Saturday, October 29, 2011

Snapped: Frost Pattern

Friday morning we woke to freezing temperatures--literally. When my daughter and I went out at 9 am to run errands, the passenger side doors were frozen shut. This is kind of annoying when it's not even Halloween yet. But then I got into the car to turn it on (and thaw it out) and I saw the beautiful, delicate frost patterns on the windshield. I tried to capture them before they melted.

None of my photos do them justice, but this is the best I have to share with you. What a fleeting delight they were, these feathery, fern-like patterns in the thin thin ice.


I decided to sign up for NaBloPoMo. I haven't done this since 2007, and while some things have changed (the hosting site is now Blogher, and you can pick any month of the year to join in), the basic premise is the same: post something every day for a month. My goal is to post a project of mine, or an idea for a hand-made gift that I think is great, or a gift item I love, or a photo I've taken...a little snippet, in other words, that I hope adds something interesting or beautiful to your day. I'm not sure I'll succeed with daily posting, especially since I have another blog, which means two posts for some days. In fact, I think I'm a little crazy. But crazy in a good way.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

My Creative Space: Progress Report

I think Thursday--creative space day--is a good day to post on my progress on the handmade holiday front. But before I can truly get to the Christmas stuff, I have to finish the Halloween stuff, so that's first up.

My oldest wants to be Green Lantern for Halloween, and while we could purchase an already-made costume, that's not how we roll here (except three years ago when I was scheduled to have a baby 11 days before Halloween). Plus the Green Lantern costumes look kind of cheesy, with the big muscly chest. Plus, we rock the freezer paper stencils. That's his shirt after a second coat of white paint--we worked on the stencil and the first coat together, and I did a second coat while he was at school (and also cut the felt mask from our paper mock-up; it still needs elastic sewn on).

Here's the finished shirt. The paint snuck through in a couple of spots--the two coats began to wrinkle the stencil a bit.

Still, I think it looks awesome! Plus now he'll have another shirt to wear. He wore last year's Halloween t-shirt to school today--it's orange, and we ironed on letters to spell "Camp Half-Blood." (Confused? See here.) I still like that shirt.

As for the holiday stuff, I finished embroidering all the pine cones.

Hmm, I should have taken some close-ups. I used an iron-on transfer pen to transfer these, and despite the warnings on the package that these are permanent, the lines began to wear off. (The pattern,by the way, is this one; I chose it as my thank-you pattern for stitching up the snakes.) By the time I did the last one I was kind of fudging it, but who will know? Oh! Do you know the Y stitch? After I stitched two of these, it occurred to me to try the Y stitch for the needles and boy do I love it. Don't ask me which two in that picture use it; couldn't tell you. Even staring at them in person it takes me a minute. But even so, the Y stitch is perfect for these.

So I accomplished something! (And also thought of two more things I want to make, but nevermind that for now!)

You can find lots more creative folks here.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Handmade Holiday Plans: Two Months

Holy cow, do you realize Christmas is two months from today? Today!! My three-year-old gasped with delight when I said this out loud. In the hopes of creating some accountability, I'm going to share some of my plans for handmade gifts. If I get even some of this done, I'll be happy.

(But first of all, a reminder: if you want to make a lovely and simple Advent calendar that really doesn't take that long, you have plenty of time to make my wool felt countdown calendar, pictured to the left; the tutorial is here.)

So, I have the countdown calendar ready, at least! I've also begun some embroidery. I've stitched three of the four pine cones I transferred. The plan is to turn these into sachets with some pine needles inside. The first is pictured to the right there.They're all a little different, and I was making good progress until I got distracted by a completely frivolous knitting project. (That should be done soon and I'll share photos then!) These will go to family.

I also need loads of teacher gifts. When you add up the classroom teachers, aides, specials (PE, music, art), the people in the office who make things go, the speech therapist... it ends up something like a dozen or more. I have three pairs of my go-to Evangeline mitts already knit (not those three; one of those went to my niece, but I've since knit a white pair). Last year I gave a pair to each of the boys' teachers. Since my oldest has the same teacher this year, I only need one pair for a teacher. But I'd like to give a pair to the administrative whiz who actually runs the school, and another to the speech therapist, and probably one to the school nurse to round it out fairly, which means I need to knit another pair. By the time all my kids are out of that school I think I'll have knit everyone something...

But I also want to make some recycled books, similar to these, using all the paper, printed only on one side, that comes home from school. I've been saving it for a while now and, especially since I get lots of notices twice (sigh), I should have enough to make a notepad for every teacher/aide/etc. I want to fiddle with this basic recipe a bit, and hopefully post a tutorial, too.

Then there are these cute bookmarks we made for teachers at the end of last year (the how-to post is on my other blog here). My daughter loves bookmarks--she puts them in every book she gets her hands on--and she wants to make more, so I said we could make some in Christmasy colors and she could give them to extended family members. Who doesn't need a bookmark? We need about thirty, minimum, in our house.

Speaking of crafts with kids, I like when my kids can be involved in making something for family members, including their cousins. We want to make some recycled crayons in fun shapes for the two youngest cousins, so that's on the list too. I also saw this recipe, via Pinterest, to make a plasticy rubber from milk and vinegar. Knitters, you've heard of casein needles? Casein is milk protein. This, apparently, is how it gets out of milk and into something hard enough to knit with. I'm curious if we can use the same candy molds I bought for making crayons to make little plasticy figures to either play with or just to have. File this under Experimental Gift Ideas!

And since I have those candy molds, did you see Whipup's tutorial on making beeswax polish? There's a nice photo of some molded beeswax shapes along with a suggestion that you could use candy molds to make Christmas ornaments. We can buy beeswax at one of the famers' markets, although maybe I should tuck this idea away for next year. (I've been pinning whenever I see something likely.)

Source: Etsy
And then there's the stuff I'd like to make for the kids. My two youngest like to have handknit wool socks in their snow boots (who can blame them?). I still haven't sewn my daughter's butterfly/caterpillar pillowcase. I saw these adorable felt pretend envelopes on Etsy (via Pinterest) and I really do think I can make them myself--although Missprettypretty's shop has some beautiful things in it, go take a look. My daughter looks for mail for her every single day, and I think she'd love some pretend envelopes--I'm tempted to make detachable address labels and stamps, too.

Source: Etsy
Oh, and if you're looking for gift ideas, look what Wendi just put in her shop--kits to make embroidery pendants. I think these mini patterns would look really sweet on bookmarks, too. (This is just the flowers; she also has a geometric design set and a set of ladies. Go look.) I ordered a set, thinking I wanted the frames for something else I had in mind, but I might be too tempted to use these sweet patterns in them after all.

Sadly, that's just part of my want-to-make list. I have two  months. I'm going to work on posting something weekly--after Halloween. We'll see how it goes. Right now I need to cut a freezer paper stencil for one kid's Halloween costume and figure out a ribbon belt for the other. Thank goodness my sister gave my daughter a ladybug dress-up outfit for her birthday... all she needs for Halloween is black pants and a red shirt!

What's on your handmade holiday list?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Weekend Creativity

The weekend, as expected, was busy busy busy. But part of the busy was attending the parent/child art class my 7yo and I are taking at the Rhode Island School of Design Museum. He and I share a love of art-making and of art-looking, too, and it's been clear lately that he's needing some one-on-one Mama time. So this parent/child class seemed like a Very Good Idea. I'm there just as much for myself as for him, too. This weekend we got to do printmaking--YAY!--a very favorite activity for both of us.

But before we got busy printmaking, we went into the galleries to focus on a particular artwork, which is part of the class. This week we looked at a piece by Yinka Shonibare of three costumes; you can see a photo here on Flickr. It's hard to see the fabric closely through a photograph, but if you are a textile type, it's very interesting. As described in this Artforum article (PDF link), the fabric is influenced by Indonesian design, produced by the Dutch, who exported it to West Africa, where it was appropriated as African--but it's not. But so many people see this type of graphic and think of African fabric. (The artist is British, of Nigerian descent.) This Selvedge article (also PDF) talks more about the fabric choices. At any rate, as part of our observations, we made sketches. My son and I were both drawn to the circles in the fabric of the dress on the third figure, and I also sketched some of the background pattern.

I don't have pictures of everything we did back in the studio, because I was busy doing it. We visited three stations, where we got to play with the various items, and then we combined them on one larger sheet of paper, which will be used in the larger project we are working on. All of this is collaborative, between child and adult--at least, that's how we're approaching it!

Our final large piece incorporating all three methods.

At the first station we played with texture--a brayer wrapped with string and one with elastic, and some pieces of corrugated cardboard fashioned into stamps. We've played around with similar texture-making experiments at home, as well (such as here and here). The second station had spray bottles with liquid watercolors--my daughter would have been over the moon, since she loves using the spray bottle--along with some sponge brushes that just about everyone ignored and some paper towels for blotting. Thinking of TinkerLab's recent leaf relief activity, I started placing paper towels--some flat and some wadded--onto my paper to cover spots in between sprayings. My son and I used this same method to cover some spots on our final sheet before spraying, because we used the stamps first.

The stamps! The third station was carving our own stamps, something I love to do. They had a different carving block than I've used, I think this one, and I liked it quite a bit and may have to get some for myself. I consulted my sketches and created this stamp, inspired by the background pattern on one section of the third figure's skirt:

My son carved this one:

He carved it with the left here as the top. (Tilt your head to the left.)
He said this was a fire with eyes--I think he was inspired by the texture-print station, which had red and yellow ink. His textures began to resemble, he said, a fire. (He loves fire anyway. It goes with dragons. Although only seven, he has definite themes in his work!) There is something magical about printmaking, and about carving out a design, inking it up, and seeing how it looks. This reminded me that a stamp doesn't have to be something in particular, that a simple carved-out design looks wonderful when printed.

Hmm. What can I do with that?

(And so, as you can see, my busy weekend included some creative time after all--hurrah!)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday: Brown

Happy Friday, y'all. I wish I could report that my upcoming weekend held some time for sewing or painting (I have new watercolors I bought with birthday money a month ago, still untouched), but we are flat-out again both days, and I have a feeling it will be like that through the holidays. My craft supply procurement this week has been all about the Halloween costumes--I told the kids to figure out what they need to put their costumes together, and I'd hunt it down. I ended up buying three pairs of black pants, a black shirt, a red shirt, a green shirt, and white gloves, and I still need to find another green shirt, a Green Lantern ring, and some green ribbon for the prince's pants. The crafty tasks for this week are going to focus, I think, on helping the kids embellish their costumes.

But--back on task! Today is the final day of Autumn Colour Week. Perhaps because the colors are linked to seasons, or (probably) because of my own preferences, I tend to look for the colors in nature. These two pictures both were taken in my yard.

Oh look, a salamander! Did you know I love salamanders?! This is a red-backed salamander. He hangs out in the moist dirt under the happy Buddha statue in our front yard.

And this is a close-up of some sort of fungus growing on a tree stump in the side yard. To be honest, fungus isn't something I generally look at up close, but aren't those stripes beautiful?

Happy weekend, everyone! I hope yours holds some time for relaxing.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

"Grey Day. Everything is Grey."

("I watch, but nothing moves today." From My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss.)

View of the Newport Bridge from Jamestown
Today is Grey Day over at the Autumn Colour Flickr Group. And that is why I was so excited that yesterday's forecast called for rain, rain, and more rain. Wednesdays are also my day to cross Narragansett Bay on two bridges to go to my daughter's Music Together class. It was so grey yesterday that, much to her delight, the lights were lit on one of the bridges. (She is always hoping for a lit-up bridge, even on sunny days.) I, on the other hand, often grip the wheel tightly on even the calmest of days; I can't close my eyes over the bridges, like I did as a child, when I'm the one driving.

View of Narragansett Bay,  Jamestown
The views off the bridges are stunning no matter the weather, but of course I couldn't pull over and take pictures while crossing. Still, I pulled over several times during our trip back and forth and ended up with some photos I liked to add to the one grey picture I'd already taken, of a late afternoon sky in our backyard. (You can see all my Autumn Colour photos here.)

Worden's Pond, South Kingstown
I'm enjoying this exercise--anything that can make a grey, rainy day exciting is good. But I couldn't resist this shot of raindrops on Asiatic bittersweet--a shot of color in a grey, grey day.

Happy Thursday! I'll be back tomorrow with some lovely browns.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Yellow and Orange (& Hands)

Thank goodness for Autumn Colour Week, because the only crafty thing I've been doing lately is knitting, and while I think Hitchhiker is a terribly clever pattern, it's not very exciting to photograph in progress. So I'll share my favorite of my yellow (Tuesday) and orange (Wednesday) photos instead, with the caveat that I really think it's time for a digital SLR. I'm getting frustrated that I can't control the exposure, focus, and especially depth of field the way I want to. I learned on an SLR way back when in the Dark(room) Ages, and I'm sure I'll have to re-learn so, so much, because it's been so, so long. If anyone has suggestions on a good digital SLR, I'm all ears. I know I need to do some research. For instance, will my old lenses work with a digital? It would be so great if they did.

At any rate, photos! Yellow, in my backyard:

And Orange, in my front yard:

Part of what I enjoy so much about these color weeks is that I end up paying attention more, because I want the photos to be current. I think, once I get that digital SLR (Santa?), I'll be setting myself photo challenges. I've been better about not leaving my camera at home, too, which is why I'm sharing one last photo, not of a color, but of hands. (And again, I wish I'd had more control over lighting and focus here. Ah, well.)

Those are my grandmother's hands, a month short of 96 years, holding my daughter's hands, which will be three this week. They were singing together, and I wanted a photograph of their hands.

I hope you all are having a beautiful week! The next two colors are grey and brown, and oh, I've been finding some lovely browns. Can't wait to share them!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Red Leaves. (And Black Pumpkins.)

Today is for Red over at Autumn Colour Week. This is my favorite of the pictures I added:

I think this might be woodbine? Some sort of creeper, anyway. Sigh. I'm not really sure. I've mentioned before how hard field botany was for me, yes? It was so much information, presented in such a hodge-podge way, I never could keep it all in my head at once. I'm sure if I learned it in a logical way, more of it would have stuck. It all made me feel so stupid at the time. But, I know a pretty red autumn plant when I see one, anyway.

And I mentioned we'd have a couple of crafty items for my daughter's birthday party--not just her shirt. We also had chalkboard pumpkins for the kids.

The full post about these can be found at my kids-n-art blog here.

Happy Monday!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Coming Up: Autumn Colours Week

Poppytalk is hosting another seasonal colours week, this time for autumn colours. (I feel kind of bad that our Southern Hemisphere friends are left out; is anyone down there hosting a spring colours week anytime soon?) Here's the information from the site:

Please join us by uploading your beautiful fall colours to our Autumn Colours Week flickr pool.  I will post and favourtie heaps each day here on the blog in the process and the more the merrier if you care to do the same!  Here is the colour schedule:

Monday, October 17th - Red
Tuesday, October 18th - Yellow
Wednesday, October 19th - Orange
Thursday, October 20th - Grey
Friday, October 21st - Brown

Be sure to upload the next day's colour after 6pm Pacific only (and please no product or images you've uploaded to previous colour weeks). Come join! It'll be fun!
Around here, the experts tell us to expect less fall foliage colors than usual, because of Tropical Storm Irene at the end of August. Besides ripping down loads of leaves (and, um, trees), she sprayed a bunch of salt around, too. But just because the color isn't all over the place at the moment doesn't mean it's not there. There are flashes of orangey red that make me gasp, they're just so perfect. And the oak tree at the end of our driveway has deep, red leaves mixed in with the dried-up brown ones. We are maybe looking a little harder for the color right now (and who knows what it will look like later on? it's early yet), but it's there. I have to remind myself to watch the road when I'm driving instead of the trees!

Thursday I was just cranky, no other word for it, so after lunch I put my daughter in the stroller, grabbed my camera, and off we went, a right, a left, then a right down a less-traveled road (because cars go so fast in our neighborhood; it's good to duck down a quieter road). All the way to the end we went, rewarded with a pond on one side and a horse and two alpaca on the other. Along the way we stopped to take photos and collect leaves--and race the stroller, fast, through some puddles left over from the morning's rain--such fun for the girl! Over an hour later we were back, only slightly less cranky, alas, but with lots of photos, and leaves to press, too.

I plan to post some photos here, too, like I did with summer colours week, but since the list above doesn't include pink or green, I'll leave you with this photo of pokeweed getting all flashy for autumn.

I admit, I had to be dragged out of summer kicking and screaming. I'm still a little put out by the fact it's over, but I'll enjoy the final glorious shot of color we get before winter arrives...

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

3 (With a Crown) T-Shirt

I love freezer paper stencils. They're not new, but they're new to me, and what fun! Easy, too. I wanted to make my daughter a surprise shirt to wear on her birthday party day, and on her birthday, and all the year long. I had a simple design in mind: the numeral 3, topped with a crown. I sketched it small, then drew it larger until I was happy, then traced it onto the freezer paper. Cut carefully with a craft knife, iron it on, and paint.

I use Speedball Textile Screen Printing Ink for freezer paper stencils. It gives a nice sharp edge, and when you heat-set it, it sort of melts into itself, blending all the brush marks. I had to mix a pink myself, because I have the set of six basic colors, and it came out a bit more salmon-ish than true pink. But just LOOK at how cute this shirt is!!

(With my daughter's latest watercolors in the background, too!) If you were three, wouldn't you want to wear that shirt whenever it was out of the laundry? I sure would. I can't wait to show it to her. This took under an hour. I drew, cut, ironed, and painted, let it dry for a few hours, peeled off the stencil, let it completely dry overnight, and ironed it to heat set the next morning. So cute, and easy, too.

Go check out some more creative folks here!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Robot Jammie Pants (& Some Knitting)

I spent much of last week with a cold that left me even less enthusiastic than usual about sewing at night, but over the weekend I managed to finish the casing and hem my son's new jammie pants. Really, that doesn't take a lot of time. But I've realized that my favorite part of sewing pants is having sewn the pants. They have lots of seam allowances that need finishing. I don't like any part of making or sewing a casing. There's always a point at which I'm sure I've sewn them together the wrong way even though I've followed the directions--pants make my head hurt a little. And even the hems--leg cuffs are narrow enough that it's more slow-going than usual through the machine for me. But look--happy kid in new jammie pants:

What's not to love with robot jammie pants? I sewed these from a bought pattern, and if anyone is really interested I can look up which one. And truly, they're not difficult. I tried to get a little cute with how to tell the front from back and made a label by stamping my salamander stamp on some twill tape. I ended up hand-sewing it on, after I ironed the casing but before I sewed it.

It's crooked. By the time I realized it, I was ready to sew the casing. It takes me a really long time to iron and pin a casing and, well. I decided it was fine. They're jammie pants. Nobody outside of this house is going to see them, my son thinks it's really cool that he has a salamander tag on his pants, and I seem to be much more forgiving about my sewing mistakes than I am about my knitting errors. So the crooked tag stayed. I'll get better at it. This was my second try--I wanted to do this with my daughter's pants, too, but tried sewing it on by machine by zig-zagging over the edges, and the twill tape frayed and it fell off. (I settled for sewing some ribbon into the inside of the casing when I sewed up the hole for the elastic.) So by my third or fourth try I figure I'll get it just right.

I also finished my up-sized kerchief. (The first one I made went to my daughter.)

That looks much better. My 7yo (he of the new jammie pants) took the picture for me. I used the same pattern, just made the tie as long as I wanted it and picked up stitches along a longer bit of the tie, so I started with a wider base of the triangle. This was nice, mindless knitting, and when I was done with it (and the jammie pants), I popped onto Ravelry to find my next easy knit: Hitchhiker. (A symptom of this cold virus seems to be absolute, ridiculous fatigue. Garter stitch seemed about right.)

I plan to be back in a couple days with some progress shots of birthday doings--my daughter is turning three soon. We're having a small party, but there will be a little bit of craftiness involved.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Ada Lovelace Day: Rachel Carson

Ada Lovelace Day aims to raise the profile of women in science, technology, engineering and maths by encouraging people around the world to talk about the women whose work they admire. 
Mooncalf asked, via Twitter, which woman in science and technology was my heroine? I immediately replied Rachel Carson! Mooncalf wasn't sure who that was, so I'm once again departing from my usual creative-type posts to give a brief synopsis of why Rachel Carson is so important. (I could be very, very brief and say: Environmental Protection Agency.)
Rachel Carson was born in 1907 in Pennsylvania. She was a writer and a scientist, who began by majoring in English and then switched to biology. (I began in English, switched to wildlife biology--although in retrospect I wish I'd switched to pure biology or marine biology--and then later I went back for the English degree, too.) She was only the second woman to be hired by the US Bureau of Fisheries for a full-time, professional position. She used her writing skills to translate science for the general public, something that is entirely underrated and requires both the ability to understand the science and communicate it clearly and in an interesting way. (This is not a common skill set.) She went on to write full time, and her trilogy of sea books (Under the Sea-wind, The Sea Around Us, and The Edge of the Sea) was extremely popular.

She is perhaps best known, however, for The Silent Spring, which detailed the effects of DDT and similar pesticides to the food chain and the environment. The chemical companies, of course, tried to discredit her. She persisted. Eventually, DDT was banned, and according to Wikipedia, "the grassroots environmental movement the book inspired led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency."
Not incidentally, and important to those of us who are raising or helping to raise children today, Rachel's mother "bequeathed to her a life-long love of nature and the living world" (source link). Carson wrote a magazine article in the 1950s, "Help Your Child to Wonder," that was later published as The Sense of Wonder. Time and time again we hear that children do not learn to be environmentalists by being told of the planet's plight at school and picking up litter (or the like); those who grow up to be environmentalists are, more often than not, the ones who as children were allowed to explore the natural spaces around them. By playing in the woods, the streams, the salt ponds, by turning over rocks and finding salamanders, by holding a sea star in your hand after coming upon one in a tide pool--that is how a child grows up into an adult who cares about the world around him. The connection is so important, something I feel strongly about, too. 

I admire Rachel Carson because she fought, hard, for what she knew was right. Thanks to her, my children can hike to a salt pond and see ospreys. (Read more about the connection between DDT and osprey.) I admire her for loving what was around her and writing books about it so other people would love it, too. I admire her for being a pioneering woman in a man's field. And I admire her for the environmental legacy she bequeathed to the United States. (The organic section in my local Whole Foods? Probably doesn't exist without Rachel Carson's influence.)

Rachel Carson died in 1964 from breast cancer. (The injustice and irony in that--it's almost too much.)

You can find out more about Rachel Carson's life and influence here.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Learning to Knit

A couple of weeks ago, my oldest son's teacher sent out an email wondering if any of the parents knit. I laughed out loud. Yeah, um, a bit! I was really curious what she had in mind. It turns out that she's in possession of some learn-to-knit kits, and while she doesn't knit herself, she thought it would be a good option during the class's "choice" portion of the day. (Some kids meet with her one-on-one on a rotating basis; the rest have a choice of quiet activities. I'm not sure what they are, since my son always reads.) I agree; knitting is great quiet-time work, and keeping hands busy can help with concentration--the school knows this as well, and classrooms have a "fidget basket" with items the kids can borrow when they need something to occupy their hands.

Every school year I make sure my volunteering paperwork is in order, even though I haven't been able to do much directly with the students because of our youngest. I've met class field trips in the past, with my daughter along, but I can't be considered an "official" chaperone, and volunteering in the classroom hasn't been possible. I wasn't sure I could volunteer to teach kids to knit, but turns out my daughter is old enough now that she can tag along and it works out okay in certain situations. So yesterday we gave it a go for the first time. As long as the weather holds up, I can take a couple kids out to a picnic table, which means my daughter has room to roam without disturbing anyone. She didn't, though. She sat and watched and made sure I knew she wanted to knit, too.

When I began to teach my boys to knit (and they only sort of took to it, in varying degrees, but it's early in life yet, you never know), I started by having them chain crochet. With the two girls I had yesterday, I jumped right into knitting to see where they were at, figuring somebody might pick it up right away, but I had crochet hooks on hand. But after 25 minutes--that's all I get at a time!--I decided to backtrack today and have them get comfortable with the crochet hook, to get a feel for how to hold the yarn and how not to strangle the hook (or needle, when the time comes).

Yesterday, I asked if I could work with the same kids a few days in a row, because 25 minutes just isn't enough. So today I had one repeat and a new boy (the other girl was with the teacher today). By the end of the choice period, my repeat student was feeling much more comfortable chaining, and I'd backed the boy up to chain crocheting with his hands, showing him how his left hand is holding the yarn the same way it would if he was using a hook, so his hands are still getting the feel of keeping the tension steady. By the end, he was able to do it on his own, sort of. He told me he likes to knot bracelets, so I have no doubt his hands can learn this, too.

I think it's pretty neat so many students are interested in at least seeing what knitting's about, although I feel outnumbered--how can I possibly teach them all?! In such short increments! My daughter and I usually have nothing planned at that particular time of day, so we'll go as regularly as we can. I want to make the most of this opportunity to enable another generation of knitters.

I can't share any pictures of my school sessions, of course, even if I had a spare hand to take any, but I'll leave you with a picture of my and my daughter's hands. This isn't the first time she's knit in my lap. You can see she's holding both needles. She moves the right-hand needle into and out of the stitch; I wrap the yarn. And in this way, hands together, we knit.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Small Things (Knit and Sewn)

My expected bit of time for sewing this past weekend sort of disappeared--that's life, you know--so I ended up sewing a few evenings. This isn't my favorite or best time to sew, since I'm tired by then and it seems everything takes longer than it should. As a result, I'm not done with my son's robot jammmie pants (casing and hemming to go), but I did finish my daughter's pants.

I used the MADE tutorial for kid pants instead of a bought pattern, and I probably should have just used a toddler jammie pants pattern. Dana says in the post that her son is a skinny three-year-old, and since my daughter is a thin not-quite-three-year-old, I figured we'd be okay. I measured the pattern pieces against a pair of her pants and decided to cut. Well, I'm not crazy about the fit. I gave these a very narrow hem--I guess I have a tall and skinny not-quite-three-year-old--and I don't like how the back fit her. They seem too short between the crotch and the waist back there, and they don't quite stay up enough. Supposedly there's room for a diaper in there (which she hasn't worn in months and months), but I don't think so. But again, this is on me--the (free) tutorial doesn't come with a schematic, and I was too lazy to sketch one out for myself from the pattern pieces and seam allowance. So we end up with sort-of-good-enough pants that will fit this year.

All that said, I think this fabric makes really cute pants! It's left over from our first set of mother-daughter skirts, and I think it looks quite mod as pants. My husband says they remind him of the Scooby-Doo van. There's definitely a 60s-70s vibe with these pants! And even though she keeps hitching up the waist in the back (sigh), my daughter likes them too.

She was also the surprise recipient of my most recent knitted thing, a kerchief for my long, curly, out of control hair. I'm totally fine with using the pirate-patterned bandanas I find in the dress-up basket, but I thought knitting a nicer one would be a good use of some beautifully soft sock yarn that would just get ruined on my feet. So I wound the skein of Ewe Give me the Knits merino/silk yarn that Kate sent me--after she dyed it herself--and knit the Purl Bee Summer Kerchief. It came out exactly the size the pattern said it would, and I tried it on and decided it was smaller than what I wanted. (Again, would it kill me to use a tape measure BEFORE I begin a project?)

However, it is the perfect size for my tall, thin, almost-three-year-old:

(Those pants she's wearing? Size 12-18 months. They still fit her waist. She won't give 'em up. I know they're short.)

The kerchief is ridiculously soft and a beautiful purple and there's enough yarn for me to make a larger one for myself, and really, all I did was knit these in reverse, because she'd already asked me if I was knitting this for her, so if I was happy with mine, I'd just be downsizing it for her. Now I'm upsizing for me. It's all the same in the end--except she gets the kerchief first.

No sewing for me tonight--last night I was so tired I almost drank the iron instead of my coffee. I will, though, be casting on for another kerchief. I've even done some measuring first this time!