Spring comes more slowly, more subtly to the High Desert. It's here, but you must know its signs to recognize its arrival. While the valley is awash in bulbs and leaves and wet, here there are tight buds of leaves, tender shoots of perennials, green blades of grass.
Inside the house, however, Spring arrives with energy and heralds the return of warmer weather and long, lazy days. Daffodils - 30 stems for less than $4! - grace my table. It's far too early to plant outside - we anticipate frost for a few more months - but a few transplants and seedlings, gently cared for under a grow light, promise more dirty hands in the months to come.
All winter I've been saving my fiber trimmings: tiny bits of thread, colorful scraps from the boys' art projects, the delicate ends from my crochet. I found the idea somewhere on Pinterest (of course!) and had to try. After the Vernal Equinox, I filled an empty suet container with the vibrant bits, hoping that the local birds would use them to build cozy, colorful nests. E saw a length of yarn was hanging out of our bird house for a few days. Too bad: I missed it; though the knowledge filled me with a small sense of triumph. However, I did see a small songbird stealing fluffy chicken feathers shed by our flock from the the coop - a cozy bit of down for her nest, and a highlight in my day.
And: the egg. (Though these white ones for Easter - organic, to be sure! - came from the store.) With longer, warmer days, we have been grateful for an abundance of eggs. A symbol of renewal, rebirth, and beginnings.
Slowly, we awake from our winter slumber. The old growth from last year is cleared away to provide sunlight for the new life pushing up, with determination and hope, towards the sunshine.
Our kitchen is tiny. Barely any counter space, and little room to move around. Loading the dishwasher and getting ice for coctails are unfortunately mutually exclusive activities. It's what my Auntie Colleen would call at "two bun" kitchen.
Even so, both my boys love to help me make dinner in the kitchen. My first grader has enough experience to chop vegetables with a paring knife and fry his own egg for breakfast. My preschooler spins the salad, peels the garlic, grinds the spices, and recently made the coconut brown rice (almost) all by himself.
I'm sure there are many articles out there about the benefits kids get from helping in the kitchen. The boosts to self-esteem, the improved eating habits, the attachment to family. The fact that one day they may cook dinner for me. Whatever. What I really love is witnessing the discovery. Exploring the best way to juice a lime, tasting the coconut milk, sniffing the curry powder, wondering if an extra pinch of salt would help. Then, there's the satisfaction and pride when they sit down to eat. They love to be recognized and praised for their contribution to our evening meal and accept each compliment with a smile.
The togetherness is worth every sticky spot on the floor and extra step or stumble around a chair pushed against the counters. There's a lot of kisses and I love you's in the kitchen just before dinner. So, yes, you can help me make dinner. Anytime, sweetheart.
I created, organized, and decorated my studio with the intention of fashioning a creative haven for myself. A place of creativity, inspiration, and prolific making. At the time, I envisioned a place for me to be solitary in my creativity, though I did add a chair and a small desk for visitors. Truth be told, I spend more time in this space with company than I do alone.
On my favorite chilly winter days, the boys and I find ourselves secluded there together. Mama, can we make something in your studio? We sort through pipe cleaners and a stack of gold paper I've had for 20 years, play with copious amounts of tape and glue, string beads, twist small bits of wire, experiment with adding salt and sugar to wet watercolors, share a pot of tea. I keep scissors for small hands and a scrap basket full of fabric they can use without ever having to ask. In this space, they have created suits of armor, numerous paper cranes, blankets for baby dolls, glow in the dark bracelets for stuffed tigers, gifts for loved ones, and various medieval weaponry.
There is a sense of calm and companionship that infuses these peaceful hours. After a rough-and-tumble morning, this unscheduled creative time is restorative and so refreshing. I love to share this space I love with my loved ones. I love to witness the creative process of their young, open minds. It only takes a bit of tape or a length of yarn to get started. Often, my personal creativity can seem elusive or - even worse - forced. But my boys approach time in the studio with the same loaded for bear attitude they bring to everything else in life. Let's get started and see what happens.
Eventually, E will wander upstairs to see what we're up to. He sits down, asks the boys what they're making, joins us. He frequently compliments the relaxed and peaceful atmosphere I've cultivated. All those boys, crowded into my little pink room, making things together. It's heartwarming and inspiring, even if it only lasts an hour.
Then there are the evenings, after the boys are in bed and the house is quiet, that we are both in the studio. Sharing a glass of wine, listening to soothing music, each with our own project. I love those times, too.
I wrote a long post about this cardigan and then discovered a week later that it never published and that all my edits were lost. Reflecting back, it's likely this loss is a good thing; perhaps my musings veered from rambling, to rushed, to dull.
And this cardigan (or what my seven-year-old refers to as "the sweater you've been making since I was three") is far from dull. After abandoning a forsaken project, finding the best hood pattern, and adapting a pattern for wristwarmers, I created this cozy jacket. It only took me about nine months. The yarn is a sumptuous combination of silk and alpaca. I held two strands together to create the hood, giving the finished piece a pleasing loft and warmth about my shoulders.
This sort of thrift store/crochet mash-up is right up my alley. Searching for just the right jacket, researching patterns, adapting ideas to fit my vision. Walking the very fine line of how much is too much and how much is just right?
It's the perfect layering piece for tranisitional seasons. I finished it at the end Autumn, just as I was pulling out my down jacket and matching up my gloves. It's been waiting through the dark days of winter, hanging patiently in my closet. Now the days are longer and a little warmer. With a lightweight scarf, my favorite green cardigan will once again see the light of day.
Ahhh. I love yarn shopping. My local yarn store (LYS) is a haven of creativity and community. The owner greets me by name, inquires how my last project turned out, and offers inspiration as she winds my skeins into the soft balls you see here.
The frothy vanilla yarn is a blend of wool and alpaca - barely processed and undyed - that will be a new, huge, blanket-like shawl for me. But first, my man requested a new hat as his old one shrank in the wash. He's patiently waited while I've prioritized other projects. Four years later, I'd say he deserves a new hat - hopefully before Winter's end. It's a superwash wool in "Shire" green. (I can never resist a Tolkein reference!) I deemed the superwash a good investment for my modern man who does his own laundry.
With all this Cascade yarn I've been using for projects past, present, and future, I wonder if I should buy stock. Or at least stock up....
I carried this blanket with me to every swim lesson, karate class and book club through November and the first part of December. It grew quickly as my crochet hook flew over each stitch. Working on a deadline, with a huge ball of sumputous, bulky yarn makes for a relatively quick and satisfying project. This was a gift for my mom at Christmastime. Something warm, handmade, in a neutral shade so it doesn't dominate any particular room. She wrote to me that she enjoys her morning coffee under it every day and I couldn't be more pleased.
The pattern is Anya by GoodKnits. These inspired patterns take dainty doilies, worked in the round, and enlarge them with big yarn into blankets and throws. I'll be back for more...I think every room in the house could use a cozy, lacy throw in a neutral shade.
This is the pink sunset and full moon rise I found upon returning home after spending Chritmas at my parent's. It felt very calm and quiet. Then life became rather hectic and now I'm searching for the calm and quiet again. To that end, I'm beginning a lazy day in the craft room with my two boys - all of us still in pajamas. The floor is strewn with bits and pieces of cloth from the scrap basket. As soon as the laptop is closed, the sewing machine will come out in an attempt to turn these random odds and ends into a blanket or two.
I had quite a bit of creative mojo during autumn and the holiday season. If you'll forgive me a bit of anachronism, I'll be sharing my finished objects with you over the next few weeks. Meanwhile, I'll be searching for more pink sunsets.
The Story Behind Merry & Mod
Merry & Mod is named in honor of my grandmothers, Mary Knutson and Maude Craven. Mary and Maude met in Grants Pass, Oregon in the early 1940s. They were quick to laugh and effortlessly graceful. Mary’s husband Cliff was the manager of Montgomery Ward and Maude’s husband Lev was the manager of JC Penney. Mary had three daughters; Maude had three sons, then many years later a little girl, Mary Kay. My parents met as babies and shared a desk briefly during third grade.
For me, my grandmothers’ memories evoke the personification of a family’s love and support, good taste, and class. Merry & Mod defines a festive spirit and a modern, yet timeless sensibility to personal style.
I design and create limited-edition jewelry in my home studio in Central Oregon. Pieces are comfortable to wear, playfully feminine, and surprisingly colorful. The jewelry moves with you, adding kinetic grace to its visual appeal. I fashion my work with semi-precious gemstones, handmade Venetian glass beads, fine gold fill or sterling silver chain and wire, and other objects discovered in the world. Merry & Mod jewelry fuses passion and style into refined, contemporary pieces.