Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Shipping Upgrade and Sale

Are you worried about getting Christmas gifts you order online in time for the big day?  Worry no more!  I am upgrading all my shipping from First Class to Priority Mail for FREE (for those within the United States)!  So, you'll be paying First Class shipping prices, but getting Priority Mail service.  Priority Mail shipping time is 2-3 days so you still have plenty of time to get those gifts for the children in your life.  I will be offering this until December 20th after which time I cannot guarantee Christmas delivery.

New Wooden Baby Teething Ring with rainbow felt chain links

Don't forget the other offer going on in the Simply Playing shop of 10% your purchases by using the coupon code "Christmas11" upon checkout.  This offer will also end on December 20th.  There are still over 50 items to choose from in the shop:  baby teething ring, stuffed cats, crowns, garlands, jewelery kits and magic wands.  Stop in today to peruse the selections!

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Kitties Are Back!

Yes, the classic knit Waldorf stuffed cats are back for sale at the Simply Playing shop.  Why you might ask did I stop in the first place?  Well, these little kitties are a lot of work to make - simple but time consuming.  I felt they were not worth my effort as I couldn't see charging for the time they actually took me to create.  So, the next question logically follows - "Why are they back then?"  Plainly put I just missed them.  They are so charming and bring a smile to my face after I finish each one.  I like that the head always seems to have a "front" side even though each side is the same.  It is the absolute best use for spare lengths of yarn, and I LOVE using up all my yarn to the very last bit. 

I feel I should caption this photo "The Running of the Kitties"

So back they came into my life and shop ready for new families to take them into their homes to love and cherish.  Please stop by and take a peek at them all for they are all very different with their own personalities.  Some are curly from using boucle yarn, some fuzzy from mohair yarn and some just plain old wool yarn (all plant dyed of course.)  Let me know what you think about these little fellows - are they keepers?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Upcoming SALE on Etsy

Starting next Sunday, December 4th, I will be having what I hope to be an annual Holiday Sale in my etsy shop SimplyPlaying.  I'm looking forward to cleaning out all my old stock and starting fresh in the new year.  The sale will be for 10% off anything in the shop; just use the code "Christmas11" upon checkout to receive this savings.  Tuesday December 20th will be the end date for the sale and when I will also close the shop until the new year starts in January 2012.  Please help me earn some Christmas spending money since all "Santa" has purchased so far is socks!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Jewelery Kit

  Making things very often means creating waste too, and my work is no exception.  I have a fair amount of yarn and felt scraps from making my wands and crowns.  I came up with this solution for the really small scraps which I discribe in this post, but what to do with the pieces that were too small for my wands, but still usable?  Having time to bring new ideas to fruition does not come my way too often, but I did get a moment this week to finally finish a project that uses those still usable scraps.  What I came up with is a jewelery making kit containing lots of wooden beads and a rainbow of small square felt pieces to be threaded onto hemp string for necklaces and bracelets.

It comes in a natural cotton bag containing 117 unfinished wooden beads of various sizes and styles, 180 pieces of plant dyed felt (20 pieces of each color) and 4 yards of hemp string.  I mention in my shop's listing for this kit that the beads could be colored with markers, painted with watercolor paints or dyed with Easter egg dyes or simply left plain.  My original intention was to plant dye the wooden beads, but I became a little overwhelmed with the process.  I'm still hoping to try plant dying before the summer is over and just focus on 1-3 colors.  Maybe the kits could contain half colored and half plain beads.  What do you think - would this kit be better with colored beads, plain beads or both?  I wanted to keep this item simple as everything else I make is so time consuming and detail oriented, but then maybe that's just my style.  What do you do with your project scraps?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


We just got back from a short camping trip to Baker Park.  It's not far from our home, a mere half hour drive, but it feels like getting away none the less.  We camped for just one night packing in a lot of outdoor play time taking walks, running around at the playground and of course going to the beach (a prerequisite in the summer living in the land of 10,000 lakes.)

Sam has surprised me on how comfortable he is in the water as of late.  Dunking his head all the way underwater (on purpose no less), flying in the air after being tossed by Dad and finally floating on his back resting his head in the water.  He hasn't had a formal swim class yet, but I think it's time as he's almost teaching himself!  We've heard good things about Foss Swim Schools so I think we might try there.  It will be good for him to swim confidently before we take our trip to the Phillipines this winter. 

Here's a few snaps of my boy in action!

Looks like fun - yes?  What are you doing to enjoy your summer?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

What To Do With Felt Scraps?

Hello! It's been a while since I'd posted so I just thought some sort of greeting was in order. Now that that's done on to my new post.

I hate to throw away anything in our garbage unless I absolutely have to, so we compost, donate and recycle as much as we can. But, as you can imagine there are many things that do not fit into one of these categories. And, being a person who sews, knits, stitches, scrapbooks etc. I seem to accumulate large quantities of material waste. With larger amounts of yarn I came up with the following use you can read about in this post (it's gotten much longer since I posted) but the tiny felt and yarn bits have up until now been sitting around in ziploc bags hoping a future use would arise.

That use came to me when I was making the bed the other day. Our pillows have flattened to the thickness of pancakes. I want to replace them with wool pillows (we have one which I adore), but don't have the money. So, we have just been living with them as is bunching them up as best we can. Then I thought I'd make a wool pillow instead! Yes, I took out the pancake pillow from it's protective cover and filled it with years of amassed tiny, tiny felt and yarn scraps. Figuring they were all wool and naturally antibacterial so why not just try it and see.

Well the results have been good and we are now fighting over who gets the scrap pillow. I filled it about 3/4 full (loosely not packed) and it has the consistency of a down pillow but more firm. I highly recommend it to any of you out there with the same issue.

Now, all I need is a use for all my small fabric pieces and scrap booking waste. Any ideas?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Last Days of April "Set Sale" on Etsy

It's hard to believe that April is coming to a close this Saturday. We are still cold here in MN with rain and even bits of snow making it feel more like March then April. So, with the ending of April comes the end on my "Set Sale" on Etsy. That's right purchase a wand and a crown/wreath you'll receive 10% off your order, but only until the 30th. Take advantage while you can!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

NEW Flower and Butterfly Wreaths

I have some new wreaths in the shop today: a pink flower wreath and a lavender butterfly wreath. It's so difficult when you do work involving multiples to find time to create new items as you are always trying to catch up on making the items you already have. But, as sales are slow this time of year extra time found it's way to me - yay! These 2 wreaths have matching wands too so they make great gift sets for a little girl in your life. Take a look below.

I would LOVE some feedback if any you have the time - especially on the butterfly wreath. Now I'm off to make some more butterfly wreaths and some crowns in new colors for boys (we can't forget the boys after all I have one!) Thanks for viewing!

Friday, March 11, 2011

This Moment and Gratitude Friday

This Moment...

a single photo capturing a simple, special moment from the week inspired by Soulemama.

Please share a link to your moment in the comments!

This week I am grateful for:

My husband coming home safe and sound from the Philippines

Heather from
Beauty That Moves 30 Day Vegan project that my mom and I are experiencing

My Universal Pants which feel so comfortable on my body - I LOVE stretchy fabric waistbands

All the birds and squirrels coming to our home to be fed
heralding in the Spring

What do you find yourself grateful for this week?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

WIP Wednesday - On a Thursday, Again

Well, I have been knitting, knitting, knitting! It's what I do when I'm stressed out and need something to keep my focus. And, with my husband Dan flying off to the Philippines, to help his mother sort out the outstanding amount of paperwork that occurs with a death, for 2 and a half weeks stress has lived in our household.

You would think I would have accomplished a few finished projects with all this knitting, but alas that is not the case. Lately, I have been getting bored easily and have now 6 unfinished projects. Yes, you heard right 6! Here's one that is almost finished; just weaving in ends and blocking left.

It's the ever popular Shalom Sweater on Raverly. The pattern was for a size S, which unfortunately I am not. So, I had to modify number of stitches cast on and used bigger needles as I tend to knit tight and always go up a size or two. I'm still not sure whether I like it or not. The yarn I used was Malabrigo Bulky in their Alpine Pearl colorway. It was truly a joy to work with as it's such soft and silky merino wool. After blocking I'll take some shots of me wearing the sweater and you can tell me what you think.

Here's another work in progress. It's called Kay's Tess D'Urbervilles Shawl also for free on Raverly.

This one is still on the needles as you can see so I don't know about the fit yet, but I am digging the pattern and the look of the yarn I choose - Lorna's Laces Shepard Worsted in their Happy Valley colorway. Again, this is a really SOFT merino wool yarn so knitting with it is a pleasure to be sure.

I'll save the other WIPs for next Wednesday. Maybe I'll have finished something by then...Hmm. What projects are you working on lately?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Gratitude Friday

I am trying out an format where on Fridays I give a list of what I am grateful for this week. I got the idea from Waldorf Mama. The purpose is to keep me in the moment and well, grateful for my life here on this earth. Also, I suffer from depression, which I manage pretty well, and reminding myself of all the good in the world helps me from spiraling down. As my mom used to say "count your blessings and you'll feel better." Here's what's blessings I see this week:

Her's my mom helping Sam make cookies. He's wearing the red vest I made for Valentines Day.

1. Having my mother living with us and how much see helps out with caring for Sam, cooking, cleaning and shopping. Thank you MOM!

2. The telephone as it lets me talk to Dan while he's in the Philippines - amazing.

3. My son Sam's constant building of forts; so much fun.

4. Hummus with crackers and carrots - yum!

What do you find blessing you and yours this week?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

WIP Wednesday - Yarn Scraps

Hello. Do you too have lots of yarn scraps that you just can't seem to throw away? I do. I roll mine up into little teeny balls and put them in a drawer thinking I might use them, someday. Now, one thing you need to know about me is I LOVE to use up yarn, fabric etc. COMPLETELY. Some people enjoy having a bag of scraps around for future projects, but not me. So having this drawer filled with yarn scraps was driving me crazy. Then I came up with this soon to be brilliant idea of making a rug. I thought I could make a cord using all my little bits of yarn, stitch it into a spiral and then felt it in the washing machine.

Here's my cord coming along nicely. I love the rainbow bits the best.

Here's the cord all spiraled up to look like an oval rug.

Kind of like a crazy quilt only in this case a crazy rug. What do you think? Will it work out or be a flop? My guess is it will be good, but will take me a long time to finish as the felting will shrink the rug down quite a lot. I figure I'll just leave the cord on the needles and add to it as I finish my other projects like the pink sweater, felted clogs for me and my mom, socks, socks and more socks oh the list does go on! What's on your needles, hook, sewing machine today?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Sad Ending

In my Gratitude Friday Post I mentioned that my Father - in - Law had a horrible fall. Well, the outcome was a sad one with him passing on Sunday about 12 hours after my husband arrived in the Philippines. John was loved by many and especially by his wife Clarita of forty years. They were just beginning their retirement together at the home they built in Biliran, Leyte the Philippines; the town where Clarita grew up. We're all in such shock that a life can go so quickly, that life can be forever changed in a moment.

Here's Grandpa John with Sam in 2007. This is the only picture I have with them together.

Now, the heavy decisions are being made about where to bury John, they are Catholic like many Philippinos, either on their property there or back here in Minnesota. If it's in Biliran Sam and I will be flying out with Dan's brothers to be there. The flight is a three legged trip totally about 24 hours and with a four and a half year - lord help me. Apparently they have an elaborate funeral tradition in the Philippines which takes about 30 days. Currently they are having 9 days of prayer for John. The only consolation in all of this is that Clarita is surrounded by her family - her brothers, nieces, nephews, cousins. The whole town is pretty much all related somehow and they are all en force showing their support. Community is such a beautiful thing!

Hug the ones you love be they family, friends or neighbors and let them know you care. I'm happy we at least had a going away party for John and Clarita and we all hugged them before they left. We just didn't know that would be our last goodbye.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Gratitude Friday

I am inspired by Waldorf Mama and her Gratitude Friday posts and thought I try one out for myself. Currently, our family is in a crisis mode as my father-in-law has had a horrible accident and is presently in a coma. What makes matters more complicated is that he is in the rural Philippines where he and my mother - in -law, who is Philippino, built a house. My husband just left early this morning to to be with his mother to help her through this time. So, Sam and I are on our own for a month. To keep myself from wallowing in sadness during this crisis I thought I'd list some things I am grateful for:

* The rest of our combined families are healthy and well.
* The joy and love my son Sam brings to me everyday.
* The offer of compassion and help from our friends.
* Knitting which relaxes me and keeps me in the present moment.

Sam says he's grateful for:

* Marble runs
* Mama
* Time snuggling

What are you grateful for on this Friday?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

WIP Wednesday - On a Thursday

Well, one day late isn't too bad. I was so happy with how Sam's Vest turned out I was just itching to start a sweater for myself. My parameters for this project was I had to use yarn and needles I have on hand. After searching on Raverly I found this wonderful pattern, which fit my limits perfectly, called Cassis Sweater. The yarn I used is Lamb's Pride in a dusty shade of pink and my size eight circulars (I always have to go up one size as I tend to knit tightly.) Here it is in progress below.

It's a top down knit knit on circulars but not in the round as it's a cardigan. Currently, I am just finishing up the collar portion. Looks good yes? Those needles look pretty full of stitches already so I may have to purchase longer ones. Oh, well I did try this time around. What is on your needles lately?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Valentines, Valentines, Valentines. We had fun making them, receiving them and giving them away to teachers, family and friends. Sam and I painted paper with watercolor to make our Valentines for school as seen below. The weaving was quite hard with the heavy watercolor paper so Sam just watched this part. We found the idea in the wonderful book All Year Round.

Here are the Valentines Sam received at school. His teachers had each child make 1 card and then exchanged. One girl made some for everyone - hers is the small valentine on a stick.

This lovely creation is from his teacher Miss Melissa and Miss Annette. They also used paper painted in watercolors which I found sweet that we had the same idea. Inside they placed the valentine from the children and a finger knitted bracelet from Miss Annette.

At the end of Sam's school day we parents had the pleasure of participating in a special Valentine Circle of songs and dances. It was all about a Kingdom on Valentines Day and at the close we learned the "key" to the kingdom is love. So, each child was given their own key to the kingdom necklace to remember the day.

Here's my Valentine for Sam using the same watercolor paper and some ribbon.

Here's one of the many Valentines from Daddy. He choose to have no words pointing out to me Sam cannot read so why have words - it's all about the love anyway.

Well, there it is Valentines, Valentines, Valentines. We all had a wonderful day filled with hugs kisses, a little chocolate and lots of love. How was your Valentines Day?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Happiness Is...

Happiness is sunny sliced oranges on a winter morning followed by a hot cup of Irish Breakfast Tea, especially when said items use my favorite pottery made by my best friend :) !

What small things bring you happiness?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

WIP Wednesday - A Sweater for Sam

My plan was to knit this sweater vest for Sam as a Christmas present. Well, the best laid plans and then life happens. Since I choose the color red I thought it could become a Valentine's sweater vest instead. Not that I need an occasion to knit for my son, but it does give me a deadline which is a good thing. And I do like giving gifts that are something other than toys which seem to grow in number all on their own.

Here's the picture from the pattern. Simple and oh so cute!

I choose this basic bright red, Sam's favorite color at the moment, 100% merino wool by Queensland Collection called Super Aussie. The best part is it will be washable! Many people tell me to just knit in Acrylic for kids because it's so easy care, but I just can't stand the stuff. I love wool! So, finding a nice soft washable wool in a great kid bright color was a gift - Thank you Coldwater Collaborative in Excelsior, MN!

This is a little dark but the color is still pretty accurate - just a simple bright red for my red head.

I just started today (nothing like leaving it to the last minute again) and thankfully it looks to be a fast knit as I am already on the 2nd of 3 skeins of yarn. The pattern is by Knitting Pure and Simple - Basic Vest for Children #256 and I'm very pleased with how easy it is to follow. Even though I've knit many things I still feel like a novice knitter as I only have a few sweaters to my credit. Sweaters just seem to be a pinnacle for me. No matter how many socks, mittens, scarves and hats I've knit the sweater seems to mean more somehow. Do any of you feel this way?

Here's progress so far. I just love knitting in the round as it goes so quickly!
I'll be sure to post a picture of the finished product and hopefully it will be on the boy too! What's on your knitting needles as of late?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

New Item for My Shop

Coming up with ideas on items to create for my shop I find rather difficult. The ideas are there, but they tend to be too complicated and time consuming for making multiples. On the other hand, I do find it easy to make variations on a theme (i.e. different types of wands), but it is hard for me to come up with new ideas that are truly my own (it's so easy to be influenced by all the great creators on etsy.) Well, this new item is a variation on my crown theme and yet became its own theme too. They are flower wreaths to wear on your head much like the dried flower wreaths you see at Renaissance Fairs, except these are more indestructible and can take being thrown in a toy box. I was always sad when the flowers eventually all broke off or had gotten smashed on the flower wreaths I received as a child. So, no more of that!

Here's my red flower wreath above with matching red flower wand below. This is my favorite color combo as, like me, not all girls are into pink and purple as the department stores would have us believe.

I wanted a head piece to go with the flower wands as the crowns pair with the heart and star wands. So, I modified my crown pattern to be just a band using Elizabeth Zimmerman's sewn bind off thus keeping the band from becoming too tight. Then I shrunk my flower pattern to a size just bigger than the band. I used the colors of the wand as my palate and sewed the flowers on with french knots which also creates a sweet flower center. Lastly, I attached ribbons in the back for a flowing look.

Here's my lavender version above and matching wand below. I did change this set a little by making the band purple instead of pink, and vice versa for the flower centers. The purple I felt was too dark and the centers needed pink to make them shine brighter. So, same colors just not the same formula as before.

I just had to include this photo. Well, I must say my son is a good sport about modeling. Doesn't he make a lovely flower boy?

I have yet to do a wreath for my pink flower wand, but it's in the works. What do you all think of the design? Will this one be a winner? I certainly hope so as I really want to expand my line of dress up items and toys. I'm thinking of doing the same style wreath with butterflies adoring it to match my butterfly wands. But, it will all depend on how the butterfly shape looks being so small. What new projects are you working on?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Corner of My Home

Don't you just love it when bloggers show you corners of their homes? It's one of my favorites as other peoples homes always seem to look better than your own ( that and I'm just a snoop.) I wonder why that is? Perhaps it's because we see all that needs fixing, painting, repairing in our own spaces and not the beauty. Hmm... Well, I thought I would follow suit with the little space in my home that's my own. My son's room.

Yes, I have the room we envisioned for our son except our son does not use it. Best laid plans and all that. Instead he sleeps with his Dad as he , so far, can't/won't sleep alone. He has also moved all of his clothes etc. into the "boys" bedroom too. Since Dad snores and Sam kicks I have opted to take the Ikea bunk bed we purchased for Sam as my own. So, now I have a room of my own - small as it is. I sleep on the bottom of the bunk bed and on top is all my supplies for my Etsy shop (including shipping supplies) and my knitting projects.

Wool, wool, wool! I love all it's forms: raw fleece (in the box in the back), wool stuffing, wool felt and wool yarn. And of lots of lovely baskets to hold it all.

Here's a close up of all my supplies. My partial done sock and scarf await my hands, but first a vest for Sam for Valentines day.

This print was in my bedroom as a child and I had it re-framed for when Sam was born. I still love the look and feel and it reminds me of the engrossing French movie "The red balloon".

I tried having most of my supplies downstairs with one lovely basket upstairs filled with current projects. You know sitting besides my favorite chair charming, but uncluttered. But then it seemed I was forever running to the basement to get just 1 more thing. Having all my supplies in one place is so helpful and as I wish it was on shelves in my own art studio I am still grateful to that upper bunk which brought it all together. So, there you have it a corner of my small home. I hope you liked it. My theory is find space where you can even as unconventional as it may be because space is space.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

What to do With Felt Scraps

As you may imagine I have LOTS of felt scraps from making my wool felt wands. I don't like to waste or throw away anything that has a possible use left. This value leads to a house full of stuff unless I can find a use for me or give it away to someone else to use. So, far I've made smaller items like my new head wreath band, composted some (as it's all natural it can decompose, but this takes awhile), saved the tiny tiny shreds to stuff a pillow and lastly given some to my son to play with. This last one is the one I want to talk about.

Here's Sam's array of color felt scraps for threading.

My son is forever wanting to sew or knit like his mama, but as he's only 4 so it takes some thinking on my part on what he is able to make. Of course because he's 4 he doesn't want help and the project needs to make "something" (gone are the days of just stitching through fabric in an embroidery hoop - sigh.) I picked up this project from my friend Teresa, who is an early childhood teacher, of making necklaces out of small felt pieces and wooden beads. It's so simple but will keep Sam occupied for at least 15 - 30 minutes, and for a busy active boy this is a LOT of alone time. I just threaded a tapestry needle for him with thick cotton floss tying a big knot on the end and he just starts threading away. Because the felt is thin it takes some time to make a full necklace that will fit over your head. The wooden beads help speed things along if your little one gets frustrated.

Sam ever so carefully threading the felt into a long strand.

I had to add this last shot as Sam took the photo himself. I really like the angle.

Do you have any other suggestions for felt scraps? I'm always looking for ideas on how to use left over yarn, fabric and felt so please send me your ideas!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

A Time for Plastic

I have a objections to plastic toys as a rule. Even my son Sam will spout off to anyone that "Mama doesn't like plastic" (especially to his grandparents who offer to purchase plastic toys for him). But we do make one exception to my rule - Duplo Legos. My mother gave us an old set of Duplos that was left over from when she did childcare back in the early nineties. Because they are so old they are just simple blocks with no "specialty" pieces that only build 1 thing. It seems like most of the new sets have either pictures on the blocks or they only make a car or spaceship etc. The Duplos come out every winter when all of his other toys begin to feel too old hat and the building begins! I mean building, building, building! He and his Dad love to build all sorts of spaceships, vehicles and houses. Here are just a few:

Sam and the great tower that was chopped in half by a swift kick.

The set comes with these cute little people. Of course my red headed boy chose the red haired Duplo person.

This is the biggest spaceship to date. Can you see Dad's Star Wars influence?

I'm partial to this one with the ladder in back. Kind of a cross between spaceship and fire truck.

As you can see much fun and creativity abounds. So, who can complain that they're plastic? Well, for once not me :) ! What kind of toys do you bring out as the winter months begin to get longer and longer?