a love letter to july

 My dearest July,

I realize that it is August 11, and my heart has moved on to love this beautiful month.  But I want you to know that you gave me some of the most incredible summer days that I have ever had the pleasure of living. 

Your slow mornings, your warm days and your beautiful evenings will always be remembered.  Did you know that you gave us time to put those new couches in our living room? (They look fabulous by the way.) And the full trees were cut to let more of your beautiful sunlight shine in through the old windows.  I scrubbed the cushions on our back patio furniture to make them look fresh and new.  I worked on my Lawrenson sweater knitting your sunlight into every stitch so that I will be reminded of your warmth come those cold evenings of winter.  Because of Covid-19 we didn't get to celebrate your 4th the same way we have in the past but you were warm and lovely just the same.  Our neighbor brought over fresh almond croissants and we filled our bellies while enjoying your sweet summer air.  

Your cool mornings alone at the pool are by far and away my favorite way to start a day.  July, please know that your weather is far and away the most special to me.  You were so wonderful to give us days for the men to work on building our lovely kitchen. (If only you could have made them work faster.) While I'm cooking and baking, in our new kitchen, I will think back to when the scraping and pounding filled most of your week days.  

You welcomed my girl home and then my oldest boy.  Their presence is welcome anytime, but you do know how to give us so much love and light!  Your sunshine gave the hydrangeas just enough warmth to blossom into a beautiful bounty of gorgeousness.  

Your days were there for us as we headed on a 16 hour road trip to the Florida sunshine and gave me the most glorious time alone with my children.  We so needed those lazy days just being together, getting sand on our feet and swimming in that beautiful ocean of water.  
Of course, I knit on everyone of your beautiful days.  I listened to my boy and his awesome music.  We had happy hours at the beach, and we swam as we watched the sunrise.  Remember the one day you shared with us as we spent it with my mother;  their grandmother. We kissed her all over her face like there wasn't a pandemic because Lord knows she would risk everything to feel our skin against hers.

I picked  a lot of basil that grew in your lovely light and tried to slow down the days with my boys and girl.  

I knew that our time together was coming to a close as I drove with my girl to Denver. We did this so that she, too, could move slowly into her next love, August.  She was so eager to meet August and start her new life as a school teacher.  I reminded her how we have to stay in the moment and live in the day we are given.  Time is fleeting and if we look too far in the future we will miss the glorious gifts that are in front of us. We stayed in that beautiful day having a picnic at Chessman Park filming aTikTok.  Oh how we laughed.
July, I was so happy that we weren't quite finished upon returning home. I had one more week with you as I drove to Lancaster and spent a couple of nights in a charming farmhouse.  And, to have one more day to watch Andrew play in his golf tournament.  Yep.  Grateful for that day, too.  We drove by corn fields and bought corn from a farmer who uses the honor system.  July, you are magical.  

I want you to know, July, that I care so deeply about you, still.  That you and I held something so precious that it will never fade and you will always occupy a place in my heart as well as my mind.  


With all the warmth and love I can give.

Leslie

tie dye

diy
I decided we needed a few more masks around here.  I have a lot of fabric but thought I needed something new.  Instead of buying more (and more importantly going to the store) I decided to tie dye  an old white sheet.
Have you tried the ice tie dye technique?  My friend Nadine (Hi Nadine!!!) told me about it.  I couldn't remember exactly what she said but knew it involved ice and dye.  (HA!)
I ended up crumpling the dry fabric and placing ice cubes on top.  Then I sprinkled the Rit powder dye on top.  (Thanks Betsy!)  This all took place outside in the grass and in the sunshine.  The ice completely melted and the fabric dried.  There were a few places where the dye was still a bit powdery, so I wiped that off with my hand (while wearing a glove).
A quick rinse with the hose and then into the machine it went.
I think the results are super cool. (Thanks Nadine!) I'd actually like to make something else now out of this fabric.
Everything I have learned from mask making here.  And, the Fabric Patch has a new YouTube Video of everything new they have learned here.

Stay safe, friends!

where i sit

Hiya Friends! Happy July!
Wanted to let you know I made another podcast.
It's up on YouTube if you are so inclined to watch.
I talk about that sweet knit with the fish motif if you are wondering! :)

Happy weekend!  I hope your needles will be busy creating something beautiful.  xx

be thankful cardigan

So, I had a little fun with my latest finished knit.
Since I couldn't try it on my sweet Libby (she is in Colorado) I tried it on my grandmothers dress form and pretended it was Libby.  You know, whatever it takes to get through these times.
"Here sweetie, let me straighten this for you."
"Oh, why yes!  We really must get a photo of us."
"Let's show how great these sleeves are."
"See how blousy they are?"
"Oh, how I love you sweet Libby."

This sweater is extra special to me.  I used buttons from my grandmothers stash.  I used yarn I found in my mothers stash.  I used my hands to knit it.  And my sweet girl will wear it.  Boy, I know she will gain strength from all the generations of women while wearing it.  I'm calling it her superhero cardigan!

Pattern:  be thankful cardigan
Yarn:  Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran
Needles:  US size 8
Size: 1

be thankful cardigan

Summertime knitting is here and I couldn't be more thrilled.  I do love the feeling I get from knitting at the beginning of each season.  And it is finally warm enough here to get outside every morning and enjoy a cup of coffee on the patio while knitting.  Pure bliss!
I wanted to mention that Lily Kate is hosting a Knit-along for the month of June.  Not a KAL on a specific pattern; you can choose any of her patterns to knit.
I decided to hop in and bring this love of mine into a sweet circle.
{April 1, 2015 when we traveled to London and the two girls finally met in person.}

You see, my Libby and Lily were pen pals because of this blog back when they were 12.  We all met because Lily's mom and I became friends from her blog, Joli House.  All because of knitting.  And now, they are 22.  Lily has become quite the knitter extraordinaire and not only knits beautifully, but designs many beautiful patterns as well.  She is truly a kind soul and brings so much inspiration and love to this knitting community.
When I heard of the KAL i just knew I needed to make Libby something during the month of June.
Libby chose the BeThankful Cardigan.  A simple knit with a gentle look.  I can't truly explain it, however, it's just one of those feel good pieces.  Like a gentle hug.
While in Florida last month, my sisters and I went through my mothers stash.  She had 10 skeins of Debbie Bliss cashmerino aran that we decided I needed to bring home.
What perfect yarn to use for this cardigan.
As I knit, I am mindfully feeling the yarn and these lovely humans I am thankful for.  It's going to be like a giant feel good hug for Libby every time she wears it.

Take a look at Lily's patterns if you would like to knit-along!

missoni accomplished

Stash knitting never felt so good. I made a sweater that I actually love and am excited to wear! This yarn has been in my stash for a while and is a Classic Elite linen blend.  Unfortunately, Classic Elite is no longer in business.  But this sweater would work in an array of yarns.
This is the Missoni Accomplished that made me truly feel accomplished.  This piece taught me how to knit both continental and english style knitting.  Two handed stranded.  If you haven't tried it, I highly recommend trying it.  Some of my stitches don't look exactly perfect, but I'm okay with it.
I shortened the sleeves to make it more wearable for this time of year.   But definitely would like to make a winter version in the fall.

Pattern: Missoni Accomplished
Yarn:  Classic Elite Soft Linen  35% Linen, 35%, 30% Baby Alpaca
Gauge:  5.5 = 1"
Needle:  US 5
Size: L

change

"The only constant in life is change”-Heraclitus

Things absolutely need to change.
I am watching.  I am listening.  I am trying to educate myself.
It's a beginning.

Pssssst.  Anyone remember habit blog? The blog about capturing bits of everyday life.  Well, those amazing ladies have brought it back.  Couldn't seem to be at a better time with all that is happening in our nation and our world.  I'll be guest blogging for the month of June and I couldn't be more thrilled.

life

I'm alone in my house this afternoon for the first time in 10 weeks.
This feels weird.
This feels wonderful!
Last week, my sister and I road tripped to Orlando Florida to see my mother and my other sister who lives there.  We had been self isolating in our homes for 8 weeks so felt that it was safe.  It took us 16 hours only stopping for gas (wearing gloves while pumping) and the occasional bathroom stop.  
The drive was well worth it.  
Still self isolating while at my moms house with the only time out going to Trader Joes and Whole Foods.  We went as a pack (3 sisters) delegating only one sister to retrieve the items (while wearing masks and gloves, of course).  
My mom is doing well.  Well, when I say well I mean the same.  She has spent over the last year in her living room in a hospital bed with vascular dementia.  However, she is so darn sweet it makes our hearts big.  We don't take for granted the time when we get to see her, touch her and hear her sweet voice.  
On the road trip to Florida, I started the Missoni Accomplished sweater.  That's the one up there on the left.  It looked a little small, so I wet blocked it and sure enough my suspicion was correct.  It was a little small.  My gauge was off and I couldn't remember if when you have more stitches do you get a tighter fit or a looser fit.  After consulting my friend Kim, it was confirmed... a tighter fit.
So, I cast on the larger size and I am hoping it will fit.  I know, my stitches look terrible.  I am trying something new (YIPPEE!) and knitting the color work in both continental and english.  Two handed knitting... something I have never attempted.  It felt great regardless of the job I was doing.  I'm hoping this will block out some of the imperfections.
I'm knitting from my stash.  
I miss Classic Elite.  
I really enjoyed their yarn.

Happy Long weekend friends!  

miromesnil

My latest knit slid off the needles last week, and I am in love.
I don't think I have made myself a knit that I haven't had to layer in quite a while.  Well, at least since Turtle Dove.  And this unlayered knit feels like silk against my skin.
I think it could be the combination of the yarn and the knit.  The drape truly feels dreamy.
Miromesnil offers several different possibilities: long or short, fitted or oversized, pleated at the front or/and at the back, with fitted or bishop sleeves, long or 3/4", and with flat or tightening finishing ribs.  SO many possibilities.
I think my version is mid-length, oversized with long bishop sleeves with a rib.
Increases and German short rows shape the yoke and give a beautiful stitch look.
Although I don't mind the tubulars bind off, I did not do it here as written in the pattern as I could not get the tightness I wanted.

Pattern:  Miromesnil
Size: M
Yarn:  Modus Operandi Fingering 3 skeins, olive  Modus Operandi Lace 3 skeins olive
Needle Size:  US 7 and US 8

tag your essential worker

I am so slow to show this gorgeous yarn that has been keeping my mailbox happy these last few months.  If you are like me, mail is an exciting thing especially in these times.  

*I look at the mail in the mailbox.  
*I wonder if I should just let it sit there.  
*I come back to the mail donned with my gloves and paper bag.  
*I throw all the mail into the bag.  
*I stare at the mail and wonder if I can really wait to open those beautiful blue boxes.  I can't.  
*I wipe down the blue box.  
*I grab my scissors to cut the tape.  
*I open the box.  (Tissue is covering the yarn so I still can't see it.)
*I remove my gloves.  
*I wash my hands and my scissors.  
ALL the while with anticipation as to what the contents are.  

These are weird times.  And this is the excitement of the days the blue box arrives.  

This company is so wonderful and is giving away 1000 crates to our heroes working as essential workers during this time.  Do you know a doctor, nurse, postal worker, teacher or other essential worker that may need a special treat during this time?  You can tag them here on Instagram or here on Facebook and Knitcrate will message them with a code to collect their free crate.  
This was April's Knitcrate.  2 skeins of a fun yarn sporting a little sparkle.  I DO love a little sparkle.  Not sure what I will make with it, but the Diamond colorway will definitely make it onto my needles soon.  
March had me ooooing and ahhhhing over this yumminess in it's Crate.   100% baby alpaca yarn,  super lightweight and incredibly dreamy.  I received colorway Ancient Pines and the knit pattern is the Decumani Hat and Cowl.  A unisex pattern perfect for a project on the go.   
February's membership knitcrate contained to skeins of Audine Wools Shine Sport.  350 yards 80% Superwash merino, 20% Tencel in Sky colorway.  Another duet this time as a Hat and Handwarmers.
I'm sure those handwarmers will be a summer travel project.  If we ever get to leave the house.

As always, if you are interested in ordering a Knitcrate use the code FKW20 to receive 20% off of your first Knitcrate!  The code works on all crates and truly does make a happy mail day!  The extra effort opening the box is well worth it!

quarantine crafting

Knitting has been happening and I actually finished a sweater.  More on that later.
In between cooking, cleaning, baking and knitting, the craft closet has been opened.
I have been wanting to make this soap for a couple of years.  And how cute!  Right?!  
It is so gosh darn easy, too!  You literally melt the goats milk soap base in the microwave, add honey, and pour into this mold.  
And voila!  Soap!  I thought that would be a great little something to give with a mask! :)
Of course, "potholder maker" is still a title of mine.  
And then, the Rit dye came out and Liesl and I did a little tie dying.  Looks like I spilled my coffee, but that was intentional.  It's all over the fabric and is rather cute! I promise!

We did some other tie dying as well.  A white sheet to make tie dye masks.  They are in the works.  I'll be sure to show as soon as I finish sewing.

It's amazing to me how many items can be used in the house to keep us all entertained.  If we don't have it, we improvise.  Sure feels good.

one lovely sweater

Hi Friends! I hope you are all staying well. Hard to believe this self isolating has been happening at our house for 6 weeks.  It all seems like such a blur.
I wanted to let you know that One Lovely Sweater is finally over on Ravelry.
I couldn't be more thankful for the wonderful women who test knit it for me.
And if you would like to purchase the pattern, I am offering half off... enter code "onelovelyday" at checkout.
xx, leslie

she's baaaaaaack!

Hiya friends! Well, with more time on my hands, I decided to dive back into YouTube.
If you want to take a peak, you can watch me show the masks I have been making, show my potholder obsession or talk about my knitting projects.  I am grateful to have my kids home for the push and the tech help! :)

making masks

So, chances are, if you sew, you are making masks. Or, you are thinking about making masks. I started to make a few over the weekend.  Right now I'm just making masks for my family and friends, but I will certainly make them for a facility if I hear of any.   I know they have strict guidelines for obvious reasons.
I think I have done the research and know exactly what it takes to be an ideal mask for this time.

I wanted to share where some of my favorite information came from and share some thoughts and tips from along the way.  I am SO grateful to all the people who have put together Youtube tutorials and shared their tips.  
First off.  What I learned from The Fabric Patch is that fabric alone will not prevent Covid-19 from entering into your nose/mouth.  Your mask needs to have some sort of non-woven layer involved.  Luckily I had non-woven interfacing in my fabric supplies.  You might, too.  I'm pretty sure it's hard to get your hands on it now.  The Fabric Patch videos give great substitutions for interfacing.  
I've seen some people make a mask that has a pocket where you can insert something (like a coffee liner) every time you wear it.  That just seems like another step I wouldn't want to have to do.  Because I didn't have much interfacing,  I purchased this from Staples.  I'll let you know if this is a good substitution after it arrives.  
I really like Mimi G Style video on Youtube.  She shares her printable template,  with step by step sewing instructions.  Her template is for an adult size.  However, f you are looking for other sizes, I saw this video which has template in 4 sizes.   

If you don't have elastic for the head piece, The Fabric Patch mentions a few alternatives.  I found it funny that one of the things she said to not use was yarn. ;)  You can, however, use shoelaces, grosgrain ribbon, bias tape or even make your own strips for tying.  

Mimi G Style does not mention a nose bridge in her video which I know is an important part of a secure fitting mask.  The Fabric Patch recommend a few things that you can use to build this part of the mask.  One she mentioned was an aluminum pan.  I was happy to have a few aluminum pans.  She shows you how to cut and fold and then sew through this tin at the bridge on the mask.   However, I was petrified to sew through it with my old girl.  I haven't had my machine serviced in like forever and thought this isn't probably the time.  (Obviously.)  So, I sewed along the edge of it and after a few (a lot) repetitive bends it ended up snapping in two. 

Then I tried this brass fastener.  I thought it was a brilliant idea from our contractor.  (On our kitchen job, more on that later.) However, I thought it a bit fussy maneuvering my way around that circle.

Jewelry wire has been my favorite so far.  I cut an 8" piece, folded it in half and then folded the ends in and covered with duct tape so there wasn't anything sharp inside.

I also tried a twisty tie.  Nice to sew around but she doesn't have that much strength.  I also saw where pipe cleaners work well.  Too bad I threw a bag away not too long ago.  Ugh.

It seems as if I haven't sewed anything in years, and was happy to use my friend to friend labels from name maker.  They always make things look a bit more finished.  

And here I am ready to go.  Just not sure when I will go.  I seriously have not left the house (only to walk the neighborhood) since March 16.

Stay home.  Stay healthy, friends.

friends to knit with

Life is funny.  There are some things I would have never dreamed of doing before this pandemic started.  Like knitting with others via Zoom.  But, friends to knit with are always a good thing.
Today I met with Nadine from Berlin, Germany,  Christine from Berekley, California and Leigh from Florence, South Carolina.  Life is good.
If you feel like joining, don't be shy.  Email me at lesliemfriend at gmail dot com.  We can arrange either a group or a one on one.  Whatever you are comfortable with.  It helps to have things to look forward to.

Be well, friends.

handmade loom, making potholders

I'm finding comfort in small projects with instant satisfaction.  Or close enough anyhow.

My grandfather made this loom a very, very long time ago.  My sisters and I made many a potholder on this homemade loom.  And the loops are from my childhood.  Grateful my mother never purged them or the loom.  It makes me think of my grandfather who was born in 1905.  He was 14-15 years old during the Spanish Flu.  Oh, how I wish I could talk to him about that time now.   I don't ever remember him mentioning the Spanish Flu when I was young. But it must have been a memorable time for him.  Especially living in Pennsylvania.   I would love for him to reassure me that everything would be okay just about now.
The loom is built on a piece of scrap wood.  It measures 7" x 7".  25 nails on each side.  Each approximately a 1/4" apart.  It's not perfect, but it certainly works.  I ordered more loops from Amazon because this is so therapeutic.

I haven't left my house since March 16th.  My kids are out of their 14 day quarantine tomorrow.  I can't wait to hug them!

update and a friend to knit with zoom thought

Well, I did manage to knit enough in order to separate the body and sleeves of my Miromesnil.  
Also, still working on my latte art.  😜
The other great accomplishment was freezing individual chocolate chip cookie balls in order to bake them to order!  However, the kids can only order them after dinner.  And they can only order a maximum of two each.  HAHA!

Also, I was thinking, anyone want to knit with me via Zoom?  I thought it would be a nice way to meet, spread some cheer and connect during this uncertain time.  We can arrange a group to meet (I was thinking maybe 5 or so) OR if you would rather, we could arrange a one on one.  Just a thought.  Email me if interested!  Really, don't be shy!  lesliemfriend at gmail dot com.

Stay well friends!