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November 2010
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December 2010

packing the knitting bag

who says boys don't knit?

He's imitating everything these days, from sentences to favorite pastimes. He pulled out a "big book" from the shelf this morning and wanted to read it - Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. "Gapes Waff," according to him. Of course, he also picks up on our less studious and wholesome tendencies. No need to mention those here, but just so you know, we are far from perfect, and it's both hilarious and humbling to see our own imperfections mirrored by a toddler.

So. About the knitting bag, and what I'm packing in it. We're leaving tomorrow for an east coast extravaganza trip. First we're heading to Florida to see Patrick's family for a few days, then we're flying from there to Philadelphia where we will tour the facilities at the Children's Hospital and meet with the cardiologists and surgeons. From Philly we head home.

While all of the craziness is happening around me, I plan to knit. It keeps me grounded, especially when this mildly introverted homebody is cajoled out of her comfort zone and into the more lively real world. The nice thing about the real world is that there are more people to watch Finn - and that fact, coupled with my very pregnant state - gives me the perfect exuse to put up my feet with a ball of yarn and a few needles. Yes.

And boy, do I have some knitting to do. So much of what happens to Lachlan once he is born is out of my hands, but what remains very clearly (and literally) in my hands is the ability to make things to keep him warm (a necessity for babies with HLHS, whose circulation is compromised.) I have a blanket to finish for him, as well as another pair of booties and some matching Stella Pixie hats. Perhaps I'll start a Yoda Sweater if I get the chance. You see, he needs to have shirts and sweaters that open in the front and leave plenty of room for IVs and tubes - kimono shirts that don't have metal snaps. Miriam, a very generous blog reader, sent along a pair of tie-front shirts from Japan that fit the bill perfectly. Thank you so much, Miriam! I also have these wool ones in mind (especially if I end up short on knitting time for making a sweater.)

In other news, we met the pediatric cardiologist at Duke yesterday who will be Lachlan's go-to-guy here at home. We LOVE him. He's such a great guy (and doctor) and that really puts our minds at ease knowing that Lachlan will be in his care. And guess what? We toured their pediatric cardiology ICU unit, met with the surgeon (who is new to Duke) and found out that he has a very excellent reputation and has survival statistics equal to those boasted by the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. All of this means that we might end up staying at Duke for his care, which is pretty exciting for us because it would be SO convenient. We live so close to Duke that we could  walk there if we wanted to (Patrick bikes all the time.) And how much easier would it be on Finn to be on his familiar home turf during all of this? We'll see how our visit to Philly goes, and then we'll be making our decision.

Alrighty then. The knitting bag is packed with supplies for various works-in-progress. Who cares about my actual suitcase. I only have a few items of clothing that fit me nowadays, anyway. I guess I'll throw those blah things in a bag and go to the beach in Florida covered in an oversized sweatshirt and sweatpants. Who cares? As long as I'm knitting

it was good

december 26 :: 2

december 26 :: 1

december 26 :: 6

december 26 :: 7

december 26 :: 3

december 26 :: 4

december 26 :: 8

december 26 :: 5

december 26 :: 9

december 26 :: 10

Here we are, on the other side of the Big Days. The twinkle lights are still on, we're still eating cookies, we're still singing Christmas music.

As much as I enjoyed the Big Days themselves, the Day After was as perfect as perfect could be. A big snow storm, branches laden with sparkling white frosting, and a little boy who loved his hot chocolate with marshmallows. A silent street, a warm blanket, and some homemade pasta with pumpkin cream sauce. It was quiet.

I love how the snow absorbs noise, how the only sounds become the crunch crunch of pint-sized boots, and the giggles of little person who has just thrown a snowball.

When I was a little girl I remember how I used to dread the Day After. Everything I had looked forward to with grand anticipation had come and gone, and there I was, with nothing to look forward to other than my March birthday - a distant future indeed for a seven year-old.

Yet, as an adult, I don't feel that Day After let-down anymore. Instead, it has become a treasured day for the doing of absolutely nothing, which is certainly a balm for a busy soul. The Day After is an extended exhale, a letting-go of to-do lists, anxieties, and expectations. It was good.

toddler art group

toddler art group

I always look forward to Tuesday afternoons, and I think Finn does, too. Our toddler art group has been meeting for a few months now - we're a group of four little ones, ranging in age from 19 months to 2 years.

toddler art group 3

After falling in love with Jean's blog, The Artful Parent, I was inspired to pull together a little group of our own, based on her suggestions. Many of our ideas for projects to do with the kids come from this book - one you really shouldn't be without as the parent of a toddler.

toddler art group 2

We've been rotating our gatherings between our homes - whoever is hosting organizes the art component of our gathering, while someone else brings snacks. We've even had an occasional after-art hootenany with a guitar-playing dad in the group!

These photos are from a week ago. At yesterday afternoon's gathering, we ate decorated gingerbread cookies - a fitting and festive way to send everyone off on their holiday travels, busy times, etc. The next time I post about toddler art group, it will be from our new art room, which is oh-so-close to being ready!

Off to knit Finn some mittens for his stocking. What would the holidays be without some last-minute handmade gifts?



NPR produced a nice piece on one of the oldest survivors of HLHS. You can listen to it here.


Most of the time, I try to busy my mind with little details; jumping into work, planning a meal, considering the best way to organize the closet that will contain our art supplies. Mindless things that keep your mind full, that keep you from entering that tender place, that darker place - the place that makes you well up with tears.


It's good, though, to let my mind drift and settle in this tender place, as the tears can also be cleansing. Nourishing.



I've found myself much more in tune with nature these past few days, so aware of the blanket of darkness that creeps in and covers the mornings and afternoons just a little bit more with each passing day. As a mirror of the temperment, Winter is certainly the image of a turning inward, a slowing down, a need for producing your own place of warmth in the midst of the storm outside the walls of your mind. 


And that's just it. Out of darkness, there is light - a candle of hope, of peace, that only I can light. The flame exists of its own accord, but I must strike the match. It is only in sitting quietly, letting go of the mindless thoughts that cover up the darkness with their bling of busyness, that I can truly appreciate the warm glow of this reality - of my reality, of Patrick's reality, of Finn's reality, of Lachlan's reality - even in the cold darkness of the situation.


As I start to warm my hands in front of the small fire that our family has created, I find myself immensely grateful for others who live with an inner glow so powerful that its warmth extends beyond them and enters our lives. For family, friends, and you, my blog readers, for your support. For the coming of Solstice, and how it has provided an opportunity to turn inward and celebrate the return of the light.


When I hear a story like this, about an HLHS survivor, I'm ever so hopeful that the light will, in fact, return to our family in all of its splendor, and that one day we can enjoy the long days of Summer once again, watching our two little boys romp around in the twilight, trying to catch lightning bugs.

sponsor giveaway :: bunte fabrics

Please welcome Bunte Fabrics for this weekend's second giveaway!  Leave a comment on this post for a chance to win a Quiara sewing pattern by Farbenmix and a yard of the birds on a branch knit fabric in pink (shown in the first photo below). Comments will close on Tuesday evening, December 14th. Good luck! Comments are now CLOSED.

Congratulations to Jill!

Read on to learn more about Bunte Fabrics.


Meg: Who is behind Bunte Fabrics, and how did it get started?
Yvonne: Bunte Fabrics is a true WAHM business run just by me, Yvonne. I opened the shop in 2007 after I had finished a long career in a major animation studio. It was a long jump away from everything I had known up to that point!

I fell in love with sewing just a year earlier in 2006 after I stumbled across my first Farbenmix pattern. I pretty much got an instant addiction to sewing clothes for my girls and my boy and naturally became a bit of a fabric addict as well. That led me to search for European fabrics and notions and finding that there was still a gap in European sewing supplies here in the USA I had my first thought about opening a shop online.

IMG_0002Meg: How did you discover European fabrics, and what makes them stand out as a fabric category?

Yvonne: I didn't so much discover European fabrics. I am German and have a link to Europe still even though I have lived here half my life now. There are several reasons why I love sewing with European fabrics. One,  I love that most all of them are manufactured under very strict guidelines, under the Oeko-Tex 100 standard. That is good for the environment and healthier for us to work with and wear. Second, I love that they are extra wide. Usually fabrics are about 42 inches wide. European fabrics are 58 to over 60 inches wide. So you get more fabric in the yard. Third and totally not least, I love the unique designs and since they are still hard to find here, you will truly have a one of a kind piece once your are finished sewing!  


Meg: What are your favorite patterns for children's clothes that use knit fabrics?

Yvonne: Oh gosh! I love sewing with knits and have so many favorite patterns. Right now I love AMELIE by Farbenmix but my all time favorite is most likely IMKE or QUIARA.

Thank you, Yvonne! Leave your comment to be entered in the giveaway!

sponsor giveaway :: imagine childhood

Please welcome Imagine Childhood (one of my favorite toy stores!) for the first giveaway this weekend!  Leave a comment on this post for a chance to win your choice of either a weaving loom + yarn + handmade fairy OR knitting needles + yarn + knitting tower + handmade fairy. Comments will close on Tuesday evening, December 14th. Good luck! Comments are now CLOSED.

Congratulations to Cary!

Read on to learn more about Imagine Childhood.


Meg: What is the vision behind Imagine Childhood, and how did it get started?

Sarah: As a family we have been selling children’s goods in one way or another for the past 20 years, including a storefront in Denver Colorado that we ran for many of them. But, the real start of Imagine Childhood as you see it today happened around 4 years ago.

It had been a number of years since the shop closed and often we found ourselves drifting into discussions about the importance of good, quality gifts for kids.  This of course, easily segued into “when I was a kid” conversations about each of our favorite toys and memories from childhood. 

After a while we realized that there was a recurring theme.   All of our fondest memories, whether from growing up in the 50s or thirty years later in the 80s, were of time spent exploring and imagining... of believing in the power of a stick, a piece of string, a sunny afternoon and a good sense of adventure.

That's why we started, a place where we could share stories, toys and activities that encourage a kid to be a kid... to get out in nature and explore... to dream... to imagine.


Meg: Your blog is such a source of inspiration for families wishing to get back in touch with Nature. Can you share few favorite posts with Sew Liberated readers?



Thanks so much, Sarah! Please leave a comment to enter the drawing to win the weaving loom kit or knitting kit from Imagine Childhood.

the snow pixie hat tutorial

I'm so giddy to have my Snow Pixie Hat tutorial published in the Winter edition of Petite Purls! This hat is quick to whip up, so the answer is "YES, you can make one in time for the holidays!" It takes maybe an hour to make. 

Snow Pixie Hat for Petite Purls Winter 2010 2

Snow Pixie Hat for Petite Purls Winter 2010 5

Snow Pixie Hat for Petite Purls Winter 2010 9

Snow Pixie Hat for Petite Purls Winter 2010 4

Snow Pixie Hat for Petite Purls Winter 2010 3

Snow Pixie Hat for Petite Purls Winter 2010 7

My inspiration for the Snow Pixie Hat was the oh-so-famous Stella Pixie. I knew I wanted to create a sewn version that would enable all of the folks out there who sew, but aren't so comfortable with knitting needles, to create their own pixie hat. Because really, the more babies and toddlers out there who wear handmade pixie hats, the better. It's the kind of hat that makes us adults smile, and has the added benefit of keeping little ones snug and warm.

I hope you enjoy the tutorial! I'm also honored to have been interviewed for the issue here, on the topic of being a work-at-home mom. And while you're at it, if you knit (and especially if you knit for boys) check out these amazing boy projects!

With warm wishes this holiday season,


P.S. Be sure to come back later today and tomorrow to enter two generous giveaways from my sponsors!

sponsor giveaway :: nido fabric & yarn

I'm excited to bring you a series of giveaways from my sponsors in the next few weeks in preparation for the holidays. Please welcome Nido Fabric & Yarn for this weekend's giveaway! Leave a comment on this post for a chance to win a fat quarter bundle of Anna Maria Horner's new line, Innocent Crush, in the "Charmed" colorway. Comments will close on Sunday evening, December 5th. Good luck!

Comments are now closed! Congratulations to commenter #138, Hannah!


Phiona in Nido's cozy store in Burlington, Vermont. Nido just started selling fabric and yarn online, too.

Meg: Tell us about Nido, Phiona—what is the story behind your store, and what do you offer to your customers?

Phiona: I have always been a crafty sort of gal & after having my son Franco I found myself following crafty mama blogs & making all sorts of things for my family & home. Inspired by the growing movement of people reinventing the do-it-yourself ethic to produce projects that are both practical & visually appealing, I decided to become a part of what was going on & put together a cohesive business plan. Less than a year later, I opened Nido’s brick & mortar shop offering a unique selection of fabric & yarn to my community. Just last month I started my online shop so that people outside of Vermont could enjoy what we had to offer as well. Both shops offer a fabulous selection of fabric from designers such as Heather Ross, Laurie Wisbrun, Naomi Ito & Etsuko Furuya as well as yarn from Swan's Island, Vermont Alpaca, Cherrytree Hill & Twinkle. There is always an assortment of fat quarter bundles in our “other items” section as well as the latest patterns & kits. It’s all been VERY exciting & I really owe a great deal to my loving husband who has been so supportive of this whole process.

Sew liberated giveaway

The giveaway prize - a fat quarter bundle of Anna Maria Horner's new fabric line, Innocent Crush, in the "Charmed" colorway.

Meg: What’s your first love—knitting or sewing? What projects are on your crafting to-do list this holiday season, and what fabrics/yarns do you have in mind for them?

Phiona: Sewing. Mrs. Ryle’s class, freshman year—I made my first dress & I was hooked! I still have the dress, which I humbly pull out of the attic every now and again to remind myself of just how far I have come. Since then I have picked up knitting but its never competed with my love of sewing!

This season it is all about simplicity! On the list for Franco is the Boy’s Cozy Pullover from Stitch Magazine's Fall 2010 edition made from Folksy Flannel, the Spaceboy & Robot from Wee Wonderfuls made with some of the Hope Valley collection & a cowl made from Vermont Alpaca yarn. Other gifts include lavender satchels, the Emmeline apron, which is ALWAYS a huge crowd pleaser & Jane Richmond’s Marian cowl out of Twinkle soft chunky yarn. The idea is to have a reasonable “to do” list this year! We’ll see ;)

Thanks so much, Phiona! Please leave a comment to enter the drawing to win the fat quarter bundle from Nido!