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School Days, School Days…

School days, school days

Dear old Golden Rule days

‘Reading and ‘riting and ‘rithmetic

Taught to the tune of the hick’ry stick…

Smell that, dear readers? Autumn is in the air! I love the change of seasons, bouquets of newly sharpened pencils, chalk, kids hauling backpacks larger than they are down the street, moms and dads waiting with open arms outside the school at the end of the day, school bus yellow, brown paper lunch bags… You get the idea.

When my brother and I were kids, my mom would always make sure we were dressed up fancy for the first day (that changed when I went to an all girls, private Catholic high school and uniforms were the name of the game) and pose us in front of the front door for photos. I love looking back at these pictures. We got taller, the door was painted a new color, braces and bangs came and went, glasses changed to contacts but the smiles were always the same.

I loved the first day of school. With a mix of anticipation and a little bit of fear (those elementary boys could be brutally mean) the first day held such promise. A clean slate, a new teacher, new subjects, new books, new classrooms and when I started Junior High I suddenly had a locker and got to take cool things like Wood Shop and Home Ec (I ROCKED them both, by the way.)

 

I remember my first summer out of school. I was 21 and had just graduated RISD. When September rolled around it was strange to not be getting ready for a first day. From age 4 to 20 I had had myriad first days then suddenly, poof! No more posing in front of the door or picking out a new Trapper Keeper. I still get that twinge every September. I roam the back-to-school aisles at Target, walking slowly by the wall of backpacks and lunch boxes and look forward to taking my 16-month-old son down these same aisles in a few short years when we tackle Pre-K.

In honor of back-to-school, I offer up another free pattern, the Chevron iPad Sleeve. Can we talk about the yarn, because I love this yarn! Cascade’s Greenland is 100% merino superwash, which is great if you’re like me and things get dirty no matter how hard you try to keep them clean. The inside of my bag is a hodgepodge of cracker crumbs, hand sanitizer, toddler toys, sippy cups, knitting projects and for good measure, a pen usually explodes every 6 months or so to keep things interesting. If your Chevron iPad Sleeve gets dirty, simply throw it in the wash on warm and tumble dry low. This is an especially lovely superwash and would knit up beautifully as a sweater with its nice stitch definition, no splitting, springiness and softness.

 

The sleeve is easily customizable by using 2 or however many colors you want (I used 5 beautiful shades). You can adjust the size to fit an eReader or laptop by making it wider or narrower. Do a gauge swatch that’s 6×6” then measure the gadget you want to make a sleeve for and adjust accordingly. I recommend using Velcro rather than a button so your screen doesn’t get scratched. It knit up quickly on US 9 needles and I think the hardest part was choosing from the 60+ colors Cascade offers.

 

Grab your backpack and hop a yellow school bus. School is back in session!

Download the free patter here.

Another Year Gone By…

Today is my birthday.

 

I always get a little sad on my birthday… It’s not about vanity or getting older. I’m a firm believer that with age comes wisdom and along with embracing that wisdom means you embrace the wrinkles, the aches and pains, the gray hairs. I’m not sure what it is exactly, but watching the years drag on while I was a child, then seeing them pick up pace in my early twenties, then suddenly start whooshing by makes me sad.

 

Will I ever see a flying car? Will I watch a woman become President? Will they ever cure the horrific diseases that claim the lives of so many? Can they stop global warming? Will I meet my great-grandchildren? These are the thoughts I had today, August 26th.

I wonder where the heck the time went. Did I accomplish anything spectacular since last birthday? Were there people in my life that meant a lot to me that are suddenly not there? Did I do something that made me proud to be me? I like to think that I worked hard, I accomplished a lot, I’m working on turning the little tiny boy we brought into the world last April into a little gentleman and that I’m making myself into a better version since last birthday. I’ve tried to be better at accepting people for who they are, cutting people more slack and being less harsh on myself. That last one continues to be a work in progress.

It was gloomy today. The sky was gray on one side and dark purple on the other. Rain was imminent and according to Siri (who lives in my iPhone) “it doesn’t look so nice today.” After a lovely brunch with my boys, we headed to somewhere we’ve never been before, the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. An outdoor park with myriad waterlily ponds, trails, board walks and insanely beautiful plants and gardens, we braved the weird weather and raindrops and took a stroll to take some pictures. We practically had the place to ourselves and it was what I needed to recharge my batteries and look forward to the next 365 days until I reach another birthday.

The icing on the cake? Phone calls from friends and family (many with eclectic renditions of “Happy Birthday”), a GIANT blue heron gliding past us while we walked through the gardens, my husband walking in with a cake and candles in one hand and a bouquet of sunflowers in the other after leaving me alone for a bit to get some writing done, smiles from my son all day, a warm pug on my lap and a mug of tea next to my keyboard. I have everything I need right here.

Happy birthday to me!

The Farmer & the Dell

While I am no fan of summer (the humidity, the sweat, the hot sun beating down, the uncomfortable feeling of a giant pile of wool on my lap) I like August for a few reasons. I like the promise of autumn being just around the corner, the back to school aisles in the stores, the evenings getting a bit cooler, the days getting a bit shorter and as my mom says, the bugs going away. August also happens to be my birthday month, but I long for fall and winter.

We have a wonderful farmer’s market in Washington, DC called Eastern Market. It’s a brief walk from where we live on Capitol Hill and we like to strap my son in his stroller, leash up the pug and walk over, market bags in hand. The market is packed with fruit, vegetables, flowers every color of the rainbow, exotic cheeses, meats, crafts, jewelry, art and makes for excellent people watching.

We like to try veggies we’ve never seen before, chat up the farmers, coo over other people’s children and enjoying being together as a family. This little patch of market in the middle of a bustling city is a small haven filled with happiness, color, families, friends, treats and the fleeting final days of summer, quickly slipping away. These are the days that memories are made of.

I designed the Eastern Market Tote with our weekend trips to the market in mind. I find that produce and flowers do better in a bag that lets them breathe. The gentle zig zag of the lace allows for breathing room, while the strong garter handle can be slung over a shoulder or stroller and the pinwheel-like bottom will hold up. I find a lot of the bags we bring to the market aren’t deep enough, especially for flowers, so I designed it to be extra long.

I adore the yarn, Cascade’s Pima Silk because it is an extra strong fiber blend of 85% Peruvian pima cotton and 15% silk. The key to a knit market bag is a strong fiber that will last. This blend knits up like butter and has wonderful stitch definition. It was smooth to knit with and I know I’ll be knitting with Pima Silk again soon. This may just be my new favorite Cascade yarn!

This quick knit would be an ideal first lace project, or a good way to familiarize oneself with knitting in the round. With over 35 colors, you could knit up an arsenal to bring with you on your next trip to the market. Think of all the plastic bags you can say no to if you bring your own knit totes and go green! Knit bags can last forever, the yarn is strong and ideal for this kind of project and you can easily finish one in time for your next market excursion.

As summer draws to a close, we’ll celebrate my birthday and begin to see the school buses coming back out, the sweaters pulled from storage and the air begin the change. It’s important to remember to take time with your friends and family to make memories during this beautiful time of year before we hunker down for winter.

Download the free pattern here.