My Vacation Part 1: Alpacas and Grandparents

Last week my husband and I went on vacation. We split our trip up into several stages so we could see and do more things. We started by spending 2 days with my husband’s grandparents. They are such sweet people! I had lots of fun asking my new grandma all about the interesting textiles scattered around their home. Her mother embroidered this map of the USA when her son was in the military so she could understand better where he was stationed.

states

Her mother also made this quilt and tablecloth. Every year for Christmas dinner she would bring the tablecloth out and have everyone sign it. Then she would embroider each of their signatures – she used a different colour for each year. It looks like she did this for 8 or 9 years – what a cool idea!

On our way to stay with our grandparents we passed an Alpaca farm. Naturally, I was excited, so our grandparents arranged for us to go see the farm. This was a morning well spent. We got to pet and feed the alpacas and the owner answered lots of our questions.

We had such fun staying with our grandparents, but our time together quickly drew to a close and we were on to our next location. I’ll write more about that tomorrow.

grandparents

Viking Hat

A few weeks ago I knit my husband gloves from the Viking Yarn he bought.

rawr

The gloves only used about half the skein, so I decided to make a hat out of the rest. I wasn’t sure how much yarn I had or how much I needed, so I made the hat top down, using the gloves as a swatch to base my stitch counts on.

Hubby loves his hat and I love him in it. Win-win .

All The Colours!

The yarn is finished!!

There were a few moments during this spin where I wondered if this crazy yarn would work out. What if all the colours paired up garishly? What if I hated it? I voiced my concerns to my husband and he told me to just knit socks with it. If the yarn is awful no one has to see it but me. It can be an exciting sock secret. Now the yarn is done and I love it! My husband has claimed it – he wants the crazy socks all for himself.

I want to be Elizabeth Bennett

I love the BBC Pride and Prejudice – the actors, the settings, and especially the costumes. When I was little my mom sewed for me all the time. My closet was packed with handmade sundresses. As I got older I fell in love with American Girl Dolls and especially the books that came with them. My mom sewed me a Felicity dress which I wore every time I could possibly manage. She also sewed me a Laura Ingalls dress and bonnet, which I wore incessantly. I guess I’ve always loved to dress up and pretend I’m someone different.

Recently in reading Jane Austen Knits I stumbled upon Sense & Sensibility Patterns, where you can buy patterns to make your own Regency Era gowns (I’m drooling over this one in particular). I would love to make one for myself, but I don’t wear a lot of full length dresses. So my plan is to make a short dress. It will have a square-ish neckline and a knee-length (very slightly) hi-low hem. I will wear it with my wedding boots, and in the winter I can wear leggings. Also, I will knit this spencer to go with it.

regency dress

Knowing me, I’ll take forever to actually make it, but it is so fun to dream of projects.

Adventures in Dyeing

Earlier this year I made a long sleeve t-shirt.

shirt

There were some things I liked about the shirt (the construction and finishing details) and some things I didn’t (the colour and fit, since I didn’t measure before choosing a pattern size). Since then either the fit has relaxed or I have lost weight (or both) and I’m much happier with the look. Still, I’m not a huge fan of navy blue. I blame it on the uniforms I had to wear in high school. So I went to the store, bought black dye, and dyed my shirt.

So the lesson is: if you don’t like the colour of your clothes, dye them. Dyes these days are easy to find and easy to use, practically foolproof (as long as you get the right kind of dye for the fiber content of your fabric). You will be so much happier with the clothes you have and more likely to wear them.

I Made a Bra!

bra and bikini

About 2 months ago I bought the Watson Bra and Undies pattern. I made up a shopping list, cut out my fabric, and sewed the undies pretty quickly (more about that here). And then I stopped. I was terrified of making the bra. What if I didn’t cut it just right? What if after hours and hours of sewing it just fell apart? What if it didn’t fit?

The only way to know what would happen was to actually make the bra. So I did it. It fits! It didn’t fall apart. And now I have a matching set.

bra frontbra back

My main fabric is a cotton/polyester blend, and I fully lined it with nude power mesh. I really like the fit of this bra. It gives me good coverage without squishing me or making me a shape I’m not. The instructions are pretty easy to follow as well. In the future I think I would go down a band size, but on the whole I have no complaints.

detail

So there you have it. I made a bra by hand, there are no machine stitches on it. So if you are holding back from something like this because you’re scared, just do it. You might surprise yourself. And if it fails somehow or doesn’t fit? It’s just fabric. There is always more.

Recipe: Chicken Everything Soup

It’s beginning to be fall and that means soup! I love how warm and cozy a bowl of hearty soup makes me feel. Sometimes I don’t have the exact ingredients a recipe calls for, though, so I’ve made a recipe of my own based on what I had on hand. It can’t be that hard, right?

soup1

Ingredients: 

1 1/2 c dried black eyed peas

1/2 yellow onion, diced

4 Tbsp bacon grease

1/4 c all purpose flour

2 chicken breasts

3 c mixed vegetables

4 c chicken broth

1-2 c milk or half and half

Salt and Pepper to taste

soup2

Directions: 

The night before you make your soup (or the morning of), place your dried peas in a pan and cover them with 2″ of water. Bring to a boil and let boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, add more water, and let sit overnight.

Trim the chicken of any excess fat and cut into 1″ cubes. Place in a pot of boiling water, and boil for a few minutes until cooked. Meanwhile, add diced onion and bacon fat to a large stock pot and cook over medium heat until the onions are translucent – about 5 minutes. Add the flour and whisk to make a roux. Add chicken broth, milk, mixed vegetables, drained peas, and chicken. Season to taste. Cook the soup until broth is hot and vegetables are soft – about 20-30 minutes.

Serve as is or with some hot crusty bread.

soup

Thoughts:

  • You could easily substitute pinto beans or a bag of mixed beans in this recipe. If you are in a time crunch, canned beans work well also.
  • I used a mixed bag of frozen carrots, potatoes, celery, and onion from the store because I didn’t want to spend my whole life peeling carrots. This soup would be even better with fresh vegetables, and you can use just about anything you have laying around.
  • If you don’t have bacon fat you can substitute lard or butter, but the flavor will be slightly different.
  • Canned chicken would work in a pinch, and a rotisserie chicken would be easy and add a lot of good flavor.