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Wednesday, January 4, 2012


Hello everyone!  Hope you all are enjoying 2012 so far!  Here at Sweet Briar Cottage, we've been putzing around organizing things.  When you live in a teeny tiny house it doesn't take much to make a mess.  One thing I've been doing this week is downsizing  my wardrobe.  There are only two closets in our entire house and neither are walk-ins, so I simply cannot be a clothes horse.  We purchased a wardrobe for the upstairs landing and after folding and placing all my clothes inside, it was clear to see what things were clinkers.  I'm trying to get my wardrobe down to five outfits for everyday, something to wear for church, weddings, and funerals (unfortunately there are more funerals than weddings when you get to be my age) and a couple of grubbing around outfits.  The guidelines for each outfit is that it must be comfortable, washable, feminine and flattering.  Oh yeah, and they must blend with corgi hair!  With that criteria I might have a hard time finding five outfits! I'm at the crossroads in dressing, where I really have to take my age into consideration, don't want to look like I'm trying to look like a youngster but I don't want to look like I'm ready for the nursing home either.  It's really not as easy as it sounds.  I know that it sounds pretty shallow compared to many that are resolved to living simpler, getting out of debt, growing their own food, becoming healthier and other noble goals. I feel kind of out of synch with others because I haven't made any of these resolutions, but we don't have any debts, we already grow most of our own food and if our lives get any simpler, we'll be living in a cave! Although we can always be healthier, so one of my goals is to exercise an additional 30 minutes a day.  I didn't exercise at all the past couple of weeks, except for climbing ladders and moving furniture and it's surprising how quickly you start to feel jiggly.

One thing I'd like to do this year enjoy more creative endeavors and especially work at using up my stash of yarns.   Last year I kind of got stuck working on a couple of projects I wasn't enjoying.  Didn't want to start a new project until I finished those but I didn't want to work on them either.  So I basically did nothing.  It's a joy to finally work on a project again. These little owl mittens were so much fun to knit.  And they worked up quickly too.  Here's the free pattern:
I used some yarn I had on hand.  These really do knit up in a weekend and are easy enough for beginning knitters. They had an interesting thumb gusset too.  Plus now I already have a Christmas present finished for this year.  Another goal for the year! Until next time, enjoy your day!


  1. OK, here I am chuckling to everything you have said...especially about your life getting any simpler :)

    Oh Jane, finding a balance is just down right hard. Especially when it comes to dressing my friend. I am there with you because, I don't want to dress like I am 30yrs older than what I am. My husband wants me in more modern I have to find a happy medium.

    I also grow my own food, but not meats, that I purchase :-) And decluttering...I live in a small cottage as you know, but I know that I could get our possessions down to a more manageable state that what it is right now.

    So I am rooting for you Jane...I know you will find that wonderful blend of feminine, comfortable outfits. They do exist!

    Be blessed,


  2. Thanks Maria! I want to sew some things too. I got a wonderful book on couture sewing for Christmas. Your blog is inspiring me!

  3. Dear Jane,
    Yeah, I understand about the clothing thing ~ not wanting to dress like a teen but not a granny either! I'm perfectly hopeless when it comes to fashion, so I just do my own thing. Luckily the things I like best come from the thrift store!
    Love the mittens, wish I could knit. I have several not too thrilled, not quite done craft projects sitting around as well. Wondering if I should get rid of them ~ and start something fun.

  4. Those mitts are so cute! Thanks for the link.:-)

  5. Hi Jane! (Thanks for your comments on my post today...I will just write you here). I was just telling/complaining/nagging my husband last night that we should move a bed up to another room and turn the extra bedroom into a storage space/toy room (for future grandchildren)! And too...I agree. I know I have too many clothes, but I am trying to redefine my way of dressing for my 54 years of age! So, once I settle that, I will have to rid myself of younger clothes. (not to mention they don't fit anyway!) ha. the mittens are adorable! I'm going to start a craft in a couple of weeks...good idea to start on Christmas gifts! And before growning/canning season! love,andrea

  6. Rosebud, judging from your picture on your blog, you could probably get away with dressing like a teen if you wanted to! The new year's a good time to tuck those bothersome projects away and start again with something that interests you!

    You're welcome Anne! Owls are very trendy right now. All the shops had tons of them during the Christmas season. Sort of looked more like Halloween than Christmas. Hopefully they will still be in style come December!

    My dear Andrea, you are really anticipating those grandchildren aren't you? They are a joy. Fifties are a hard age. I still have nice legs (or so says my census taker.Ha!) and would like to show them off before they go to pot, but in a nice modest way. How does one do that without looking like mutton dressed as lamb? Maybe I should just start buying the polyester elastic waist pants and the boxy shell and big shirt combo and get it over with!

  7. ha...I already have the elastic my jeans do not fit lately. I will blame that on sleeping -in all summmer. (and yes, my family thinks I am over-anticipating grandchildren, but some hope is, the next son getting married, in June, (they) already are picking out names for their future first!) love,andrea

  8. LOVE the owl mittens - they're adourable!! Hope you manage to downsize your wardrobe - I'm trying to downsize me before I start on my wardrobe!!

  9. Sounds promising Andrea! My oldest son and daughter-in-law have been trying for the past year to have a baby. Who knows maybe one of these days I'll have booties to knit!

    Oh I've given up on downsizing myself, Carol. The best I can do is be a firmer, less jiggly me!

  10. I think we're all in the same boat clothes-wise. It is hard to find clothes when you're no longer a teen and not ready for the senior's home. I laughed when I read about you trying to find something that blends with corgi hair...I try to do the same thing with sheltie hair! :o)

    Oh, and love the cute!

  11. I'm not a knitter [hmm, is that a word?] but those owl mittens are darling!
    I have to do the closet purge quite often--I'm still clinging to clothes from my life where winters were much colder. My shopping place is now the Goodwill Store, where I've found some lovely things. I have to remind myself that just because they are inexpensive does not mean I need them.
    We've been in our little house almost two years--still sorting and weeding out to accomodate a smaller space.

  12. I love the owl mittens, I have always loved owls. Just last night, my hubby came in the room from walking our dogs, who have gotten their schedule out of sync from the holiday and keep waking up and wanting to play and go out for a walk at 1 am in the morning, he opened our window and told me to listen. I was so pleased to hear the call of a pair of Great Horned Owls, talking back and forth in the night. I hadn't heard an owl since moving into town 6 years ago, we used to have them in the woods next to our house, such majestic creatures. I have downloaded the pattern for my daughter to try with her new basket of yarn, what a wonderful Christmas gift idea! I love downsizing closets, ours are pretty good right now, but me and hubby plan to work on the garage some more this weekend, that is our trouble spot. :)

  13. Oh my apologies to your shelties, Sandra! I called them collies the other day! The dog hair issue is major, like shelties, corgis have that long hair that just burrows into fabric. I think we need to buy stock in one of those pet fur roller companies!

    We went from an almost 4000 square foot Victorian, to a 2000 square foot house when my husband's job required a move, to this little cottage that I just found out is only 700 square feet (they included the garage in the footage). That's a lot of downsizing! Still have way to many chairs. BTW, yes knitter is an actual word but it wouldn't matter if it wasn't. I make up a lot of words by adding a hyphen and either ly, ish, or esque. So ungramatical-esque!

    That must have been wonderful to hear April. My apologies to all that opened this post hoping to see some rare blue owls! Ha! Those mittens were fun to knit. I think I'll aim at knitting at least one pair a month for the mitten tree the local Girl Scouts hold each December. PS: Don't get me started on the garage!

  14. dear jane,
    the owl mittens looks beautiful.i like the yarn what you have goal for this year is use what you is it very stormy with hail and thunderstorm and it goes to colder temperatures.
    have a beautiful day,
    love regina

  15. Hello Regina! My goal is to cut my yarn stash in half this year. It looks like today is shaping up to be a nice one. That will be a relief, as the last few days were pretty miserable with the cold and wind. Still just a dusting of snow though.

  16. Hi Jane, I love your mittens! I love the cabling on top and you always do such a nice job with closing the tops, they look perfect. Those Norwegian mittens you made last year were the prettiest I have ever seen. I had seen pictures of them, but have never known anyone who actually made them. You have a wonderful attention to detail and it is very inspiring to me.

    A couple of years ago I had to do the same thing to my wardrobe.
    I found a great website you might like called Ms. Smarty They have some wonderful tips on dressing for body type and age appropriateness. It has given me some fun ideas to work with. I also recently got a book called "Staging Your Comeback -- A Complete Beauty Revival for Women Over 45" by Christopher Hopkins. It has nice pictures and a lot of before and after shots. And the changes he suggests are usually very simple but they make a huge difference.

    I also know what you mean about enjoying your projects again. A few years ago when my fibromyalgia and arthritis started to become a real problem, before we found a treatment that helped, my hands became so stiff and painful I could barely wrap my fingers around a crochet hook. Then one day my mother-in-law came home with a big bag of yarn that a lady had given her, to give to me. She worked at a store where they were having a close out sale.

    I called her up to thank her for the gift and then found out that she had a bit of an ulterior motive and she wanted me to make her a queen size afghan. She said "I know as fast as you crochet you can just whip it up in no time..." She didn't crochet herself and didn't have a clue as to what was really involved or how long it would really take for me to do such a thing.

    I sat down and forced myself to try and work on it. It was so painful and I had no joy in the project. I also had no energy left to think creatively or to work on any of the little things I wanted to do, because this project loomed over me. Finally after thinking about it a couple of weeks I realized that the humble thing for me to do was to learn to say "no". I took all the yarn back to her, told her why I couldn't do it and that she needed to find someone else. She took it well and was much more understanding than I thought she would be.

    Within a few months the doctor started me on a new treatment and everything went into a kind of remission, and I was able to use my hands again. All my joy came back and I had a new determination. I also decided that I would never work on projects that didn't give me a sense of satisfaction and I don't commit myself ahead of time to make presents anymore, because not knowing how I am going to feel from week to week makes the pressure too much. I still make lots of presents but I do them when I can. Have a wonderful day ahead Jane, and have fun in your little cottage and I will do the same! Delisa :)

  17. Oh thank you, Delisa! You probably don't see to many people knitting such things because I'm the only one crazy enough to knit with those tiny needles. LOL! And thank you for the info. I'll have to check into Ms. Smarty Pants. People are always talking about simplifying their lives. I think the one thing they all need to do is to learn to say "no". I don't know how people do handiwork on commission. The fun part is picking out the pattern and materials. Plus after you've spent hours working on a project, it's hard to just let it go out the door let alone put a price on it!

  18. Beautiful mittens! I recently made a couple small washcloths with owls on them for my daughter :)

  19. I bet they were cute Jaime! Thanks for giving me an idea on how to use up that skein of cotton.

  20. I'm going to try those mittens Jane - right after I finish the little slippers you posted about last year. I, too, had a project that I HATED but felt that I needed to finish it - finish what you start, right? Finally I remembered Matty and her shawl of awhile ago and decided to end the torture. I ripped the vest front off my needles; cut the yarn and threw it away. (Not easy for me to do.) I couldn't even bring myself to save the already knitted yarn. But I still have 4 more skeins of this worsted yarn which will be perfect for some fun and easy mittens and slippers. And I am much happier making those - and socks - than that dreaded cabled vest. (I didn't need a vest anyway.) (-:

  21. So cute! I love them!
    We just spent three weeks recycling the same 4 outfits. I was surprised at how simple it was when we just had everything more or less set up to go with everything else.

  22. I know Sandy! It's so tough to cry uncle! We got to remind ourselves that knitting is a hobby and therefor something to be enjoyed. It's fun to challenge ourselves, but when it becomes a chore, what's the point?

    I think I wear the same few outfits at the top of the drawer anyway, Shara. They are the only ones that don't need ironing!Can't wait to hear about your trip!

  23. Love love love the gloves! They are marvelous, Jane!

    Sounds like your criteria for clothes is like mine -- if it doesn't feel good, it goes away. I have an added one: if it has a stain, it goes. I am terrible about getting things on the front of my shirt. It seems like everything I eat dribbles on me! So, I am getting rid of it all. I can't wear them out, so why keep them?? And no amount of stain remover seems to work! LOL

    I like your goals. I think I will join you on the stash busting!

  24. Dear Jane,

    What sweet mittens! I've been busy cutting up all the denim discards that I've brought home from our local thrift store, to make into quilts, rugs, etc. Working at a thrift store truly makes you see the value of "less is more!"

    I do wish you luck with finding your fashion; I see lots of white and light brown in your future! :)



  25. Well Matty, I hate to break it to you but I'm adding that yarn we talked about to your stash! Sent me off on quite an adventure today looking for it. Had yarn stashed all over the house. So I was forced to organize my yarn. Can you believe I have an entire trunk of the stuff. And that's after I packaged up a large box to ship off to a local charity! And I have enough needles too. If you're looking for a particular size, just let me know. It's a pretty good bet, I have duplicates. Yeh, I hate to admit it, but I'm a bit of a slob. Have seriously considered making myself some bibs!

    Hi Marqueta! My dear little Amish gals make the best rag rugs from old jeans. They wear like iron. You're right! I have been tossing/donating a lot of the dark colors and beige, camel, ecru, and ivory are now making quite a statement in my wardrobe. Putting all my clothes in one place, really helped me see where the holes were and that I have a serious cardigan problem, but not much to wear under them! Of course, you've always had your own style, so you'll never have this "identity" crisis. Clever girl, you are!

  26. You sure have been busy. I need to use up some yarn, too. I pulled out a bunch of brights to crochet a simple blanket for my granddaughter to use when she comes. I have her for 10 days this month while her parents are in Africa on a mission trip. I'm trying to think of fun ways to make her stay comfy.

    Love the mittens and the yarn you used. I'm just learning to knit so may give them a try. It's hard to use two needles when I've used one for 40 years!

  27. Oh Pamela! You are so fortunate. I'd love to have my granddaughter come for a stay. She lives in NC so we rarely get to see her. The blanket will be quite a treasure. And it will surely use up some of that yarn stash. I admire people that can crochet and knit. I'd love to be able to crochet but just never got the hang of it.

  28. A few weeks ago, I found myself pawing through the same clothes rack at Wally World along with an 80+ year old--decided I needed to dress a bit younger. I found a store that had reasonable stylish clothing and found some great clearance buys. I was so exited! Wore my outfit to church and rec'd. many compliments. I just turned 58, so not quite ready for the nursing home.

    1. You're so funny Joy! I find myself wearing the same thing over and over again. Someone said that if you've already seen a style before in your life, you shouldn't wear it again. Well, at 53, I've seen all the styles come and go, so what should I wear? Maybe we should revive those polyester pantsuits that you modeled on your blog!

    2. You know what, when I put on those pantsuits, I realized why my mother liked them so much and why they were so popular... an entire outfit already put together, very comfy and easy care... lots of static, though! I donated them to a thrift store, maybe you'll see them turn up in a neighborhood near you!

    3. Maybe you should have kept them! My parents had an old woodstove and an old coal bin full of polyester clothes from the 70s. One winter they heated their house with leisure suits. Well at least until they had a chimney fire! Lots of petroleum in those babies!