Sunday, March 28, 2010

Signs of Spring

A few signs of spring are poking up in our garden. It's so exciting to see new growth after the long winter of bare branches and piles of snow (I do like winter, but it does go on rather long here.) My mother, a gardener by trade and hobby, is so excited to get into the yard and start digging - something - anything!

purple Scillia flowers just about to bloom

This is a bulb garden I received in a pot last spring which I replanted whole and I'm excited to see how it blooms this year

We have a large prairie garden out front and a shade and vegetable gardens in back so it's a lot to care for by myself. But since my mother moved in with us late in 2008 it's been a pleasure to have someone else to work besides in the garden. Dan just doesn't have the time with a job and his own business to run on the side. We usually just ask him to do a big job here and there. For instance this year we need lots and lots of mulch for the whole yard which means many trips to the city public works for free mulch.

Virginia Bluebell leaves just starting to poke through the soil

We have lots of cutting back of old growth to do out front as well as a hedge of hydrangeas. The shade garden just needs to be raked and the vegetable garden soil needs to be turned and prepped for planting. Sam likes working in the vegetable garden the best, digging in the dirt and planting seeds. Last fall he planted lots of wheatgrass that we need to now turn over or dig out.

Tete-a-Tete Miniature daffodils giving off just a hint of color

Today is sunny so I'm hoping to get lots done before we have to go to a family birthday gathering. Sam's hankering for a walk to I'll have to end here. I hope you all have a great day and are thinking of gardening too!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Flower Wand Third and Final Design

Thanks to all of you who left comments for my flower wands. With your help I've come up with a third and I think final version. I made the shape more regular, cut a smaller center and made that center have two layers. The result you can see below.

I'm currently out of pink felt so I used orange instead, but the following flower wands will be pink with maybe a purple one here and there to keep it interesting. Now I just have to make lots and lots for the May Faire at Sam's Waldorf School. What else can say May in Minnesota but flowers finally waking up. Thank you Root Children!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Sam's BIG Adventure #2

This happened a few weeks back, but I'm only now getting to writing about it. Sam's first adventure as you might recall was a trip into Uptown Minneapolis on a city bus. The day went so well and we had such fun that we decided we needed to repeat it, but this time on a train.

The beautiful new light rail train

Minneapolis is behind most major cities by not having an extensive train/subway system. Instead we have 1 light rail line that runs from downtown to the Mall of America (my least favorite place to go.) So, we drove to the enormous Mall of America Saturday morning; parked our car and took the train to downtown Minneapolis. Sam was vibrating with excitement and could hardly wait to get a seat. Not too many people were going our way, but we made all the stops just the same. Going over the bridge that crosses the freeway was of great interest, as well as passing the Metrodome where the Minnesota Vikings football team plays (Sam was ready to drop everything and play some football!)

Dan purchasing our tickets - Sam was free!

Sam choosing his window seat

We disembarked on Nicolett Mall and as the day was cold hit the Skyway system. Because of our cold winters a series of enclosed corridors that connect the downtown buildings one level above the street were developed to keep us out of the inclement weather. Sam was not as impressed with this as I thought. I was so enamored with the Skyway when I was a kid that I had plans to build my own starting in my bedroom cutting through the garage to the backyard where I'd have my very own playhouse. Ahh, those were fun daydreams. The Minneapolis rock band The Replacements even wrote a song called Skyway back in the 80's. So, needless to say I expected more from Sam than his non interest in the cars driving beneath us.

Dan and Sam looking out at the cars below in the skyway. Note the blase look on Sam's face.

After quite a long time of running through the Skyways we started looking for somewhere to eat. Not knowing downtown very well we ended up at Applebees a chain restaurant where we knew there was something that Sam, our picky eater, would eat. Not as glamorous as the Independent in Uptown with it's pool table and darts; maybe next time.

Mom and a squirrely Sam on the return trip

After we were all sated and sleepy we took the train back to the Mall. This trip was much busier with many more passengers - lots of good people watching to do while I knitted. Sam was a bit impatient and ready to go home as the newness of the adventure wore off. We said goodbye to the train as we got in our van for the ride home. As we were passing the airport we heard Sam request from the backseat "I want to ride an airplane next time." Oh boy, that one will have to wait awhile!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

New Gnomes and Wand Design Help

We just came back from a trip to Northern Minnesota. We went with friends to their family cabin (post and pics to follow soon) close to the city of Walker. It's about a 4 hour car ride from the cities which translated into lots of knitting time - Yeah! So, I knitted on the way there, stitched wands while there and knitted again on the way back - it was a fun trip.

With only a few colors of yarn with me I made many yellow items: chicks (for Sam's Kindergarten Class) standing gnomes, gnome dolls and a cat. Here is the pair of my Sunshine standing gnomes, which are laying down oddly enough for the photo.

I need to wash and card some more wool for stuffing the other knitted goodies. So, they will have to wait a few days more for their photo op.

The new wand design is of a flower, two versions, but I'm not satisfied yet. Here is a picture of both and maybe you could leave me some comments on which you like better, suggestions for changes or starting a totally new design. My thought is that the rounded one is better, but it needs to be more regular (I drew it freehand) like the crispness of the stars or hearts. What do you think?

I'm waiting for more pink felt from mamajudes, but I might make a couple of light orange flowers in the interim. Is Spring inspiring you too?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Emily's Scarf

You might remember from this post that I was hoping to make my friend Emily a scarf to match her fingerless mitts. Well, I didn't get it done in time for her birthday, but I did finish! The pattern is a free one from Ravelry, but here it is directly for the author's blog. It was very simple and after a few rows you'll have the pattern committed to memory. The only modification I made was to only cast on 12 stitches instead of the 21 asked for in the directions. Emily is a small person and looks better in this type of scarf. Also, I think a skinny scarf can be used in more seasons then just winter don't you think? Here's a few photos below.

Overall it was quite an inexpensive gift using only 1 skein of yarn for BOTH fingerless mitts and scarf. Emily was pleased with the belated gift too! Although her son Eli is concerned her fingers will be cold with the mitts. What projects have you finished lately?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Making Window Stars

Well I finally tackled a project I've been dying to try - making window stars. You know those beautiful translucent stars you see at Waldorf schools? I've purchased some in the past from harvestmoonbyhand on etsy, but I wanted so many(you know every season a different color scheme etc.) that the cost would have been prohibitive.

With the purchase of this book and some kite paper from Wonderment I was ready to begin. I did look at the book Magical Window Stars, but the stars were quite complex and confusing to my Mama fogged mind.

To start I cut my large square into four small ones and began folding each piece as per the directions.

Then I stared gluing each pieces folds down, then all the pieces into one star! It wasn't too hard and the directions were very easy to follow. Here is the results.

I made green for St. Patrick's day and for the coming Spring here in Minnesota - only 12 more days to go! Really the snow is melting and the weather is a balmy 45 degrees (I know not too balmy in most people's eyes but after being frozen all Winter with temps in the single digits and below it is a major relief!) Here are two others I made this morning.

I'm very pleased with the results and can't wait for what Sam will think when he comes home from school. I think I'll still buy the more complicated stars from harvestmoonbyhand as they intimidate me too much, but these basic ones are for me to make in the future. Maybe I'll do some rainbow ones for Sam's room? What projects have you been working on lately?

Friday, March 5, 2010

Having Depression

I suffer from depression. It's not something I talk about and before this not many people knew about it. What do you say? That's always been my problem. Well, I thought maybe if I wrote about my depression some I could maybe find the words and talking might become less hard.

I've always been a melancholy introverted creative sort of person and have had what I now know to be bouts of depression my whole life. Things really came to a head when we went through infertility treatments and I finally sought out some help to deal with my emotional overload. Right away I was put on medication because I was so low all I could do was cry and sleep so talk therapy wasn't much use yet. Finding the "right" medication mix is not a fun process. Some drugs made me worse, some had side affects that I couldn't live with - hands that shook so badly I couldn't lift a plate let alone knit and one even made me act like I was drunk and couldn't walk straight, and some just did nothing. When my doctor finally found the right "cocktail" of medications my world got appreciably better.

Then talk therapy was added which became quite a help and looks like a mainstay in my life. I'm just realizing that this will be my life. Just like alcoholism depression really doesn't go away. I have good periods and then low periods, but the depression is always there. That's why I need to learn to talk about this major aspect of my life.

Right now I'm in a low and having my medications adjusted. Both my doctors want me to join a support group. I'm not a good joiner, but I'm going to give it a try. The hope is that if I have more and more people to reach out to I'll catch myself before I get too low again and maintain a more even balance.

This post is an abrupt change from my usual postings, but I felt the need to reach out. Maybe some of you also suffer from depression. I would like to hear your stories. Let's start talking.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

New Wand Design and New Crowns

I just finished a new wand design in time for spring (come on Mrs. Thaw push King Winter away!) Just like the other wands it uses rainbow plant dyed yarn from mamajudes for a nice soft handle as well as plant dyed wool felt. The butterfly is a rich orange , as I always think of Monarchs when I think of butterflies, with purple wing designs and body. It's stuffed with wool roving to give it some depth. I also stitched around the butterfly's body to give more contrast from body to wings. Ribbons are the only unnatural item, but all wands need ribbons to dance through the air. I find doing the blanket stitching on these wands so restful and a nice switch from knitting.

On the knitting front new crowns have also been finished in lovely spring colors. All use plant dyed wool yarn (85% wool 15% mohair - very soft) and wool felt for the applique. There's a light blue crown with a gold star and the reverse of a gold crown with a blue star. I also made one for St. Patrick's Day for my red haired Irish boy (also Scots, Phillipino, English, French Canadian, Dutch and Polish - what an American melting pot is he!) It's a lovely shade of spring green with a darker green shamrock to bring the wearer good luck! All these are now up for sale in my etsy shop - have a look.

I only had to bribe him with a fruit popsicle to get this cheesy grin. Coming up next is an orange crown with a blue star and some springtime gnomes! What projects are you up too?