Dishcloths for Grandma

So I lied to you guys

but only a little. The truth is, while my creative time has been obsessively devoted to sewing (I finished another skirt yesterday!), I have done a bit of knitting you knew nothing about. 

The first time I met my mother-in-law my husband took me home for her surprise birthday party. We were still in college and bringing home his new girlfriend was his excuse for visiting the weekend before finals. She was so sweet and excited that I am pretty sure she had no idea what was going on. It was a milestone birthday, so I felt an obligation to bring a birthday gift of my own.

I was completely broke at the time, so I brought the only thing I could think of -- handmade dishcloths. I had these blue and natural variegated skeins of Sugar and Cream cotton that I had been knitting up for myself, so I took those along. The dishcloths were so well received that she immediately started using them and hasn't stopped. This was eight years ago and recently when we were at their house for Thanksgiving I saw her washing dishes with one. It was completely faded and stretched out and I immediately felt that guilt that comes with observing a well-loved gift that has gone too long without a followup.

So this year she is getting a new set.

For this round I used Gramma's Dishcloth, a free variation on the Grandmother's Favorite Dishcloth pattern, and some more Sugar and Cream that I picked up on sale at Michael's.

Each dishcloth took about two-thirds of a skein, so I have enough leftovers that I could probably knit a few more or I might do some striped ones for myself. Hopefully these too stand the test of time and are as welcome as the last set.

The Megan

I've never been diagnosed with an addictive personality,

but I've also never been seen by a doctor who makes such diagnoses, so there is still a chance that I have one. It's why I am not allowed to buy jelly beans or why I've become a compulsive knitter over the years. And it is the excuse I give my husband for why I have become a sewing fanatic in so short a time. To date I have sewed three scarves, two pairs of pj pants, a skirt, and now a dress. And I started this madness just a month ago!

I make no claims to be a fabulous seamstress, but I am pretty pleased with how my first dress has turned out. The fabric is a very light cotton that I picked up on sale at Joann's. Aside from the fact that it (very) easily wrinkles, I love the look. This is the fourth pattern from Love at First Stitch, which I have been diligently working my way through. I gave it a real road test today by wearing it to church, which for us is held in a high school auditorium. So far my only complaint is that I cannot nurse while wearing it.

This was my second time installing an invisible zipper and I have to say I'm a little obsessed. The presser foot for invisible zippers makes guiding the fabric so easy. And I just love how the tiny stitches just disappear under the teeth!

The pattern transfer for this dress was a little more labor intensive than the previous pieces I have made because not only did it have more actual pieces but it also included darts, tucks, and gathers. Once again I find that my experience knitting garments stands me in good stead because I understand what the instructions want me to create.

The only real sticking point for me was the sleeve inset, which upon reflection was most likely a problem of my own making. I could not get the running stitch for the gathers to cooperate and actually snapped them more than once. Chris had to talk me down from scrapping the sleeves all together and just making the dress sleeveless.

It was only after I fudged them as best I could and called it a day that I remembered that I had set myself up for failure from the get-go. Despite having the requisite amount of fabric I somehow managed to run out when I was pinning out my pieces and ended up cutting the sleeves against the grainline. At the time I thought it would not be that big of a deal. Now I know. When adding gathers? It's a big deal.

Overall I am pleased with the look and feel of the dress. I do in fact want to make more, perhaps in a fabric that is not so prone to wrinkles? If things progress as they are I may have an actual handmade wardrobe soon. Last night after Pasha went to bed I cut out the pieces for two more skirts.

Or maybe the obsession will fade and I'll move on to something else. Guess we will just have to wait and see. 

A Wedding Toast for My Sister

Twenty-six years ago, my life was perfect.

I was the center of my parents' universe and had absolutely everything I could need. I was quite content being an only child. Everything changed one fateful day in April, when Eva was born. I was suddenly a big sister and had to share everything -- my parents, my room, my toys. They even dressed us alike, which resulted in some very heated arguments about who was stealing who's style as we got older. Thanks Mom and Dad for sending us to a school with uniforms. That's probably the only reason we survived our high school years.

After years spent trying to be different we found ourselves living apart and growing closer. Cell phones are in fact the greatest invention ever. I went apartment shopping with her and she kept me hydrated through the birth of my son. We've sat by bedsides and celebrated graduations together. At this point, if it is an important event you can expect to find a matched set.

And now we find ourselves on another fateful day in April and everything is about to change. I'm now once again learning to share, only this time I am learning to share my best friend. As Rosemary Clooney taught us, "Lord help the mister who comes between me and my sister." Tyler, we love you. Watch your step.

To the happy couple.

Shelved: Nostalgic Dead Girls

It's always fun to notice unintentional trends in my reading.

We've already established that I tend to read books by female authors, but now I'm finding myself reading books with even more in common. For example, the last two books I read featured female characters who went to high school around the same time I did. That's probably not a huge thing to most people, but they came out last month and thus have a nostalgia for that time. A nostalgia for the early to mid 2000s? That's a bit different.

The first book is Marlena by Julie Buntin, which I got in my March Book of the Month box. It took me a little while to get in to the story, but once I got reading I was hooked. It's a coming of age story, which is rather done to death, but it is framed through the narrator, Cat's memory. When the story starts we know that Cat's friend Marlena died while they were teenagers, but we don't know the events leading up to it. We then spend a few days with Cat while she tells us about the year she lived next door to Marlena, becoming friends and falling in with the "bad crowd." 

I'm struggling to describe this book to you because I think what did it for me was the atmosphere. There are a ton of books in the coming of age genre, but the fact that Cat is discussing it as an adult and is recognizing the impact the events have had on her life gives it a different flavor. It almost reads like a confession or a therapy session. At one point she comes out and tells the reader she is glossing over events and goes back to change some aspects of the narration. I don't want to spoil it for you, but it's not a mystery or a thriller, just a really good gut punch of a book. And like I said, the atmosphere is spectacular. 

Immediately after finishing Marlena I read Dead Letters, which initially turned me off due to the cover art, but the description was interesting and my hold number came up fast at the library. Like Marlena, the narrator of Dead Letters is also a woman in my general age range. This time our protagonist is Ava, who has returned home to rural New York after her twin sister Zelda is believed to have died in a fire. From there she finds herself following clues left by her sister in a game that is very reminiscent of early Pretty Little Liars if A was (spoiler) actually Allyson.

This one seems to be defying categorization with some arguing for mystery or thriller and others for literary fiction. Regardless of category I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this. I found all of the characters insufferable, but all in very believable ways. And while I myself did not drink while reading this book I find myself feeling a little tipsy thanks to all of the wine that flows through the story. I'm on the record as someone who often figures out the answer before the end of the book, but not with this one. I was guessing the entire time and even found myself batting around some loosely conceived theory of astral projection based on a Lois Duncan novel I read as a kid. But there is nothing more mysterious than technology at play as you fall down this rabbit hole.

So that's a bit about what I've been reading lately. What have you read recently that you enjoyed? Tell me about it in the comments!

Margot Pajamas

Is there anything better than a lazy Saturday morning?

Lounging around with a book and coffee, knitting away in your favorite pjs. Even better if those pjs are handmade!

That's right. I sewed clothing! I still can scarcely believe it myself after years spent wishing I knew how. For those who don't know I am teaching myself to sew by working through Love At First Stitch. After the success of my Brigette Scarf (of which there have now been several), I packed Pasha into the car and we headed off to our local yarn and fabric store, Creative Threads.

It is going to be very dangerous living so close to this shop because I love all of the Moda fabrics that they carry. I held myself to just this one with the adorable bunnies, but I already picked out my next purchase for when I go back. 

I am grateful that I was a knitter before I tried to sew garments, because it means that I already have some concept of how the pieces should fit together. But even if I had not I don't think I would have struggled too much because the instructions in the book are so clear. 

There was one major snafu when I set up the drawstring channel backwards, leaving the opening on the back rather than the front of the pants. I'm still not sure how I managed to do that, but short of completely dismantling the garment and starting over I was stuck with it. So a few days later Pasha and I headed to JoAnn's where in addition to fabric for several more projects I purchased elastic. There's still a small slit on the back of the pants, but I picked out the reinforcing stitches, so it isn't obvious. Plus now I have the perfect excuse to make another pair!