Category Archives: celebrations and festivals

Hello

This post has been sitting, half-finished, on my desktop for over three weeks now.  Everything, everywhere just got to be too, too hard and so I stopped doing what I could in order to better manage what I couldn’t.

I’m way behind on Iain’s colorful, crazy, and wild birthday sweater.  The sizing on this pattern seems to be way off.  I already came to the sickening conclusion that it wasn’t going to fit, ripped it out and started again.  Now I’ve finished the back and after stretching it flat, I can see that I’m going to have to pull back all of the shaping from under the arms up, so that I can add in extra length.  Frustrating.  I still can’t decide if it’s going to be kind of cool or completely hideous. Mostly I think it’s just going to be really, really late.

We finally got our garlic in, 200 bulbs, which will not be enough, I can never plant enough.  It was a warm day of golden sunshine that tricked us into feeling like we were deep in the heart of the growing season and that just maybe it might never end.  The very next morning we awoke to heaps of snow, with more accumulating every few days ever since.

On one side of that “curtain” there are three young people working on a play involving a turkey with dish glove feet.  On the other Thanksgiving dinner is being prepared, with Little Miss Two flitting back and forth from one side to the other.

On Thanksgiving proper we did nothing.  We didn’t go for a walk or get down the nice dishes or make a new set of napkins or get dressed up or even go around the table saying what we were thankful for.  None of us had the strength or the heart for it.  We were just beat.  I swore I would do better with Christmas, but my holiday spirit is fickle at best this year.

We laid on the futon and I read my girls book after book; Giving Thanks: The 1621 Harvest Feast, The Great Pumpkin Switch which I didn’t particularly care for, A Stawbeater’s Thanksgiving which made me sad, The Very First Thanksgiving Day which I like, An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving by Louisa May Alcott which made us laugh, and Home Sweet Home which isn’t exactly a Thanksgiving book, but probably should be.

I recently overheard a mother complaining about how she couldn’t take the stress of keeping track of even one library book in her house.  I had to laugh.  We currently have 66 books checked out, with another 5 sitting at the library waiting to be picked up.  To be sure this is excessive, even for us.  But there is something about this season, this year and we keep on coming home with more and more.

I’ve been reading Little Men aloud to Mairi Rose.  It’s one of my favorite books of all time and I always get a hankering to read it at this time of year, probably because it ends at Thanksgiving.  She is reading Gwinna aloud to me.  I just finished Mist on the Mountain, both written and illustrated by Jane Flory, which was a chance library find.  I picked it up thinking it might be a good family read and my goodness, I just loved it so much!  And as much as I loved the story, I think I might love the illustrations even more.  I read it all before discovering there is a book that comes before this one.  I’m so sad our library system doesn’t have it.

I both started and finished my Christmas shopping this week in an intensive and stressful last minute shopathon and am very glad that is over. I’ll happily settle in to some holiday crafting as a pleasant change of pace.

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Halloween, Part One

Mostly for the sake of The Grandparents.

Seraphina would have been happy to paint every squash under the sun.  Her second one had a beard, so it could “talk like Pop-pop”.

Considering the number of practical jokes they play on each other, I thought this was very trusting (and possibly somewhat naive).  Elijah had me do his, which was likely a safer bet.

It’s kind of ridiculous, the lengths my family goes to for Halloween costumes, considering the very short period of time they actually wear them.  But it’s kind of their thing, so I try to be supportive and enthusiastic.

For years now the older boys have been trying to convince me to let them go as something scary.  Traditionally our celebrations have always been more about the magic of the season.  We attend a mixed age party, where two of my children are the eldest of the bunch, and I don’t want to be the mother who brings the teens who scare the little ones, my own little one included!  Besides, who needs more fear and evil?

blah.

I feel like I’m daily coming face to face with the fragility of life and I’m heartsick over the woes of the world.  Surround me with images of joy, of honor, of love, of goodness.  There is enough horror and gore.  The earth doesn’t need anymore.  I don’t want anymore.  Real or pretend.

But Elijah finally wore me down,or more accurately, took advantage of my being too exhausted to argue…

Besides, a mother’s hang-ups probably shouldn’t dictate Halloween costumes.  I’m sure it must seem to my children at times as though I take everything to seriously.

Iain had plans to go as a very noble literary figure, brave and true.  I was secretly thrilled, thinking how handsome he would be and pleased too, in my motherly heart, over such a wholesome choice for my maturing man-child.

There were issues with a prop.  And since it’s perfection or nothing round about here, he made a last minute shift…

and went with a different kind of scary, as well as an easy last-minute costume and a cheap laugh. It was a whole lot funnier last week.

And dear, sweet, little Dobby!  Elijah really did a fantastic job with that mask.  When Galen saw these pictures he said, “Wait a minute, is that me?!?  It looks so real!”

I whipped up a quick hood with ears and we fashioned the rest out of an actual pillowcase.  As it turns out, what I learned afterwards was Steve’s favorite pillowcase.  How on earth was I supposed to know the man has a favorite pillowcase?!?

Just a little glimpse of the girls, as their costumes were quite involved and warrant a post of their own!

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Summer Solstice

The children found a fallen and abandoned nest in the woods, nothing very out of the ordinary about that, but this one happens to be lined with a lock of Mairi Rose’s hair!

Breakfast fixin’s from the garden: garlic scapes, onion tops, sweet thyme, mint, pineapple sage and regular sage to season our sausage patties.  Lemon balm for tea.  Once the sausages were cooked I tossed all the greens from the bottom of the basket; collards, kale and the last of the bolting spinach, in the pan with the juices, added a bit of broth, then covered them and steamed.

 

We usually have a Solstice celebration.  Last week I was thinking about how I wanted to do something special, but I never really got beyond that thought.  The day of, on my way up to put the baby down for a nap, I told them all to come up with a plan while I was away.

This is what they came up with: A picnic dinner in the garden.  Burning the Swedish Torch that Iain made a few months back.  Baking and eating strawberry-rhubarb pie (as we are not currently eating any sweetener or grains and they made up the recipe themselves, this part was kind of gross, but they seemed happy with it anyway!).  And launching rockets.  I added a sun inspired craft and our celebration was complete.

 

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dapper

Despite having been born in 2002, Elijah somehow managed to celebrate his 14th birthday circa 1942.  His Wartime Farm Pullover was finished in record time. No one is as shocked by that as I.

And I had enough yarn!  Which had been a concern.  The main yarn is Stroll Tweed in ‘Oyster’,  The bright blue is Stroll Tweed in ‘Marine Heather’.  The other colors are all Stroll Sock Yarn in: ‘Forest Heather’, ‘Peapod’, ‘Fedora’ and ‘Firecracker Heather’ respectively.

I made the tie from a lovely, thick wool tweed, using this free pattern.  It’s a bit long for him yet, but he’ll grow into it.

I think he was pleased.

I’m currently reading Life of Pi because a librarian suggested for a reading list I’m making for the older kids and I wanted to check it out first.  In my current state of mind I’m finding it rather depressing.

Speaking of books lists!!!  I’ve ever so slowly been making ones for each and every grade as a resource for myself, but I’m going to share them here as well and hopefully save other parents a bit of work.  And I’m hoping that you will all pile on suggestions as well.  My children are such prolific readers that I’m always on the look out for quality books with which to tempt them.

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May Day

I’m so pleased with everyone’s enthusiasm for The Handcrafted Wardrobe project!  I am ridiculously excited about it.

I have no brain for original blog post titles.  I’m worn out today.  It’s been raining constantly.  It’s kind of depressing.  And soggy.

By carrying Elijah’s sweater vest about with me through out the day and knitting a stitch here and there, I think I’m on track to finish on time for his birthday.  fingers crossed.  I’m starting to think about projects beyond.  There are three sweaters I want to make myself.  Alright, there are thousands of sweaters I want to make myself!  But, there are three that I want to make right now.  Which is not in line with my current no-yarn-money status.  I’m making an effort not to resent my doctor for taking my yarn money.  I know he’s just trying to help me.  But if he comes in to my next appointment with a fabulous new hand-knit sweater, we’re going to have words.

May Day was beautiful. Not the weather of course, though it didn’t rain too, too much.  I taught Mairi and Galen how to knit i-cords and they made us garlands like these to wear.  I didn’t bring my camera; which fell somewhere between consciously deciding and outright forgetting.  I wasn’t sure how much I would be up for; my strength waxes and wanes, so I brought a sleeping bag and spread it on the grass beside the maypole and tucked sweet Miss Seraphine up with me.  But when everyone grabbed a ribbon, she jumped up, declaring, “Serasina need to get bow!” and ran off to join in.  She held the tail end of Mairi’s and she danced the entire time.  In the very last 30 seconds or so, when everyone was rushing around trying to tie up the band standing under the maypole, as is our tradition, a friends scooped her up and ran the last lap around with her.   I have requested at least one photo of her epic dance from someone who did take pictures.  I would like a memento of that for posterity’s sake.

I’m currently reading Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up.  Sad but true: I am a hopelessly disorganized and chronically messy person who reads cleaning and organizing books for pleasure.

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Our baby turned two…

Her last hour of being one.

And if you were to ask her about it, she would say, “Seria burday March! Get wet. Go creek.  Shovel keep going!  Seria get.  Maia Rose get.  Iain carry home towel.  Have bath.  Pop-pop come Seria burday.  Talkin’ Me-mom on tv!  Open presents, rip, rip!  Have treat.  Eat Booberries.  Blow candle *blowing noises*, sing (actually singing now) ‘happy burday to you!’”

The waterfall that she so adored the week before was no longer running, so they cleared away the debris and as the flow returned dubbed it “Phina’s Fall”.

She was in constant motion; dancing, laughing, singing; too excited to go down for her nap.  We did and ate everything that she likes best.

Galen made her leg warmers.  When she opened them she exclaimed, “baby warmers!” and quickly pulled them on.  Since her birthday was the day before Easter, he also made her a basket out of cordage plied from dried iris leaves.  Mairi Rose embroidered a tiny violet on some felt and strung it on embroidery floss for a necklace.  She also brought her own five dollar bill to dance and from the stock of used dance clothes picked out the tiniest pair of ballet slippers she could find so that Seraphina could have her own dance shoes when they put on shows at home.  My mother crocheted her a beautiful afghan, using this pattern and Swish DK yarn in ‘Sugar Plum’.  If hand-made = love, this child goes beyond being adored, she’s downright worshiped.

My parents were supposed to stay with us for the weekend to help celebrate, but my mother became suddenly ill and couldn’t travel.  My father still came for an abbreviated visit and we manged to work it so that my mom could take part in the day through skype.  Hence the “talkin’ Me-mom tv!”

Her darling lamby!  Dear Melanie agreed to make that little lovie for her.  She has been a very happy addition to our home.  I found my sweet little violet contentedly “nursing” her earlier.

I’ve been admiring the work of Little Edith’s Knit since Seraphine was wee, so when she released one of her playsuit patterns in English, I just knew it had to be her birthday sweater.  If you are at all inclined towards baby lust, do not click through to that site.  Just trust me on this one.  It was also made from Swish DK, in “Carnation” this time.  The bonnet is a pattern I’ve been working on and hoping to send to test knitters soon, shown here in Reverie ‘Melon’.

How can it be that this tiny little love of mine is two already?!?  It’s all going much too fast for me.

KCCO

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Easter Sewing and Celebrating

A few of my necklaces were taken off the market, due to little people that I love being too attached to them.

Elijah finished sewing his shirt.  He consulted with me from time to time, but did all of the work himself.  Button up shirts are hard!  I consider that quite the accomplishment.  He used  Simplicity 1327, which we adjusted to fit him.

Dresses for my girls…there is kind of a funny story behind these.  Last year our friend and neighbor was here helping us with some carpentry work when, because sometimes I forget to just keep these things in my head, I exclaimed, “I really just want to make a baby dress out of your drop cloth!”  And of course somewhat to my embarrassment, she insisted I take the drop cloth.  And because it was a big old sheet, there was enough for two dresses and head scarves as well.  I used Simplicity 1264 which is a reprint of a ’50′s pajama pattern.  I simply lengthened the tops a bit.  I also put them together with total disregard for pattern instructions, just piecing it however seemed quickest and easiest. More on the bonnet in another post.

Let’s see, what else is new?  I’m currently completely lost in this book, working on Mother’s Day gifts for the shop, trying to get the gardens and yard cleaned up in preparation for planting, obsessively spring cleaning and trying to fit some remodeling projects in.  I’m seriously considering just assigning the kids some books to read and math sheets and devoting all of next week to decluttering, deep cleaning and repairing the house and yard.  I have this huge desire to get life in order right now.  I have such trouble finding balance in this season.  There is so much I wish to accomplish.  The pull outside seems at odds with the desire for that big push in the final months of the school year to try to fit in everything I would like.  Do others struggle with this?
KCCO

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full weekend

Such a full weekend!  I haven’t even had a chance to sort through my photos yet.  There were, uhm, over 1,000 when I transferred them.  How embarrassing!  I may have gone a bit overboard.  But it was a banner week.  Our baby turned two.  Our oldest got his driver’s permit (!) and of course there was Easter as well.

I do not have a single knitting project on needled right now.  Well, except for that perennial blanket project, but that doesn’t really count.  It is such a strange feeling!  Next up is more deadline knitting, in the form of Elijah’s birthday sweater, which I am very eager to start, but also a little nervous about.

For several years there I finished up Galen’s birthday sweater way in advance, so that after the holidays quickly followed by Iain and Mairi’s joint birthday, there would this delightfully exciting and relaxing lull.  I *love* creating for my children and doing special projects for the holidays and their birthdays.  But at the end, when all was finished it was this giant sigh of relief and giddiness when I realized that, WAIT!  There is nothing that I have to be working on right now!  I could start anything, anything at all!  Maybe even something for me?  Revolutionary idea there.  A whole world full of possibilities!

This is not so much the case anymore.  With the holidays in December, two birthdays in January, one in February, one in March and one in May, everything is pretty much back to back.  And now with regular deadlines for the shop* to factor in as well.  My stars, I feel like a busy woman.  Perhaps that relaxed, easy crafting feeling will hit come summer time?  Or maybe when my children are grown?!?

*I promise to start talking about other things again soon.

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Just in time for Easter…

Our Spring Celebrations collection is going live today!  We’re stocking the shop with everything you need for a beautiful and unique hand-crafted Easter and/or Equinox celebration.

   I’ve been having fun making these little hand embroidered pendants.  They remind me of sweet fancifully decorated eggs.  Each one is on a ribbon long enough that it can be worn as a necklace.  They are also perfect for decorating an egg tree, nature table, basket or just about anywhere!

Just click the title above each set to see the listing!

Little Lamb:

It’s hard to say for certain, but she may just be my favorite.  The colors are softer in person, more muted and delicate.

Bird’s Nest:

This one has a great textural quality. And the color combination ended up being just gorgeous.

Ladybugs:Inspired by the one I found climbing my bedroom curtain.  The first of the season.  Spring is coming folks!

Small Rainbow Pendant:

So cheerful and bright!

And the large Rainbow:

Just beginning to peek out from behind some needle felted clouds.

One little Frolicking Bunny:

In fun girly colors with polka dot ribbon ties.

And the Chick:

The kids say he looks rather disgruntled, but that’s just a part of his charm.  I say he’s all the cuter for it.  And several of them have claimed him as their favorite, so I can only assume that they concur.

There are going to be so many wonderfully tempting treasures added to the shop over the next couple of days!  Do stop by and check it out!  And be sure to order soon so that we can make certain all the loveliness arrives on time!

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A Giant 10th Birthday Post

When I promised extra posting this week, I did not anticipate the wind storm that took out our internet access.  Sorry about that!

Sweater first? “Reversible Revelation” in Wool of the Andes Superwash, color: “Brass Heather”.  As the name implies, it is, in fact, reversible.  There is no right side.  Each has it’s own distinctive look:

This seemed like an excellent idea for a kid who often can’t be bothered with paying attention to what way his clothes go on.  At least for my benefit anyway, since he doesn’t really care if it’s inside out or not.  Hey, he’ll happily walk around wearing just one shoe, while I look on cringing.

The waitress at the college town, hipster, juice bar made a fuss about his “fashionable” ensemble; mama-made pants and sweater, topped with his spiffy hand-me-down brown cord blazer.  Dapper.

Food: This year we decorated gingerbread houses, instead of his usual gingerbread men. Autoimmune Friendly Gingerbread with Creamy Maple Frosting, made fancy with dried fruit and what we call “Yam Creamies”, which I’ll talk more about some other time.  We’re still on the intro diet and not supposed to be consuming sweets, but I made an exception for his birthday (and ended up with several people up half the night with belly aches as a consequence.  such is life.)

And now, the big, top secret project!  It pretty much all worked out as planned. In under three hours, while he was at said juice bar, followed by the music shop with my dad, this space…

became this…

The only part that didn’t quite work out was the light fixture.  I accidentally ordered a plug-in fixture when I meant to get one to wire in.  There are no outlets in that hallway.  But otherwise, somewhat miraculously, everything came together exactly as I had planned.

Both a space to work and create as well as a place to read and relax, plus extra storage besides, was asking a lot out of this petite 38″ x 66″ space.  The window seat has a hinged lid, with lots of storage space underneath, to help lighten the load in Iain’s attic bedroom (hence the boxes in the “before” photo).  I tried to work with what we had as much as possible.  The valence-hung on a rod my neighbor was getting rid of- and the divider curtain were both made from fabric I had on hand.  One of the pillow covers was fashioned from an old work shirt of Steve’s.  My sister painted those sweet pandas several years ago.  I’ve just been waiting for the right place to hang them in this house.  I love how the painting perfectly picks up the colors from all the pillows.  I’m ashamed to say it was an afterthought that just happened to work out brilliantly.

We managed to frame the window seat and build the stool with scraps of lumber from the basement.  We adjusted Ana White’s X-Bench plans to fit the space and finished it with some leftover General Finishes Milk Paint in “Persian Blue”.  It tucks all the way under the $20 cleaned up Craig’s List desk to save space.  A couple of old items refreshed by mingling with a few new accessories and just like that, he has his very own cozy nook crafted out of an area that was previously unused space.  Pretty nifty, that!

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