gratitude diary

early autumn in my backyard

Early autumn in our backyard

What I'm thankful for this Monday

- The way Finn reaches up to touch my chin when he's on the brink of falling into a deep sleep, to check if it's Mama or Daddy who is ushering him along his nighttime journey.

- Winnie-the-Pooh (the chicken), who spent nearly a year on this earth, enjoying our kitchen scraps, ridding the garden of Japanese beetles, and providing us with milky-green eggs. We lost her this weekend to a predator - we think a fox or a raccoon. But her passing provided a gentle introduction to death and mourning for the boys, an inevitable and hauntingly beautiful part of life, too.

- That Lachlan thinks it's mighty hilarious to yell out, "Ready ... set ... POOP!" Over and over again, of course. Because a joke isn't funny just once when you are 2 and a half.

- The tragic comedy that turned Patrick into a Shakespearian grave digger par excellence when we discovered a dead deer in our backyard. What luck that this happened on a Saturday and not a Monday! He accomplished the deed in good spirits after a glass of wine, but has decided that hole digging is not the most balanced of workouts. Yoga for Recovering Hole Diggers isn't offered at our local YMCA. 

- Cloudy, drizzly days. No better way to get in the proper mood for autumn, cup of tea in hand - when hands aren't busy knitting.

What are you grateful for as you start another week?

P.S. I've updated our booklists in the side bar, if you're interested in Finn and Lachlan's current favorites.


holiday sewing sale

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Unrelated picture, but I love it, so there you go. Photo by Finn, who is definitely getting his very own camera in his stocking this year!

We're having little sale over at the pattern shop - 30% off all patterns. This should give you plenty of time to sew up some handmade gifts for the holidays! The Gathering Apron, Clara Dress, Esme Top and Skinny Jeans are among the discounted designs.

Hopefully, with your help (wink, wink) we'll get rid of some of our inventory so we can have a more manageable warehouse once our three new patterns go up for sale in about a month. 

Also, now seems like a great time to mention that I will be permanently stepping back from the day-to-day operations at Sew Liberated, as my wonderfully talented intern, Danica, has stepping into our first full-time position! Danica will be working on the business side of things, coming up with new designs as well as shipping your orders with care and attention. If you have a question regarding your order, it's likely that you'll be talking with Danica. If you have a sewing-related question, you'll be hearing from Kim, who has worked with us for years now, writing copy for pattern instructions and answering all of your queries about sewing up our patterns. I'm so grateful to have such a wonderful team to work with, and am grateful that their help makes it possible for me to focus on having babies and lounging around the house ... because that's what all mamas of little ones do, right? ;) Hehe. 

The sale will last for one week, until 9 p.m. EST on Tuesday, October 8. Enjoy your handmade holiday shopping!

 


sky top orchard

skytop orchard

skytop orchard

skytop orchard

skytop orchard

skytop orchard

skytop orchard

skytop orchard

skytop orchard

skytop orchard

skytop orchard

skytop orchard

skytop orchard

skytop orchard

Baskets. Panoramic views. Running, almost tumbling down grassy hills. A hayride (with requests for many more). A normally cautious child exploring his newfound tree climbing passion. Warm apple cider on a cloud-filled, crisp morning. Apple donuts before lunch, because that's how we roll on apple picking day.

If you happen to be in the Asheville area during apple picking season, do take the time to visit Sky Top Orchard. This was our second year visiting, and it really is an amazing place. A beginning-of-autumn tradition has been solidified for our family. Patrick and I found ourselves recalling what was going on in our lives at this time last year when we went apple picking - he had just started his full-time job as a computer programmer, and I had just stepped more deeply into my role as a full-time stay-at-home mama. And here we are now, my belly round with our baby girl. That is something we surely didn't expect! Next year, we'll attend as a family of five. What else will have changed between now and then? Oh, the possibilities held within a year.

Now I have 23 pounds of apples to process, and I can't find my beloved book, Canning for a New Generation. Must have loaned it out. Can anyone recommend a good applesauce recipe without sugar? Or a pie filling recipe without weird ingredients? We're itching to start peeling and coring some apples.


welcoming autumn

Autumn festival

Autumn festival

Autumn festival

Autumn festival

Autumn festival

Autumn festival

Autumn festival

Autumn festival

It's been a particularly festive and colorful week. An autumn party to attend, apple crisp to be baked and shared, summer clothes to be put away and pants and long-sleeved shirts to be brought out of storage. Tomorrow, we leave for our second annual camping trip to the Appalachian mountains for some apple picking and cool weather hiking. 

Not many words today, just some pretty pictures. Wish me luck packing for the trip with two very tired boys in tow! 


looking back on squam

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It was so good it was almost surreal, like a sweet dream gently nudged into wakefulness by the rooster's crow. The dream was fluid, the conversations were lucid and uninterrupted by the needs of the small people, unencumbered by The List that always barks at me from the sidelines like an over-zealous basketball coach.

In the dream, I was surrounded by my people. Friends who understood my passions, my ideals, and my reality. The food - oh, the divine food - which was summoned forth with nothing less than a magic wand at each and every meal, and dishes which were spiffied up by the dish faeries that don't seem to live near my house - it was certainly a dream, wasn't it?

Yes. A dream for which I am very grateful to have experienced. I am so thankful that I have a partner who fully supported me in this time of creative renewal, and who, along with my parents, surrounded my boys with love and much fun during my absence. Patrick had even done all the laundry while I was gone. Some sort of superdad, right? Mind you, it did take me a day to clean up after all of their fun, but at least we all had clean clothes!

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 I didn't realize until I returned home how very few photos I took while there. I was just enjoying myself and didn't think about documenting it. You can get a sense of the surroundings from Amanda. Here are just a few of the things that I made  - a spray that now resides in my herbal first aid kit, made under the tutelage of the gentle Holly Bellebuono, and Mama Acorn and Baby Sapling, made during my class with the spunky Phoebe Wahl

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How I love Phoebe's work! I've saved all of her illustrations that have appeared in Taproot - you can see some in our studio in this photo. I purchased her kitchen print at the Squam Art Fair and promptly put it up in a frame in our kitchen when I returned home. Finn said to me that very evening,"Mama, I love looking at that picture. I love how the little girl is playing while her Mama is making her cookies."  To me, that means two things: first, Phoebe has succeeded in creating a piece of art that is warm and inviting for all ages, and second, that Finn wishes that I'd make more cookies for him. Noted.

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I have a new crafting obsession - creating soft, posable figures around wire armatures. This doll is totally hand sewn and utterly spontaneous in her formation. She kind of emerged from my hands as her own little self, inspiring the kind of quizzical awe that mothers feel after birthing their child. "Oh, it's you who has been in there this whole time - I made you, but I didn't have a hand in any of these details. You turned out pretty darn cool regardless." 

I'm now equipped to make little animal soft sculptures, too. (Fingers crossed.) I'm thinking a mobile for baby girl might be nice. Finn has already put in his request for a dinosaur.

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Here I am at home again. Awake, and enjoying it. Squam was a rejuvenating and inspirational dream come true.


a guest post from Finn

Needing to pinch myself here, but I'm in a cabin alongside the serene Squam Lake in New Hampshire, attending the Taproot Gathering. The call of a loon echoes through the hushed woods, followed by laughter. My first class, the Herbal First Aid, begins in a few minutes.

During my creative retreat, I thought I would share some of Finn's most recent photographs with you. It's so eye opening to see what a four year-old can capture with the lens - things of interest to him, at his level. Quotes are from Finn.

See you back here next week with a full update and photos from Squam!

photo by Finn

"I took this picture of my shadow."

photo by Finn

"That's Lachlan. I took lots of pictures of him playing with rocks because he's always playing with rocks."

photo by Finn

"I found this cool spider."

photo by Finn

"That's my hammer for breaking rocks to look for dinosaur fossils."

photo by Finn

"That's Lachlan's face."

photo by Finn

"That's the Morning Glory on the porch."

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"I took a picture of the sun particles."


maternity sewing

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Things are getting bigger around here. I've never been one of those twiggy-preggy ladies, despite my petite build, but I'm at peace with it this third time around. More fat to put in that supermilk, right? 

What I'm NOT at peace with, this third time around, is maternity clothes. Is yuckblah a word? Because I don't want much of anything to do with an actual maternity wardrobe. Oh, yes - the first pregnancy was so exciting. Jeans with a big, stretchy waistband! Shirts with ruching on the sides! Now, though? I don't want to be bothered by packing away my normal clothes and wading through the attic to find that bag of winter maternity stuff that must be up there somewhere. Give me a bella band and my already-in-rotation knit wardrobe from my Craftsy class. Add in a few cute tops that will be equally wearable post-partum and beyond. 

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Enter my Schoolhouse Tunics, slightly modified. I took my regular size 6, dropped the bodice by 1 inch to easily accommodate the extra "umph" up top (as well as to make it even easier as a nursing top) and took the size 10 skirt and fit it into the size 6 bodice by making the darts deeper. More room, but not so much that I won't wear this after I'm back to an actual size 6.

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And good thing, because I love these fabrics. Both are Nani Iro double gauze. The white is called "Little Letter," and I can't find the name of the blue fabric, but they are from the same collection. I'm afraid you'll be seeing a lot of these fabrics, because I have plenty left over to make clothes for my little one!

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And finally a picture of me that I really like, blur and all, taken by Finn. 


he means business

the bossy shepherd

Don't let those cheeks fool you. This shepherd means business. 

"CHICKIES! COME! NOWWW!!!"

And don't think, for one moment, that his husky (big) voice and hands-on-hips insistence stays outside in the field. Oh, no. It goes wherever he goes, as he begins the monumental work of finding out who he is and how he can bring his best self to the world. A lifelong process, really, but one that begins with a deliberate intention at age two. Yesterday, I found myself yearning to be a spiritual mentor for someone a tad more rational than a two year old. I think I screamed silently in my head at least five times before I finally managed to get both boys strapped into the car and off to the pool. Whew. And do you know what I did in the car? I put on some of the boys' favorite music while I put in my earphones and listened to one of Dr. Laura Markham's audios about toddlers. (This one is great, too.) 

Ah, sanity. Clarity of purpose. Those feelings that can get lost when your adorable little boy is insisting that, although he requested almond milk in his granola, he DOES NOT WANT ALMOND MILK now. It can be hard to visualize the goal of raising an emotionally aware child through the fog of a two year-old's irrationality, and that's why it's nice to have your own support system to keep you motivated as you do this hard work.  Dr. Laura Markham is, without a doubt, my go-to parenting mentor. 

Who are your parenting mentors? What books/websites/podcasts have you found lately that are helping to keep you grounded as you move through your days? 

May you have a weekend filled with laughter, but beware the scantily-clad shepherd.


little things

booties for my friend's baby girl

Oh, it's SO good to be back! Hello to all of you sweet people. Your words of congratulations and encouragement fill me with gratitude for this technology that connects us, despite the temptation to use it to escape from reality. It is my hope to continue to use this space to share our family's committment to (and often, our struggle with!) enjoying the present moment with our children. That the future is uncertain was branded on our hearts the moment we received Lachlan's diagnosis, but it has, in some ways, been a bittersweet gift. I hope to write a bit more about our healing journey in the coming months. I feel ready to open up about that and put down in words some of the mess of emotions which has characterized these last three years for me. 

In the meantime, there's a jar of sequins that has just been spilled on the floor of the kitchen that needs to be dealt with, and another request to help sound out a word. You know - the reality! 

A few things:

- I made the above booties for my friend's baby daughter who was born last month with HLHS. Baby Annie will be home very soon, thank goodness. I'm sure I'll have to knit another set for our little girl! The yarn is Madeleinetosh sock in the Night Bloom colorway, and the pattern is called Stay-On Booties. Dude, I'm going to have to start keeping up with things on my Ravelry account. It's amazing what opens up to you, crafting-wise, when you're expecting a little girl! It's ridiculous, really.

- I'm now on Instagram! Follow along at instagram.com/meghanmcelwee 


summer vacation

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Thank you to all who have sent along little notes of gratitude and concern, wondering if we were all okay and what precipitated my long absence from this space. You are dear. 

We did summer in a quiet way, but somehow managed to frame the season with trips to the beach. It was fortuitous, really, because in between these trips I was rather incapacitated. Unable to write, unable to do much of anything but sleep when not mothering my boys, unable to enjoy a simple meal. But I was not sick! A bit worried, yes, until we received the word from Lachlan's cardiologist that this baby's heart was beating strongly with no signs of a congenital heart defect. Our baby, a little girl, will join our family in mid-January! 

I do hope that's a good enough excuse for the radio static on my end. :) Will you let me know if you're still here? I'd love to continue this conversation as we have for so many years.