Hello! How lovely to be back here on the beginning of a new month, and at the beginning of a new year for me! This year we started by celebrating my birthday two days ahead, impromptu, when we were sitting out on the terrace with dinner guests on Saturday. By the time we were ready for dessert, the sliver of the moon in the night sky wasn't luminous enough to make much light. But that little pink birthday candle on the cake? It shed plenty of light for me to see the company of family and friends I was celebrating with, as well as my gratitude for a year gone by that has been very good to me, and my excitement for the year ahead, with all its promise and possibilities.
A corner of my garden gone wild: French beans invading the tomatoes on which a pumpkin is happily climbing, and some Queen Anne's lace for prettiness.
I'm a little overwhelmed by the intensity and the pace of life right now, and I will take a little pause from blogging this week. "See" you all next Monday!
I want to write about my last Sorbetto Top today, and the modifications I made. But let me first digress from sewing a little, and tell you that in the photo my head is turned to the right because I've only got one earring on. There used to be two of them until very recently, and they were my very favorite summer earrings. I do intend to talk about sewing today, honestly, but let me just show you a close-up of what used to be my favorite pair of summer earrings (originally published in this Corner View post):
They're big earrings, a great mass of dangling turquoise flowers. How could one of them quietly disappear? It's certainly in the house ... somewhere ... but where exactly? It drives me insane to know that one of my favorite earrings is wandering around somewhere in this house.
Ok, back to sewing. I finished my fourth and last Sorbetto Top, as mentioned. Three Sorbettos would definitely have been enough, but I had already cut the fabric, so I sewed it. The fabric was very hard to work with, because it's a very slippery type of rayon, which I bought only because of the bright, summery color scheme and the catchy ornithological pattern. And of course I loved the fabric's turquoise background, which would go so well with my earrings. (Sob.)
Instead of the gathering around the neckline like my previous Sorbettos, this time I made pleats. On the one hand, it was a happy idea because I think this incarnation of the original pattern is the best: eight little pleats at the front look better than the gathering, and far better than the original large central pleat. On the other hand, because of its slippery quality, this rayon was definitely the wrong fabric to improvise pleats on, and they came out a little crooked. (To give you an idea of just how slippery the fabric is, I couldn't make bias for the neckline and armholes, and had to buy it instead - turned out that purple was the only color available around here.)
Still, I'm quite happy with it. Even if I have to wear it with one earring only.
This summer's berry season has been quite spectacular, and we've caught the berrying bug (not all of us, of course, but my big boy and I have for sure). There's something addictive about walking the woods, scouting for berries - blackberries are the primary target around here - stretching up for the prized berry while avoiding the vicious thorns, and then onwards to find the next bush and the next ripe berry, be it high up or hidden away low in the brambles, be it around the next bend in the path or farther on - you're never sure exactly where, but you just know there will be another one.
Blackberry picking in our woods is a slow business. The basket always seems empty (even when we've tried the clever strategy of bringing along the smallest of our baskets), so each and every one of the berries is a real treasure, and demands a special way of being served.
I ruled out making jam with them, as cooking them to what is essentially a pulp seemed a shame. A couple of times I made a berry torta (note, I use the Italian word "torta" because I'm very confused by all the many different torta-terms in the English language), but I wasn't happy with it. Have a look:
It's a good recipe, and the torta always tasted very good, but it didn't look special enough for our hard-won blackberries. What I needed was a white torta, on which the deep purple berries would stand out supreme.
A cheesecake! And this was the very first time I'd ever made one! I cannot believe that I never have thought of making a cheesecake before: it's the simplest of desserts to make, involves no baking, and everyone adores it. (I used this recipe by BBCFoods, but used 400gr Digestives for the crust).
Now we have a cheesecake torta which really highlights our blackberries, and we've added it to our family torta recipes - even though Rebecca thinks it an odd type of torta, and finds it very amusing that it gets "cooked in the fridge", as she puts it.
I was flattered to be asked by Donna of All Things Ming to join the Creative Blog Hop. I'm supposed to nominate two other bloggers, but I'm going to leave it up to each of you to join in if you're inspired, and share a bit more about your creative process. Remember, creativity isn't just knitting or sewing. In fact, all of us bloggers are inherently creative, and put our creativity to work each time we compose a post, frame a photo or think up the right words. If you don't use needles or hooks to express your creativity, perhaps you use brushes and pencils instead (Susanna would you like to join the creative blog hop around the world?), or pots and pans (Kelleyn?), or photography (Kristin?), or repurposed fabrics (Shara? Shara can make just about any piece of clothing for her kids out of repurposed fabrics, but she's also a skilled knitter and crocheter)? Or maybe words (Elizabeth? Please congratulate with Elizabeth, who writes compelling and powerful articles on her blog, and has just published her first e-book, Hope for a sea of change)? Or oils and scents for soap making (Elizabeth?), or ... oh, the ways to express our creativity are endless.
Hope to see many of you link back, and share with us about your own creativity!
Question #1: What are you working on at the moment?
In the knitting department right now, and making something rather "revolutionary": I'm knitting up yellow yarn for the first time. Recently I was looking at the 81 projects I have on Ravelry, and noticed that I've made something in all main colors, except for yellow. Do I not like yellow? Well, it isn't one of my favorites, but I can't say I dislike it. So - I wondered - why have I avoided it for years? No idea, but it seemed time to fix this yellow deficiency. So I got myself some mustard-yellow yarn. I have to say that I'm loving working with it, and I love the look of my birch wood needles and mustard yarn as I knit.
It really doesn't. When I knit or sew I nearly always use patterns, to which I make few modifications. Which is odd for me, as I generally find following project instructions tedious, and never, say, follow a recipe when I cook. But until I'm able to actually translate my own ideas into garment that work well, I shall follow other people's patterns.
Question #3: Why do you create what you do?
When I grew up, most people around me would always be busy making this or that by hand, so I soaked up the general idea that I could make anything, I just had to learn how. When I knitted my first garment, at age 16, I didn't chose a simple scarf or a hat, but made myself a sweater, without a pattern. Nobody told me to do otherwise – in fact, my grandmother encouraged me, and bought me the yarn. For me, creativity stems from launching in and making things without worrying too much about their level of difficulty. And in the process, trying out and learning a lot of new techniques.
Question #4: How does your creativity process work?
Mostly, I make things when they're useful. I love sewing for my daughter, and make her tops and dresses with pretty fabrics I find at the street market. I decided to go back to knitting because I couldn't buy sweaters that were 100% wool - and it's been one of the happiest decisions I have ever made, one that has opened a world bursting with creativity.
Why, my February Lady of course!
I love it, though from the start it was a bit of a troubled project, beginning with this yarn (a very sad yarn-story that I will share soon), and continuing right to the end with the simple stitch pattern that I couldn't seem to master.
Though I memorized it easily, for reasons that escape me I made mistake after mistake. In fact, I don't believe I knitted a single pattern row without messing up something. But at least I became good at catching my mistakes (say, on the following row, and not ten rows later), not to mention fixing missing yarn overs, converting ssk into k2t, or creating two single stitches from two knitted together.
In the end, though, the troubled yarn and all the frustrating errors have merged into a knit that I really like, and that will keep me warm in Februaries to come.
When I look at my kids flopped down and immersed in a book, I smile, and remember that joyous feeling when school is out, and you have the freedom to read for hours and hours for the pure pleasure of it. What would summer be without the mind-traveling that a book allows?
Here in Italy, we have another month of school holidays, and my boys (seventeen and fifteen and half), have spent the first part of their holiday reading the early thrillers by Ken Follet, which they discovered in a second row on a bookshelf (yes, we've had to put our books in double rows to fit them all in!). I own most of his books, but I didn't recommend that my boys read the more recent historical novels and series, which I personally found disappointing and dripping with sensationalism of the "rape & pillage" kind. On the other hand, his earlier works, including The Eye of the Needle, The Key to Rebecca, The Man from St Petersburg are gripping spy thrillers, and suitable for young adults.
They're still into thrillers, but of a different kind. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco ("Mom, what does "coitus" mean?" "Sexual intercourse, from the Latin." "Mmmm ... no, I don't think so, it's talking about onions!" "Well, there's a lot to learn about medieval pharmacopoeia in that novel!"), and the hard-boiled Italian detective novel, Il Rispetto by Giuseppe Ferrandino, set in Naples.
Rebecca has started this summer to read by herself, and is now devouring children's books. However, I do find that it's a little difficult to find good books for her age (seven). An exception, and her absolute favorite book right now, is one that we've read aloud over and over, with great enjoyment from both the adult reader, and the listening child. All About the Bullerby Children (now available as The Children of Noisy Village, Happy Times in Noisy Village, and Christmas in Noisy Village) by Swedish author Astrid Lindgren, who also wrote the Pippi Longstocking stories. It's a marvelous and funny book about the adventures of six children living in rural Sweden. Written in the first person from the point of view of one of the kids, a seven-year-old girl, whose perspective the author renders beautifully, The Bullerby Children is a real gem, and I highly recommend it!
I have been mind-traveling too this summer, through blogs. In this respect, I particularly enjoy Road it Up, written by Catherine from Canada, and documenting through beautiful photography and short, incisive and mindful articles the nomad life of her family of five as they travel throughout North America on a bus - Catherine's blog is a wonderful read, in all seasons!
This weekend brought a Medieval reenactment, and a new mamma-made dress with broad San Gallo lace edging (to make a too-small piece of fabric the right length dress for my tall seven-year-old).
The sun-burnt tourists were in seventh heaven, strolling around the medieval town along the Mediterranean coast, snapping photos and soaking up the "historical" atmosphere that included a full-sized stuffed Alpine deer with gigantic antlers placed in the dry river bed for the occasion. My girl was pretty happy too, looking at all the novelties, and making her lace swirl around as she wandered about the cobbled streets.
Pattern Notes: this is another "robe trapéze" - a lovely and easy French sewing pattern.
1) A bar with a view. 2) Weathered. 3) Worlds in a room. 4) I can't resist beach glass. 5) Never too many mamma-made sundresses. 6) Waves - Mr Probz.
Thank you for joining in!
Family life at the edge of an ancient rural community near the Mediterranean
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