was interesting (especially if you read a lot of classics), but it wasn't presented in the best way. The way it was written was a bit dull. Also, be warned that the author spoils a lot of plot points from classics...

Jane, the Fox, and Me, by Fanny Britt. I absolutely loved this graphic novel and gushed about it here.

The Truth About Forever, by Sarah Dessen. I'll be the first to admit that YA contemporary is not my thing, but I'm constantly hearing good things about Sarah Dessen. And now I've finally read one of her books! In some ways it was exactly what I expected, but in other ways it was more than I expected. I did have a few qualms (I covered those in my review, which you can read by clicking on the book title), but overall I enjoyed it.

I'm going to officially call this the end of my summer reading. September is still quite warm here, but honestly I'm tired of feeling like I have to read from my summer reading list. (And I shouldn't even have to mention how ready I am for fall to be here!) Of course I didn't even come close to completing it, but I think I did fairly well. Of the 35 books on my list, I read 13. I'm still working through my Harry Potter rereads, and as soon as I finish them I intend on reading the Anne of Green Gables series. So that will knock off at least 9 more books from my list, even though it might not be summer any longer by the time I'm finished with those. :)

P.S. If you enjoy bookish posts like this one, stayed tuned...I finally filmed a little bookshelf tour of sorts that I hope to post soon!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Natural Bridge.

Last week, we spent a day at Natural Bridge. The first time that my parents took me there, I was somewhere between one and two years old. They took me and my brother back several more times while we were growing up, and I know we visited on a couple of school field trips, too, but it's probably been six or seven years since the last time we went. This time we went specifically to see the wax museum one more time, because sadly, it's closing after Labor Day.

We started off the day by seeing the bridge itself and walking the short trail to the waterfall at the end. It was a little warm and humid (this is August in Virginia, after all), but the path is shaded. It was such a nice walk, with the creek trickling along on one side and the mossy stone wall and trees on the other. And I never get tired of seeing the's so massive and beautiful! (To give you an idea, in the picture of me with the bridge, those orange things to the right of my head are large traffic cones under the bridge. And the red and white spots to the right of the cones are people standing closer to the bridge than I was, but still not directly under it.)

{Me and Dad were proud of my mom for walking the whole trail! It was at least a mile and a half, which is the furthest she's walked at one time since her accident.}

Then we went to the wax museum. It's not a fancy, big budget museum by any's small and quirky and a bit creepy at times, but that's why I love it. :) It's probably the exact same now that it was thirty years ago. There are lots of historical scenes set up with wax figures, most of them focused in Virginia (but not all). I remember being slightly intimidated by the museum as a kid...there was a fake bobcat set high on the wall around one corner, and when you walked under it lit up and hollered out. Also, there are wax tourists leaning against the barriers, looking at exhibits, and I remember always being nervous that I would mistake a real person for a wax one, or vice versa. :) The pictures above are: some guy (whose name escapes me) who killed several hundred bears during his lifetime and lived to be in his 90s (he died from stepping on a rusty nail, which is a rather anticlimactic way for a bear hunter to go, I suppose), the surrender at Appomattox, a section of the hall of presidents, Laurel and Hardy, The Last Supper (a short presentation about Jesus that serves as the finale of the museum), and a bit of the wax figure factory in the basement. All of the figures are very realistic looking, though some of them that are based on real people are more accurate than others.

Going through the museum was bittersweet knowing that this would be the last time I'd get to experience this piece of my childhood. I'm really glad we got to see it again before it closes, though. (There are also lovely caverns at Natural Bridge, but we skipped those on this visit.)

Afterwards we had lunch at the Pink Cadillac Diner, which is where we always stop when we go to Natural Bridge. It's a wonderfully tacky little place, where you can eat an Elvis burger while studying the hundreds (thousands?) of old pictures and bits of memorabilia hanging on the walls: classic movie posters, lots of Elvis and Marilyn Monroe and Humphrey Bogart, vinyl records, etc. On the way home, Dad had to stop at the feed mill for chicken feed, so I ran into the local yarn store there (probably the closest real yarn store to me, though it's still not exactly nearby).

Gorgeous new yarn...the perfect way to end the day! The orange is much darker and subtle in real life, and it's Madelinetosh, which is my one weakness. (Ha.) The purple and teal (it's really the most perfect dark teal, despite how bland it looks in the photo) are Cascade 220 sport and fingering weights.