Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Yarn Along 15

Still reading the same book and working on the same arm warmers. (We've had visits from 4 grandparents, 1 aunt, and 2 cousins in the past week, so there's been little time!)

Only after I bought the yarn did I read the part in the pattern where it said self-striping yarn would pool strangely on these, and I guess it is. But I'm so happy with how they're coming out! I'd procrastinated getting started because the pattern is for an extra-small woman, which I am definitely not. I wasn't sure if I'd be able to adjust it properly. But I've been trying it on as I go, and it's fitting beautifully, with only slight adjustments (a hook one size larger; one extra row to make more room for my thumb). This is only the second thing I've made for myself, and I'm really looking forward to wearing them.

Want more crochet, knitting, or reading inspiration? Check out all the yarn along posts linked at Ginny's blog today.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Is it sap season yet?

This time of year, any hint of warmth has us wondering, "is it time yet?"
Friday afternoon, we decided it must be, as it was warm enough to go out without coats.

With great excitement, we headed off to the backyard, drill in hand.

Everyone got a chance to turn the drill.

We were treated to an immediate reward: the sap was running!
Oh, how I love that "drip, drip, drip!"

The next day was frigid, but we'd gotten some new buckets, so we set out again to tap more trees.

Naturally, it's been freezing cold since then, so we haven't begun boiling. But it's coming!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

In (and out of) the studio: cutting practice

There's been a lot of cutting around here lately. (By all the kids, but let's dote on Lucy for a while, shall we?) Lucy, of course, has had scissors in her hand since she was able to reach them on the table, since there are big kids here leaving them about all the time. I learned a while ago to just go ahead and give the youngest toddlers scissor-safety lessons, which is much easier than trying to keep them away from them. But this week has seen a giant leap in scissor skills. Two days ago, Lucy fringed a piece of paper that she was holding herself (scissors in one hand, paper in the other, cutting little cuts into the paper all around all the sides)--so far, she'd asked for me to hold the paper while she did it. Then, yesterday, all of a sudden, she figured out how to turn her fringed paper a bit, make another cut, and make a snippet of paper fall off! What a thrill. She moved from there to cutting a piece of yarn into little snippets. A few minutes later, she'd opened-shut-opened-shut the scissors to cut a few inches across a page.

I am in awe of her persistence and focus and skill. I find myself with my jaw on the floor daily. Wow.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Yarn Along 14

Not a lot of time for reading or crafting this week (other than Lucy's birthday cake, of course.) But I've read enough to be getting into my book (a slow start, but one that promises to be very good). And I've pulled out this beautiful yarn again, and am determined to get started on those fingerless gloves, at last.

Maybe seeing everyone else's Yarn Along projects will inspire me to get going with them!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Galloping and spinning horses for an almost-2-year-old

Tomorrow is Lucy's birthday, but we've already begun celebrating, because she has so many people who want to celebrate with her, and it's so hard to have a relaxed birthday celebration if you have to cram it all in after work midweek. We didn't want to do a big party, but chose instead to have individual time with each of her special people. So Sunday, we spent the day with her Granny, saw a couple of friends for brief drop-by visits, and later had a visit and dinner with her aunt, uncle, and cousins.

I spent Saturday on her cake--my first major decorative baking attempt. First came the cookies--many, many horse cookies. (This was our first try at piping cookie frosting.) We made lots so we could have two special treats: the cake on the weekend and on her actual birthday, the extra cookies.

Then, Saturday night after Lucy went to bed, we prepped the dining room: setting out her crown and garland, her cards and gifts, photos of her as she's grown, and her cake. I've been so inspired by all the Waldorf-y birthdays I see on various blogs with a special table set for the birthday child. It seems like such a low-key, relaxed, special way to honor the occasion. We're loving it as our new birthday tradition. Here's her chair, waiting for her with her crown and the stick horse I've been working on, complete and ready to ride.

(I pretty much followed the directions in Creative Play for Your Toddler, with just a few tweaks. A great book, by the way! I'm thrilled with this horse.)

You can see that Lucy loved it, too.

(I'd love to share--but for modesty's sake, won't--the most joyful pictures of the day: Lucy and her horse galloping wildly around the island, pre-bath, totally nude.)

And here's the finished cake, of which I'm ridiculously proud:

Lucy loves carousels; they were a highlight of her year. So my mom suggested a carousel cake. The brainstorming began around Christmas time: how to make the roof? the horses? the poles? where would the candles go? what kind of cake? (I settled on a yellow cake with lemon frosting and blueberry-jam filling; mmm!) Our friend Tim came up with the brilliant plan of a lazy susan, so the carousel actually turned:

It was a lovely day; quiet and special and Lucy-paced. Perfect.

Tomorrow, she's two. Two!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Just-right Valentine's books for preschoolers

I know it's a bit last-minute, but if you happen to be at the library this weekend and want to pick up some wonderful books for Valentine's Day, you might enjoy these three wonderful ones we've been reading this week:

The Day it Rained Hearts
by Felicia Bond
I think this one is my favorite. This week, the kids wanted to know how to cut out hearts. I gave a little mini-lesson, and then read this book to them as they practiced. Since then, we've read it over and over. It's the sweetest story about a little girl who gathers up hearts that fall from the sky one day. She studies them and thinks about the possibilities for each one, then works to make individualized valentines for each of her friends: a collar of strung hearts for a dog, a holey-like-swiss-cheese heart for a mouse, etc. I love the emphasis on creating, and on thinking about what would be most appreciated by each friend.

Somebody Loves You Mr. Hatch
by Eileen Spinelli and Paul Yalowitz
Mr. Hatch leads a boring and solitary life--until the day a box of Valentine's chocolates arrives in the mail with a note from a secret admirer. Who could it be? The idea that somebody loves him changes Mr. Hatch's life, and soon he's become friends with everyone in the neighborhood and his life is full of joy. But then the postman returns with the news that he'd mistakenly delivered that package. Now what? You should see the relief and joy on the children's faces when the neighborhood pulls together to convince Mr. Hatch he's loved. I love the sense of community here, and the idea that a little love spreads from person to person.

One Zillion Valentines by Frank Modell
Marvin and Milton are talking about valentines, and decide to make a zillion and deliver them to everyone in their neighborhood. They have some left over, so they sell them--and then Marvin uses the proceeds to buy a box of chocolates for Milton. Again, I love the emphasis on creating (rather than buying) valentines. And I love the child-friendly idea that "valentines are for everyone," and especially that they can be shared between two good friends who happen to be boys. Looks like this one is out of print. Snatch it up quickly if you see it used!

Happy reading!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Yarn Along 13

I'm joining in to Ginny's Yarn Along again today, although it's a stretch to call my latest project crochet. I'm chaining and braiding reins for the stick horse I'm making Lucy for her birthday.

I finished One Thousand White Women (great read!), moved on to The Red Garden (wonderful!), and have started The Book Thief, so it's no wonder I have little crochet to show!

Check out the links at Ginny's blog for more reading and yarn inspiration!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Almost 2...

Tick, tick, tick...the clock's counting down to Lucy's 2nd birthday.
I've got a few things in the works for this carousel-loving birthday girl...

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Yarn Along 12

I'm still reading and crocheting the same things as last week, so rather than take an identical picture, I thought I'd share some of the most-requested children's books of the week. (See my tiny heart there on Katy? I'm getting better at them...)

Lucy and I have been reading Nancy Tafuri's Snowy, Flowy, Blowy over and over. As always, we love her illustrations, especially of animals. And this book is of particular interest to Lucy right now because it's about the months of the year. It's almost Lucy's birthday, and she loves talking about when all her favorite people's birthdays are. So when I read "February; flowy," she says "me in February!" and when I read "March; blowy," she says "Mommy in March! Me remember!" etc.

And, of course, we're reading Katy and the Big Snow right now, as our town gets covered in snow much like Geopolis. If you don't know Virginia Lee Burton, run out to the library right now and get some of her books! They're treasures. There is so much to discover in the details and margins of the illustrations, and so much to talk about. I look forward to reading them over and over as she grows, because there's much more to discover and discuss later, though the story is engaging and beloved right now too.

Yarn-along participants should especially enjoy Five Little Foxes and the Snow, by Tony Johnston and Cyndy Szekeres. It's a sweet story about a family of foxes who want to go out to play in the snow, but Gramma keeps them inside because "your paws will be cold," suggesting other pastimes "while I knit--click, click--by the fire." In the end, Christmas arrives, with new mittens for all the foxes, and out they go to play in the snow. I love the illustrations of their cozy nestled-in-tree-roots home, the play and reading and painting and baking going on, and of course, all the knitting! (That's not an affiliate link; just trying to find it somewhere to show you.)

Last is Charlie Needs a Cloak, by Tomi dePaola. Again, perfect for those who love yarn! Charlie the shepherd needs a cloak, because his sheep have nibbled his to shreds. So he sheers, washes, cards, dyes, spins, weaves, sews, etc., until he has a beautiful new red cloak. We love watching the whole process, laugh at the sheep's reluctance to share their wool, delight in watching a mouse sneak off with many small objects from Charlie's home, and giggle to see the sheep start to nibble the new cloak right away. I think this is one of the best see-the-process books I've come across.

Check out other books and works-in-progress at Ginny's Yarn-Along!