Happy Halloween!


Happy Halloween Everyone!!

I love costumes. It's the theatre kid in me. But to my surprise, LMC was excited to wear hers too. The first thing she said the morning when I got her from her crib was "ears" because she wanted to put on her headband. Gotta love it - and I think she looks pretty stinkin' adorable.

Mr. Cleaver and LMC painted the pumpkins together on Wednesday. The tempura paint is starting to peel a little, but I think they'll make it through the night.

We're planning to eat pizza and hand out candy, we get 80-100 kids a year. We're holding off on treat or treating for at least another year.

Hope your Halloween is fun and fabulous!

  • Olivia Dress: McCall's M6913, View B with D collar. All Kona cottons from JoAnn's.
  • Pig Ears: Improvised by me. Wool Felt from Z Fabrics.
  • Striped Leggings: Target
  • Tintin outfit: Goodwill and Mr. Cleaver's closet
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The Dr. Faye Lady Suit

I'm a big Mad Men fan, but don't tell me anything about the current season, because I only get to watch it when the dvds come out, so we can chat about it in 4 months or so. In that vein, this post is appropriately a bit overdue. Back in Season 4, I grew very fond of the Dr. Faye character and I also fell in love with this skirted suit from the "Hand and Knees" episode.

In some ways it seems more Banana Republic than 1960s, but then I found Simplicity 2154, a 1960's reproduction pattern and though, it's both!

Recently finding myself in need of a warm-weather appropriate suit for my DC trip, I pulled out the pattern and several yards of heavyweight linen from Z Fabrics and put this together over a weekend.


The coat is a fairly boxy design, which I decided was maybe not the most flattering on me, so it's belted in all these photos. Even if it's not the best cut for me, I believe the fit is spot on. If you wanted to slim it up some, I recommend narrowing the side gusset over choosing an allover smaller size.


The jacket has a fun construction, with the  front/back body and sleeve cut in a single piece, and an underarm gusset panel. Not counting the facings, the pattern in a total of 6 pieces. Attaching the top of the gusset to the underarm of the sleeve was a bit fiddly, but otherwise the jacket was very easy to sew. I actually had more issues with the pencil skirt (fitting ugh!).


Because the jacket is unlined, I finished all the seams with either purchased bias tape (about 2 packages) or by self-hemming after I ran out of bias tape for the facings and underarm.


I don't often need to wear a suit, but with a lady suit like this in my wardrobe, I might find a few more excuses!




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Bow Blouse

Untitled Not this weekend, but the one before, I squeezed in some time to sew, and churned out this blouse, which I decided I also need to make in a swiss dot someday.

The pattern is the 1960's reproduction pattern Simplicity 2154, and I even bought a bunch of yardage of linen to make the rest of the suit (which strangely enough, about the same number of total pieces that this blouse).



I love the fabric, which is a sturdy cotton from Lotta Jansdotter's line that I picked up at Z Fabrics. My only two mods to the pattern were extremely minor: 1) I decreased the seam allowance along the hips, and 2) I did the "Mena Test" of Sew Weekly fame and omitted the side zipper.


The top is sleeveless, but it was way too cold/windy to bare arms on the day I took these photos, but they're finished off nicely with some bias binding.  The whole thing is pretty simple to sew and I can't get over how nicely the collar lies.  Yep, I definitely need at least one more of these!

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School House Tunic #3

This is the last one of these for a while, as I've finally run through all the fabric I purchased to make School House Tunics, so I'll be moving onto other patterns in the near future, I promise!

For this take on the School House Tunic, I added 4 inches to the tunic-length to make it dress-length for me; added a series of three pintucks to each side of yoke; and made it short-sleeved, because I ran out of fabric.

The fabric itself is a cotton/linen blend in a color Bristol will want to steal from me, that I picked up at Z Fabrics.

I think this version will get a ton of wear in the warmer months, but for now I'm pairing it up with some tights, boots and a long-sleeved tee.

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Introducing: Wetherell

It's been a big week for me a designer, I've had not one, not two, but three designs come out in the past four days. The one I'm perhaps most excited is Wetherell, which came out in the Winter 2011 issue of Twist Collective.

This design started way back in the early days of 2010, when I challenged myself to design a sweater as my 2010 knitolution. I've knit plenty of sweaters, and adapted a few, but I wanted one that was all me.

As with most deadlines, I procastinated and didn't even start thinking of my design until early October, when I was doodling during a meeting and came up with this (and promptly dripped water on it):

Wetherell Sketch

The big question was how to do the diagonal feature on the yoke. After flipping through some stitch dictionaries, I deciding on modifying a slip stitch pattern. I love slip stitches because their woven-look texture and I find them less commonly used than other stitch patterns (though it is my second Twist pattern featuring slip stitches).


The downside to this heavy of a slip-stitch pattern is that is takes almost twice as many rows to get get the same length as Stockinette stitch. The upside is that it looks great and since it's confinded to the yoke and the cuffs, it isn't overwhelming. The name for the sweater came when Bristol Ivy and I did this photoshoot in March. It comes from the copy of The Wide, Wide World, I'm holding in the shoot, a 1850 novel by Susan Warner, published under the pseudonym Elizabeth Wetherell. According to Wikipedia, it is often acclaimed as America's first bestseller  (if you're interested you can read the whole thing here.)


The front and back of the sweater are knit flat, while the sleeves are knit in the round until the sleeve cap, then everything is blocked and seamed to together. The sweater is finished off with a knitted hem on the bottom. All together it's a simple sweater with the right amount of detail.

Both my prototype and the Twist sample were knit in Valley Yarn's Williamstown, a worsted weight wool/acrylic blend in a lovely range of tweedy shades. I even found matching buttons 8 months apart in the button box at Z Fabrics.


The pattern is available for $7 USD via Twist Collective or you can queue it up on Ravelry.

Photos 1-2: © Jane Heller, via Twist Collective

Photos 3-5: by Bristol Ivy


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Finished Object Round Up

If you're one of my friends on Ravelry, you might have noticed that for the past several months the top half of my project page seemed pretty empty. I had no photos of anything I made in the past 4-5 months - oops!

I blame this on two things - one: I didn't feel like putting on woolly things in the middle of the summer to take pictures of them and two: something I affectionately call That [email protected]#n Sweater.

Chevron Cardigan

That [email protected]#n Sweater is the achingly lovely Joy pattern from Rowan's vintage knits - my second and not last project from that book. It's a perfect lightweight cardigan that goes with anything and I wear it probably three times a week these days.

Chevron Cardigan

So why the name? Three reasons, it's black, textured and involves the following US needle sizes: 1, 2, 3. All of this is to say, I started it January 28 and finished around July 5th. A nearly six month labor of love.  That said, I'm a huge fan of the finished product, my only caveat is that I wish I had used better quality yarn, it's made from Knit Pick's Palette, which doesn't feel as nice as I'd like and it's already doing some serious pilling, but in any case I'm sure I will wear this cardigan to the bone.

My Pillow

To make myself feel better, this is a project I completed from start to finish in about three days, one which involved a marathon session of watching The West Wing.

Pillow Pieces

The project was inspired by a similar pillow pictured in SouleMama's book Handmade Home, which I picked up at a local book signing a few weeks back. The "bluework" pattern is free on a site called Pattern Bee (which as of 9/10/09 appears to be down for maintenance - the link should be re-activated around 9/16). The fabric is from a fat quarter pack I picked up at Z Fabrics a while back. The whole thing looks very nice on my sofa.

Woven Scarf

This one you've seen a lot of, but here's me actually wearing that scarf I wove earlier this summer (June). The ladies in my knitting group like to mock me for my consistency in color selection. Looking at the items in this post and my current (unpictured) knitting project, I'd be the last one to deny it. What can I say?  I like the colors of the ocean!

Book Jacket Photo

Another scarf photo, in a long tradition of what I like to call the"Book Jacket Photo."

Ishabel Shawl

This is Ysolda's Ishbel shawl from Whimsical Little Knits, which I picked up back here and knit in  some hand-dyed lace weight from Pine Star Studio that I got at the Maine Fiber Frolic. I knit it in about 10 days and took about 2 months before I got around to blocking it, which really does make all the difference in the world.

Ishbel Shawl

This is my new favorite picture of myself. All of the knitting/weaving photos were graciously taken by Mr. Cleaver while we took a walk around Mackworth Island this Labor Day. Mr. Cleaver joined me in creating the final FO ofthe post, of contribution to Mackworth's village of Fairy Houses.

Our Fairy House

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Fish and Finery

As promised I'm here with my latest sewing project and my mysterious 9-months in waiting project, which I just now realized could be construed as a pregnancy. It's not. It's goldfish.

Fish TankIf you've known me in the past 7 years or so, you may know that I love goldfish more than most people love goldfish. I've taken multi-state roadtrips with goldfish. I really like goldfish.  Our last Goldfish, Franklin died when we were in Chicago, and Mr. Cleaver , who had gotten quite attached, wasn't ready to commit to a new pet right away. When we decided to move back to Maine, I made Mr. Cleaver promise me that after we moved I could get a fish tank and some goldfish.

True to word, we got a 10 gallon tank/hood/filter set up on sale in mid-November. But as we were planning on going away for Thanksgiving, we figured we'd wait until we returned and the hustle and bustle of the holidays were over. Come the new year, we still had no fish, but more glaringly in our somewhat furniture-light apartment, no place to put the tank. We looked and looked, but found no suitable tank stand until a few weeks ago, while I was still working on the History Boys.

The show over and now May, we finally went and picked up a pair of lovelies. So without further ado, meet Gil:



And Jac.


They've adjusted nicely to their new home and are Mr. Cleaver and I are thrilled to have 'em.

You know what else makes me happy? Having time to sew and finishing a project in a day! The project?  Rae's Ruffle Top Tutorial from Sew Mama Sew!    

Summer Top

As soon as I saw it on the blog I knew I had to make it and picked up the great leaf cotton/bamboo fabric at Z Fabric and the contrasting green from JoAnn's.

I made a few modifications, namely the width of the bottom was limited to 1/2 the width of my fabric (I thik it ended up being 27" at the bottom), but I don't see that it made much difference. I also omitted the arm cutouts and side shaping, choosing to do a french seam on the sides and keep everything as simple as possible. I love the end result . It's pretty and airy and the perfect summer top. I think I shall be making at least one more this summer, which as someone who rarely makes patterns twice, is saying something.

Summer Top

Next up: An awesome start to summer!

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