Month: February 2015

Not Losing a Dress, But Gaining a Skirt

I had this dress that I really loved, but it was a little short. Washing it repeatedly (even in cold water! even air drying!) made it even shorter. I started to feel uncomfortable at work sitting because it would ride up so much — but I just loved the graphic print!! So, I cut it right under the armhole and made a skirt out of it:


(excuse the dreadful work bathroom shot! I’m more interested in making stuff than getting glamour shots, truth be told!)

This is not the first time I’ve done something like this — making a dress into a skirt has been a trick I’ve used throughout the years to transform dresses I’ve deemed unwearable for various reasons into something I can use. What is different is the process I used to put in the waistband. Usually I just made an elastic waist casing in the bulky, not very attractive way. This time, though, I used this ingenious methodย  as explained by Nancy Zieman. So easy! So flat! So attractive! I was even able to do it completely by hand. I wish I had learned this technique years ago.

This method has me thinking about not only saving dresses, but drafting all kinds of original skirts from knits, and putting in these nice, flat, comfy waistbands. Thank you, Nancy!

Rose Hip Seed Oil

Rose Hip Seed! It sounds like it could be one of the fairies in A Midsummer Night’s Dream! I’m pretty sure that’s Rose Hip Seed second in from the right ๐Ÿ˜‰

During the holidays, I bought a gift for someone from a Fancy Toiletry Purveyor and I got a free sample of a “dry” blend of oils. It was pretty nice — I loved the way the oils immediately sunk into my skin and did not feel greasy. Further research revealed that the blend had a few what I deem unnecessary ingredients (butylphenyl methylpropional, benzyl salicylate, and dicaprylyl ether, anyone? nah, didn’t think so) plus had a retail price that seemed pretty high (1.6 oz = $29 USD). I started looking at other dry oils, and found out about rose hip seed oil. It’s full of essential fatty acids and great for hair, skin, and nails (I love a multi-tasker!) yet soaks in immediately. It’s also pretty reasonable — $22 for 8 oz at Mountain Rose Herbs, i.e.ย  the finest quality). I find it great for the winter because on my skin, it seems more emollient than argan oil. Argan is perfect for me 9 months out of the year, but this winter my poor face was getting a bit flaky from our sub-freezing temperatures paired with dry winter heat.

I put a few drops of Rose Geranium essential oil (otherwise known as the “poor man’s rose”) and Chamomile essential oil in my bottle, both to enhance the hair/skin/nail care and for the delightful fragrance, and feel pampered and moisturized. I’ve also taken to putting it on my hands before bed, and slathering it on everywhere after a bath. So nice! I’ve read that rose hip seed evens skin tone, and I swear my skin looks more even. I’m not one to believe cosmetic industry hype, so this means something ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m so happy to have another tool in my simple and natural toiletry box! No coupons, as it’s a single ingredient item.

image: The Fairies’ Banquet, by John Anster Fitzgerald, 1859

Everything Old Is New Again

After a little thinking about what purchases served me well last year, I’ve decided to follow the as-published in the Times in 1941 Rationing of Clothing, Cloth, and Footwear coupon amounts this year. The reasoning behind this is that the purchases I made because they were free trade and/or made from organic materials were purchases that did not do well for me in 2014. Both things I purchased especially for their green credentials are now unwearable (shrunken, pilled, ill-fitting), and I feel that they were a waste of coupons. I just found myself ready to buy some organic fabric not because I loved it, but because it was organic, and paused. I didn’t want to repeat that mistake — which should not be a mistake — but what can this Contrary Mary say. I want to love the things I purchase, especially since I purchase so few. I guess my tastes and where the organic clothing and fabric industry are right now not quite aligned.

I do have my own set of ethics that serve me well. I will not set foot in any fast fashion establishments. I will not buy from establishments that my politics don’t agree with (I’m looking at you, Anthropologie; your beautiful items are ruined by your right-wing ownership). I favor the classic and well made so that they will be around for a long time. I try and buy some things used, and try to buy in my town.

Plus, I think the 1941 rationing is restrictive enough ๐Ÿ™‚ Take a look — it’s not too dramatically different than what I was following:




I haven’t purchased anything yet in 2015, so it’s still an ideal time to make this tweak. I wanted to put it out there so that we are all on the same page!

Have any of you experienced this sort of backwards logic — something that should be good but winds up being not so good for you in particular? I am also like this with food. If I try to only eat extremely healthy things I am cranky and eventually wind up eating something abysmal because I feel so deprived. I do much better with healthy foods and the occasional treat — that little bit of indulgence lets me live with healthy eating in the long term.

“Turn of the lights so we can see…”

Here is a family who spends time all over the past — right now they are in 1935. I love reading about their experiments for so many reasons, but this post resonated for me especially because Meg and I were conversing in the comments of my last post about not wanting to create the past for the sake of the past. This family gives some very compelling reasons why going back is fruitful and enriching. When I read these words I recognized the feeling written about so well. Yes, exactly. Thank you for articulating this so well.

Creating Talismans

I haven’t knit a scarf for myself in years. I knit so many when I was a new knitter that I didn’t feel a need for any new ones — until I saw this picot edge scarf on the Morris and Sons blog. I just loved the way it was knit lengthwise and how it worked with a variegated yarn colorway. I’m also a sucker for little do-dads, frills, and such. Those little picots looked so fun to knit! I had some merino yarn in fall colors in my stash that seemed perfect for the project. I whipped it up, oh gosh, in September? I’ve been meaning to show you all since then. It was the perfect thing to knit as the weather cooled and the colors in the scarf showed up in the trees around town.




Love the tapered picot edges!

I am determined to catch you all up on the things I’ve made over the past few months. These things I make, like scarves and hair sticks and such, on a practical level add pizzazz to my same old same old small wardrobe without spending coupons. In the big, important picture, I love having a little something handmade on every day that I can. It makes me feel … self-sufficient. Powerful, even. Almost like I am wearing a talisman against the vagaries of the modern world. No, not almost like — Am. I’m convinced that objects we make with our own two hands are imbued with integrity, magic, and soul, and isn’t that the stuff I want resting on my shoulders, and intertwined in my hair each and every day?


I’ve made it 45 years on this green earth without knowing how to properly use a hair stick. I thought you just poked them in your bun! But once I saw this video, I couldn’t stop thinking about twirling hair sticks in my nest of hair! I think they look so elegant.

Problem was, I didn’t have any hair sticks. Most of the ones I saw in stores were plastic, which I didn’t want. I found some really nice wood ones online, but then my searches led me to people talking about using knitting needles for hair sticks. I remembered I had 5 size 5 bamboo DPNs that I never used because they were so short and my brain started spinning. Pretty soon I was searching through my magpie pack rat bead boxes and getting out the glue and … these hair sticks were born!


They work great and they are very comfortable.


I am wearing one today (which reminded me to show them to you!) and my hair has remained presentable throughout a busy day of not only my usual stuff, but spending a few hours manning a table at the Graduation Fair at the university I work at. A stick and one hair pin! I know it’s not rocket science but I find it thrilling nonetheless. Maybe someday I’ll find a gorgeous old wood hair stick when I’m out and about, but in the meantime, these repurposed knitting needles with beads I scrounged from my bead box are keeping my hair neat with a bit of flair.



Just a quick note to say hello! I’ve not stopped to write here because I’m in a (good, positive) whirlwind of making and doing! Work is humming, home life is humming (we had to install a diverter on our sump pump, and now need to seal our basement wall — we meaning my husband and I, not a contractor!), my class is humming (I need to make 12 books by Monday! Above are some 1 sheet folded books we made in class), my other creative endeavors are humming (I made another skirt! I made five hair sticks! I started Byatt! and I haven’t even gotten a chance to show you the scarf, shawl, and hat I finished. Everything from materials I had on hand), and my reading life is humming. Notice I didn’t say busy. Humming evokes “briskly active” and “pleasantly active” and that is how things are feeling these days. I like.

One thing that isn’t humming is the spending of coupons! I’ve haven’t spent any since my last reports of the two tea coupons and one soap coupon. That I also like.

More soon! I just didn’t want too much time to go by without saying hi ๐Ÿ™‚