Monday, November 30, 2009

It's Beginning to Look a Lot...

Like Christmas!

This is the month, and this the happy morn, Wherein the Son of Heaven's eternal King, Of wedded maid and virgin mother born, Our great redemption from above did bring, For so the holy sages once did sing, That He our deadly forfeit should release, And with His Father work us a perpetual peace.

~ John Milton

Saturday, November 28, 2009

scenes from a Thanksgiving holiday

::pajama-clad children on Thanksgiving morning::

::making the centerpiece candles for the children's table::

::admiring their candlemaking::

::butter, made by the children, for our Thanksgiving rolls::

::wonderful stick candles for the grown-up table::

::enjoying the feast::

::after-dinner games::

::drinking mulled apple cider through a cinnamon stick::

::fairies dancing in the yard::

::cute little babies, doing their cute little things::

Hoping your weekend was wonderful too...

Friday, November 27, 2009

Handmade Fridays - Joyful Gifts

My friend, Jenni, of Joyful Gifts, came to town for Thanksgiving this weekend and hand delivered a custom made blanket and some wine bags from her lovely shop. Finn will be starting Montessori school in January and needed a naptime blanket for school, and this adorable Alexander Henry fire engine print blanket with it's soft minky underside will be well-loved as a naptime blanket, I'm certain.

Joyful Gifts also sells these beautiful, lined wine bags in both fun and sophisticated prints.

I also just had to add, especially since I missed WIP Wednesday, that I was finally able to give out the group of hats I worked on for several weeks.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thankfulness, Day 3

Today, the day before Thanksgiving, I'm thankful for our friends, who traveled far and wide (from DC and Ireland) to spend Thanksgiving with us. My best friends from childhood (age 9, actually) are here with their families to show their thankfulness with us. How thankful I am right now for their friendship and willingness to come see us for this holiday weekend!

...and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother. ~Prov 18:24

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thankfulness, Day 2

Thankfulness, Day 2 falls on my 400th post, and I can't think of a better way to celebrate 400 posts than to express my thankfulness for my family. They are, after all, the reason for my blog.

I am thankful...

for the one with boundless energy,

for the one with never-ending creativity,

for the slightly melancholic, but oh-so-sensitive one,

for the joyful baby, whose smile never fails to light up the room.

As a side note:

Elizabeth snapped this photo tonight, an expression of Finn's thankfulness. Peas and carrots dipped in plain greek yogurt sounds good to you too, no?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thankfulness, Day 1

::rain that came today instead of later this week when there will be 15 people staying at our house::

::yummy, healthy dinners, like spinach lasagna with fresh mozzerella::

::Paulie's class field trip to Grandfather Mountain tomorrow::

[photo by]

::a husband who cleans the kitchen; seriously, every night::

::for this week that encourages us to slow down and remember what we have to be thankful for::

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Friday, November 20, 2009

On schooling...

When it came time for Elizabeth to start kindergarten, we deliberately chose a local arts-based education charter school in our area for the type of hands-on, arts-integrated education that we knew would mesh well, not only with our family, but with her style of learning and personality. I am frequently amazed with how this is accomplished at her school, and I always enjoy reading the column in her weekly school newspaper, "How We Do It and Why". Even when the column is not directed at what her grade is learning, it's insightful to see how and why they choose the activities and education methods that are integrated into the curriculum. It just so happens that the following does pertain to Elizabeth's grade, and we're very excited to see the product of all their hard work:

The three evil ladies circle around, hissing “Tamino and Papageno, run away! They will kill you if you stay!” The prince folds his arms and turns silently away. But the birdcatcher, Papageno, leaps into the air, arms flailing, and squeals “I don’t want to do this!” In that moment of fear, he breaks his vow of silence.

After acting out this little scene, the third graders sit on the floor in front of the mini-stage. The teacher asks “What did the ladies do? How did they move? How did the prince respond?” They review what they have observed, and literally run to their desks to write down the details and the dialogue. “The prince nodded his head and stood tall,” they write. When that one is finished, they dash back to the classroom stage to act out the next scene. When we simply remind young writers to “use details”, they get writer’s block. What details? Green? Very green? Acting out a scene from Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” helps them discover and observe details. “How did you know he was serious?” asks the teacher. “He pointed his finger and used a big voice!” the children answer. When we use acting to investigate a familiar and engaging story, we enact the details instinctively. When we immediately write them down, and then return for another scene, we remain engaged, excited, and focused. We know the story because we have listened to parts of the opera in music. We have “gone shopping” in a mini [school] fabric shop where we compared and selected fabrics for costuming our puppet characters. We studied the art and symbolism of ancient Egypt, in preparation for designing our backdrops and costumes. On Wednesday, we visited the elaborate 2-story murals of John Biggers at WSSU, noting his incorporation of those same Egyptian symbols into his work.

The students will perform their original puppet version of Mozart’s opera...joined by three professional musicians: flautist Lisa Ransom, pianist Robert Rocco, and tenor Glenn Siebert. Stepping into this great work of musical art and using it as a vehicle to make visual connections between ancient Egypt, the Europeans of the 18th century, and a great contemporary African-American artist in America makes an enormous impression on the young psyche. We are not so very far away from one another over the centuries.

~ Mary Siebert, arts curriculum coordinator

Handmade Fridays - Nature Baby Knits

One of the things I miss most about the diapering stage is all the cute cloth diapers and woolie bottoms Finn used to wear. By far my favorite woolie bottoms of his were made a friend and WAHM, Heather, who used wool that I purchased on our trip to Ireland. The wool I brought her wasn't the softest, but oh, she made them look so lovely, and I wool-washed and lanolized them to death until Finn could wear them comfortably.

Finn, 22 months

Heather, also a doula and midwife-in-training, sells through Universal Mama collective on hyenacart and at a local monthly indie market. She also sells these adorable monsters, designed by her oldest daughter, that make fantastic stocking stuffers.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Santa Hat for kids pattern

When I first started hat knitting back in the summer, one of my first thoughts was that a Santa hat would be a fun knit. Unfortunately, I've been unable to find the exact hat I wanted to knit, especially in a kids size. I blended a few patterns I found, and did a little bit of my own thing, to make, what I hope, is a simple Santa Hat pattern for kids. Hopefully, someone else will find it useful too. :)

Children ages 5-12

Size 9 US 16 inch circular needles
Size 9 US double pointed needles
50 grams worsted weight alpaca yarn in white/off white
75 grams worsted weight wool yarn in red

With white alpaca and circular needles, CO 80 sts. Join being careful not to twist.
Begin knit 2, purl 2 rib and continue for 3.5 inches

Change to red wool and knit in St st for 4 inches.
Begin dec rows as follows (when diameter gets too small for circular needles, change to the double pointed needles).
*K8, k2tog; rep from *
Knit 4 rows
*K7, k2tog; rep from *
Knit 4 rows
*K6, k2tog; rep from *
Knit 4 rows
*K5, k2tog; rep from *
Knit 4 rows
*K4, k2tog; rep from *
Knit 5 rows
*K3, k2tog; rep from *
Knit 5 rows
*K2, k2tog; rep from *
Knit 5 rows
*K1, k2tog; rep from *
Knit 5 rows
K2tog until 8 st remains
Knit 5 rows and fasten off.

Make a white alpaca Pom-Pom (this method works well) and attach.

I really like the way this hand-dyed red wool ended up with the slightest color variation. It lends a bit of texture and interest to the hat. The alpaca trim keeps the softest fiber on the forehead and ears where wool hats are likely to itch little noggins.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Froggy Banquet & WIP Wednesday

Last week, about 2 days into our torrential rains, we discovered that Philip's beanbag frog, which had been the subject of several manhunts (or is that froghunt?) over the last few days, was sitting in the backyard atop the play structure. I sadly informed the kids that when beanbag frogs get left outside in the rain, it's generally death to the poor froggy. When he was finally retrieved during a break in the rain, they saw that the poor froggy was bursting at the seams, quite literally, with sprouted beans. Philip was briefly sad, but his sister immediately set to work finding the exact same fabric in our scrap stash and cutting out a new froggy friend.

When the frog was sewn together and stuffed with non-sprouting beans, Elizabeth decided a celebratory banquet was in order. Yummy felted food for all! She wanted a dinner candle for their silky table (yet another use for last week's rainbow cape), as has become our autumn/winter dinnertime custom, but mommy had to inform her that open flames on silky tablecloths on the carpet are probably not the safest combination, especially with a 2.5 year old brother on the loose. She quickly came up with an alternative solution with a few pieces from Paulie's Snap Circuits kit, including the small lightbulb.

Grilled cheese and tea! Yum!

As for WIP Wednesday, I'm now finished with Paulie's Christmas blanket, save tucking in a few loose strings. Yay! I think I only have one or two small items left to work on for my handmade Christmas.

I'm also more than half-way done with Finn's scarf. I was thinking of possible adding an embroidered detail, maybe out of wool felt, to either end. Ideas?

Over the last few months, I was thinking it might be fun to have a knitted Santa hat for the kids to play around with during December, but couldn't find a pattern that I liked and also thought would work well with natural fibers. I found this white baby alpaca yarn and hand-dyed red wool at a destash sale so I'm kind of winging my own version of a Santa hat. If it works in actuality as I'm envisioning, I'll post the pattern.

Same story for this prototype of a Christmas bell ornament. I'm not quite finished with it, but if it works, I'll post a pattern for it as well. :)

I'm loving all this Christmas and winter knitting! What are you crafting right now?