Beautiful America

One of the most beautiful blankets I’ve ever made is a pattern called Little Boy Blue by Lion Brand.

This jewel-tone afghan was designed for Lion Brand’s Heartland, which happens to be Lion Brand Yarn Studio’s October Yarn of the Month. Heartland is 100% acrylic and weight 4 (medium). Heartland has a soft, silky feel and is comfortable for me to work with.

I enjoyed the variations in stitch patterns from row to row, which produced such a distinctive border. I counted stitches carefully at the end of each row, because mistakes would show and disrupt future rows. It is well worth the time and effort to ensure each section is correct before moving on. Continue reading

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Of Course You Can

One of my earliest memories is my mother taking her friend upstairs to our hall bathroom to share the unique floral Marimekko shower curtain she had just designed and sewn. The fabric matched the wallpaper.

I must have been only three years old, but I remember being impressed with the idea that Mom could do anything. If she wanted something specific, with distinctive style, she could create it herself. This was a liberating concept with which to grow up, and that’s what a sewing machine says to me to this day.

Mom gave me my first full-size sewing machine for my birthday two years ago–Singer’s 9960 Quantum Stylist. Feeling like a teenager driving a new car, I made a lightweight shower curtain for the second full bathroom/guest bathroom in the home of a close friend. Continue reading

Bavarian for My Family

Having a great-grandfather with Bavarian heritage, I was delighted to discover there is such a thing as “Bavarian crochet.” Of course, I wanted to learn it; and I’ve been working with the book, Learn to Do Bavarian Crochet, by Jenny King (Annie’s Crochet).

It helps that I previously learned both front post and back post trebles while making a small baby blanket. They are the secret to creating the raised pattern characteristic of Bavarian and take some getting used to. It’s easier to become comfortable with front and back post trebles–and gauge consistency with trebles in general–before putting it all together. Continue reading

French Women Live the Seasons

“In the twenty-first century, we can no longer expect to receive lifestyle as an inheritance; it has become a matter of active choice,” writes Mireille Guiliano.

Guiliano’s French Women for All Seasons. is my first book for Rose City Reader’s 2017 European Reading Challenge.

This book is the sequel to French Women Don’t Get Fat, Guiliano’s guide to the secrets French women know, and many in the West have forgotten, about enjoying life without overdoing things. Continue reading

My Stitch Sampler: Goals for 2017

My mother gave me Yvette Stanton’s wonderful Left-Handed Embroiderer’s Companion as a Christmas gift a couple years ago.

I began working my way through this step-by-step stitch dictionary, using a large cotton tea towel and bright embroidery floss, and practicing each stitch until I was comfortable with it. This year, I want to finish this “sampler” and use my new stitches on a new set of floral-pattern tea towels.

I’ve been embroidering since I was little, but I haven’t incorporated many fancy stitches. I normally use a back stitch, a cross stitch, or a herringbone stitch. Continue reading

Europe, Memory, and the Heart: 2017 Reading Challenge

I’ve never participated in a reading challenge before, but my friend Gilion at Rose City Reader just published her 2017 European Reading Challenge.

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I love Europe, from St. Patrick’s Ireland to pre-Bolshevik Russia and medieval Norway to ancient Greece. I made an effort this year to focus on reading more whole books, and that brought a freshness to my mental routine that I knew I needed. Continue reading

A Song for Saint Cecilia’s Day

If you have visited Colonial Williamsburg or Jamestown, Virginia, but have never been to St. Mary’s County, Maryland, it is worth the beautiful drive to Colton’s Point on the Potomac River to retrace a lesser-known chapter in America’s founding. A Maryland Historical Society sign on the shore near the St. Clement’s Island Museum marks the landing of The Ark and The Dove on March 25, 1634, adding, “Here, on the same day, Father Andrew White, S.J. celebrated the first Catholic Mass in the British-American colonies.”

That simple event, a Catholic Mass, inaugurated religious freedom in British North America.

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(St. Mary’s City Historic District: Reconstructed 1667 Catholic Church, built on site of the original Jesuit mission church in the St. Mary’s City colonial settlement, Maryland’s first colony. HSMC, July 2009, via Wikipedia) Continue reading