Cozy knits

Is it time for fall yet?

I say that because even though the leaves are turning and we have three pumpkins on our front porch, it has been so unseasonably warm this October that it hardly seems authentically fall. You might remember that last year in early October it snowed!

But two weekends ago when I did my craft show, it was so warm I got overheated and sun scorched, and most people weren’t in the mood to buy chunky knit scarves.

So, I’m hoping for cooler temps this weekend, because I’m doing the East Village Bazaar again.

I’ll have all kinds of cozy knits, even more than last time.

Organic and stripey knits.

Chunky wool knits.

Knits for your head.

Knits for your hands (with vintage buttons, too).

Knits for your coffee cup.

And knits for your house.

I’m also signed up for Craft Saturday on November 6, and the Green Gifts Fair Nov. 7. So, ready or not fall weather, the knits are comin’!

My DIY North Shore wedding

I did my very best to condense the photos into a manageable amount, but there were so many good ones, I just couldn’t help myself!

So let’s start at the beginning. The morning of the wedding, my sister pulled out her hair and makeup artist skills and helped me roll my hair and apply makeup, which I’m terrible at. My cousin, Alana, and my maid of honor, Erin, were a huge help as well.

We decided I would head over to the lodge (closer to the ceremony site) to put on the actual dress. I wanted my mom to be the one to fasten all the tiny buttons before I made my debut.

I don’t regret my decision to DIY hair and makeup at all. It was one less thing to worry about and pay for, and I was completely happy with the way it turned out. My mom collected all the vintage jewelry I wore that day.

The dress was a different story. Though I loved it, I got frustrated with the process of going in over and over for fittings, plus all the added expenses of tailoring, and now cleaning. If I had it to do over I think I would really try to simplify that process.

The shoes were a DSW special. And I’m glad I kept it simple with those because during the ceremony my heels sank into about an inch of wet ground, ruining them.

Fortunately I had my bridal Chucks as a backup!

We skipped out on some traditions, like not seeing each other before the wedding. It was really important to us not to do things just because other people do them. We tried to make sure that if we held onto a tradition, it actually meant something to us.

We kept our bridal party small. It seemed like if we started adding people we’d have to add a lot of people just to avoid hurting people’s feelings.

Something we didn’t DIY? The flowers.

For the ceremony part, at least. I had always imagined myself holding real flowers. Even though I had to order the bouquets and pins sight unseen, the flower shop did an incredible job of executing my requests. They were absolutely beautiful.

For the ceremony site, my crafty friend Brianne decorated Lutsen’s wooden arch with an array of tissue paper poufs.

She and I, along with our friend Amy, had spent many nights folding little accordians for those poufs. The day of the wedding I didn’t have any time to actually put them up, so Brianne and her husband did it for me, and it was perfect.

We decided both to have a friend marry us and to write the whole ceremony ourselves. Brigid got ordained from the Universal Life Church and filed our paperwork for us. She also wore an adorable polka dot dress that was a huge hit.

It’s tough to write your own ceremony from scratch, even when you’re a writer by trade. We definitely saved it until the last minute. But after one teary evening spent in front of my computer writing my vows, and lots of time searching for readings we loved, we put everything together. Luckily a few friends agreed to read for us, and they did a fantastic job.

We also included a song, and asked the crowd if they would vow to support us in our marriage. We were both emotional at times, but neither one of us broke down. I just remember feeling so happy and excited.

We didn’t have a single crying baby. Just sweet little Quinn.

We designed the programs ourselves. For each person involved in the wedding we included a “fun fact.”

We saved a lot of money on our paper suite by using invitations from Target and our own (limited) design skills. We bought a laser printer on sale so we’d have better print quality, and it helped bigtime.

Having a Web designer for a husband was also a huge help when it came to building our wedding site. We used Traveler’s Joy for our honeymoon registry and found it super easy to use.

But back to the wedding!

For table decorations, my mom and I collected blue glass canning jars, which I filled with small tissue paper flowers. I probably spent less than $30 for all of the flowers and maybe $30 for all the jars. I put tealight candles inside old juice glasses, and filled little paper muffin liners with Jordan almonds. Each person also got a stripey straw for their water glass.

During the cocktail hour, which we basically missed due to taking more photos, the banquet manager informed me that we had already drank the entire batch of wine we’d ordered for the wedding. So we ordered 12 more bottles, and by the end of dinner that was gone too. Perhaps that accounts for what happened on the dance floor?

We also did a family-style dinner, which I loved. That way people don’t have to go through a buffet line, but they still get to decide what they want to put on their plates.

And then there were the cakes. Many, many people thought we were crazy to make our own cakes. But it truly wasn’t that hard. We baked them in advance, made the frosting at the resort, and frosted them the day before in the lodge bar. I painted the little cake toppers to look like us and we borrowed two cake stands from friends.

It was funny during the speeches — everyone kept saying something to the effect of “wow, it took you a long time to get married!”

Erin’s speech was much more emotional. And now I have to give one to her this weekend!

But my mom brought the house down with her wedding limerick. It was so funny.

For the dance, we had a friend of ours bring in his sound system and another friend manned the iTunes playlist on a computer. We also put together a slide show of photos that was a lot of fun.

This is one of my favorite photos from that day.

Danced with my dad to a Beatles song.

We set up a table with some old family wedding photos, and my grandma’s cake topper.

Instead of a guest book we had people hang bits of advice on a clothesline. Mike built the posts from some blocks of wood and 2 dowels. The cards are made from extra invites cut to size.

Our big surprise was having a few friends sneak up to the balcony and toss over a bunch of 36-inch balloons as a Flaming Lips song played. If you’ve ever been to a Flaming Lips concert, you know where we were coming from.

And then the dance just unfolded and I can’t say anything other than it was more fun than I’ve had in a long, long time.

I literally danced until my hair clip flew off and one of my straps broke.

But the best part, hands down, was when Mike’s parents decided to do the polka to Ke$ha’s “Take It Off.”

Suddenly all eyes were on them and Mike’s dad threw off his jacket. It was hysterical!

We had the photographers set up a photo booth in the balcony where people could write a message on a little chalkboard and pose for goofy photos. And oh my did they get into it. (More photo booth photos coming in a separate post).

When we were so tired we could barely stand, we had our DJ fast forward to the end of the playlist so we could head out to the bonfire. At first we hadn’t even planned to have a beach bonfire, but when we learned it was free and that we had to be out of the party room pretty early in the night anyway, we fell in love with the idea.

It was the perfect end to a perfect night.

Venue: Lutsen Resort in Lutsen, Minnesota
Photography: The dream team of Joe and Libby Crimmings
Dress: Blue by Enzoani from The Bridal Boutique
Bridesmaid dresses: The Sophia dress from J. Crew
Menswear: Heimie’s Haberdashery
Flowers: Anderson’s Greenhouse in Two Harbors
Invitations: Target
Rings: Joseph’s Jewelers. Mine is white gold, Mike’s is tungsten carbide.
Cake toppers: Goosegrease on Etsy
Stripey straws: Ephemera
Hair clip: Bean and the Sprout
Gifts for bridesmaids: E. Ria Designs
Giant balloons: Party America
Globe party lights: Target (I don’t see them online, but I bought them in the seasonal section of a store)

Wedding worries and why you don’t need them

During the almost two years I had to plan my wedding, I tried really, really hard to stay sane about the whole process. I had a vision of what I wanted the day to be like, and I certainly wanted to include a ton of DIY elements. But I didn’t want to set it up so it had to be the best day of my life. And I stayed very calm up until the very end.

The last week was tough. I started to feel panicky, running lists through my head and worrying about little things. The last couple of nights I stayed up late, unfolding tissue paper flowers in my hotel room, making more lists and fretting. The morning of the wedding was so hectic, and I just had this feeling like, “I’m running out of time!”

But after we took our family photos, pinned on our flowers and got ready to walk down the aisle, I just let it all go.

The rest of the wedding really was perfection. The more I think about it, the more I realize there will never be another night quite like that one. I still can’t believe how it unfolded, and I just want to pinch myself.

So if it helps any brides-to-be feel better about your big days, I just wanted to share some of the things that turned out to be no big deal at all.

A few days before the wedding I started checking the forecast for northern Minnesota. The good news was that it was supposed to be sunny. The bad news? The high was supposed to be around 50 degrees. Brrrr!

But the day before the wedding, after a brief morning rain, the clouds parted and it turned into one of those unbelievably gorgeous North Shore days that just blow you away. By Saturday it was just the same, only a little warmer. You couldn’t buy a more perfect day up there.

My other freakout came a few days before the wedding when neither of us could get a hold of our event coordinator. And by that point we had some pretty important questions. On our drive up there we finally got through to her boss, who told us that our coordinator had quit that day. Uh, WHAT?

Fortunately her boss took over the whole situation and helped us clear up every tiny detail. In the end, she was much easier to work with, and she saved me even more worrying.

At the last minute, several guests found out that they weren’t going to make it, and I started to feel kind of bummed that we had a smaller wedding than we intended. But again, I think it worked out for the best because I was able to genuinely interact with all of the guests. I don’t know how you can do that at a wedding with 150+ people.

And finally, I was concerned that with our schedule for that day (the resort requires you to be out of their restaurant by 5:30 p.m., so everything is a bit earlier than usual), people wouldn’t get into the dance part as much. I figured they’d hang out for an hour, then go back to their rooms, and by the time we got to the bonfire there’d be about 10 people left. I cannot tell you how wrong I was about that one! People danced from the first minute to the very last song.

Someone even told me we had the best wedding playlist she’d ever heard. Almost everyone came to the bonfire, and we kept our party going by moon and firelight.

The only thing I can think of that went wrong is that during the portion of the dance when we decided to toss around big balloons, some of them kept hitting our string lights until eventually one of the bulbs shattered onto the floor and the whole string of lights went out. I kept running around like a kindergarten teacher going, “Don’t throw the balloons at the lights!” But no one else cared at all, and a Lutsen staffer quickly swept up the broken glass, so everyone could keep dancing.

Lesson learned? The most important thing to do at your wedding is to be at your wedding and enjoy every minute of it.

More photos coming!

All photos by Joe and Libby Crimmings.

East Village Sunday Bazaar

Mary Marie Knits is making her fall debut this weekend at the East Village Sunday Bazaar.

The bazaar has been moved slightly due to the World Food Festival, so it will be at E. 3rd Street, between Locust and Walnut.

I’ll have some lovely fall-ish items, like scarves, fingerless gloves, and cup cozies. It’s been feeling pretty summery around here this week, so hopefully people will be in the mood for fall. I’ve been pouring some new candles, as well, and I’ll have those, too.

Hope to see you there!

The weekend

I caught an organizing/decorating bug this weekend. One of the projects I had been meaning to try was making a paper pouf out of newspaper. It took a couple tries to get a good one, but I think it ended up looking really cute. I made two for the wall above our TV, which has been crying for some decoration for a long time.

If you want to make one, here’s how:

-Stack 8 full sheets of newspaper in a pile and cut them into a 15×20-inch rectangle.
-With the 15-inch side facing you, start folding the pile up like an accordion. Each crease should be about 1 1/2 inches tall.
-When you get to the end, either twist a piece of wire or tie a piece of string around the center of the accordion.
-Trim the ends into a pointy shape. You’ll probably have to cut through the layers separately because the paper’s pretty thick.
-Spread the layers apart until you have what looks like a flower.

I also got new collars for the dogs. Reggie is quite proud of hers.

Found these cute little glass votives at a garage sale. They will make perfect little sampler candles, I think.

Also, I had to take a picture of my dinner the other night (black bean burgers). It just looked like summer to me.

Just stamp it

Did you guys see this post on Design Sponge about making your own stamped business cards?

Since I’m constantly changing my products and starting new blogs and adding things to my plate, it’s hard for me to print just one type of business cards. So this idea just struck a chord with me. I picked up a similar stamping kit that came with two sets of letters in different sizes. I was hoping they made these things with different fonts, but I had no luck with that.

Anyway, I have been using them to personalize my birch bark tags for different products, and I just love the way it’s turning out. And then, if I do need business cards or calling cards, I can stamp ’em up in a hurry.

I highly recommend getting one of these stampers. They’re about $30 at places like Office Depot and Staples.

Recycled cotton hotpads

So while the world was enjoying two 80+ degree days in a row (in March??), I was inside feeling achy and taking my temperature. I managed to catch some kind of bug that came on really fast and made me extra whiny, given how beautiful it was outside.

Anyway, I kept my hands busy by crocheting these cute little hotpads with two colors of recycled cotton yarn I had randomly bought a while ago. I put an orange strand and a red strand together, then crocheted 25 hdc stitches into a square.

Fortunately, I had enough yarn for two, so I got a set I can use next time I have company.

Vintage fabric garland

Last night I attended my second crafty class at Ephemera. This time we were making garlands out of fabric leftovers. I brought along some red and white fabric I’d found at an estate sale. Even though the pattern wasn’t Christmasy per se, I thought the color combination said Christmas for sure.

All we did was cut fabric circles, glue them to a cardstock backing for extra strength, and sew them to ribbon. (Or in my case, get halfway through and switch to glueing to make it go faster).

Mine is hanging up now, and I just love it.

Thanks, Amy!

Tiny sweaters are here!

Of all my knitted creations, the tiniest might be my favorite.

The first batch of tiny sweater ornaments are done and have been delivered to my friends’ lovely store, Ephemera. If you live in the Des Moines area and would like to purchase one, get on over to their amazing new digs, just a few blocks from their old store in the East Village.

They are also offering several artsy crafty classes this winter, and I had the pleasure of trying one out last night. We created another miniature project, these trading card size pieces of art, made with photos and scraps of vintage books.

So much fun. If you’re interested in taking a class, you can download a full schedule from their Web site.

As for me, I must get back to knitting bitty sweaters for Etsy and upcoming craft fairs…

I heart Halloween

When your birthday is Nov. 1, you pretty much have no choice but to embrace Halloween. I always have and I always will. Mike makes fun of me for how I excited I get when they first start putting out pumpkins at the grocery store.

Over the years I’ve gotten really into pumpkin carving. When I had my DIY projects column in Boulder, I did a Mr. Peanut on a pumpkin that seemed made for it.

And then I did one with my own face! To make the pattern you just take a photo of yourself and make the contrast really high in Photoshop until you have clear chunks of black and white.

Of course, I love the extra hard patterns in the back of carving kits.

I tried Martha’s method for a glitter pumpkin, too.

I’m terrible about costume planning, but one year Mike and I got really creative and decided to go as toys from our childhood. We rigged up Christmas lights and a giant battery so I could be a Lite Brite and he was a Slinky.

Last year Mike shaved off his beard (the only time he’s ever done that in our relationship) to go with his hilarious Larry King costume.

Even Reggie got in the game once, much to her humiliation.

This year, all we’ve done so far is carve pumpkins, and pretty simple ones at that. But it was a good opportunity to put together a tutorial, so just in case you need it, here’s how we carve pumpkins:

Start by clearing off a table and covering it with plastic (a trashbag slit open is perfect). Layer newspapers on top of that.

Get some of those little carving tools, your pattern, scissors, tape, a Sharpie, and the most important tool of all: an ice cream scoop. Also have a wet towel on hand to wipe the goop off your fingers.

Clean any dirt off your pumpkin and decide which side you’re going to carve. The side that’s usually the most flat also tends to be the most ugly because it’s been on the ground. But if your pumpkin is just going to sit in the dark, don’t worry about that.

Some people use a big knife to cut a lid on top, but I prefer a little saw carving tool. Since it’s bendy you can get a really nice curved edge. Or, if you want the top to stay in tact, you can cut your lid out of the bottom.

Trace a circle around the stem with the Sharpie and carve out the lid.

Here’s where you get your first glimpse of all the goop!

Start by shaving all the strings off the lid.

You don’t want them hanging over a candle flame and burning. I find the best way to remove all the seeds and goop inside the pumpkin is just to roll up my sleeves and scoop it out with my hands.

Get yourself a garbage bowl for the goop, instead of slopping it on the table. You can heave it in the compost when you’re done, or use the seeds for cooking.

Use the ice cream scoop to get the rest of the stringy stuff out. Scrape the sides all the way around the inside.

Make sure your pumpkin is dry outside, and tape on your pattern. I find it helps to trim the corners on an angle so I can fold them in. Then I put tape all around.

There will be some spots where the pattern doesn’t lay flat because the pumpkin is round, so try to fold them over neatly instead of letting them crumple.

Next, get to poking. Put little holes all over the lines. Then remove the pattern, keeping it somewhere in view where you can still refer back to it.

Then start carving along the lines.

Sometimes you might have to cut lines into the large chunks to make them easier to remove. It’s best to push them outwards to avoid tearing the pumpkin. But sometimes I think it helps to push it a little bit inward first, then push it all the way out.

When you’re finished, you will probably still be able to see some strings hanging in the back. Remove those with your fingers. Again, they will burn and smell funky.


Light and enjoy. It’s nice, too, that you can get those fake candles and avoid flame altogether.

By the way, Mike is from Wisconsin. You can probably guess his feelings toward Brett Favre.

What did you carve this year?