Category Archives: baby things

March

And now it is March. Mid-March!  I just can’t keep up! Constant doings, in constant motion. I  thought older kids were supposed to be less work??? What they lack in hands on parenting needs, they sure make up for in administrative work. I’ve spent the last several weeks putting together portfolios of work for every subject that Iain studied in his first two years of high school, so that he can earn all the credits he needs in order to graduate.  I think the scanner is starting to make my brain vibrate.  And all of the paper work!  Forms for end of year dance recitals, forms for the prom, permission slips for outings, registration for 4H events, for school next year, for chess competitions, forms, forms, forms.  One of my favorites?  The back up emergency contact form.  In the event that something happens to my child, while doing his lessons, under my roof, with me present.  For when he finds himself in some sort of dire situation that his teachers on the other side of the state are aware of, but somehow I, in the same building with him, am not.  And somehow they can not contact me…. or Steve-either at work or on his cell phone.  I can’t really formulate a scenario where this would happen, perhaps some sort of crazy hostage situation?  But man, when it all goes down, calling my father, several states away, will help tremendously.

And on the subject of urgent situations, I whipped up some emergency throw pillow covers.  No thought, no planning, just grabbing fabrics at random; old flannel shirts, scraps of linen, pieces of an ill-fitting pillow case and stitching away.  I know you are all thinking, “Melody, there is no such thing as a throw pillow cover emergency.”  And I’m here to tell you that there is!  I won’t go into all the gruesome details, you are just going to have to trust me on this one.

Some little person (I hear she’s actually a snow angel) has a birthday coming up very soon!  Much making and planning under way…

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Avocado Pink

“God gave you a mind.  It is your job to use it.  And use it properly.  Do not waste it on negative thoughts or greedy desires.  If you focus your mind and use it wisely, you can achieve anything in this lifetime.  Healing is in your hands, not another’s.” ~Katina Makris quoting her father

A little while ago I dipped some Andes del Campo into the dye pot with avocado pits to make some special yarn for my pink obsessed little one.  It turned the palest of pearly pink-peach, a wonderfully pretty shade.

And this week I knitted it up into a cozy balaclava for woodland hikes and winter outings.  It’s a little late in the season for such a project, but she had suddenly outgrown her warmest hats and a quick, easy knit sounded satisfying.  I over blocked it a bit, but happily she will have plenty of room for next year.

Can you tell from her face that it’s mud season?

I’m currently reading Autoimmune Illness and Lyme Disease Recovery Guide: Mending the Body, Mind, and Spirit.  It’s probably not for everyone, but much of it resonates with me and this library copy I have here is full of little slips of paper marking pages with information that I want to look into further or things I wish to remember or implement.

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SaveOh, and meet Persephone the lamb, our very newest neighbor!

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Advent Blur

Another old post that has been sitting around, waiting to be finished, for ages now…

“My heart always needs beautiful Christmas.” ~Seraphina Violet Juliette, age 2

Everywhere we go it’s like Christmas cards come to life; snow covered, candle lit, evergreen trimmed New England countryside.

I listen to podcasts on minimalism while working on absurdly intensive projects and smirk to myself over the perversity.

My children are obsessed with holiday diffraction glasses.  They have come to expect gingerbread men everywhere.

Butter Tarts.  My word!  THE official holiday treat of the 2016 season.

She calls our advent wreath a nest, a belief that is probably reinforced by our forever tucking feathers into it.

I keep making her the same booties, over and over again, because I love them so much.  Each time I just alter the pattern to be larger and now call them slippers instead- this time in a festive bright red.

When the Papa Bear was too ill to take us for our Christmas tree, our newly licensed man cub stepped up.  It’s a brave new world and him a star in it.  He did brilliantly on his exam, plus bonus style points.  The examiner said that in 13 years, he’s never before had a kid show up with actual driving gloves on.  ahem.

In the children’s room at the library one day, the only other person present is watching me out of the corner of her eye with awe, or perhaps like I’m crazy- I’m really too preoccupied to discern which, as I scan the shelves looking for just the right books while simultaneously reciting Goodnight Moon from memory to Seraphina as she turns the pages.  Clearly not a mother of many.  A head pops around the stack, “Mommy, who wrote the Pippi books?” “Astrid Lindgren dear….and a comb and a brush and a bowl full of mush and a quiet old lady who was whispering ‘hush’…”.  Galen returns, arms stretched straight down with a stack of books balanced up to his chin.  “Ten, ten, ten, you may get ten books and no more.”  He plots and schemes with Mairi and between them they agree to get several books that they both want to read to make the most of their limit.  A woman by the door asks if we’re getting them by the pound.  I explain that there are only this many because I put a limit on them.  She thinks I mean that I used some kind of reverse psychology to convince them to get books.  I don’t really know what to say to that.  The librarian behind the counter quietly giggles a bit and overrides the system restriction, which we’ve now managed to go over again.  She knows us and she understands.  She was a child like this once.  I don’t get kids who don’t read.  I don’t get people who don’t read.

Every time he comes on stage she jumps up and screams, “Iain!  It’s Iain!  There’s Iain!”  And no amount of begging, pleading, cajoling or popping dried fruit in her mouth at just the right time can stop her.  On the way home I wonder, is this our last year of being the family with the disruptive young child?  Maybe it will be so for one year more?  Either way we are growing away from certain phases in life and while certain things will surely be easier, it’s a strange feeling to know these days a numbered.  Days that are too busy and too loud and too stressful and too beautiful to comprehend.

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Little Autumn Wardrobes

I’ve been sewing up a storm all season.  The girls were in need of cool weather clothing and I’ve been slowly filling out their wardrobes.  These are from early in the autumn.

Seraphina’s wee over-alls were sort of based on this pattern, with a whole lot of changes, except for the elastic flutter straps which I kept exactly the same.  Over-alls are wonderfully warm and practical for toddlers in so many ways, only not so much when it comes to independent potty use.  At those times they can be greatly frustrating.  Elastic straps are the perfect solution.

I made these using leftover fabric from my luna pants and she is the coziest and cuddliest of little sweet loves in them.

I bought this woodland print jersey to make Mairi Rose a dress for her birthday last year, but never got around to it.  There was enough of it that I managed to eek out both a simple tunic for her (at her request) and a little dress for the Violet Girl.  Both patterns were self-drafted.  Their leggings were made from an old velour maternity dress of mine.

Also shown: Seraphina’s Lil Shepherd and Mairi’s old Blackberry Beret (the original, very first prototype for that pattern!). The beret came out of storage with a small hole and since I’m all about the artistic mending these days, I needle felted violet flourish over it before passing the hat on to it’s new owner.

More details on Seraphina’s Gilipeysa sweater….I reinforced with the sewing machine before cutting the steeks instead of the crochet method which I used last time and found nerve-racking.  I like this way every-so-much better and no longer feel the need to avoid steeked projects. Yay!  I covered the steek ends with some sweet vintage trim.

And on the subject of Halloween costumes in later use, apparently Mairi’s work just as well for Seraphine….

Who knew?

p.s. I know that some of you have been patiently waiting for the release of my lace bonnet pattern.  It is ready to go out to test knitters and I actually have several ready made ones to go into my shop as well, but with the holidays I didn’t think people would want to focus on test knitting, and thought it would be best to put it out there in the New Year.  But it is coming.  I promise.  And hopefully the kitty bonnet will follow soon after.

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Halloween: Part 2

Mary Poppins: Practically perfect in every way!

When I saw that she was looking for something more tailored, I inwardly sighed at all of the work ahead of me for something that wasn’t likely to get much wear.  Then it occurred to me that I was planning on making her a new winter coat.   Two birds, one stone, and all of that, I made her a wool coat for Halloween.  All except for the buttons and button holes, because the button hole stitch on my machine outright refuses to work properly.  I’m pretty sure it’s a conspiracy.

I’ve had a really hard time finding good quality coats for the kids.  They mostly seem to be either ridiculously expensive or ridiculously insufficient.  Girls’ coats are the worst, with the focus being more on fashion than warmth.  We can’t do thrifted ones, because it’s almost impossible to get the chemical smells out.  This whole “puffer coat” trend has not worked for our family either.  We’ve had several coats get a little too close to the wood stove or snagged on a protruding twig.  Turns out they don’t really work well once all of the stuffing falls out.

When we moved to this area, 14 years ago, my regular winter coat was on it’s way out, but I had a wool overcoat that had previously been used for only work and special occasions.  I figured I might as well wear it out, since I wouldn’t have much cause for dressing up.  Much to my surprise, it still looks exactly as it did when I got it, nearly 20 years ago now.  I just occasionally brush the mud off.  Now the kids are surely harder on their outerwear than I am.  But I’ve done a great deal of gardening, hiking, Christmas tree lugging and so forth in that coat and it’s still going strong.  I thought it was worth seeing how it would work out for the kids.  It’s an experiment of sorts.

For the pattern I used Burda Style’s Girls Dress Coat 12/2012 #156.  I often like their sense of style, but find some of their directions confusing.  I’ve used a couple of their patterns in the past and I would be hesitant to use them again; too troublesome.

The main fabric is a heavy woolen coating.  I quilted two layers of batting to the lining inside.  We’ll see how it holds up!

With this costume we also made a new skirt to double duty. helping to fill out her autumn wardrobe as well.

When it was decided that she was to be a “baby kitty” for Halloween, she told me I must be a “mama kitty” and of course it’s impossible to say no to such a sweet face as that.

I had talked myself out of knitting her a sweater for Halloween.  But, while in Pennsylvania, I whipped through my allotted travel knitting much faster than expected, leaving me with nothing for the ride home, which I feared would render me a threat to myself and others.  A quick pop in to the craft store, where I managed the best I could yarn-wise, and this little sweater was well under way after-all. I’m very glad of it too, because really she needed a new sweater; all of the hand-me-downs being in pretty poor shape at this point.

The pattern is Gilipeysa, converted from a lace weight yarn to a worsted weight.  The bonnet pattern is my own and will be available for purchase at some point.  The bonnet and cream part of the yoke are Knitpicks Reverie in Natural (on sale right now!).  I believe the other two yarns are Patons Classic Wool in ‘Grey Mix’ and ‘Natural Mix’.  Sadly, the colors don’t show well in these pictures.

And that finally puts an end to Halloween!

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The Handcrafted Wardrobe: Just for Fun

I’m somewhat at a loss.  I had planned what I wanted to say, but nothing went as planned, right down to these very pictures I’m sharing.  And really I just want to have a little temper tantrum and kick my feet and scream.  But, since I’m a big girl (but really mostly just because I don’t want to wake the baby) I fixed myself a cup of relaxing tea, put on some classical guitar music and took a great many deep breaths instead.

How my dress came about: Someone was giving away a couple of vintage floral sheets.  I snapped them up telling the lady how I make dresses out of this sort of thing, while Steve simultaneously talked about all of the other fabric I already have in a pointed sort of way.  I/we all have been having a really rough couple of months (years/life).  On a whim I decided for sanity’s sake to do something completely frivolous to break up the funk.  It was a two part plan: Find a way to go out alone for a few hours with my husband on his birthday and make a new dress to wear for said occation.  I figured this huge swath of free fabric was my one chance to indulge my dramatic side in making a really, really full skirt.  I can be wearing the dress, grab a fistful of fabric on each side, raise my hands up over my head, and still be completely covered.  The skirt is that full.  I completed the dress exactly two weeks after his birthday.

How her dress came about: She made several comments about wanting a dress made with the “beaufufull” flowers.  I made several frazzled, distracted comments about wanting to pair that fabric with an old pattern I had, but not being sure when I would find the time.  Elijah looked at the pattern, looked at the fabric, looked at his sister, and went and made her a dress.

For my dress I paired the Princess Bodice and the Box Pleat Circle Skirt patterns from Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Book: A Modern Guide to Sewing Fabulous Vintage Styles, with an improvised, home-made crinoline for underneath.  Seraphina’s dress is McCall’s 3809 from 1972 I think.

I think I owe it to myself to say that that dress was a whole lot of work.  Obviously, it is rightfully going to be over-shadowed by toddler cuteness and brotherly love.  It looks simple, but it. was. a. lot. of. work.  And I thought I should at least do myself the honor of recognizing that.

And it was all really in vein because I can’t think where I would possibly wear it.  If anyone is planning on hosting a fancy garden party, do give us a call.

 

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Lil Shepherd in the Rain

In an otherwise dry summer, I feel as though we’ve had a whole season’s worth of rain over the last week.  There were points when I was convinced that the entire house was just going to bob up and float away.  I would lie in bed at night in semi-consciousness listening to the torrent all around me and get the impression that I myself was being washed away.  In a way I kind of adored it.

I made Seraphine a Lil Shepherd vest a couple of weeks ago when I needed a break from tiny sock needles and thin fiddly sock yarn for bitty socks.  She likes the vest (I think it’s the pom-poms) and the socks, which is a huge boon for me because more and more often lately she’s been telling me that woolen items are not soft and that they “hurt”.  She’s very fickle.  There are some items that I consider rough, but she accepts without question and others that are soft as can be and she turns her nose up at them!  Very frustrating for a mama-knitter.  It seems to help for her to see me knitting them.  She always wants to know what I’m making and who it’s for.  Then there is a build up of excitement about this special bit of clothing just for her.  I think that may have been the saving grace of the vest and socks.

I just started reading A Circle of Quiet by Madeleine L’Engle.  I can’t remember who recommended it?

The salad above is kale with chicken, avocado, black olives and that vegetable cheese I’ve been making (it’s similar to this, but we have our own way of doing it).  That was nice, but I’m terribly disgruntled about food in general lately and sick to death of everlasting elimination diets, which I’ve been on various variations of for the better part of 16 years now.  And I just seriously need a big long vacation from the whole darn thing.  Unfortunately, vacations from eating don’t tend to work out well.  I know there are plenty of ways to make it exciting and delicious, I’m just too everlasting busy and tired to, a) be that creative and b)  actually have the time to make it all.  And the times when I do manage to make something novel and interesting, it takes hours to create and disappears in mere moments because there are so many people digging in.  Alright, end rant.  Moving on.  Here if not in my head.

I’ve experienced a very unexpected knitting/wardrobe windfall!  I had this theory that my best bet, as my kids get older, for insuring that they quietly and happily keep wearing my knitted goods was to be as discreet about their home-made nature as possible….classic men’s wear colors, simple designs, nothing that’s going to call too much attention. In passing Iain mentioned liking brown, so I was thrilled when a shade of brown went on clearance in my favorite, go-to, everyday yarn (the color is “Doe”.  It’s now sold out in worsted, but still available in DK weight for $2.81 a ball, which is a pretty fabulous price for superwash merino!). I ordered enough for a sweater and started planning my simple, non-threatening, fingers-crossed teenager approved, palatable classic.

Imagine my surprise when a week after the yarn arrived he told me he wanted me to make him something “wild” and unlike anything he owns, with as many colors as possible!  Preferably loud, bright, attention grabbing colors!  I guess the joke is on me with that one!  That’s more than alright because the consolation prize for being way off base is that I’m getting a new autumn sweater after-all.  The full coverage warm sort of one that I had in mind, though in a different color and pattern than planned.  I never would have bought the yarn for myself, but since it’s already here…  And I also have the unique, endearing and amusing task of working up a wild and crazy sweater for my son’s seventeenth birthday.  Not a bad deal at all.

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And it was summer-

warm, beautiful summer. ~Hans Christian Anderson

After dinner swim…

This girl cracks me up.  This is the funny face you get if you ask for a smile…

Maybe some peek-a-boo?

I made BBQ Pizza with Chicken, Bacon and Cilantro.  We used our own crust recipe.  I omitted both the cumin and the maple syrup from the sauce and switched out the apple butter for pumpkin puree.  It was very good.  I think it may be even better with the apple butter: motivation for putting up extra jars this autumn.

Mairi Rose has been all about popsicles this summer.  This left me scrambling for some sort of popsicle mold.  I could not bring myself to buy the plastic ones.  These stainless steel ones look great.  But when you add up the per person price for as many people as we have?  Eeek.  Steep.  Finally, I spent $10 on a set of made-in-Spain tempered juice glasses.  We fill them up, pop in a spoon which we already have, freeze and voila!  A couple minutes on the counter and they pop out perfectly.  The ones I got are actually a little big for this purpose, which of course everyone is seriously thrilled by.

I had a conversation years ago with a friend who was trying to build an ecologically sound, healthy house.  He was talking about how in the name of recycling and conserving resources you could go out and buy an incredible artisan crafted sink made of say, reclaimed copper for thousands of dollars.  Or you could go to your local salvage shop and get a previously owned sink for $30.  I often try to think in those terms.  There isn’t always a simple, less splashy and obvious solution, but often times there is.

I’m reading The Secret Garden to the younger children.  I used to read it aloud ever year, but it’s now been several years since I have.  Long enough that they don’t remember it.  The older two, of course, could probably tell you the story inside and out!

Another pair of toddler socks done and her looking like a wee, woodland sprite in them.  The yarn is leftover Stroll Sock Yarn, from Elijah’s vest, in “Peapod” and “Forest Heather”.

The world….I don’t know what to say.  It always seems almost vulgar to post about quiet, sweet everyday life in the face of so much suffering.  To say my thoughts and prayers are with those who are in pain seems both trite and obvious.  Like most people, I don’t have any answers.

Edited to add dress details because a couple of people asked.

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days of pink lace

I’m still reading and enjoying The Summer Book.

I’m trying to pull myself out of a long standing food funk.  Breakfast one day last week: Cinnamon-Raisin Meatballs, broccoli from our garden and half a Japanese yam.

I’ve gotten out of the habit of making sauerkraut, even though my children love it and it’s excellent for them and good too just to have around to pad out meals.  After years of successful kraut making, we were experiencing problems with mold growth.  It was frustrating and wasteful and at some point I just gave up.  This time I used this method, packing it in a Fido Jar to ferment and it turned out beautifully.  We get our jars at our local Farmer’s Supply, but you can also find them here.

I’ve also been experimenting with making vegetable based “cheeses”.  I added some fresh herbs from the garden to the batch above.

Speaking of the garden, these purple radishes have grown amazingly this year.  I wish I could remember what variety they are!

The first pair of little toddler socks are done and seriously a more adorable, little, rosy, lacy pair of tiny ankle socks has never been seen.  I always want to nibble her toes when she wears them.  They are made of yarn leftover from this dress and bonnet.  Would you just look at her perfectly precious, tiny baby self?  Darling little love of my heart.

There are so many small projects going on all the time here, but little to no time to share them.

The chicken coop is well underway!  So far we’ve managed to use all salvaged materials.  Once we get to the siding I think we’ll be investing in some local rough-cut lumber.

Someone discovered her old Moses basket!

Do you know the trick of blocking hats and bonnets over an inflated balloon?  Just blow it up to about the size you need and balance it on a bowl.  Or, as in this case, with a very tiny bonnet, a large mug.

One of my oldest and dearest friends just found out that her fifth baby is going to be her first girl.  If that isn’t a reason to knit a pink lacy bonnet, I don’t know what is!  (you can’t tell me that there is never a reason.  I simply won’t believe you.)

This is my Flora Irene pattern again (also here and here).  I have three patterns either ready or almost ready to go out to test knitters.  But the test knitting process requires my being ever available and quick to answer questions.  And as my over-flowing inbox will attest, that is *not* in the cards at the moment.  frustrating.

Oh, have I mentioned it’s reversible?

I often get asked why I don’t talk more about chronic illness and how it effects our lives.  I guess the simple answer is that there is enough heartbreak and sorrow in the world.  And I’d rather devote my precious little time to trying to put some beauty and joy out there.

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knitterly

It’s been unseasonably cool this last week. I wore my new cowl, made a giant pot of chicken soup with lots of greens and garlic leaves from the garden and made angel baby a new bonnet.  I was cranky about the lack of muffin-like things in our current diet, until I found this recipe for Morning Glory Muffins and was somewhat appeased.

I’m working on the cowl pattern now.  I don’t like it when I design things that I then have to model.  It’s awkward.  Perhaps I should stick to writing children’s patterns?

I haven’t been doing much reading, just listlessly paging through random books from time to time, preferably the kind with pictures.

Oh, and I don’t think I ever posted a full length picture of Mairi Rose’s birthday dress, so there is one above.

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