Wednesday, February 26, 2014


 On Valentines Day I finished and wore this special new top.  And oh do I love it!  It was my first (successful) project sewing a knit fabric, and it came together so quickly and easily.  I got the fabric at Value Village several years ago, planning at the time to make a pair of leggings with it.  Now of course, I'm glad I put it off for so long.  Because this is much more wearable and forgiving, size-wise.

 The pattern is Plantain, by Deer&Doe and it's free!  I probably wouldn't have tried it otherwise, but it certainly sold me on her patterns (all of them are adorable), the instructions were clear and thorough and the fit splendid.  I can hardly wait to make some more, as well as try her other patterns!
The sunlight has taken hold of me, we're gaining seven minutes a day, and the need to create comes with it.  I'm making a bralette from the Ohhh Lulu pattern Jasmine, with scraps from the shirt.  And Sunday afternoon was spent sewing up the shell to my new backpack.  It feel so good!

Filling my time with things that I actually want to do, rather than with fillers like Facebook or Pinterest has been a wonderful change for me.  I'm still using them both, but I've drastically changed how I do that.  Facebook is basically only for messages now, and with Pinterest I've banned myself from my home feed.  I can use it to look through what I've pinned, to save things from other websites, and to look through what other people have pinned, one person at a time.  But no more endless scrolling, no more overwhelming images, no more depressing or irrelevant or irritating headlines, and no more overbearing opinions.  It's left me wonderfully free.

Happy Wednesday world!

Love, Clara

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Winter Light

It's February nineteenth and a bright sunlight is streaming through the windows.  A light that makes everything pretty, and everything pale, and almost everything seem possible.   It reminds me of long, bundled up walks, late morning coffee, silk tea bags, knitting while reading school books, blasting music while taking hours to get dressed, and other vivid memories from high school.  But I've also been collecting new traditions of this season of winter (oh yes, winter has seasons, up here in Alaska).
 It's a time of afternoon baking and herbal tea.  Of writing as close to the window as I can get.  Of paper and scrap crafts and journal making.  Of reading fairy-tales and of grapefruit.  Of attacking pending projects because there's only a month left until life gets crazy at the greenhouse.  Of warm cars and cold engines.  Of new bursts of pictures and an itch to get sewing.  Of dreams of travel and a deep love of home.  Of ambitious summer plans (that probably won't happen) and massive questions.
It's the season of contradictions, without and with in.  It's sunny and warm inside, but outside it bounces from five to twenty below in a day.  It's this need to leave, to make changes, but the truth is that I dread what the results seem like what they must be.  Which is lonely.  It's this rush of energy and ideas, with resources in recession.  It's the need to make plans without the hope that they will happen.
 But even though I struggle to glean hope from a future I can't see, I'm finding hope within the little pieces of beauty in the present.  In splurging on some out of season plums to whip up a batch of plum poppy seed muffins.  In the pink stain left on the cutting board.  In a new kind of tea.  In the slow completion of a new pair of mittens.  In a chat with a preschooler while I work on choice material at my first job of the day.
 In icicles refracting light.  In BBC period dramas.  In a breathtaking color of a grapefruit.  In wiggly kindergartners and hilarious third-graders at my second job.  At the glittering ice crystals that coat my car each morning and the sunrise that advances with every day's drive.  In the cozy feeling of reading Dickens in bed and going to sleep early.   The is hope now, and it's the kind that doesn't have to rest on anything.  It just is.

Love, Clara

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

this one's for the bears

To carry on with our unintentional little "knitted animals on my sweater" theme (it's only twice, but for the sake of fun, let's overlook that), I have the next installment.  A bear sweater.  The very best of bear sweaters.  Because it's like a giant wool sweatshirt with thumb holes and a big hood that feels like a great bear hug the whole time you're wearing it.  It makes me wonder why I ever took it off...  just a second, I'll be right back.
Okay that's better.  It just makes sense to wear what you're blogging about while you're blogging it right?  And see what I mean about the thumb holes?  Perfect.  Plus, they help your hands look and feel more like paws.  Which is always a good thing.  
 I didn't realize until flipping through the pictures how much this guy's eyes pop out at you.  I didn't use any of the yarn the pattern called for, as I was trying to make it on a budget.  So if you feel like doing the same... I used Lion Brand's fisherman's wool held double, which I got with coupons from Joann's and then for the bear's face, I used bulky yarn from Knit Picks.

I chose to do duplicate stitch for the bear's face.  My first attempt at intarsia was enough to make me run from ever trying to try again, at least on a large gauge.  It was so awful, far worse than anything I've ever knitted, even my learning projects back when I was nine.  So duplicate stitch it was.  Thank heavens we have that option.  
 It's also the perfect sweater for bear impersonations.
 If you couldn't tell, I'm really trying to sell you all on this pattern.  Even if you don't knit (yet) consider it.  Please.  It was a super easy pattern, really fast too, because the yarn is so chunky and the needles so large.  And it's COZY.  And WARM.  And adorable.  You could even leave off the bear if you wanted (ya' crazy) and you'd have a wonderful cozy sweater that you knit yourself.  So, at least consider it.  Please?  The pattern is Oh My Bear by Tiny Owl Knits.
And in honor of bears and bear-lovers all over the world...
Yeah, I know it's not much, but it is a real bear.  The only bear I've ever actually seen in real life.  If you can't tell, it's that brown lump near the center of the picture.  I personally, was rather bummed that it was so far away.  I think everyone else in the bus was relieved though.  Except most of them had cameras like this
But hey, I was just happy to have finally seen a bear. :)

Love, Clara

Friday, February 7, 2014

In the Works

As my weekends (almost) start with a Friday (I just work a few hours in the late afternoon)... I've got quite the list rolling around my mind.  There are hopes of sewing a new shirt and some chipping away at a new backpack. Listening to more of this beautiful band.  Finishing Dream Thief by Stephen R. Lawhead and then diving back into A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (I've been meaning/wanting to read this book for ages, and I finally started it just last month, I lost it so picked up Dream Thief, and of course, promptly found the missing book).
Watching the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics tomorrow night!  Resting up, as I've been feeling a bit under the weather yesterday and today- so lots of sleeping and tea.  
Maybe some movie watching and some baking, or drawing.  And of course, knitting.  Good night now!

Love, Clara

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

a purple elephant parade

Back in the fall of 2007 I came across my first knitting magazine and you could say it changed my life.  Except I believe something are just inevitable, and somehow fiber would have ended up back in my hands.  But maybe it would have been in the form of Red Heart Supersaver and a plastic crochet hook, and I would never have found out so much later how magical wool truly is, and it's not just for making mittens from felted thrift store sweaters or people who can afford (or take the time) to get things dry cleaned.  And I would never have been sucked in by Celtic cables and mittens with pockets and a delightful sweater that had tiny cats all over it.
Before all this my knitting was limited to free patterns on line, fun fur yarn, and my great aunt's old aluminum needles.  Not that there's anything wrong with that, it was a good place to start, but oh am I glad that the road keeps going on to softer and prettier and more natural things!  That first knitting magazine was Interweave Knits Winter 2007 and I have now knitted that delightful cat sweater.  Substituting cats for elephants.  Because, well, can it get much better than an elephant sweater?  Not for me, it can't!
Aren't they just adorable?  I love this sweater.  I finished it back in September or October, and have worn it almost every week since (I was even wearing it yesterday when I uploaded these pictures).  It's so cozy and it fits brilliantly.  The traditional phrase for this is "like a glove" but in my case that would be incorrect, because the gloves I wear fit horribly and this sweater fits better than if I knit it on myself.  (now that's a funny image, lol)
The pattern is The Colette Pullover, and I followed it exactly, aside from the elephant motif, which I borrowed from here.  As a whole it is by far the most complicated thing I have ever made.  I'd say it even beats out the formal dress I designed and sewed and have yet to share here.  My reasons for saying so are these; it was my second fair isle project ever!  That alone, makes it pretty ambitious.  And it involved a steek (which if you don't know, means cutting the knitting so you can add  (in my case at least) a button placket) which was probably the scariest moment of my entire knitting life.  But I did it! I am all about conquering fears! And also the shaping was much more involved than I realized and had be quite stumped on multiple occasions.  But all in all, and through much determination, I did it.  And I think it will long be one of my favorite things I've ever made.  

In case you're curious there's a bit more on ravelry, here, if you want to see.  I hope to be back soon, there's another sweater along with other little bits of life to share.  I hope you are all having a lovely week!

Love, Clara