Sewing

I fell in love with William-Adolphe Bouguereau’s painting Sewing (1898) when I was about twelve years old. I thought this calm and pensive little girl was so beautiful, and I made up my own stories about her life and interests.

The sweetness of this child still makes me smile. Sometimes I think of her, and the innocence this painting represents, when I sew.

Phyllis Hoffman DePiano, publisher of Classic Sewing Magazine, has a gracious blog called The Ribbon in My Journal. Last week she shared the history of sewing machines. Most of my sewing has been embroidery by hand, but I recently began learning to use my Singer sewing machine. Continue reading

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Seasons and Celebrations

“To understand the calendar is to grasp in a new way the huge significance of the Christian faith, and to understand the role it continues to play in our common life.”

Every December I reread A Yearbook of Seasons and Celebrations because the Liturgical (Church) Year begins with Advent, the four-week season before Christmas.

British journalist and author Joanna Bogle’s A Yearbook of Seasons and Celebrations is my fifth book for Rose City Reader’s 2017 European Reading Challenge. Her book is a descriptive compilation of traditions associated with Christian feast days, as they have been celebrated particularly in England. She presents recipes, songs, games, crafts, and customs for each feast day or season of the year. Many of them are centuries old, and their origins are fascinating. Continue reading

“Knit Your Bit” (or Crochet) for Today’s Veterans

I was in grade school during the first Gulf War. We prayed the Rosary for peace and for the deployed family members of students.

I also remember that when war was imminent, a priest at my Catholic parish announced he was becoming a Navy chaplain. I don’t remember if he already had a past in the Navy; it seems likely he did. But in 1990 he was not a young man.

He enlisted as a chaplain because our country was going to war, and he wanted to serve the spiritual needs of the men and women who were going to fight it. I remember feeling a kind of awe that Father Ryan knew instinctively what he ought to do at that moment in time–and that he so straightforwardly did it. His farewell was a lesson in selflessness and in doing what was right without fanfare, fuss, or delay. Continue reading

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

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