March 31, 2019


Of all the places we went in Italy, I think Florence was my favorite.  I've said it before in these posts - but I'm not one to spend all day wandering around a museum.  Although - we did go see David.  But honestly - I enjoyed looking at the other statues and the amazing tapestries more.

After a good nights sleep, we grabbed a quick breakfast of espresso and pastries (as you do) with a bit of bacon for Eleanor because babies don't run on coffee and bread.  Then we hoped into the car and headed to Florence.  The drive was a little over an hour.  After parking, we wandered our way into the city and made the museum our first stop. 

Next - we had to find lunch!  We stumbled into a little cafe where we literally had the best food ever!  I had carbonara because it's what I do.  I mean, can you go wrong with bacon & egg pasta?  Sadly, all of my pictures of the food are blury. But they did have the most beautiful homemade pasta in the front. 

After eating, we wandered all around the City, stopping at the carousel, Ponte Vecchio to watch the sun set, and then heading back to the Duomo, where JB & Patrick tried to climb to the top of the dome, but we were just a tad too late. 

I cannot get over how beautiful and remarkable the details on the buildings are.  And everything is so clean - there wasn't trash just thrown around. 

March 28, 2019

Knitting Bags for Vacation 2018

In 2017 one of my instagram friends from Seattle sent me a pattern she'd designed for bags.  It's a darling bucket bag and I made a few of them for Christmas gifts in 2017.  But then - I got inspired - see both of my girls knit.  I, personally, never get on an airplane or in the car for a long trip without at least 2 projects with me.  Seriously! 

So - I did what any self-respecting sewist would do 2 days before leaving on vacation - I decided to cut out and make 3 uptown bags!  I had shrunk the pattern just a little bit so it was the perfect size for a single skein shawl project or a pair of socks.  While there is no way to close this bag, it's also big enough to drop your phone & wallet into so you only need one bag with you. 

The outside of the bags are all the same, black background with knitting sheep on it.  The inside of two of them are pink and the third one is red.  The openings are bound with premade bias binding in red, pink or white. 

The girls had no idea they were getting these bags - which are great scrap busters (the lining - or reverse side, because they are totally reversible - is scraps from Christmas pants 2015).  Jessica chose her bag first and she picked the red lining - you can see her beautiful shawl coming out of the bag.  Krystle then picked the bag with pink lining and pink binding - she was busy knitting Eleanor's first birthday sweater!  My bag is in the middle and I was working on a pair of socks for the Christmas box - Christmas 2018 that is! 

I love that this is a hobby we share.  I also love having a knitting bag that is in so many of my holiday photos.  I think of the vacation when ever I pick the bag up to work on something - I hope that my girls have the same vacation memories when they use their knitting bags.  

Apparently - I'm into the behind the scenes photos right now!

March 24, 2019

Italy & France - Days 3 & 4

Half of the family woke up before dawn on Monday morning to watch the sunrise from above the villa we were staying at.  I was in the half that slept in.  After a quick cup of coffee in our rooms, we walked into town for some fresh pastry and another coffee.  I know why Europeans can eat all those pastries - they walk everywhere and it's hilly!!

Then we pilled into the car and headed to the Monster Garden.  What a fun day - even if it was raining!  We spent hours wandering around the statues, many of which were in ruins.

Before leaving - we attempted to get a family photo in front of another monster sculpture.  The outtakes from this are my favorite.

From Bomarzo (where the monster park is) we headed to Viterbo to find dinner.  This was the first time we actually realized that everything closes in the middle of the day!  Eleanor was starving and the rest of us were hungry.  We got lost trying to navigate the underground of Viterbo, but we found a young lady from Baltimore who was going to college there!  She helped us find the place we were looking for.

For some reason - there aren't a lot of photos from Viterbo, but here's a couple.

March 21, 2019

Ellis Skirt

You just recently saw many of these pictures when I talked about the sweater.  But this time - I'm gonna tell you about the skirt.

Again - I am a Cashmerette pattern tester and was provided the pattern in exchange for sewing it up.  But the thoughts and opinions on the skirt are my own.

I used to have a denim skirt very similar to this in my closet and I'm surprised how much I miss it.  This Ellis skirt was sewn in November - after my last round of Whole 30 and I as I learn to be gluten and dairy free.  So, my shape is in flux, just FYI.

Second - there were changes made to the fit of the pattern between testing and release.  I haven't compared my traced pieces to the final pattern - and I should.

Third - for my specific pear shaped issues and sway back on the tester version, I had to create a deep 2" dart in the back yoke to help eliminate gaping at my back waist.  Also - I understand this has been changed in the final pattern - see note above about how lazy I am.

Finally - This is a very traditional denim style skirt - I sewed the 5 pocket version with plain back pockets (that JB didn't take a photo of).  I added the darling coin pocket - which seems tiny and like it sits a bit too high above the other pocket.  I don't know if that's my cheater method of marking or if it really sits that high.

Just the Stats:

Waist:  38"
Hip:  52"
Height:  5'9"
Fabric:  purple stretch denim from deep stash - most likely an ancient joann's purchase from when The Princess worked at a vet and it was purchased to make scrubs. There was just enough for this skirt.

Alterations:  I used the pear shaped pattern pieces and cut a size 18 at the waist and a 20 at the yoke.  I pin fit the pattern to me to get the right hip curve.  I took a class with Peggy Sagers years ago and we figured out *MY Particular Hip curve.

Final size - 16 waist; 18 high hip and somewhere between an 18/20 hip.

I did not add length and I'm happy with where this lands.

Will I make this again? YES!  I need skirts like this in my life.  I find denim skirts so easy to wear and feel put together.  I feel like I look presentable to welcome guests to the B&B as well as feeling 'like me' when I get going for the day.  I definitely need a true denim version - which will get me to comparing test to final pattern.  Watch for that - or maybe don't at my current speed it might take years.

*This is how you do it to find yours.  With elastic holding your garment up - pin fit the side seams.  Very carefully - without removing any of the pins - step out of the garment (pants or skirt).  Turn inside out.  Then using your french curve, place along the pinned seam until it matches.  This is your Hip Curve.  It should not change with size.

March 17, 2019

Italy & France 2018 - Day 2

The next day was Saturday and we were told that very little was open in town on Saturday.  But we went out exploring anyway!  Soriano is on the side of a mountain and has an old fortress right on the peak.  We got a personal tour of the castle and climbed the open touret to watch the sunset.  This is a pic of the castle from our room.  We are looking over the tops of houses.  We covered every square inch of town, we ate fresh baked pastries, pizza and had a lovely pasta for dinner.    

On Sunday we all hopped into the car and headed to Pisa, but we didn't make it that far.  We ended up stopping at a charming port town, finding another fortress, following the paths around it and enjoying the incredible views.

Because we are a family of knitters, Jessica brought her finished brioche project to photograph for her ravelry page - it's a stunning shawl.

We had very few instances of sibling rivalry.  Everyone got along and that was nice.  The girls are scouting out the shawl photo shoot.

Eleanor playing with the shawl - yep, she's sitting at the side of the pull out.  She's already in love with wool and has a few shawls of her own that she drapes around her neck - teach 'em young!

March 14, 2019


I am not a sweater wearer - I mean I love a good cardigan, but pullover - no way!  What do you do when you have a hot flash?!

Eleanor and I both wearing "Made by GiGi"
Once again, my LYS Lancaster Yarn Shop decided to have a knit along.  Okay!  So I'm a joiner - sue me.  A customer had knit a beautifl fair isle yoked sweater and it was on display.  Everyone wanted their own.  So, I picked colors and knit it up - thinking if I didn't like it - I'd gift it for Christmas or steek it into a cardigan that could easily be taken off! 

I selected Kenzie for the main body of my sweater.  The color is "seal" and it's a light gray with navy tweed speckles.  I then choose Malbec (Navy with lilac tweed) for the contrast and Lilac Prairie Spun for the yoke background. 

This sweater has what's called a hybrid construction.  You start at the yoke 'seam' with a provisional cast on, knit the yoke - which was fun!  Do an iCord bind off, then take out the cast on picking up the live stitches and knit your way to the hem.  It's pretty cool! 

Cast On:  September 3, 2018
Cast Off:  October 25, 2018
Yarn:  7 balls seal, 2 balls malbec, 1 hank lilac - 1696 yards total
Needles:  US6s
Mods:  omit second set of short rows to create length in the back.

I am honestly surprised how much I wear this sweater and that it goes with everything.  So far, I haven't had to take it off because I'm too hot.  I might even knit another sweater - soon! 

March 10, 2019

Vacation 2018 - Italy & France - Day 1

Jumping into the way back machine here to tell you all about last January's vacation.  We are either smart or dumb to own a timeshare, but own one we do.  Every year we plan a big vacation and use our points and stay at some pretty amazing spots.  We've been to Maui, San Juan, PR and took a cruise from there; Malaga, Spain; Orlando, FL; Cabo, Mexico and Italy and France.  This post is about Italy & France.

In January, 2018 we planned a 10 day family vacation to Europe.   We booked a week at our time share in Soriano nel Cimino, Italy.  The timeshare was located about 60km north of Rome and it was charming!  We all booked our flights individually and met up in Rome at roughly the same time, although we were on the same flight out of Philly with Jessica.

JB decided to rent a car and in hindsight, it's a good thing he did or we wouldn't have had so many adventures and wonderful memories.

Once we were able to park, we set out on foot to see as much of Rome as we could.  Clearly, we saw the Fountain - and Eleanor wasn't so impressed.

We had a lovely meal in a tiny little sidewalk cafe where the owners brought Eleanor chocolate cookies and Gramps and Daddy at the chocolate off so Mommy was okay with her baby having sugar.

We wandered down alleys and had a race to see who could get there first - clearly I won!  

We stumbled upon this beautiful park.  Rome is filled with statues and the birds loved this beautiful lady. 

We pushed the stroller all over Rome and as you can see, Eleanor took a nap on Daddy while we all took a quick break. 

While January in Italy isn't idea vacation weather - it was wonderful.  There are some things I wish I had seen - the Vatican, but that just means we can go back again, right? 

March 7, 2019

Cashmerette Hack

It's a known fact that I am a Cashmerette pattern tester.  I tested the concord when it first came out and made a tee for Jessica.

I've made a few for me - but because I always think my hips are bigger than they are, I don't always love the fit.

Earlier this year - I made a dress before we went on vacation.  Problem is - I don't love the dress, but I love the fabric.  So, I found a way to save it.

I'm pretty sure this is the only photo of this fabric as a dress.  I laid it out on my cutting table before I cut it.  I loved the fabric, I bought it at Fabric Mart in November when I was starting Christmas sewing.  It's a really soft, brushed poly.  There were scraps left that I was hoping to use for Eleanor - but it's all gone now!

I knew I wanted a deep cowl - not sure why, but I did.  So, first I pulled a vogue pattern, but there was no way it was going to fit!  Then I grabbed renfrew - but it's been years and many pounds since I made that top and it fit me well.  So - Concord it is!

I started by tracing the top in my size WITHOUT grading up for the hips.  I used the EF Cup size, the scoop neck, tunic length and long sleeves.  I didn't want any bands, so I added 3" of length to the sleeves.  Then, I tried to fit the cowl onto the scraps that I had saved for Eleanor.  There wasn't enough to the cut the cowl piece on the fold and there definitely wasn't enough to cut 2 of them!

Deep stash to the rescue.  I came up with a piece of pale pink mesh knit and used it for the underside of the cowl.  Jay thought it was fun when I pulled it over my head like a hood - but you can see the pink here.  Here is what I did to get a cowl that worked with the concord neckline.  First I compared the necklines of the two patterns by laying renfrew over concord.  I can tell that the front necklines were similar enough, but the back of the concord was wider.  So - I laid the cowl pattern on my fabric and cut it out - adding 3 inches at the fold.  Then I realize the cowl was shaped to be deeper in the front and I had now skewed that to be at the shoulder seams on my top, so - I found the center of the new piece and drew a straight line, cut 2 on fold.  Done!  With the shaping at both shoulder seams. 

Look how long my hair is getting!  I really need to do something with it because I put it up when I'm in the kitchen for obvious reasons!  

The seam attaching the cowl to the top is on the outside of the garment - or the public side, because with a cowl like this the inside of your garment will show and I didn't want a visible seam.  I did have to pin and make sure I put the cowl on with the fabrics in the correct orientation so the pink didn't show.  The correct way is wrong sides together - so pink to the back of the fashion fabric.  Sew the seam, trim the seam, then topstiched it to the cowl. 

The sleeves are a bit too long but I don't mind.  I only put a 1" hem in them which would have been enough if I had accounted for seam allowances in lengthening my sleeves - instead, I just added the width of the sleeve band to the sleeve - so that means my sleeves are smidge too long.  I also put a 1" hem in the top.  I think this well get lots of wear - it works with my beekeeper cardigan too!  
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