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As we’ve now done every other since 2008, the Cleaver clan (now expanded!) took our bi-annual trip down to Southern California for Thanksgiving. It’s a long trip cobbled together on buses to/from Boston and long plane flights, but the travel is worth it to see my now-distant family.

A few nights before we left Mr. Cleaver and I tried to figure out how many times we had done this Thanksgiving trip (this was the 4th): there was the year I have memorialized in a photo on my desk, when my mom  and her mom came and my cousin Preston was there and my grandmother Leota was still alive and there was only one wee member of the next generation.

Then there was the year my grandfather, now a widower, had my brother and I cook an entire Thanksgiving dinner two days before Thanksgiving and when we visited my Great Aunt Betty at her house and she gave me a little brass bird to take with me to look at and think of her. She’s since moved to a senior living community and I haven’t seen her since.

Then most recently, the year we met my little red-headed first cousin once removed, while I was pregnant with my own little red-headed girl, and we stayed with my Aunt and Uncle and went to Disneyland.

This year there was one less member of the eldest generation and two more members of the youngest.  All reminders of why its so important to make the trip, if only every other year. My uncle said it best this year  – “traditions like this don’t just happen, you have to put in the work and everyone has to pitch in.”

I’ll admit that this year, with LMC as part of the group, made for a very different experience for me – not to say she was trouble – she was spectacular on the all the travel and in adjusting to the new people and surroundings, but it really struck me how much more your attention is divided when you’re the parent of a small child. When a half an hour conversation turns into 10 minutes because she needs you in another room, or the shift in times from up late and sleeping in to early to bed, early to rise. But I loved seeing LMC read a book with her Great Aunt, or sit in her Great-Uncle’s lap to watch the Polar Express or for her to play kitchen with her cousin and try to be like the big girl. Not to mention her first experiences seeing a baby hippo, chowing down on In-N-Out fries, or taking her first pass at big-ball bowling.

To some extent, visits to my family during the Holidays have always felt a little bit nostalgic – going back to the places I loved as kid and remembering all the things we did in those backyards and houses, but this year I was reminded how great families (and I have some great family), allow you to change and grow and love you all the more for it.

And for that, I’m thankful.

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On Friday we had our second snow of the season (the first being a dusting the weekend after Halloween), but it now being mid-November, this one is the true harbinger of winter.

We’ve shifted our clocks back, I’ve pulled out my sweaters, and generally speaking, the first snow comes right around Thanksgiving, so it’s all in good timing. We’re acclimating LMC to snowpants and boots and mittens (which are tiny and adorable), and planning on more indoor time.

My most recent take on the Geranium dress, made out of some lightweight shot cotton, is mostly inappropriate for the weather, but I bought the fabric back on vacation and cut it out months ago and we can always layer, right? In any case, I cut it long in the hopes that it’ll still fit come warmer days, which are now very far away for Maine. I’ve got a second dress cut out in the same fabric for her still-nudist doll, which I hope to have done by Christmas.  Because there’s nothing like November to kick-start a slightly dormant crafting bug.

Do you have any Christmas crafting plans in the works?

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Happy Halloween Everyone!!

I love costumes. It’s the theatre kid in me. But to my surprise, LMC was excited to wear hers too. The first thing she said the morning when I got her from her crib was “ears” because she wanted to put on her headband. Gotta love it – and I think she looks pretty stinkin’ adorable.

Mr. Cleaver and LMC painted the pumpkins together on Wednesday. The tempura paint is starting to peel a little, but I think they’ll make it through the night.

We’re planning to eat pizza and hand out candy, we get 80-100 kids a year. We’re holding off on treat or treating for at least another year.

Hope your Halloween is fun and fabulous!

  • Olivia Dress: McCall’s M6913, View B with D collar. All Kona cottons from JoAnn’s.
  • Pig Ears: Improvised by me. Wool Felt from Z Fabrics.
  • Striped Leggings: Target
  • Tintin outfit: Goodwill and Mr. Cleaver’s closet

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We Cleavers are creatures of habit, and this is never more true that when fall begins. As soon as the leaves begin to change color, you can bet there’s a good chance we’ll be hitting the fairgrounds, picking apples, baking pies, and hiking Bradbury Mountain.

Since Mr. Cleaver and I had our first date there back in 2005, we’ve made a point of returning each fall we’ve lived in Maine, and so this year, LMC got to take her second trip, having been carried up last year. And truth be told, I carried her about 90% of the way this time too, without the benefit of a carrier this go around. But this year my budding geoloist was enamored with all the rock and ledge, but perhaps even more enamored with all the dogs on the trail!

And LMC was quite the trooper, as she got carsick on the way up (fortunately primarily on a waterproof jacket). We were spectacularly ill prepared, having no extra clothes and having forgot her sippy cup (and Steinbeck’s doggy bags). But despite that early mishap, we had beautiful weather and a lovely hike. And LMC did look awfully cute in her new winter cap.

Following on my recent menswear design for Knitscene, I jumped into another menswear-inspired project, the Breakwater Pullover, for the Maine-based Swans Island company.

Swans Island specializes in heirloom blankets and organic yarns, dyed with all-natural dyes. The Breakwater Pullover is part of the All-American Collection, ten designs to highlight their all-new 100% American worsted weight wool yarn. I was pleased to be part of the collection alongside fellow Maine designers Bristol Ivy, Alicia Plummer, and the Swans Island team.

Breakwater was inspired by classic Aran sweaters, but distilled to it’s most essential elements. This project is a great introduction to cables, as the center panel keep things interesting, but never overwhelming. The menswear-inspired styling means there’s no side-shaping to worry about either (though it’d be easy enough to add if you wanted to). The loose gauge, slouchy fit, and raglan shaping make it a a quick knit and a great weekend sweater. With a size range from 35¾ to 50¾” – this one will work for the men too!

Not sure how to pull off the boyfriend sweater look? I’ve pulled together some styling inspiration here.

Pattern uses 6 (7, 7, 8, 8) skeins Swans Island All-American Collection, 75% USA Rambouillet wool, 25% USA alpaca; worsted weight (80 gms, 210 yds each) Color Shown: Newport #AAW416

Breakwater is available via Ravelry for $6.00 USD

All photos courtesy of Swans Island.

 

Coming soon to a newsstand near you, the Malaga Pullover in Knitscene – Winter 2014.

Malaga is my first sweater design for men, and I’m pretty proud of the way this one turned out. Inspired by a rather stylish co-worker of mine, Malaga is a simple, wearable raglan that shifts in both color and texture, but is easy to knit the whole way through. The instructions for this bottom-up raglan are written so there’s a minimal amount of purling (ribbing and short rows only) – so it’s a quick knit too – plenty of time to whip one out before the holidays and it’s available in sizes 37¾ (39½, 43¼, 47, 50¾, 54½)” chest circumference (shown in size 39½”).

What really makes this pattern work though, is the yarn selection – shown here in Harrisville Designs Shetland. The bottom half is knit holding two strands of the same color fingering weight yarn held together, and swapping one strand for a contrast color and marled effect for the sleeves and yoke. Harrisvile has a ton of wonderful earthy and saturated colors to choose from, and Brooklyn Tweed’s Loft would be another beautiful option for folks in the US. I’d recommend picking a dark and a light version of the same color family (i.e. a forest/pale green combo, or light blue/navy) for a similar effect.

While Malaga is the only men’s pattern in the issue, there are a ton of other great designs in there. I’m particularly fond of Kiyomi Burgin’s Tongshan Sweater and the Haubergeon Sweater by Featured Designer Emma Welford.

To purchase the Malaga pattern, visit your local yarn or book store for the latest Knitscene issue, or purchase a print or digital copy via Interweave.

Want some more men’s sweater inspiration? Check out my Pinterest Board!

All Photos © Knitscene/Harper Point

Cross Stitch Stocking in ProgressWaldorf DollCross Stitch Stocking in Progress
Waldorf DollCross Stitch Stocking in Progress

Waldorf DollThe end of summer came all too quickly this year bringing with it big changes (LMC started daycare two days a week) and big deadlines (knitting and day-job related), and the sad realization that I should have taken more days off of work. I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed with it all and have found some soothing simplicity in hand-work. Setting all knitting aside for a a few weeks, I’ve been focused on my cross-stitch, and this newly finished Waldorf Doll for LMC. At other times, I would find it all a bit tedious, but for me, for now, it’s just right.

What do you turn to when you need some quietude in your life?