Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Happy Birthday, V

Today, we're celebrating Miss Kinder's best friend's birthday.

After school there is cake planned, and before school there were popsicles for breakfast. After all, V is six!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The View From Here

I found my camera. The culprit was a pile of crafty things I stashed away, of course. Works in progress. Under the felt was some fabric, which had some embroidery under it, which had some origami under it, which was covering the camera. Tsk, tsk. 

Here were some pictures I found on the camera of what we'd been up to on the day leading up to our visitors. 

New journals for the girls to write in. LEB chose blue, Miss Kinder went with pink, and Miss Kinder's best friend V went with red.

Socks for my own two feet. Miss Kinder took this picture, and about ten others of me in various places in the living room, knitting socks. 

Early morning bubbles on the porch. 

Friday, April 24, 2009

DIY Kits I Need

There is no end to the ways to DIY. Every angle of my life now seems focused through this lens, and I have mountains of enthusiasm, good doses of patience and moderate skills in some of the areas. Here is a roundup of what's on my hope-to-do list. Do any of you have experience in any of these? Am I biting off way more than I can chew? Wait, don't answer that last one! 

Don't forget, any of these would make lovely Mother's Day gifts for those crafty mamas we all know and love. Happy weekend, everyone. We're sailing into the 70 degree area here in coastal Maine, with plenty of sunshine to go around.

Celebrate Etsy Day Today

Today is Etsy day! Support a local crafter/artist, or a faraway one who makes something really lovely.

You don't need a reason, but there is always someone's birthday or Mother's Day, or a spring skirt that needs making. If you need more ideas, here's a link to all my Etsy posts

Missing camera

When you are having guests, sometimes that dash of cleaning leads to problems. Like how my camera is completely lost. I've issued a reward to all children in the house. Even that has not managed to help the camera surface. So this explains my lack of blog posts. Hopefully it worms its way out from wherever it is and I can post again with abandon. I have lots to share!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Hedgies, take two

Lots of my friendly visitors arrive here on skipthechips via my February Power Animal of the Month post on that wonderful animal that is the hedgehog. I looked back at that post and found it a little lackluster, so here is a proper PAOTM roundup on that snuzzly-but-pokey furball.  

Knitting, Sewing and Dusting Off the Blog

Holy cow, what a week! We had two sets of old friends visit, back-to-back, and did a lot of catching up and making meals and drinking wine. One set came all the way from London, and the other from our old stomping grounds, NYC.

While they were here, three of them learned how to knit! It was fun to show them some of the very basic basics, and then make a trip to Belfast's local yarn shop [where all of April the sock yarn is 20% off! This picture is from their website] 

Everyone did some knitting and playing around, and the star pupil cast on 48 stitches, divided them onto three double pointed needles, and did the first inch of a 2x2 rib for a socks. How amazing are you when your first knitted project is a sock?

I also learned about a new-to-me website,, which came up randomly three different times. It is a knitting community site, I gather, and I hear it's addictive. Nothing can be worse than my sock addiction, which at sock number 10 is nearing intervention time. 

I have a yard of Alexander Henry Juicy Lemon fabric and have in mind to have Miss Kinder whip up Angry Chicken's 5-minute skirt. I think it will take slightly longer by her five year old hands, but the end result should be well worth it.

It feels good to be back! I missed you!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Swap-CHOO! Results

I am fairly certain my hankie has landed in Vancouver, so I'm going to unveil what I sent for our Swap-CHOO handmade hankie swap. It was such a fun exchange, and I loved thinking about the 14 of us stitching up a tiny and sweet handmade item. A hankie seems both practical and romantic, and I'm hard-pressed to come up with another item you can say that about.

I embroidered a dandy red bike on it for my swap partner, Holly, who I learned from her blog has a lovely red bike that gets her all around. And, of course, the fabric came from Alewives (check out their site, because it's all redone and so beautiful!)

On the poem front, I considered ignoring the fact that I write poetry because I felt sort of shy about it. When it came time to put pen to paper, it felt super genuine to go ahead. I chose one from last year, one I wrote for a Valentine's Day poetry contest here in Belfast which landed me 3rd prize.

Check out our Swap-CHOO! Flickr pool for pictures of all the great hankies swapped so far.

Needle Felted Weekend

Someone suggested that the girls use a chopstick to hold the felt down while poking with a needle into the felt, and it was brilliant! 

We had a wooly weekend, making little animals and jewelry with the roving wool. 

To make the ring, I cut a small strip of felt that would fit around the ring finger and poked a small tuft of roving wool at the seam to join it. 

But the little nest/bowl is my favorite, because it reminds me of these sweet nesting bowls on Etsy. I think I will make a couple more in larger sizes to go with this one that is being used temporarily as a nest. 

With Easter behind us we are on to planting and cleaning up in preparation for spring, learning to ride without training wheels, and having friends come stay for the week. I will try to keep posting, but there is a chance I get spotty as the week goes on and people arrive from Tuesday through Saturday. Rest assured, I am staying crafty and snapping photos all the while!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Needle Felting Kids Drawings

Inspired again by Lisa at 5 Orange Potatoes, Miss Kinder and I decided to make felt bracelets from two recent animal drawings. We followed Lisa's tutorial with one exception -- we used roving wool for the insides and did some needle felting! 

Disclaimer: The felting needle is super duper sharp. This activity involves poking a sharp needle in and out of the roving wool and requires concentration. Probably you shouldn't let your nearly six year old do this. But I did. I watched her like a hawk and her temperament has always been careful and not impulsive. I know I wasn't much older than six before I was using a pocketknife and learning to whittle sticks. I'm done with my disclaiming now.

We cut the felt bracelet shape out and I embroidered the outline of her animal onto the felt. Then she chose the colors and we pulled out small tufts of dyed wool and began to poke the needle through them and into the felt. The fibers of the wool poke through the felt and sort of hook onto each other, and you get a lovely wooly color block. 

The more you poke, the more the wool flattens down and takes shape. You can use the needle to shape the wool, being sure to go carefully. Once I got the basic color down, I let Miss Kinder take over the poking, so she could do some.

They came out really cute, and were sent out as small gifts to some loved ones. In a couple of years, she'll be needle felting without supervision and who knows what she'll come up with!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Drawing with Kids: Still Life

Miss Kinder tried her hand at drawing a still life. Even at five years old she was able to sit for a good amount of time and concentrate on her lines and trying to make the picture the way she wanted it. She loved picking out objects for her picture and arranging them on the table. 

At first she thought it would be better to choose items she thought would be "easy" so she picked a green mug, a rubber ball and a penny -- but then she spied the shell and the cactus and swapped them. After she finished her drawing she realized the mug wasn't so easy after all.

Setting up a still life couldn't be more easy. Have your child pick out a few interesting objects and arrange them on a flat surface. Set up your child with paper and a pencil. I tried playing some soft music for her, but she immediately told me that she couldn't concentrate, so maybe quiet is better. Then, let them do the rest!

In other news, Belfast, Maine appears to be officially unsnowy! We have mud! No more of this beautiful stuff, hopefully, for seven months!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Many Millions of Free Sock Patterns

I just found this and have to share. Of course I'm already holding the skein for my next pair of socks, and I'm looking for a new pattern. And look what I found!

She has links to every kind of sock you could think of. I'm already bookmarking these three for next projects. Can you tell which one is for me, Miss Kinder and LEB? 

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Half a Pair

One sock, done! My Other Half tried it on and said it actually feels like a sock! On to the match!

In addition to all the tips I gave you in this post, I highly recommend that any of you starting your first pair of socks watch this series of YouTube videos. She has a very soothing voice which she uses to give you careful explanations of each step, and I watched these several times when I got to a new part of the sock that I couldn't quite be sure about from reading only the pattern.

The most exciting part, as I'd heard from many others, was turning the heel. That's where the sock formally began to look like one, and it was thoroughly encouraging to go on from there. I had a couple parts where I could see that I had clearly made some sort of mistake in counting stitches, and I dutifully undid my work and redid it. The thing about knitting a sock is that you want it to feel good, and you want it to look good. Both these points make fixing mistakes important.

Which reminds me that one of the greatest lessons I had on knitting was from the blazingly talented fiber artist Linda LaBelle. Three hours on how to fix mistakes and how to differentiate between ones that can be fixed without undoing your work from the ones that cannot. 

If you want to brush up on your mistake-fixing skills, CrazyAuntPurl has a great post on fixing knitting mistakes of all kinds. And good old YouTube has a great set of videos on fixing mistakes, which is my best way of learning just about anything. 

Please post a comment and let me know if you are working on a sock, and show me how it's going!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Power Animal of the Month: Octopus!

I don't want you to miss a moment of April Octopus Fever so I'll get right to it.  

Some octopus facts:
*  These invertebrates have the incredible ability to hide in plain sight
*  They can also detach an arm if need be, and it will regrow in 6-8 weeks
*  Studies have shown that they have both a short-term and long-term  memory
* A baby octopus is pretty darn small. Newly born ones are the size of a flea
* The octopus has three hearts, which sounds both complicated and romantic.

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