Satisfied.

I’ve had a pretty great summer so far.  Two wonderful trips to visit friends and family, lazy afternoons reading and napping, and more recently knitting and baking again.  All good things in my book.  And yet there was something so perfect about this past Saturday that it stands out among all the other Saturdays of summer.

My day started with a yoga class that was both relaxing and invigorating.  On my way home, I decided to stop at our local farm stand to see what looked good.  I love just looking over the farm-fresh fruits and vegetables, touching and smelling, then deciding what I will eat that day.  It’s an ideal way to cook, I think, one I wish I could do year round.  But on this day, it was fruit that stood out to me; rotund peaches, glimmering raspberries, and bejeweled blueberries. I ate half the pint of raspberries on the drive home.  The six-minute drive home…

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The rest I left out in the kitchen while I sat on the deck to knit and catch up on the Cast-On podcast.  I was a woeful 5 episodes behind in her newest series called Make Do & Mend.  Now I’m down to two episodes to go and feeling inspired to use it up and wear it out in my material life. I got a little taste of this doing the Wardrobe Refashion challenge last spring, but I feel ready to try some new ideas for reusing, re-purposing, and generally using less.  This has been happening in my knitting all summer long as I first look to my stash for new projects.  And in my efforts to organize and prepare the house for the new arrival, I have come across plenty of items that could be made into something new.  Now I just need to settle in and tackle some of these projects!

While listening, I finished my little cardigan; it’s just waiting for a wash, block, and buttons.  More on that later.  It felt so peaceful to sit outside in the sunshine, listening to great work on knitting and crafting, and daydreaming about what to do with my peaches.  I eventually had to ask myself: What would Ina do?

She would make a peach and blueberry cobbler, of course!  And since Sweetie doesn’t happen to like peaches or blueberries, I would get this all to myself.  I decided to split the recipe between two smaller baking containers–one for now and one for later.

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This method worked out perfectly, as I enjoyed part of one about 3 minutes after it came out of the oven, and the rest for dessert later that night.  The second cobbler is just waiting in the fridge to be baked.  It could be dessert tonight, I suppose.  Don’t want to let it sit for too long, now would I?!

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Saturday was a simple day full of some of my favorite things.  I love it when the hours fall together better than you could have imagined when you woke up in the morning, and by the time you’re ready for bed you feel full and satisfied with your day.  Don’t you?

Lelah: Before and After

The whole thing with the mice also prompted me to refashion another finished knit that I still like and would love to wear.

Before:

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  • Pattern: Lelah, original details here

  • Yarn: Calmer by Rowan in color 484

After:

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I did two things to make this more wearable for myself.  First, I changed out the ribbon from a shiny white to an embroidered brown grosgrain.  I love the combination of lavender and brown (my bedroom colors, incidentally) and looked long and hard for that ribbon!

Second, I went back and added the elastic that was suggested in the pattern to begin with.  Not having a sewing machine when I originally made this top led me down a series of rationalizations as to why I didn’t need elastic.  The truth is, I didn’t want to hand sew!  So I simply turned down the top edge and sewed a channel for some elastic cord to slide through.  It feels much more secure up top, and I may actually get to wear it this summer!

Do you have any knits that could come out of hiding with a quick adjustment here or there?  Is there something you have never worn or used?  Well, I’m here to encourage you to take the knits back and make those changes, give them away, or frog them and reuse the yarn.  Life is to short to let your knits languish in a dark closet!

Sew Fun

A confession:

I fell off the Refashion bandwagon.  Hard.

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I won’t go into the details of what I purchased, but I will say that the lure of the new spring fashions on ones birthday is nearly impossible to resist.  The changing of the seasonal clothes is like fashion kryptonite to me, and I was powerless against its force.

Falling off has forced me to refocus and recommit myself to refashioning and creating something new out of what I already have.  Like Mooncalf suggests: Make, do and mend.  Words to live by, my friends.

What I’ve done to counteract my spending spree:

My mom flew in as a surprise for my birthday, and after she took me shopping, she encouraged me to go out and get that sewing machine.  Finally.  I mean, she sent me money to buy one for my birthday last year, and I must have spent it on yarn because a sewing machine never appeared.  So with her support I picked out a swingin’ Singer machine and got to experimenting.

I learned a thing or two about sewing back in Miss Friday’s home economics class.  There were projects, and I completed them with some measure of success.  I think my mom still has that little Easter bunny I made, and if its seams remain sturdy after all these years I must have done something right.

When it came time to break in the Singer, I didn’t want to mess around with things like “patterns” or “information”, I just wanted to get busy!  Recently someone told me about how you could transform an old t-shirt into a reusable shopping bag with a minimum of effort.  Perfect.  I found a shirt that was too small, and while I was digging around I found one that had holes in the armpits.

I like cereal.  A lot.

I like cereal. A lot.

I used a grocery sack as a template for width and length.  Then I simply cut off the sleeves of both shirts below the seam, and cut a new opening.  Since I wanted to show off some snazzy contrast stitching on the lining I just pinned the two fabrics together with an inward fold.  (pardon the lack of technical jargon here–I’m winging it!)

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I zipped around the armholes and across the top of the straps to ensure stability, then turned the whole thing inside out and sewed the bottom closed.  The entire project took about 30 minutes (not counting the 30 it took me to get the bobbin wound correctly).  It’s not perfect, but that wasn’t the point, was it?

I’m proud of myself for finding a new use for something I wasn’t using anymore.  I think this is something I could do more of, both with clothing and odd items around the house.  It’s exciting and empowering to be able to make your own stuff! As a knitter I already knew this on one level, but this sewing thing has opened up a whole new world to me.

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What Was Old is New Again

This is my first refashion, although technically there was no sewing or work to it at all.  It was the perfect way to get started on my challenge this week.

Before:

Martha's not crazy about the length, either

Martha's not crazy about the length, either

This is a skirt I picked up at Fab India on my trip to Mumbai in 2006.  I knew it was long, but it was perfect to wear in the 110 degree heat when showing a little leg was not appropriate.  Back home, it was just a little too long and frumpy for regular wear.  Now that it’s been in my closet and hasn’t seen the light of day for at least 2 years, I though it was time to give the skirt a makeover.

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Fortunately, there was already a seam running horizontally just above my knee line.  This is where the pattern changed direction, and I simply cut the lower portion of the skirt away.

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And presto–a nicely hemmed skirt and me making it one more week without buying a sewing machine!  It will happen eventually, I promise.

Part of my re-fashioning mission is to really take a look at the pieces of clothing I have in my closet.  There are some pieces that I haven’t been able to part with, either for sentimental reasons (the kimono top I bought in China town when I first moved to NYC), or because I hope it will fit again someday.

I’ve started culling my clothing stash by doing 2 things.  First, I went through and pulled out anything that I don’t wear or doesn’t fit that I couldn’t bear to get rid of because I liked the fabric or an embellishment on it.  These have been set aside for refashion use.  I then went into my closet and ordered my clothing by color and sleeve/pant length.  It’s a rainbow of clothes in there!  Then I turned all the hangers around so that the hook comes from behind.  As I wear clothes, I turn the hanger back around to its normal position.  At the end of my 2 months, I will see which clothes I haven’t worn and know that those can probably go to a new home.  I’ve done this before in the past, and it works great.  Plus, the shift in how my clothing is organized helps me see things in a new way, and I end up creating new combinations and outfits.

Do you have any tips for organizing your clothing?

The Pledge

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Today is Day 1 of my experiment with Wardrobe Refashion.  When I first started thinking about taking on this challenge, my goals were to spend less, buy less, and learn some sewing skills.  As practice, I didn’t buy any clothing during the month of February (yay!).  Now I’m ready to take it to the next level and start playing around and experimenting with my clothes, thrifted materials, and maybe as a treat, buying some handmade or refashioned clothes from etsy.

From the Wardrobe Refashion site:

The Pledge

I, Sonia, pledge that I shall abstain from the purchase of “new” manufactured items of clothing, for the period of 2 months. I pledge that I shall refashion, renovate, recycle preloved items for myself with my own hands in fabric, yarn or other medium for the term of my contract. I pledge that I will share the love and post a photo of my refashioned, renovated, recycled, crafted or created item of clothing on the Wardrobe Refashion blog, so that others may share the joy that thy thriftiness brings!

I intend to write about this challenge on a weekly basis, sharing whatever comes up for me.  I imagine there will be times where I need to pout about not buying some cute new spring thing.  The good news is, there’s a “Get Out of Jail Free” card available for emergencies.  Other weeks I will share the process of culling my closets, learning to sew, and playing with making my old clothes new again.  Fear not–this is still a knitting blog!  I just wanted to share this new addition to my life with you all.

During this process I welcome your advice, tips, tricks, sewing wisdom, thrifting strategies, and etsy connections.  If you are taking the challenge, let me know!

Simplify

Have you ever noticed a beautifully painted sign at a boutique type shop, the ones that say things like “Live, Laugh, Love”, “I Hope You Dance”, and “Simplify”?** Sweetie and I always laugh a little at the ones that suggest simplification while urging you to buy something utterly useless. The sentiment is well placed, however, and is something that I am trying to keep in mind this year.

I have been slowly culling my possessions, taking inspiration from the 7 Things project.  This involves putting serious thought into the possessions I have around me, both things I already own and things I am tempted to buy. I am asking myself  “Do I really need this?” before I buy anything, and I tell you: just raising consciousness like this has saved me mmore than a few bucks in impulse buys!

I have made the most significant simplifications in my yarn and book stash.  The first resolution I made  was that I would only buy yarn for specific projects.  Sock yarn is, of course, for socks, so I can and will buy as much as I like.  I get to go to Webs today as we are heading up there to attend a  Sarah Vowell reading.  It’s going to be a smorgasbord of sock yarn for me, as I am hoping to get my hands on some Malabrigo, Noro Silk Garden, and Dream in Color Smooshy.  These are all sock yarns I have not yet sampled but have been lusting after.  It feels better to  me to buy with intention than to just go hog wild and wonder what happened later when the adrenaline wears off!

My second area of simplification is books.  I am a bibliophile, and I love to buy, collect, attract, and stash books of all kinds.   I turned around last month and really saw how many books I have purchased that I hadn’t gotten around to reading yet.  I made a pile.  It was tall.  Then I made a pile of books that I had read and didn’t want to keep.  Also tall.

At that moment, I decided two things: 1. No buying books until I have read all the books in the first pile. 2. Do something good with the used books I no loger needed.  A friend suggested I look into Paperback Swap and it was a revelation.  You simply post 10 books to your account that you are able to trade.  As people request your books, you get a credit which you can then use to get a new book.  The only cost is for media mail shipping which is under $2.50.  Needless to say, I’ve gotten rid of many books, acquired a few I’ve been wanting, and have been reading a bit more than usual.

Thirdly, I feel inspired by the Wardrobe Refashion challenge.  The idea is to “…abstain from the purchase of “new” manufactured items of clothing [and] refashion, renovate, recycle preloved items for myself with my own hands…”  I like the idea of looking at clothes buying in a new way, as well as refurbishing some of my existing wardrobe.  I have been inteneding to buy myself a sewing machine for about 87 years now, and I think this is just the impetus to finally do so.  I dream of making my own skirts, hemming and change things I already own, and creating something new from something old.  Is anyone interested in taking the 2 month pledge with me?

So those are some of the projects going on around Peaceful House these days.  Unfortunately, I found out yesterday that there is not a bun in the oven, so that is no longer a work in progress.  For the time being, anyway.  Thanks again for all your well wishes and support.

Have a great weekend everyone!

**In the interest of full disclosure, I do have a sign that says Love Joy Peace over my front door.**