Friday, January 28, 2011

In the studio: airplane

After posting about our "beautiful stuff" the other day, I had to follow up with a photo of this wonderful creation, made entirely without glue or tape:

"Airplane," by a just-turned-6-year-old, returning here for the day.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Yarn Along 11

If you haven't yet joined Ginny's Yarn Along, today's the day to do it; she's hosting a giveaway!

A few weeks ago, Ginny's yarn-along post reminded me of these hearts I'd wanted to try since last year. I tried one, and really struggled with the tiny scale; it came out nearly unrecognizable as a heart. So then I tried this pattern, with more success. That gave me the courage to try more super-tiny ones, and this time, they came out pretty cute. I'm thinking the larger ones will become a valentine's day garland for my kitchen window, and the smaller ones maybe for my mirror.

And I'm still reading One Thousand White Women, and highly recommend it!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

In the studio: beautiful stuff

Reading this post today inspired me to share some of our collection of "beautiful stuff" (known to some as junk; so called since reading the book of the same name).

(A closer look at some of the jars.)

Lucy, at work with some beautiful stuff.

Her finished "red monster."

Thursday, January 20, 2011

RIP, Rosie

Today we are mourning the loss of our beloved chicken, Rosie. When I went out to feed the chickens this morning, large dog footprints led to a gruesome scene. I am so, so sad, and full of guilt for not having better protected her.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Yarn Along 10

Time again for Ginny's Yarn Along.

I finished the necklet I was making for myself last week (after pulling the whole thing out and starting again; apparently that class took all my brain power and I failed to notice I'd made it twice as wide as it should have been). I added some gorgeous vintage-inspired buttons. I love it! It's the first crochet project I've made for myself.

Up next is some fingerless gloves, also for me. Check out that fabulous yarn I got for them! As an added bonus, my friend used this yarn to teach me his mother's technique for rolling a ball of yarn so that you can pull it from the center. I had no idea you could do such a thing! (We got him yarn and hooks for his birthday, and it seems we've successfully recruited him.) I've been wanting some fingerless gloves to keep my hands warm while crocheting outside and to wear when I sit down to work at nap time (if you stop moving, this house is freezing!). Most of the crocheted ones I've seen look too bulky, but these look just right to me. (Wish me luck resizing them; I'm still learning that skill.)

I'm reading One Thousand White Women. (Well, "reading" in the mom-of-toddler sense of the word; I've read one page!)

What are you reading and making?

Friday, January 14, 2011


Like just about everyone else, it seems, we got snow this week. Enough to be super-deep for young children to try to wade through, too deep and fluffy for sledding, too dry to pack into what to do? The kids in the purple house decided to jump!

Senior version (5 year olds):

Junior version (1-3 year olds):

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Yarn Along 9

This is my wishful-thinking morning photo: wishing for a snow day today to read and crochet and drink coffee on the couch. (What do you think are the odds that all the families will stay sensibly at home in the snow today?)

I haven't done much crochet this week, but I did begin a simple cowl for myself (I've made so many crocheted things for other people, but nothing yet for me). (It'll be like this one.) On Saturday, we were in an all-day foster-parenting class, and I'd packed lots of yarn, thinking it the perfect opportunity to do some mindless crochet like this cowl. But it must have been more interesting than I'd expected, because this is as far as I got. (I did finish my sweater from last week; you can see it here.)

I'm reading Home to Woefield, which I'd describe as a fluff read--but a good one. Funny characters, sustainability theme, and the kind of plot that makes you want to keep reading into the night, but completely implausible. Fine--it's just what I need right now, with a sleep-deprived brain and seriously limited time.

Check out what others are reading and making at Ginny's Yarn Along.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Gifts, revealed: Lucy's sling

Lucy's been very interested in dolls lately, and having been a sling-worn baby herself, she of course asks me to tie those dolls up in a scarf so she can wear them, too. So a child-sized sling was an obvious Christmas gift.

For some reason, I struggled with the construction of this one. Can't tell you how many times I stitch-ripped and re-sewed this thing! But in the end, I'm happy with it (though I think I should have made it a bit bigger, or at least a bit stretchy).

It's reversible--one side is this blue silk-y former curtain, and the other is a blue floral vintage sheet, last seen here.

Lucy is not about to slow down long enough for a photo, so we have to settle for these in-action ones. And check out her sweater--that's the Tiny Tea Leaves cardigan Andi made for her (we were lucky enough to get an early version of the toddler pattern). It is so gorgeous!

Monday, January 10, 2011


I finished the sweater I was working on last week. I didn't post it right away, because I thought I'd take a good on-Lucy action shot of it first, but I forgot:
a) she's a toddler and doesn't slow down long enough to be photographed,
b) there's barely any decent sun these days, and
c) she has nothing that matches this sweater.


So, here it is in the boring laid-on-the-table pose. (And yes, that is an end I forgot to weave in dangling out of the sleeve. Lucy has decided that's there so she has a built-in cat toy.)

The sweater ended up quite a bit different from the original. This is how I made my "design decisions":

I used the red yarn until it ran out. Then I used the blue yarn until it, too, nearly ran out.
Thinking I had just enough left for a bird, I started one (from this book). With just an inch or two of yarn left, I decided that bird would have to have a smaller head than planned. That made the bird look better in an upright pose.
I searched for buttons to match, and found one blue and two red. The neck placement on the original didn't work (because the sweater's a bit snug on Lucy; I should have added some stitches), so I moved them down. I took a three-year-old's advice when I was trying to choose blue or red buttons; she said "or, you could use all three."

I'm happy with all those aspects. Less happy with the single crochet stitch around the edging, which I used to try to stop the curling edges (suggested by this pattern). It didn't work, and I'm terrible at evenly spacing stitches along row ends. (Please, don't look too closely.)

Overall, I think it's pretty cute, and Lucy agrees. (Ravelry notes here.)

Now I just have to make her something to wear with it.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Gifts, revealed: homemade books

In the wee hours of the night on Christmas Eve, I finally got to a present I'd been meaning to make Lucy for months now:

Remember her love for carousels? It has carried on for months, as she asks for the story of the carousel rides over and over, and often retells the story herself in her journal (more on that later).

So I finally used one of my favorite blank books to put together a simple book about her three first carousel rides. (No affiliation, just a fan.)

Handwritten and quickly assembled, it's not particularly beautiful. But it's definitely one of the most-requested books around here lately.

It's not the only handmade book she received this Christmas. We got a package of gifts from our dear friends in Boston, and one of them was an amazing little book from the 9-year-old in the family:

It's personalized in such a thoughtful way. From the bird characters, reflecting their shared passion, to the little white bonnet worn by the Lucy bird, to the names of the characters (Lucy's cats, her cousins...),

to the hammock Lucy bird sleeps in,

and the stuffed seagull toy--every detail is special to Lucy.

We were in awe of Sarah's creation, and took it to our extended family Christmas celebration to share with everyone.

(Gotta love the back cover! Sarah's written many books, and has her own imprint.)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Yarn Along 8

Back to Ginny's Yarn Along. (Check it out. I'm loving the inspiration it's giving me to keep making progress.)

This week, I'm working on a sweater for Lucy. I'm loving the pattern, which is easy to follow and is coming out so cute. I'm making a wild guess at how to re-size it (it's a 12-month pattern and I'm not that accomplished yet to really know what I'm doing), so we'll see if it works!

Meanwhile, I've been getting lots of inspiration from my heap of new crafty books I got for Christmas. As I work on this sweater, I keep thinking "maybe on the next one I could try one of those fancy edges..." and "maybe at the color change I could switch to one of those interesting stitches..." I haven't had time for actual reading lately, but peeking into one of these here and there is filling the gap.

(And yes, we do barricade our Christmas tree with the coffee table during the day when the house is full of toddlers.)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Gifts, revealed: copycat doily bowls and oat floats

Just before Christmas, I read a blog post which added some things to my already-too-long gift-making list. But it was worth it! Heather had made such lovely and simple gifts, I knew I had to copy them! Here are my versions.

Doily bowls made from vintage doilies stiffened with epsom salts.

(I have to admit I kept more of these than I gave as gifts.)

And "oat floats"--packets (sewn from an old pair of linen pants) full of oats and lavender (from our garden), like a big tea bag for your bath.

Thanks for the great gift ideas, Heather!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Gifts, revealed: ornmaments

As I described last year, it's our old tradition that I give Andi an ornament each Christmas, symbolic of that year, and our new tradition to do the same for Lucy. It was so much fun this year, decorating the tree and telling Lucy about each of our ornaments. She showed every visitor to our house her special ornaments, explaining who'd given each one. Pure joy.

So, this year...

I struggled to think of the perfect ornament for Andi. It's been a hard year, full of exhaustion and personal struggles. In the end, I settled on a wish for the new year:

A simple pillow, embroidered with a hope for "rest" and a heart on the back, stuffed with lavender for rest and rosemary for remembrance. (I'd show a picture of it on the tree, but it seems to have disappeared to wherever the cats stash their favorite ornaments.)

And for Lucy, a bird. I wavered between "birds" and "stories" for her, as she's both fallen in love with birds and asks a hundred times daily for a "story, Mama, story." In the end, I went with a bird, as she fell for them so soon and continued on in her love for them all year--from our chickens, to the seagulls in Bar Harbor, to the birds in our yard. And so I made her this simple embroidered wool bird, with a tail made from one of our chicken feathers:

(The embroidery was inspired by a book I bought as a gift for a friend...and now want for myself!)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Gifts, revealed: an embroidery basket

For a 6-year-old, I put together this little basket of embroidery supplies: a hoop, scrap fabric, a needle, and several colors of floss. She'd been asking me to teach her to sew, and this seemed like a good starting place. And she took to it immediately! I showed her how to make a running stitch, and within a few stitches, she decided to freehand a heart shape. When it was finished, I wrote her name on the fabric and taught her the back stitch, which she picked up right away, too. She spent a good part of Christmas day curled up in an armchair, stitching away.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Gifts, revealed: more cowls

Apparently, this was the Christmas of the cowls; I made several. Here are some more. This one was made from cotton, for my sister who can't stand wool's itchiness:

It's super soft and comfy, and when I tried it on, I wished I were keeping it for myself. (That's my I'm-too-busy-making-gifts-to-primp look in the photo):

I tried a new stitch pattern for this one--stacked shells--after admiring a friend's afghan-in-progress. It turned out to make a quick and beautiful scarf! So I made more. This one (in wool, this time) for Andi:

And this one for a friend (it's hard to see in the photo, but those are some cool clay buttons that match the color of the yarn perfectly):

As I worked on these, each one came out just a bit better than the last--to the point that I wanted to remake the first ones! I think I've got it down, now, and these are sure to become a common gift from my hooks.