Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Sewing with Sunshine


And by Sunshine I of course mean the little Miss. The sun beaming through the windows on us and this project was no additional trouble however. I lurve the April stack. It is kind of as pale and neutral as this studio is capable of, which feels nice and fresh.   (And because there are 6 solids included, the stack has 14 total fabrics still keeping it in the 30-40$ range. Yay!)  It was high time I actually sat down at the sewing machine and enjoyed one of these Monthly Gatherings myself. Which is good timing for the new couch cover I have on one of the family room sofas. Everything in that room was in need of a good refreshing. Pillows and paint are my very favorite refreshers, probs yours too.  I am not sure if this pillow will stay on this sofa, or go on the cream one, but I do know that I will make another pillow from all the scraps left from this one.

For the flying geese I used the no-waste method of making four flying geese at once, which I describe in this Mother Goose free quilt pattern, but googling that italic phrase up there will take you to several spots where a formula is described for getting the specific size that you want for your geese.  This pillow is 24x24 and I wanted each goose to be 3x6, so I needed a total of 32 geese arranged 4x8.  Whoa, too many numbers.  My process of choosing the color arrangement was a little random and a little planned. By that I mean that I only started with one parameter of sorts, and that was- all of the paler, less bold toned fabrics in the April stack would be the geese (center larger triangle) and the rest would be the background (smaller side triangles).  Then once they were all made, I deliberately arranged them only for balance of color and interest, but no real pattern or reason to it.  The single parameter that I started with sorta helps to provide a unifying element that you aren't consciously aware of, but it's there.  So I am essentially playing mind games with you, snort.

Do you think maybe with all that lingo that I am getting ready for my patchwork class at Sew Down next week?!  Me too.  I also am undertaking the light and enjoyable privilege of hosting about 90 Sew Downers (Uppers?) here at the house.  No biggie.  I also have a surprise for them, I think.  I hope.  It rhymes with Sew Down.

Smooches. AM & Sunshine

Friday, March 28, 2014

Under Construction


We are at a gallop pace it seems. Today is the last Spring Break day for the kids which has been a full two weeks looooong.  I love having them here.  Yes, they drive me half crazy (which really just finishes that job), but that might secretly be the part I love.  We (the royal) have been working on taking down the wall between the kitchen and the family room for about the same amount of time so, yes.  Bad timing by anoyone else's book, but that's how I tend to operate.  Get all the kooky happening at once.  But the change is wonderful.  Wonderful!  The giant window in the family room is getting a french door set into the center of it.  And the more useless smaller door from the family room to the back patio is getting turned into a crafty little octagon window.  I did not bother with the brick rebuilding expense around the new window, but rather letting the old door frame provide a boundary for building some plant shelves.  It's right next to the kitchen french doors, so I am thinking that will be perfect for herbs.  The beginning of last week started with a trip to Florence to see my sweet friend Natalie and (finally) visit her Factory Store & Cafe.  It is everything that you would expect it to be.  Beautiful, delicious, well thought out and inspiring.  I took the little schmumkins with me, and she had all kinds of fun exploring the grounds and being adored, eating sauteed squash, being held and doted on by Natalie and her team.  Natalie and I spent some time going over our plans for teaching together this summer at Craft South.  I treated myself to some cotton jersey by the yard and getting fitted for one of her corset kits, which recently arrived in the mail all cut to my body specs and I cannot wait to get started on something for me!  So excited.  Craft South!!  Thank you so much for your enthusiasm!  We have been extremely busy getting so much in order for that.  We have taken loads of signups, started a waiting list for some classes, getting close to full on others, and still plenty of room for lots of the one-day classes, and kids workshops.  I am so thrilled with all that is coming up this summer, and will be sharing more about what to expect in all of these workshops in case you need the extra nudge.

We are waiting for proofs of the cross stitch patterns, and we are also getting a huge shipment of floss any day now so that we can begin compiling kits!  The kits will include Aida cloth & a needle as well.  I am also offering just the pattern by itself, but figured some folks might want a little package ready to go.  Yay.  Isabela cut a foot (at least) off of her hair.  This girl, still just 12, had begun turning in to such a lady like looking girl a few short weeks before the cut, then the cut seemed to just push her right into this whole new person.  Sigh.  I am reminded of her here.  Oh the time.  It goes by and you are suddenly parenting a whole group of people that were other versions just a second ago, but still the essence of all the amazing you have known them to be from birth.  Humbling, to say the least.  And there are a million more little changes and growths that aren't as easy to put a finger on.  Galloping, I tell you.

I am so, so glad that spring is here.  I am ready for it.  I usually feel like my garden is taunting me and telling me that I am behind before I even begin, but this year I took a few warm days by force and began digging, dividing and replanting loads of perennials, followed by two truck loads of mulch, which makes me about 1/2 done with Spring prep on the flower beds.  This was of course all promptly covered with snow a day later.  But those perennials are resilient work horses.  Most of them given to me by Mom. Everything is under construction here.  Everything.  Always.  House, Spring, stitching, fabrics, baby dresses, children.  Me.

I hope you are well friends.  Happy Spring! xo, Anna

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Craft South

Things have a way of sneaking up on you. Mary Anna practically hyperventilates from laughter she loves playing peek-a-boo so much. It is almost impossible not to do the same yourself when you have a good round with her. She was 9 months on Friday. March came like a lion just as they say. Ice. Harsh cold. Roman suffered for several days through a regimen of breathing treatments around the clock due to an asthma-like episode. Scary stuff. Jeff and I took turns sharing a bed with him. I was never more than the sound of his breath away for about a week. He is very good now. And we are prepared if there should be a next time. I of course am hoping there is not- at the very least that I can understand possible triggers like allergies and what not. Phew. I have been stitching. My new cross stitch patterns and kits that I have likely not mentioned here are getting close to being ready! You are going to love these. They are little. Six colors. Beautiful and enjoyable. Eight of them! I am already knitting away on my nephew Eli's birthday sweater. I chose a simple v-neck vest, and I'm adding a contrast trim. It's gonna be cool. Cause he's turning 9 and it has to be.  We are about to knock down the wall between our kitchen and family room.  I have been wanting to do this for years and decided that being otherwise busy with everything else was the perfect time to do it, naturally.

Ok, really.  Craft South.  This is what I am here to talk about mostly, though you know by now you never get a straight story.  Look over here.  We have been working on this for months and I can't believe we are ready to go.  I am over the moon with excitement and feeling so lucky and honored to have such wonderful designers & friends to help me share lots of good crafty experiences this summer.  I can think of no better way to begin this journey than sharing it with these ladies.  And just like the posted story says, I am on the hunt for a permanent home for Craft South to live.  As in a building.  One with floors and walls.  Electricity would be nice too.  And my people.  My working studio will move there, and my personal studio will remain at home.  We aren't exactly sure where "there" is but we are hard at work on it.  My hopes and dreams for Craft South aren't so much about a new business as they are about creating a home for all of the work that I do already.  But in a place where any one can walk in, anytime, for any reason, and share what they are working on, learn something, knit, sew, stitch, talk, buy beautiful materials for all of it and be an important part of a community of crafters.  Here in Nashville.   I love my home.  I love this city. And after years of sharing through that screen there that you are looking at, I am giddy about offering a tangible experience for myself and others.  Say a prayer for me.  It's a big step, but I am somehow just not stressed like I have been with other decisions.  I have theories on that.

For now I just want to say thank you so much for your support in whatever form it has taken over the past many years.  Life changes in the most amazing ways, and some days I feel like I am simply watching it with excitement.  Today is one of those days.

Please let me know if you have any questions about Craft South, the workshops, or anything.  Please read all the info provided in the pdfs at the website.  Classes will not be on sale until Monday of next week, right over here, but the schedules are offered now so you have some thinking time.

more soon friends, xoxoAnna Maria

Friday, February 21, 2014

For (the sake of) Grace


There was a very windy, sweeping storm last night.  We woke up to sunshine, warmth, birds chirping and the tricky business of believing it could be Spring.  Jeff said there was something a little sad about the sunshine today but he couldn't say what exactly.  Something sort of sad about Spring.  While he sat on the side of the bed with his coffee, (hoping the aroma would coax me to upright) me still buried in blankets, I offered that maybe it's sort of like the sadness of waking up.  After sleeping deep in the dark, cold winter.  The beauty of the morning however can only be explained one way for me today.  Today is my Mama's birthday.  She would have been 69.  When I think of her and birthdays, I think of all she did for us and her grandchildren.  I think of cakes.  Presents.  The utter joy she had of finding just the right thing for one or the other of us (and on sale too!).  But for so many years now birthdays have been about knitting for the grandchildren.  She divided the 12 of them (13 now) into two groups of receiving a handknitted  gift from her.  One year she made something for each of my six children, then the next year she made something for the other 6 (my brother's 4, and my sister's 2).  So everyone got a handmade every other year.  A pretty sweet deal.  We would periodically expect an email from mom asking us to measure one child or another so that she could plan the size, yarn, needles, gauge, and other details.  I always, in my limited understanding of knitting from patterns, would overlook those details in our conversations and just wanted to see the color of the yarn and the pattern she had planned.  This was typical for mom and I as a pair.  I got excited about everything that I could see and dream of, she concentrated on the details of getting it right.  She saved the excitement part for seeing her gorgeous grandchildren in the sweaters.  She did not love doing color work.  She loved intricate stitches.  She was a beautiful knitter.  She has made amazingly lovely pieces.  She said a prayer for the recipient with every single stitch.  In the rear view mirror, I think that my slow uptake on knitting over the years has been because I just always wanted her to do that.  I wanted it to be hers.  I wanted, in very recent years, to not be the one knitting in the family.  We needed her for that.  I want to call her right now and tell her to check my blog for the pictures of Grace's sweater.  I think in the winter of of 2012, I began focusing on finally getting this knitting thing figured out because I felt that she would be handing this work to me at some point soon.  And at her hospital bedside last April (knowing that she had two knitting bags back at her hotel), I asked her permission to "help" with her knitting projects for a while.  My sister asked to work on the Christmas pajamas.  She smiled and blessed us each with a nod.  She gave us permission.  And so very much more.  

I will never knit like her.  I can hear her saying in my mind, as she is looking at this, that she would never dream up working the colors this way, but they are so beautiful.   It will be perfect for her, she would say.  My sweet niece, Grace, is 6 years old today.  Yes, she shares a birthday with mom.  It is so very appropriate that the first handknit, or as we call them "Nani Knits" that I created, is given on the day that we celebrate them both.  It followed a pattern from Mom & Me Knits.  But it's not pale solid pink.  It is striped and then some.  In Grace's favorite colors.  It's doesn't have big grosgrain poufy bows on the shoulders, because my niece is not a poufy girl.  It is bright and cool and gutsy like her.  Like both of us.  I made it with as much love & capability as I could muster, and trying to be all that my mama loves in me.  It is not perfect.  Only perfect in that it is a gift.  Still given from Nani.  Like the gift Nani continues to be for us.
Happiest of Birthdays, Sweet Grace.  A good day to be born.  (I hope it fits!)
xoxoAunt Anna

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The unknown of today


I got about 12 stitches into this before I needed to put about 6 ounces into her, and now I am stitching again for (hopefully) a few hours next to a snoozing baby. But one never knows. Oh my life is full of grand and adventurous surprises. What would I do without the suspense of it all?


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Building Blocks



I have so enjoyed your encouragement on my last post.  Seriously.  It is an immense joy for me to be able to have this knitting thing that is entirely creative and fun but where there are no expectations to perform in anyway and so far is not attached to what I do for work.  It will most likely (snort) stay that way, though one never knows of course.  Sometimes really beautiful things can happen when you aren't trying, I suppose.  Anyway, I love when you play along.  Thank you for the fun.

I wanted to let you know a couple other things. 

*I have a post over at Janome today that walks through my feelings and inspirations when using solid fabrics in my quilts.  I hope you find it inspiring and informative.  I'll be posting there every month this year, and will be sure to let you know when I do!  Here's the link directly to the article: Quilting Decibels

*We have solidified the Monthly Gathering Stacks as a subscription option in addition to just offering them for sale.  Here is a link to a downloadable PDF that explains the process if you're interested.  We will be posting the February stack next Wednesday (2/5), so I wanted to let you know how it will work in plenty of time.

*It's weird how much I have been using FB lately.  Are you liking me over there?  If nothing else, it is really the perfect place to share images of what other folks are using my fabrics for.  I am really so inspired by that.  Lucky me.  But for reals, the simplicity of FB makes quickly sharing this or that from all over the place pretty ideal for a certain category of notes and happenings.  You know this already don't you? I am slow.  Oh for instance, did you see this amazing quilt by Kathy Doughty?  Gahh.

*We have had 3 birthdays here over the last week.  Juliana is now 22 (gasp).  Nicolas is now 16 (what?).  Eleni is now 10 (wahhhh).  I am now old (true). 

*We are also freezing.

*Pierrette and I have been working on a summer long series of one-day workshops, kids workshops, weekend workshops, and a pop-up shop (and other things that rhyme with op).  Four months in a row!  It's crazy.  We are nuts.  It's gonna be awesome.  I seriously am losing sleep over the excitement and I can't wait to share the schedule with you.  Right now it looks like beginning of March is when we'll begin taking signups.  I will keep you posted.

Okay.  The baby is squawking.  Bye! xoxoAM

(above is an improv block that I call Mod Corsage.... I am teaching this block/process at SewDown Nashville (which is full) but hope to also teach this little beauty at one of my summer workshops too!)

Monday, January 20, 2014

Big Color

I owe my Juliana a debt of design on this sweater because she almost punched me in the face when I told her I needed to buy some yarn to make something for myself. Exercising some restraint however she walked over to the six drawer chest in the living room, yanked open a drawer, held her hand in display position and said MOM.  You. Have. YARN.  (Only 3 drawers full though.)
And I did.  And still do.  Less than I did have though, thanks to some giant size 17 circular needles, knitting with 3 yarns at once and..... knitting guts.  I shied away from knitting for so many years because I felt as though I could not make it up as I went along.  That and lots of other now seemingly invalid reasons.  I have followed and completed over a dozen patterns over the past year with mostly good success.  I am only now starting to see where I would like to amend something here or there, or maybe do something differently than how the pattern is written if I were to do it again.  In other words, my designer brain is starting to walk hand in hand with my following the instructions and learning something brain.  I am developing a point of view as I barely scratch the surface of learning technique and variations on basic things about knitting. 
But this sweater.  Well this thing.  I had some reckless fun.  This sweater is my version of getting knocked up by knitting.  It is the product of just going for it.  And just like that dumb kid in your freshman studio painting class who thinks he can be an abstract painter simply because nothing recognizable is actually portrayed so how hard can it be, I just knit this thing very awkwardly and loud.  Like I feel like you could have (like) seen me (like) knitting it from (like) wherever you are because my motions of making it were large and happy and dumb.  And I was so excited the whole time and couldn't stop showing it to people mostly the same group of them that live and work here in a steady rotation once I thought maybe they were ready to hear about it again.
And it's huge.  So huge.  I wanted it big, but here was how the cast on went which was piled up with my decision making process on how many stitches to cast on which we will call, for the sake of this description, designing the sweater.  Yes.  That's what it was.  I was designing a sweater.  Aherm.  SO when I was designing the sweater I was like oooo colors, oooo, threeeeee colors at once, what does that look like?, ooooo what do THESE 3 look like together, oooo let me cast these on together, oooh look! (shows Juliana (who is rolling her eyes)), this is gorgeous, oooo when one color runs out I will just tie on another, yes!!, oooo, cast on 12, oooo but I will keep gray and white and black some what constant, cast on another 30, oh I think I made a hat once that was about 50 stitches, oooo but the colors will be like all landscapey- and HOT  there has to be some HOT colors, my torso is definitely bigger than my head so maybe 100 stitches, MAGENTA!  (gasp) Ooooh I have this magenta color scrap, that will have to happen right before black oooo dang every yarn I have is going in this thing oooo crap am I stealing all of my granny square scrap colors now?, oh well, oooo I think 120 stitches will do it.  Now I have a tube. A huge tube.  Like the whole family can get in here tube. But it is too pretty to undo. I started at the bottom.  Oh. Crap.  I meant to start at the top.  Dang.  (Looks up raglan sleeve construction bottomsup style on the interwebuals)  Makes sleeves.  Attaches sleeves, makes up things about attaching sleeves that I am sure I've seen somewhere but didn't bother to confirm because I was 60 seconds away from the baby squawking something about needing breast milk.
Then I had a sweater.  I think it is beautiful.  I am proud of myself.  And I like it so much that I am going to take it apart and do it over only this time with like 90 stitches.  It will be worth it.  I learned stuff and I want to use the that stuff I learned right here on this sweater.  Not the next one.
I am sorry, Knitting.  I know that you did not see me coming.  But you should have thought of that before you sent me the invitation.
True story.
Raise your hand if you'd buy my knitting

Friday, January 17, 2014

January Gathering

I am ridiculously happy with myself.  I decided to stay color inspired this year by pulling together a group of 12 fabrics every month to reflect what I'm calling the mood of the month.  Keep in mind it is entirely arbitrary, really, but I do think there is so much to the language of color and a common feeling that we all share when it comes to the calender changing.  I am offering them as bundles for sale, but really am most excited about looking at my own prints in a new way.  Pulling from various collections, new or not.  I am hoping it'll inspire you in a positive way too, whether its just the enjoyment of looking at the image or a new direction in your own color stories.    The only rule I am setting on myself is to not create them ahead of time.  I have to be in the month to be feelin' right?  Right.

So for January, my words of inspiration are: wood piles, snowflakes, crocheted blankets, full moon, icicle, mittens and new perspectives.

Happy Friday! xoxoxAnna

Thursday, January 16, 2014

True Dat


Over the past few months anything that I sew or quilt that includes my True Colors fabrics jumps right up to the top of my personal favorites list. Like of all time personal favorites. True Colors has proven to be my little dream come true fabric haul. I can barely plan anything that doesn't include a bit or a lot of it. Which is just exactly what I hoped for when designing it. Anyhoo. Here is the quilt that I have been asked about a whole lot. Color Dive. The Color Dive Quilt was inspired by my True Colors collection and is my newest video class on CreativeBug. I am also working on a PDF version of the pattern that we should have listed in the shop for sale soon, and I'll be sure to letchya know about that.  When it's published, we'll have some kits ready for you too.  We're like that.

Here's the preview for the Color Dive class:

The quilt uses every print in my Dowry collection + every print in my True Colors collection + a handful of solids. In case you'd like a chance to land an extra little pile of fabrics on your sewing table, you should follow along with the True Colors blog tour that is starting Monday at Sew4Home. There will be plenty of chances to win fabric + thread prizes and get loads of sewing inspiration along the way. Here's a scheduled list of the talented folks that are sharing their True Colors projects using my group (highlighted in pink) as well as Heather's, Joel's and Jenean's. Enjoy! xoxoAnnaMaria

1/20 Sew4Home
1/21 Stitchery Dickory Dock
1/22 I'm A Ginger Monkey
1/23 The Sewing Loft
1/24 Ellison Lane
1/27 Diary of a Quilter
1/28 Material Obsession
1/29 Craftsanity
1/30 Stitched in Color
1/31 Craft Buds
2/1 Jay Bird Quilts

And here's a little video of us color people talking about such:

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Stretching Stripes

Well it was all too clear just moments ago as I stretched this little handknit over her tummy and stressed out a few buttonholes. It is likely getting close to that last day of this girl wearing the first sweater I made for her.  Do you see how upset she got when I told her?  Then we both cried.  Not really.  I think this would be an easy one to upsize now that I'm all cocky with my knitting skills, so that's on the (long) list.  I got the pattern over here from those smartypants at Purl.  As I've said before I suck at saving yarn details.  I also suck at resolutions to improve upon saving yarn details.  But. Well. There was red and blue and it was hand dyed and just thicker than sock yarn and washable.  Smileyface.

This place has been busy.  It took 3 tries and 5 days at the weathered-over airport to get Juliana back to Brooklyn for her final semester of college last week.  What?  Wait.  Final semester.  Had to retype that.  Got it.  I just turned in my fall fabric collections rather late, but I will beg the mills to forgive me and all should be well with that.  Pierrette and I sat down to make our schedule for 2014.  The whole year.  I've never really done that, but last year we did it about half way through the summer when things were feeling out of control and I was amazed at how much it helped me to put things down on paper.  Duh.  I know.  So very much of my work comes in regular intervals and with recurring tasks that should not jump up at my face and shake me by the shoulders every time they are due.  They should just happen.  Because I know they are going to happen and I should do things to make them happen in plenty of time.  I think you call it a schedule.  My name is Anna Maria Horner.  I am 41 years old.  I just made a schedule.

And there are very exciting things on my schedule!!! Two new quilting cotton collections, my first collection of jersey knits, reprints of some VERY favorites if my IG stream from yesterday is telling the truth, new sewing patterns, new needleworks patterns, new supply categories for my online shop, teaching at Sew Down Nashville and hosting SewDowners at my house (all of them), a Mother-Daughter workshop in Vermont with my very good friend Heather (I think there might still be some spots available)..... I'll stop here before I start totally freaking out.

How did I start this?  Sweater stripes.  Yes.  I imagine I can put Mary Anna growing out of more of her sweaters on the schedule, but I think I'll just watch that happen moment by moment instead.  Lucky me.

xoxo, Anna

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

::In 2013::


I haven't a clue how this will work out. Writing about 2013. I've dreaded it. And somehow longed for it too. Incapsulating the year in order to frame it up and make sense of what it turned out to be. I really feel and have felt so utterly speechless.  I sit in the same spot on my bed as I did last year. Though last year, still a few months pregnant, a few months bewildered, I sat atop a freshly made bed in the morning light.  Looking back on that day, I recognize that I was holding my breath.  Knowing how this year might turn out.  This moment I sit in the same place.  But in the dark of my room, buried under the rumbled quilts.  Not above them.  It is cold.  So many voices through my house.  The year was such a bigger part of my life than I can effectively write here.  But if for nothing else it is so necessary to fulfill what has become my own custom.  I cannot make a summary.  But I can share a vignette and do my best to describe the most memorable moment of my year. It is an image that when I look at it in my mind still, I see it as illustrating every day, every thought, every prayer, every dream, and every hope that I have.

It is this.

Once my mother was at home in hospice I was able, to spend many days with her.  Her bed was set up in the round, windowed sitting room off of her bedroom and each morning, we would watch the sunrise.  She only opened her eyes every now and then.  Sometimes to see me and smile.  Sometimes to rub my belly. Mostly she would just look out at the water.  Her face watching the sunrise was like a child.  It was as though she was in disbelief at the beauty.  She would frequently make the sign of the cross over herself.  She had a hard time breathing.  She had a hard time getting comfortable.  I would rearrange her pillows dozens of times a day.  I read prayers to her.  I told her what the baby was doing in my belly.  I brought in visitors now and then.  My sister was there some days too.  Juliana and Nicolas each a day too.  But most of her 13 days at home in hospice care it was Dad and I.  Day and night.  I didn't want to ever leave her side or let go of her hand.  I never wanted her to wake and not see anyone there.  Even at night in the dark.  Dad would beg me to go sleep.  I kept trying to convince him that even 36 weeks pregnant I was fine to sit up in a chair at night next to her.

One night I finally made him feel a little better by curling up in the small sofa near her bed.  I positioned myself and left a small light on so that she could see me.  This room that she was in, it was where she had always read and prayed.  It is filled with icons on the walls.  Though most of it is windowed, with views out to the river.  So at night you feel afloat almost.  In a vessel.  Very late when she sat up needing a drink, my father rushed to get it so that I wouldn't.  I forced myself to lay there.  Watching him help her to drink.  She settled back into sleep, but sitting up in bed, as that was easier on her breathing.  My father sat in the chair next to her bed.  There was beautiful moonlight on the water all around in the dark.  I could see the profile of their silhouettes.  We all fell asleep.  I awoke again.  In the glowing room, from my place on the couch their heads bowing in sleep towards each other made a perfect archway against the moonlight outside and the walls aglow in low light from a single lamp.  I looked around to the icons, all the saints, and Christ and the Holy Mother, and their gestures all seemed set in motion and alive, golden.  I felt afloat.  It all moved but not in a dizzying sort of way just in a very alive sort of way.  I felt little Mary kicking within me.  I was grateful to be present, I cried tears of thanks to be an adornment in this architecture of my family.  Under their archway.  Within this womb where my mother had invested prayer and love and thought for each of us every day.  I will not forget that peace amidst the turmoil of losing one so dear.  I will not forget the ever moving light that guided her and all of us through those days.  Yes in sorrow.  Yes in anguish.  Still to this day it is sadness.  But it is filled with hope and light and an example of how to live and I am thankful for all of it.

I nursed my precious girl in the dark of her room a few nights ago before finding my way to gently lay her in bed.  I realized something about darkness and about myself.  If you're patient and you trust everything that you know, your eyes will eventually adjust to all that needs to be seen.  The rest falls away.  You will able to see just enough to keep from stumbling in the dark.  But it takes a little time.  Remembering where you are.

I think my eyes are just now adjusting a bit to the dark.... this new life without my mom.  There is so much to see.  Much to do.  Much to give thanks for.  I am glad for the turn to a new year and the marked reason to see things a little fresher.  I have been given sunrise after sunrise and I suppose another will come tomorrow.

I wish you love and light in 2014!!!
xoxoAnna Maria

(On the needles above for my niece Grace, who shares a birthday with my mother in February...more on my knitting journey soon!)

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Heirloom Stockings

Between dashing and dancing I've eeeked out family stockings.  Oh has this been a long time coming! And settling on machine embroidery meant that they all happened pretty snappy like!
This is also my newest free project with my pals at Janome! Free embroidery too! We have all of the links loaded onto my Janome + Me page for you.  I talk a lot more about the process over here on the Janome projects pageHere is a link to watch our video tutorial too!
I love them so, so much! I'd love to see your versions (even if it's not til next year of course!)
xoxo, Anna

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Oh December

How did you get here?  Our days have been so very full.  With Mary Anna's Baptism planned for Saturday after Thanksgiving it wasn't until midday Monday before that I remembered something about a big meal on Thursday involving poultry and extra people in my house.  Oh yes.  That's right.  Additionally for a few weeks Jeff and I have been working little by little on our hall bathroom which has sorta been ignored in all of our years here.  I somehow can only see fit to make changes if I am allowed to gut and start over.  All or nothing.  But really this bath didn't require a gutting, just some thinking.  And scrubbing, scouring, scraping, plastering, sanding, painting, papering and prettying.  And I love it.  That paper snippet up there is a detail of this utterly too gorgeous to pass up wallpaper.  It was worth it since it covers such a small space but carries all the impact.  Anyway.  I would love to show you the whole room here soon. With that done I was ready to tackle the housecleaning for two days.  The baby was strapped to the front of me while I picked up or watching the washing machine from her bouncy seat while I folded clothes or asleep in her swing while I did the nittygritty.  We got it done her and I.  Once the kids were home for break I of course had to verbalize their share of cleaning to them repeatedly until it was done or until I verbalized it so much that I could have done it twelve times myself.  But that's how it works.  Anyway.  Our house was spiffy.  Which always makes me feel so ready to enjoy myself and enjoy our company.
Juliana flew in Tuesday night, and was attacked at the door by, well, all of us.  For a few hours each of the kids had to show her something they have been waiting to show her whether it was a new suchnsuch that she hadn't seen yet or a youtube video that hadn't been laughed at together yet.  I bought new sheets for the bed she uses in the nursery now when she's home.  They were freshly washed and tucked in place ready for her to plop down on that bed and sleep off the big city.  I think that was my favorite preparation.  I loved watching Mary soak her in slowly then the recognition warmed her to her biggest sister.  Sister cuddles.  So very wonderful.
Thursday brought my Dad, Jeff's brother, Dad and stepmom all for dinner with us.  Naturally it was all about food that day, but I didn't go too crazy.  I made my standard scalloped potatoes, turkey, ham, salad, and tiropita while my girls made two pumpkin pies, two pecan pies and a sausage apple stuffing.  In between cooking steps I joined the kids in front of the Wii a few times to dance my rear-end off while they laughed and beat me at the dancing game thingy that I can't remember the name of.  Mary Anna watched everyone all day.  She even threw her limbs around a little from her bouncy seat while we danced.  Certainly that was on purpose.  She's smart.  She watched and studied the less familiar faces.  She didn't miss anything.  Dinner was followed by what Nicolas likes to call a hootenanny.  Jeff, and his dad and brother joined forces on their guitars to play some bluegrass favorites.  Jeff sang more than normal as he has some DrivebyTruckers in his repertoire now.  Grandpa Jack serenaded MA and she couldn't take her eyes off of him.
Friday brought my sister from South Carolina who quickly got to the store with me to buy flowers for the reception tables.  If my sister Eleni is anywhere within 500miles and you need to do anything with flowers, either keep them alive, or talk about them or arrange them, she is your girl.  We had such a nice time picking them out.  I had such a nice time not arranging them.  She enjoyed every minute of me not helping her with that.  My brother was also in town by then from New York with his two oldest girls.  He and I made baklava.  I only wanted George to do the baklava with me so that mine would be better.  Which it was.  Then we all went to the movies including my dad who has not been to the movies in a million years.  Most of us were a little disappointed with the 2nd Hunger Games movie, some of us were just glad Papou paid for all of it, and others of us only went for the popcorn.  I imagine it might be another million years before he goes back.
The morning of the Baptism started with me putting ice in 120 glasses, placing my sister's bouquets on 15 tables then letting the caterers take over from there. The Baptism was so beautiful.  Her Godmother Kiki is such a tender and loving woman and we are so fortunate that she joins our family.  Mary Anna practically sprang from the font after being submerged three times without a tear or a wimper, only to begin talking to the 100 or so in attendance with giggles and joy.  It was remarkable.  Everyone noticed.  How blessed and sweet and unusual her response to the Sacrament was.  It was as though she wanted to know what was next because that was all just really fun and extraordinary.
Remnants of goodness are all around.  Extra beds with flannel sheets still set up that cousins slept on.  Couches shoved this way and that to make room for dancing. Handwashed knits drying flat and waiting for the next cold day.   Savory smells of past dinners being warmed and enjoyed again (and again).  Sweet bundles of jordan almonds from the Baptism. A gleaming ivory embroidered  baby gown hanging from the shelf that holds a picture of her Nani and me. 
Everything in and out of place and we are winding up the last of this year's strand.  So much more to go still.