Home Alone

This weekend the guys were all away. Next weekend the hubbler heads down south to pick the middle son up from his first year at university -and then we will be a family of 4 in the house again. And the week after the eldest son’s girlfriend will be home from school as well – so they will be by more often as well. So soon, the house will be buzzing again. So I tried to enjoy the quiet of this weekend.

I did manage some sewing. I made some more project bags for my knitting. In an effort to use up stuff I have, which includes using my grandmother’s endless supply of zippers, I attempted to modify the wonderful tutorial by Betsy Makes and make some larger bags.

I have all these 14 – 16 inch zippers from my grandmother’s stash. Most of them are very vintage – old metal zippers from 30s – 50s – so they cannot be trimmed to size. So I knew the bag needed to be wider. I also have several sweaters on the go, and wanted something larger for them. I also had several pieces of fabric gifted to me at some point. So I wanted to use those up.

Here are the results of my experiments:

More project bags complete…

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So first, there is the huge bag:

This fabric was a bit tricky to work with – given the stripes. It didn’t make sense to cut it down the middle to make the smaller bag. So I left it long. The bottom is the big blue floral part of the repeat. Positives: It is large – 22 plus inches tall. It will hold all the stuff for a sweater project I am about to do for my husband. And I matched the stripes one each side. The Negatives: It doesn’t really stand when empty. It can be made to stand, but the bottom is a bit small because I decided to use a 3 inch corner to make the bottom contain all the blue floral repeat. I was tempted to fold the top part over and put a button and loop to make a fold over top. But in the end, it is perfectly functional and is already holding all the stuff I need for the hubbler’s sweater.

After I made the tall one and decided I didn’t really want any more tall ones, I cut my fabric in half and made 2 smaller ones.

The large one has a green lining and I used scraps of it for the loops on the smaller ones. The smaller bags have purple lining. They have different colored zippers. The aqua zipper is a polyester zipper from the 70s. The other 2 zippers are metal zippers from way back – they have interesting rounded fronts where the end of the zipper pull ends up.

I ran out of the stiffener I used on the first bag and the tall bag. So these 2 smaller bags have batting scraps sewn in. The wide opening is nice, and makes these bags bigger than the original footprint or the first one I did. (original post here: First project bag)

So much fun to use up stuff I already had, and make some functional bags for holding my projects. Now to get back to knitting!

This week in review

Hmmm… what is up?

Cookie baking – for one son away at university. Next week is finals week, so I baked cookies and made a care package for him. And next weekend his dad will be heading out to fetch him home for the summer!!

Hmmm. Wonder what could be in this box… Or where it is going? #doingthemomthing #finals week #nomnomnom

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This morning I took a nice walk along our river park to the post office. Thursday I stayed home from work due to a stomach bug – almost never miss school, so this felt weird. I slept most of the day. Then Friday was rainy rainy rainy – all those April showers you know. It rained hard into the night. So this morning, the sun is out, not a cloud in the sky, and I chose to enjoy it with a walk to our downtown.

Gorgeous morning for walk to post office and weaver street market.

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Stopped in to the market to say hello to the oldest son that works there. And then walked home where I face a quiet weekend because the man about the place has taken the youngest boy fishing a few hours north of here.

Sleeve progress..

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Being home alone means I can clean in peace and enjoy the clean, burn scented candles, eat when and what I like…. all nice and restorative, but also a bit lonely. And I am not in the mood to clean. So I may knit more on my latest WIP – need to get this one off the needles. Because I have a project for the hubbler – a cardigan made of fingering weight yarn (ACCCK!)

Yarn for Chris. Fingering weight sweater coming up- yikes!

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But there are also tomato plants needing planting, and a garden to tend. But it is very wet – better to wait until tomorrow on that. So I shall crank up the BBC Radio 4 Extra and listen to my favorite comedies (I can play them throughout the house – so no matter where I am – laundry room, kitchen, office, cleaning a bathroom – I can laugh and hear) while I do exactly as I please, and wait for my guys to get home.

Some garden snaps that make me happy :


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A photo posted by Robin Ray Lamb (@willowcaroline) on

Balm to the soul…

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Knitting Project Bags…


Used some scraps and made a knitting project bag!

A photo posted by Robin Ray Lamb (@willowcaroline) on

I just discovered the joys of knitting podcasts. I had listened to some on my iphone while weeding, but never watched one.

But then a blogger from the good old knit blogging days did her first podcast: Celtic Caston. It was fun to watch and drink a cup of tea while I paid bills or tidied my office or filed papers. And somehow that led me to a couple of other blogs and another podcast: Betsy Makes which I also thoroughly enjoyed. And both bloggers mentioned project bags.

Coincidentally, a friend and I met up and went to the Carolina Fiber Fest in Raleigh. http://www.carolinafiberfest.org/  We enjoyed wandering the stalls and being amazed by how many local farmers are “growing” fibers of some sort. (Okay, raising fiber animals really, although there was some flax!) And again, I saw knitting project bags.

And then I saw the tutorial….http://betsymakes.blogspot.com/p/project-bag-tutorial.html    and I thought – I NEED TO MAKE ONE OF THESE.

So I did! I managed to have some scraps, and a zipper that would work. And on Sunday morning, the last day of break, I whipped one up.

6e0bb296-7cc7-4450-83b2-e7960c1fac19  (Having so much trouble with picture size. This is why I have recently been using my Instagram account. Sigh.) Anyway, I have a collection of vintage zippers from my grandmother – but this one ended up being too long, and being metal, I would not be able to cut it to size. So I went with a red one – still vintage, but polyester , and therefore easily cut down to fit the dimensions.

03080fd5-9e0a-4239-9c5b-33db5e786163Here is my finished bag. What a lovely tutorial – easy to follow and make something lovely happen. I did not have fusible fleece on hand – but I did have some fusible Decor bond which gives a stiffness/structure to bags.

cf5bf873-2208-4eae-b9d7-8756529b4d08 Still need to master the zipper insertion – actually, need to make sure I understand how the side seams fit into the pictures. I think I was meant to have 1/4 inch left over on both sides for the side seam, but I ended up with a bit more on each end and didn’t really think through what I needed to do with that.

01fc892a-7f2b-4cbb-9483-504b88ff6a21 But overall, I was very tickled with myself. And here is the football scarf for the middle boy, being put away in its project bag. Normally, stuff lays around on sofas or chairs, or gets bunged into my large knitting bag. But this way, one project and its components are all tucked away, not being kicked off by large boy feet when they sit on the sofa, or getting tangled in the bottom of the endless knitting bag.

88d01915-1701-49ea-a531-a0d016a42b4c Ready for whenever.

Many thanks to Celtic Cast On and Betsy Makes for sharing your talents and information and ideas. It gave me a creative twist for my spring holidays!

(Oh – if you aren’t into sewing your own, you can also buy them here:https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/betsymakes?ref=hdr_shop_menu    Check often for shop updates – as you can see on her website, she has a great sense of color and style – I just love the fabrics she uses!)

Now back to regularly scheduled work. It is crunch time – 27 days until IB Exams are to start, so I will be busy poking and prodding my students to revise and prepare. 9 weeks until the summer holidays!

Spring Break 2016

I cannot believe how quickly spring break went by. Well, that’s a lie. It always goes by quickly. This year, it started on Good Friday. Then there was Easter. This always means some extra cooking. It usually takes one full day to run all the backlog of errands, a day to really catch up on cleaning – there is always a bit of school work to do. Each year I tell myself not to go too crazy with the list making and need to get things done, but to try and enjoy it. This is a hard lesson to learn.

Solomon's Seal- signs of spring! Except 29 this Friday? Ugg.

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But, I did manage to balance somewhat. I did some lovely home made meals – fresh bread, carrot cake, nice dinners. I got lots of gardening in – mostly weeding and mulching.

First lily of the valley…

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I got a new stash of library books and enjoyed reading some. I found time to spend my yarn gift certificates at a couple of local yarn shops.

Yarney goodness from my favorite yarn shop. Thanks Hillsborough Yarn Shop! #Hillsboroughyarnshop #springbreak #happiness

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Getting new yarn meant updating my Ravelry site, and trying to finish a knitting project so I could cast on something new.

Making progress…

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But I also found time to get distracted. I knit a gift of a soap sachet and made one for us as well – ever get tired of the tiny slivers of soap left at the end? Just bung em in a little cotton knit bag with a new bar of soap and voila! Problem solved!

Soap sacks… Gonna put all the little slivers of soap in one.

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And then there were these cute knitting project bags…. but more on that later!

Easter 2016

This was the weirdest Easter on record, and a sign that my boys are grown.


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  1. The middle son did not come home for the weekend – he is 4 hours away at school, without a car, and had just been home for a week of spring break – so he didn’t choose to come home again for the weekend. I really wish we had better train transport here –next year he is taking his car, so maybe that will change how often he comes home. Doubt it, but I live in hope.
  2. The eldest spent the day working and with his girlfriend. Easter is not quite the same as Christmas, and therefore many shops are still open. So he was at work, and then at his girlfriends, and they did stop by in the evening for a short visit.
  3. The youngest had baseball tournament Wed, Friday and Saturday. So baseball, baseball. He has more baseball this coming week, (it is Spring Break – so no school, but lots of baseball). And he is wanting to build an electric vehicle. He has been looking for a good base car to turn into an electric vehicle – read cheap, cool enough to be seen in, and light enough to convert. He and the hubbler found THE car about 2 hours away, and this Sunday was the only day everyone involved could get together and transact the car purchase.

Therefore, no Easter Egg hunt – first time ever. They were up at dawn and on their way. It may have been a 2 hour drive there – but then they had to get the car dolly and buy the car and load it and trailer it back. So they were gone from 7 – 3:30. Me – I stayed home and cleaned house and knit in what turned out to be a very very rainy, slightly gloomy day. And I baked hot cross buns since I had not been able to do that Friday while I was watching baseball.

My car hooked up to be towed home

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It wasn’t as melancholy as it sounds. Spring break for a teacher is often filled with need to do and want to do items. The week will fly by. So it was good to get some deep cleaning done at the same time as some pottering about, without that heavy feeling of “gotta get it done before Monday work comes”.

We did enjoy some family time over dinner – tuna casserole with salad – and then our hot cross buns. When I think of years past with a big meal and church and egg hunt and all, this was really rather relaxing and nice. And basically, it is what it is. Enjoy the moments we have together when we have them, and enjoy the freedom that comes with not being driven by a small child’s schedule while I have that – my new mantra.


I cannot really account for February – it went by so quickly. We did not have a ton of snow or wintry weather days this year – so we have been plodding back and forth to school as normal, which has been rather exhausting.

Youngest wrapped up his winter track season with a lovely improvement in the 55 metre hurdles. And then he tried out for the baseball team, and made it – and so now we are going to practices every day and have had the first 2 games. Both games quite cold, since baseball season, considered a spring sport, actually begins well before spring gets here.

782303d1-1d2a-4213-bc7a-477ebc5811eb The tomatoes are growing nicely.

f29f0ac3-56d0-4e1e-b86e-137d2cb385a8 The camellia continues to bloom. So many winters end with frozen blooms that never open – this year there has been an abundance.


16dc3734-1bf2-4fde-8852-14f9d7df4c0cThe man about the place turned a year older, so we had apple pie and a fajita dinner the weekend before the actual birthdate – and then we watched the youngest play in his first high school baseball game on the actual birthday – they won, so it was a lovely gift.

bd98c8ad-712c-4a09-9e13-0293d8da341d A new project has been started as well – after completing my sweater and sock, I felt I could move onto something new. Tonight it will keep me company as I watch the last episode of Downton Abbey. Sigh.

Winter finally arrived

Here we are, at the end of January already, and winter finally decided to show up. We had an early hard freeze, in October – but then all signs of winter disappeared. We had a very warm Christmas, and then ugly things happened. The lilacs and gardenia and azalea tried to bloom! The forsythia had yellow blooms and there were a few blooms on the plum tree. Not good, not good at all. And I have no idea what this means for spring when it finally arrives. So now we have had a week of hard freezes and even some snow that melted within a few hours – but decidedly more wintery and seasonal.

915f1301-d3bc-44df-9214-c3f78a0f2d13 I am finally able to wear my newly knitted Icelandic wool sweater – it is lovely and warm and soft. Getting it done and off the needles has inspired me to clear out some other things “on the needles” and so I set a January goal of finishing a couple of very old projects.


I started these socks in November 2012. I chose to cobble together several patterns, and it took me a while to get sock 1 done – then I couldn’t remember how I made it, so sock 2 ended up being a series of trial and error. Not terribly difficult when all was said and done, just not something easy to cart around in a car or at a game. Socks don’t take all that long to knit, so it is a bit embarrassing that it took me over 3 years for this pair! But they are being worn now – yeah! Ravelled here: http://www.ravelry.com/projects/Theflock/socks


I started this sweater even longer ago – in fact, it made its blog debut here:https://willowcaroline.wordpress.com/2008/04/19/keeping-it-in-perspective/  –  and it is much the same story. I would set it down and not get back to it for weeks – and then find I hadn’t properly written down where I had stopped with the cables – and then make a mess of it, put it away because unknitting and reknitting takes quiet concentration and not something one does at a ball game. But I am determined it shall be done by the end of January.  Ravelled here:  http://www.ravelry.com/projects/Theflock/a-cardigan-for-arwen

So I am plenty busy indoors with knitterly things and final exam marking and keeping a 15 year old boy fed (gracious, he may be the only one home but he is a HUGE eater, but the smallest of my three guys!) Let winter do its thing.

e8271b66-e1e6-42d1-89f9-7148bdcaab9f (Well, there is this on the dining room table. With the weather so warm in early January I started getting the itch. I HATE starting seedlings – they take so much care – and usually I just plump for plants when the time is right. But I gave into dreaming of summer tomatoes, and so I have started some from seed. Let’s hope we can keep them alive until May!)