This is the sixth year I've hosted a "pie-luck" for National Pie Day and I don't have much new to say. Pie is awesome. You can do so many different things with it: sweet pies, savory pies; tarts and quiches; empanadas and shepherd's pies; fruit and ganache and meringue. There's a reason I call Pie Day the most delicious day of the year. I love that my knitting friends bring such an amazing variety of pie and that we get to sit and eat and knit. I love that Ms. Maggie surprised us all by coming down from Orono. I love that I get to try something new and complex (in this year's case, a brown-butter lemon zest and cranberry tart) that puts all that Great British Bake-Off watching to good use. But mostly I love that there's no happier combination than good food and good friends.
I've gotten really bad at sharing my projects here. I've been posting WIP photos on Instagram pretty regularly, but then I forget I haven't put them here, and months go by and here we are.
As LMC nears closer and closer to her third birthday, I've learned that a toddler's fashion choices have very little to do with my own preferences, and that a great interest in an item one day, may translate to no interest whatsoever for next several months. For example, LMC was super interested in this dress as I was sewing it, but has never worn it aside from those photos. In general she has no interest in dresses at all. So all those lovely detailed Oliver+S patterns I had purchased, have gone into a box.
What she will happily wear almost every day of the week and most nights to bed are tutus (or ballet skirts as they're called in the Cleaver household). So I got smart, bought some tulle and knocked out a few in her favorite colors over the holidays. They even managed to supplant the previous tutu, which was worn every other day for months and has now been relegated to the back of the drawer. As Mr. Cleaver said "You could make her one in every color and she's wear them all the time, light pink, dark pink, light purple, dark purple..." (LMC has some specific color preferences).
I haven't been quite as successfully in supplanting the "doggie hat" (see every photo of my child this winter, indoors or out) with a hand knit one, but I did give myself the greatest chance of success. It's purpley-pink, has earflaps, pompom, and an animal on it. She's worn it a handful of times, which I consider a great success.
But the nice thing about both the tutus and the owl hat is they were low-commitment projects. I made a second tutu before the first one had finished it's round in the wash, and the hat took two knitting sessions, tops. So even if she didn't like them, ripped them, lost them, etc. It's no harm done. And THAT, I've found is the key to making handmades for this child.
The bonus of only making super-quick simple projects for LMC is that I can do the complex projects I crave for myself. And when it comes to myself, it seems, there are no simple projects.
After number of deadline-driven knits, I was feeling a bit burned-out on knitting and instituted selfish-stitching Sundays for myself, where I could work on anything I wanted. For my first selfish-stitching project, I chose the Shersock's pattern from Lattes and Llamas. I'm a fan of the show, so I wanted something to commemorate that, but also something that was nice-enough looking that they'd still look neat even if you didn't catch the show reference, and these fit the bill perfectly. They were also the perfect selfish-stitching project, because I don't do a ton of colorwork and it gave me a chance to work on my skills.
My second selfish-stitching project was a pair of very useful fingerless mitts knit up in some yarn I had dyed in 2011 and spun in 2012. I don't have a selfish project on the needles right now, but I just saw a new design Bristol Ivy has in progress that is absolutely stunning, so I'm pretty sure I know what its going to be.
As for sewing, my motto seems to be no small projects! As I leapt from sewing my first pair of jeans to sewing a winter coat. The jeans are the stovepipe leg version (View A) of the Ginger Jeans. With the inclusion of the sew-along, I found making jeans very do-able if time consuming. I made the lower-waisted version, which I raised a bit by making the waistband twice as wide (hence the two buttons). She's since released a tutorial on doing a mid-rise variation, which I'd probably do the next go around. I'd also make them a size down, because I didn't account for how much the denim would stretch throughout the day. But even with those caveats, I'm super proud of my jeans making. Seriously, making your own jeans makes you feel like a sewing BOSS.
As for WIPs, I'm currently working on my plaid Cascade Duffle Coat. I've been itching for a new winter coat for years, and this pattern was just the thing I was looking for. As with the jeans, it's not hard to sew per-say, there's just a ton of pieces/steps, but it's coming along. I doubt it'll be done by the end of the month as I hoped, but I live in Maine and the winter in long, so I'll still get plenty of use methinks.
For the fifth year in a row, my knitting friend and I gathered at Casa Cleaver to celebrate National Pie Day with lots and lots of pie.
Due to the seemingly never-ending snow and some scheduling conflicts, our group was slightly smaller than usual, but we still managed to have 11 kinds of pie represented. There was a spicy meat pie, lentil shepherds pie, empanadas, cauliflower quiche, chocolate tart with hazelnut crust, nutella/banana, raspberry ribbon, ginger pear, lemon meringue, cherry and blackberry.
Much pie was eaten, much tea was drank, and much knitting was done. We also managed to cover all 70 toes present with hand-knit socks.
I intended to make my traditional cherry cup-pies, but due the lack of tasty ingredients in unbaked pie-dough, my baking assistant started losing interest and I went for simple(r), by making a regular pie and using a heart cookie cutter for the top crust, which would make a great valentine's day dessert, methinks.
I also tried out a new recipe that I've been dreaming of for a while, inspired by my much-beloved Katie Cakes from Chicago. While I'd like to try one at least one more iteration before I'd call it final (adding a bit of cinnamon and clove to berries), it was pretty delicious, so I thought I'd share it here.
Blackberry Pie with Lemon Streusel:
- 2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cup shortening or unsalted butter
- up to 1/2 cup of cold water
- 4 cups blackberries (boysenberries would work great too), fresh or thawed frozen berries
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3 Tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 stick melted butter
- zest of one lemon
Pre-heat Oven to 350 Degrees F.
Mix together flour and salt for crust. Using knives or a pastry cutter, cut in shortening until mixture resembles course meal. Add cold water a small amount at a time, until dough holds together. Separate into two equal-sized balls. Flatten balls into discs and wrap separately in plastic wrap and place in fridge for about 30 minutes, or at a minimum, while filling and streusel is prepared.
Mix together filling ingredidents and set aside.
Mix together streusel ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
Roll out chilled dough for bottom of pan. Insert pie filling. Roll out dough for top of pan, making a lattice structure is recommended.
Sprinkle streusel on top. It seems like a lot of streusel, but I'd recommend using it all as the pie expands slightly while baking.
Put in oven and bake for 1 hour, or until pie bubbles. Briefly broil top to brown if needed.
I finished the stocking with 2 days to spare. The last backstitch was completed the evening of the 22nd and the stocking assembled and sewn on the 23rd.
The kit came with some poly-felt for the backing, but no instructions for assembly, so I took a good look at the ones my Grandmother made and worked from there, using some pre-made piping and leftover linen for the exterior and some muslin for the lining. After nearly 21 months of work, it was proudly filled with goodies by Santa on the 24th, and somewhat anti-climatically put into storage on January 1.
I also managed to complete a toddler sweater and an apron, a large batch of cookies, several pounds of peanut brittle, the assembly of a wooden play kitchen and, with some finishing help from Bristol Ivy, a knit hat for Mr. Cleaver.
With a list like that it's no wonder I took the week after Christmas to relax and watch old movies (Charade and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance - both highly recommended!) and Doctor Who on Netflix. I also managed to clear up some of my sewing project backlog, but more on that for another day.
Though last year was LMC's first Christmas, this was her first year with some understanding about the holiday and we really wanted it to be magical and mindful of both sharing in the traditions we grew up with (Handmade stockings! Toutiere on Christmas Eve!) and building new traditions of our own.
Christmas music was played, the Nutcracker was danced to, stop-motion animated films were watched, and food was shared with family. We took her to see Santa, who she was rather uncertain about until he gave her a little teddy bear, and then he was a great guy. We drove to see the lights and decorated together. It was enjoyed by all of us and I gained a great deal of respect for all that my parents did when I was child to make Christmas something special for my brother and me.
Usually, when the decorations are packed up and put away on the First of the year, it always felt a little barren to me, but as we shift to this new year, life just feels so full - in the very best way possible, that it couldn't possibly feel barren at all.
New year - new site!
I've built a shiny new MsCleaver.com and the blog now resides at http://www.mscleaver.com/chronicles/ or you can find the rss feed at http://www.mscleaver.com/chronicles?format=rss or Follow my blog with Bloglovin
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Last week was National Pie Day, so this past Sunday my knitting group gathered for our annual Pie Day celebration, but far more importantly, we invited a few more folks over and held a baby shower for Ms. Maggie.
Maggie's expecting twins in the early spring, so we took the opportunity to shower her with pie, love, and handmade baby things!
As is now my typical baby gift, I made two sets of envelope tees from Growing Up Sew Liberated, tag blankies from Simple Sewing for Baby and Made by Rae's Basic Newborn Pants. All versions of things that we used/use often with Little Miss Cleaver and all of which, I seem to have forgotten to photograph, except for that glimpse of green corduroy above.
We ate pie, played match the baby photo to the party guest (harder than you'd think), opened gifts, ate more pie, and stenciled bibs and onesies.
Can I talk a minute about stenciling clothes? Why have I never done this before?! So fun.
I found a perfect Handmade Charlotte Woodland stencil collection and we used Tulip Soft Fabric Paint at Michaels. I'll have to get a report back on how they hold up to washing, but having the stencils took the pressure off of a) coming up with ideas and b) having the skills to pull it off, that free-hand drawing would require. I kinda want to stencil everything now.
As per usual, the food was delicious and the versatility of pie continues to impress. There was veggie quiche, apple/cheddar/leek tart, mixed berry pie, cranberry custard, chocolate caramel, chocolate pecan caramel, as well as an array of other lovely snacks and hors d'oeuvres.
Pie Day may be one of my favorite days of the year (especially in the midst of a cold January), but it's even more fun when you get to celebrate a dear friend. Now to wait a few months for the little guys' arrival!
We got our live tree at just the perfect time this year. Picked it up Saturday morning without incident, including my first attempt at strapping it to a car (thanks bungee cords!) and set it up just in time to head to the third almost-annual ornament swap with my knitting group. I made the needle-felted winter scene and took home the snowman head, which went perfectly with my non-breakable/no-hooks-needed theme for this year's tree. Once again, I was super impressed with all the ornament makings (though I still can't get my brain around how the pom-pom ones work). Our timing was also perfect since we got about a foot of snow the next day. We did make a first attempt at sledding with Little Miss C, and while the snow was tasty, the cold and snowsuit and the dog in her face was all a little too much and big tears were shed about .05 seconds after that last shot was taken. Good thing there's a cozy warm house and pretty lighted tree to return to.
Come Friday, Little Miss Cleaver (LMC or Miss C.) will be a month old (well, four weeks). It's hard to believe a) that it's been a month already and b) that's she's only been in our lives a month. The nights are long and the days are short and we couldn't be happier.
I've managed to get in a little sewing, and Miss C. went to her first knit night last week and got tons of cuddles and mom got to use two hands at once. I spend a lot of time just looking at her and thinking how beautiful she is and how amazing it is that she's ours.
I love being a mom to this little wigglebottom.
My final design in the Strata and Line Collection is Latitude, a cozy and simple sweater coat.
The coat is worked from the top down with round yoke shaping and a bit of waist shaping. The buttonholes are worked with the rest of the body, while the oversized collar and cuffs are picked up and worked after in the striped pattern (though you could always knit separately and seam on if desired).
The sample features Quince & Co's Puffin yarn in a range of seaglass blues. This fluffy single-ply yarn makes the coat super warm and cuddly.
As a sweater coat, Latitude was designed to be worn with approximately 2" positive ease. The modeled shots show the coat with about 4" of ease. For comparison here's a shot or two of me wearing it over a 38.5 week baby bump and 1-2" of negative ease.
Latitude $6 USD
If you want to queue it up on Ravelry, the collection can be found here.
Longitude was the first design in the collection I came up with and the last one I actually made.
Long before Bristol came to me with the idea for a stripe-themed collection, I had the idea for a short-row shaped striped bonnet banging around in my head as by product of a zebra I had knit for my cousin. (Incidentally, that’s another pattern that I intend to release soonish).
In making that zebra I learned a few things about the possibilities of short rows and thought it would make a great hat. Add in some i-cord edging and a couple of pom-poms and you’re all set!
The yarn for the sample features the wonderfully subtle Berroco Black Tweed in Narragansett (Navy Blue) and Clover Honey (off-white). I’d wanted to try this yarn out for a while, so when it showed up in my LYS’s clearance bin in colors I loved, it seemed like fate.
It’s a wonderfully soft yarn, but my one caveat is that I has no issues knitting with it, but the yarn did tend to break when I tried to use it to tie off the center of the pom-poms, so I ended up using a sturdier thread for that purpose.
Longitude is available for download as a solo pattern for $4.00 USD or can be purchased from my Ravelry store with my other two designs from the collection, Latitude and Lamina for a discounted $12 with the coupon code LINE.
Longitude $4 USD
If you want to queue it up on Ravelry, the collection can be found here.
For the first of three posts about my designs for the Strata and Line Collection, I decided to start with Lamina.
I wanted Lamina to be one a simple, very wearable sweater . The original idea was do to an all-over stripe (below), but after some design tweaking, I went with a solid body and striped sleeves and collar.
The decision to keep the body solid makes for a slightly interesting, though not difficult construction.
At its most basic, Lamina is knit in the round from bottom up with saddle-shoulder shaping and some gentle waist shaping. The saddles themselves are knit back and forth and seamed from underarm to shoulder and then rejoined to work the cowl neck in the round. Because the stripes are contained to the arms, it’s also a relatively quick knit.
It was also a huge pleasure to work with the yarn on this pattern. The yarn is the Woolen Rabbit’s Grace in Myrtle and Straw. Grace is a beautiful merino yarn that comes in sizable 525 yard skeins. There are few yarns I think I’ve enjoyed knitting with more – it was just so pretty, lovely to work with, and the colors really make this design pop. Tea Leaves/Forever in Blue Jeans would be another fabulous color combo. I just picked up some more Woolen Rabbit yarn at a recent local fiber event so I can work more with her yarns.
Lamina is available for download as a solo pattern for $6.00 USD or can be purchased from my Ravelry store with my other two designs from the collection, Latitude and Longitude for a discounted $12 with the coupon code LINE.
If you want to queue it up on Ravelry, the collection can be found here.