Archive for February 2012

We’ll pick you up and take you away

February 14, 2012


Pattern: BBQ Apron with Rivet Accents by Liz Johnson
Fabric: Cotton duck from Hancock Fabrics
Notions: Double-cap rivets

Noel’s Valentine’s Day gift was two weekends in the making. Weekend #1: Shopping trip with Cady Gray to find fabric. The pattern calls for 60″ wide cotton duck, but the only suitable fabric I could find was in a 45″ width. So instead of one yard, I bought two. Instead of 36×60, I came home with 72×45, and hoped that cutting in the perpendicular direction would not affect the construction.


I placed orders for the other tools I needed — a hole punch, a plastic-headed mallet, and rivets with a setting tool and anvil. Weekend #2 was devoted almost entirely to assemblage. I cut and sewed. And, to my husband’s delight, knowing that I was working on his gift but not knowing what it was or any details, I hammered in rivets.


I learned so much making this. A clean finished corner, made according to this set of instructions, at the top and bottom of each armhole. Using rivets to attach straps and reinforce corners. I had a blast acquiring the tools and learning how to use them. There’s nothing better than a specialized tool, something that does only one thing and does it well, and imagining how it might be put to use in future projects, now that it has been tried and the skill to wield it tested.


Along with the apron, I gave Noel a set of grilling tools. They should fit nicely in the apron’s deep pockets.


Noel loves his Traeger smoker as much as I love my Janome sewing machine. We both use them to create, and we both enjoy experimenting, buying unusual materials, learning new techniques, and taking pleasure in the results. I loved bringing those passions together in this project. And I confidently expect to eat many delicious meals made by a man in this apron.


She’s got herself a universe

February 5, 2012


Pattern: Ariosa Reversible Ribbed Cowl by Susan Mills
Yarn: Louisa Harding Hulda (50% wool, 30% acrylic, 20% linen), colorway Grizzly
Needles: U.S. 10 1/2 Harmony wood Options 24″ circulars

My mom doesn’t like to have her picture taken. It happens to most women at a certain age, I suppose. She protests every time a camera is produced in her vicinity, backing away from family photos. It’s not false humility or casual shyness. I had to fight her for several minutes the night before she left town, the night I finished this cowl for her, to get her to agree to a picture. And I had to promise not to show her face.

So there are only two pictures of this cowl in this post. The cowl was requested by Mom before she and Dad arrived to help me take care of the kids while Noel was at the Sundance Film Festival. I made her a cowl a few years ago that she loves. But I made it with buttons — at the time, thinking that it would be easier for her to get on since she wouldn’t have to pull it over her head and mess up her hair. She tells me now that the buttons come undone due to the large buttonholes. What’s also true is that she’s having problems with her hands. I know those buttons aren’t easy for her anymore.

She asked for something soft next to her skin, something long enough to pull up over her nose in a chill. I pulled up my Ravelry favorites and showed her some patterns. The first one was too simple. The second one, tall, fitted, and cabled, she liked. I didn’t want to go too colorful so she could wear it with everything. I showed her some City Tweed HW in Cottontail and this Hulda, a colorway I got in a trade from Raveler carazmatic who was in need of a skein or two to complete a project. I like this yarn. I made a beautiful scarf from it a couple of years ago. And Mom made a really good choice by going with this hot-milk-chocolate sort of color. It has a slight pink undertone that keeps her skin and hair from getting washed out in neutral tones. It makes her come alive. You can see it, even in these couple of pictures.


It wasn’t until after I’d finished knitting this cowl — in about two days — that I realized how functional it would be for my mother. It’s reversible both ways. Wear it inside out, upside down, it’s the same. And there’s no shaping, despite the elegant flare you see when it’s worn. It’s a tube of reversible cables, done in ribbing. Yet it conforms to the neck and creates an elegant collar effect, almost vintage. This yarn, in the working, doesn’t seem to have a lot of body or structure. But the cowl’s ribbed and cabled texture creates plenty of heft. No way this thing is going to flop over when the wind is howling.

Mom loves it. And I feel like I made something that is just right for her, just where she is now. I could have used a few more pictures in the few moments of daylight between binding off and the recipient driving away. But what matters is that it works. In a way I always wanted my creations to work for the woman who gave me life.