The Year that Was!

One of the pieces of advice I received while I was making the decision to retire was, "Don't commit to anything for the first year."  This small corner of the 'interweb' was the one thing that I did commit to and it was the one thing that I was least sure about.  I felt so lost those first weeks and months that I was ready to jump on anything just to feel busy. Now, with the perspective of the past year, I realize that what I would have committed to then has nothing to do with what I would choose now.  Thank goodness I actually listened to the advise, even though it was really hard to take.

February 24, 2016 was the first time I ventured into the 'blogosphere' (as a blogger!).  I was very ambivalent about the whole thing, even the word 'blogger' was intimidating!  My sons helped me set it up and nudged me along and I am so grateful to them for their expertise and wisdom.  They knew that I needed something...I'm not sure even they realized how much it would help me as I navigated this new phase of my life. 

Anniversaries seem to be a time to 'take stock' and think about the lessons and the cautionary tales.  This first year of retirement has provided some surprising opportunities for person growth.  It was definitely a reminder that we are never done learning about ourselves or reinventing.  I am also very glad to be on this end of that year! 😜

It hadn't occurred to me when I started this last year that I would have a whole year's worth of projects that I could look back on and decide what I think worked and what is...'hmmm, not so much.' Having the photos all in one place I can definitely see some trends...both good and 'hmmm, not so much.'

Here are some of the trends that I spotted...

My favorite color in 2016 appears to have been this browny-goldy-mustardy shade, often paired with turquoisey colors.  

I was definitely experimenting with hand stitching inspired by boro style patching.

"Do-overs" were popular this year.  Some more successful than others...I now wear my long pull-over turned cardigan all the time and my reworked cut-offs are really fun.  Can't say that the 'hippie cuffs' or the 'shirt-dress' are in heavy rotation...fun to make though.

One of my favorite fabrics is linen and that didn't change.  

Long tunicy tops showed up a few times.  

Bags and home dec were featured more than usual, and surprisingly enjoyable!

...And of course the project that started it all...my son's birthday vests!  
I did finish one for his birthday again this year but in all the excitement of the weekend, I forgot to get a picture. Sometimes being in the moment is more important than 'capturing' it! 
(I did snap a picture of the scraps that were left on my ironing table!)

There is one 'trend' that I will definitely not be repeating this year
.....the 'boot' is officially retired!

 I'm not sure that I am completely comfortable as a 'retired person' yet, but I know that it was the right decision at the right time for me, and that feels complete....I will keep practicing and eventually get the hang it!  As with my projects...some things are great! and others, 'hmmm...not so much.'

As I look ahead to the year coming into focus, it is already filled with adventures.  Continuing to share my sewing room projects here is something I am looking forward to.  Thank you for indulging my whims and sending your comments and encouraging words.  I hope this will continue to be fun for you, too!


A Long Time Coming

I have actually been spending some time in my sewing room!  Whoop!  But I can't share my sewing projects...yet!  I have been doing some 'gift sewing' and can't have it showing up on the 'interweb' before the recipients get a look.  How rude!  BUT, I can share something I am really excited about!!!

I finally finished a knitting project that started 4 years ago!  There aren't many projects that I will stick with that long.  But this one was worth it.  

It started with a trip to visit friends in Zionsville, Indiana.  It's a cute older town that kind of got swallowed up by the suburbs of Indianapolis.  My friend took me to a little yarn shop on their quaint downtown street.  Just the kind of place that draws you in and says, 'buy me!'  And of course I obliged.  They had a yarn made of a fiber I had never seen before...mink!  Yep, somebody spent time combing those cranky little critters and spun it into the softest yarn I have ever seen!  It was really, really soft and luscious.  And the colors were just as gorgeous as the yarn.  I had no plan, just knew I had to work with the stuff.

It was very fine so I chose a pale gray and a beige with the idea of working the two together as one yarn.  That was as much of a plan as I could manage at the time.  When I got the pile of yarn home I made several swatches and doodled dozens of designs...and then it was summer.  Who works on mink yarn in the summer?!

When the weather cooled off I pulled it out again and actually knitted a whole sleeve before I realized that it would probably fit King Kong.  That was the first 'unknitting' of the yarn.  I guess you probably have an idea now why it has been in the works for 4 years....OK, I won't bore you with a total blow by blow account, suffice it to say that there were several false starts and a few more summers before I made it to the finish line.  

When I bound off the last stitch I was kind of expecting fireworks or a cheering crowd, or at least an 'at-a-boy' from somebody, but I was all by myself and had to make due with a little private happy dance! (no, there is no video!🙈 )  But here are a few photos of my new mink cardigan sweater...

I designed the pattern myself (another reason for the false starts and extended time table!)  

I started at the cuffs, knit in the round increasing under the arm to the shoulder.  I then added stitches to make the side 'seam,' knitting up and over the shoulder until I got to the neck.  At that point I continued knitting the two separate pieces to the center back, crocheted them together and knitted the collar band.  When I bound off the last stitch I was done.  No Seams, only the beginning tails to work in.

Here are the two sleeves, ready to work the back section.

This is the cool center back seam that was done by crocheting the live stitches together.  I will definitely use this trick again on another project.

This little pile is all the yarn I had left when I finished.  I even had to take apart my gauge swatch to have enough yarn to finish the bind off.  Whew.

So, check another 'unfinished object' off the list!

The bad news is that the spring like February we have been enjoying is just about to go back to normal...the good news is...I have a very soft 'mink coat' to keep me cozy!



Back in Michigan....I'm not sure I was ready to give up flip-flops and my cool aqua beach cruiser for Uggs and snow tires...but here I am!  

I was hoping to have spent some time in my sewing cave by now and have pictures of some magnificent creations...but...not so much.  I'm finding the trip north hasn't been accompanied by a blast of inspiration, just a blast of arctic air!

What I have been inspired to do is take another whack at 'closet editing.'  
This past year has been a transitional one for me in so many ways, not least of all, what sort of clothing I want to wear, and make, to fit with my new life-style.  I really wasn't thinking it would be THAT much different, but, well, I was wrong...it is soooo different.  Each time I do an 'editing session' I find a pile of stuff that I just don't wear.  I like it, it's made well 😏 , it fits...I just don't seem to pick it.  

Being in Key West was a wardrobe eye-opener.  While I was there I literally had 2 T-shirts, a pair of shorts, a couple of swimsuits and my PJ's.  I started out with a few more things, but after the first week I sent a bunch of stuff back to Michigan with my hubby!  Working with such a limited wardrobe was incredibly freeing!  Do I want to wear the grey shirt or the striped one?  Done!  Granted I was only there for a month and I'm pretty sure I might have wanted 3 shirts if I had been there much longer!  But, figuring out how little I actually needed, and wanted, was surprising and very liberating.

So now that I am back with a stash of patterns and fabric what is it that I want to sew?  

I know that my sewing is more about the creative process than it is about actually wearing anything, but I do have to get dressed everyday and would like to have clothing that I really love and that works for my life.  

I'm not sure that I will solve this dilemna anytime soon, so while I ponder I have a few UFO's (unfinished objects) that I have been working on to share...

I boxed up the Christmas trimmings before I left in January and the house felt very 'naked' when I got back.  I decided I wanted something to 'nod at spring' for my table.  I found some fun Easter Bunny decorations that needed a table runner. (some of you may remember my 'quilting escapade' from last year around this time. see last year's post here)   I got all wound up for another major quilting session (major for me!) and then talked myself down off the ledge and settled for a simple (but I like to think, elegant) linen table runner.

The too cute bunny globe inspired the color palette and fabrics...linen (of course) silk ribbons, lovely cotton print...WHOA!

My "simple but elegant" linen table runner....raw edges, hand stitching, neutral palette...

Just enough spring to keep me going until the real thing shows up.

I did have a project that I worked on while I was in Key West.  I stenciled and layered cotton jerseys (a la Natalie Chanin) to make a t-shirt.  I got the stitching done while I was away, but still have to do all the cut-outs.  I'm having to do it a little at time, because my eyes start to cross after awhile.  I like the way it is shaping up and will keep plugging away at it.  I will share the finished T-shirt at some point....don't hold your breath!

Stitching away on my back porch!

The stencil is one that I cut using a picture of the carpeting in a hotel lobby that I stayed in at some point.

The color inspiration is my nod to old fashion 'redwork' or 'Turkey work'  

I am liking the results, but it is a time consuming process.

...time to cut the stencils!

As I wait for flashes of inspiration and spring...or both!  I will work on my UFO's and continue pondering my closet...and probably make a few more trips to the Goodwill Donation Center!