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?

Friday, February 4, 2011

Candlemas (a few days late)

We're just in our 2nd year of Waldorf Preschool with our son Samion and I'm trying hard to bring the Festival life he experiences in school home. So, Candlemas was this week and he made a lovely rolled beeswax candle in school and sang songs about light. My intention was to make candles at home that same day, but alas it did not come to fruition. Today is usually Sam's day with his Poppa while I work on my wands and crowns for Etsy. But since Poppa is currently out of town I had Sam today and candle making was on our agenda.

Sam by the backdoor chipped away at the ice made from the ice dams melting on our roof.

We started cutting the wicks by having Sam cut while I held the wick. Then we watched the wax melt on the stove top. I purchased little votive glass jars as we did not have enough beeswax to dip for tapers (frankly that process is still too slow for Samion.) After making a few of these glass votives we decided to try making snow candles which I read about on In These Hills blog. We made a hole in a snowbank in the backyard, suspended a wick from a pencil above it and poured in the wax. These came out as fun little blobs which we will try to float in a bowl of water as a centerpiece.

Here's the snow candle cooling

Sam holding up the now cooled snow candle blob.

A fun closeup of the organic nature of snow candles.

Our bounty of the day along with Samion's rolled taper from school.

I hope you all enjoyed Candlemas and had the time to make candles with your little one. The best part is your whole house gets to smell like sweet honey - YUM!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A Night at the Studio

My longtime friend Emily is a ceramic artist and has a studio in the Northrup King Building (a wonderful old seed company building turned into artist studios) in NE Minneapolis. It's kind of like the indoor "mall" of art.

I work for her a couple days a week making trays and plates out of slabs, ornaments, staining, underglazing etc. It's really the only time I get to see her as she's a busy mama with a 4 month old and a 4 year old who tries to work on her art full time. So, her building puts on a monthly evening called 1st Thursdays where on the 1st Thursday of every month the artists open their studios for the public to see and buy their art.

Here's one of Emily's limited edition tiles for this Valentine's Day

She had me as a guest artist this Thursday to sell my Valentine related wands and crowns. I was really happy to have another venue in which to sell my work. Two sisters, 2 and 7 years old, went home with a wand and a crown each. They walked all around the studio posing and saying "Ta Da". It was amazingly cute. I didn't sell any more than that, but had a good time hanging out with Emily and watching the wide array of people come through. She's going to let me come back for another event in May called Art - A - Whirl which lasts three days. I curious what my sales for that event might be as it is really an art crawl and well, I make toys. We'll just have to wait and see I guess. I hope you all had a fun 1st Thursday of February too!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Fun Etsy Treasury

It's a little silly to blog about a treasury on Etsy as they only last a few days, but this one I found especially cute (I'm in it too!) So, here it is Valentine's Day the treasury. If you search on Etsy for Waldorf related toys you'll notice quite a few regulars in this one.

This cute teething ring with knitted heart is from thiscosylife.

Here's a Valentine holding Gnome from mamaroots.

A sweet and simply puzzle from justhatched.

Lastly, a crown from me adolina.

So, if you're looking for something a little different for Valentine's Day please visit these sellers etsy shops. They all focus on all natural simple toys. Aren't those the best kind?

Wonderment is Closing

This morning I was checking my email per my usual start to the day and received a sad notice that our local Waldorf toy store Wonderment is closing their doors. They had expanded to two stores right before the economy tanked and their sales began to dwindle. Having hung on in hopes of a recovery these last few years they came to the realization that their stores were no longer sustainable. It saddens me deeply that this lovely resource will not be available to the community any longer.

For they were a resource for toys, crafts, classes and even outreach efforts. It was the one place I could take my son and say you may pick out anything you like. As all the toys were free of batteries, natural and open ended I was always happy with the choices he made. The times seem to be hardest on these brick and mortar stores. And now I too will have to turn to the internet to find the toys I desire for my child's growth and development. This seems to be the future of selling more and more these days. Etsy is still my main source of sales for my own toys even with doing craft and school fairs. I will miss the coming together of like minded families and the opportunity to touch and feel such soul filled toys. It was the place in which I made my son's Waldorf Doll, sold my wands and crowns, and found community. I will miss it greatly.