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These are all angora/merino blend yarns from my parents’ rabbits—Keiser Angoras. I’ve been experimenting with handpainting and I’m excited to see how the placement of dye colors will redistribute when knitted.

hand dyed angora/merino fingering yarn

hand dyed angora merino yarn ball Keiser-Angoras fingering

chocolate and cherries hand painted dyed angora/merino yarn

And this is what happens when you can’t find your skein winder. You raid your kids’ Tinker Toys and jerry-rig one. Actually they were mine as a kid! Some toys are ageless.

Tinker Toy yarn skein winder DIY

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paper hat worn by cat

Paper hat made in the “French style” according to the boy. He had just finished reading a version of the fairy tale, Puss in Boots, with lots of froofy clothing. Hat modeled patiently by Duke the cat.

plumber's tape and water bottles

I have these small water bottles that don’t leak when they tip over and are just the right size for the kids. Unfortunately with much use the lids no longer screw down tightly. On a crazy whim I pulled out the plumber’s thread seal tape, read the box (it is food-safe), and wrapped a length around the threads of the bottle. I screwed on the lid and tested it out. Super, watertight once more. They’ve been through the dishwasher twice and I haven’t had to replace the tape yet. I think they’ll make it through the rest of the summer.

hand knitted lunch bag

I knit this “lunch sack” from a pattern I found on Ravelry. The pattern was written to be knit flat and then sewed up after. Although I don’t mind sewing, one of the things I like about knitting is the ability to create shaping without having to sew seams. So with a little math I converted the pattern to knit in the round, preserving as much of the original details as I could. It turned out pretty well although it is a little too stretchy to hold a full water bottle and a piece of fruit. But it would be just fine for a sandwich and a snack.

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This project is on the list, unlike some other things I’ve been doing lately, but I admit it is pretty far down the list. Why are those projects farther down the list so much more enticing?

Anyway, we have a lot to do this weekend and I decided I could accomplish one thing by doing the dump/recycle run this morning. Since it was sunny out (yay!) I drove up to the junk wood piles and the girl and I scouted for usable pieces. I was mainly looking for 1x4s so I can construct a roof frame for the top of the slide tower which the kids refer to as the treehouse.

wooden swingset slide tower treehouse fort

Since the swingset is nicely weathered, it seems silly to buy new wood, especially when there is perfectly good salvaged wood available for the hunting. I did find some suitable 1x4s, the girl found quite a few pieces for building a “castle”, and we also found a few other interesting pieces.

salvaged wood pieces


One of the pieces I found was just the right size to make a counter to attach to the posts under the fort. We also found a turned post long enough to cut in half to make legs. It’s not exactly level but it is sturdy. The girl found some large painted fruit cutouts and we brought those along. After arriving home we had just enough time before lunch to cut and install some support pieces and get the counter into place.


I’m sure it will serve nicely as an ice cream counter/farm stand/whatever-the-kids-dream-up. The roof frame will have to wait, the threat of gray skies and the need to do some math have driven me indoors for now.

salvaged wood counter and painted wood fruit on swingset slide fort treehouse

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I don’t know where the boy got this idea but he came to me with this sketch and a promotional toy ball and requested that we cover the ball in yarn and “knit” the body. My kids often come up with ideas they really can’t accomplish on their own and I generally fall for “helping” them make their creations. They do make plenty of their own creations with very little help.

In the advertising world, the production artist is the person who makes the creative or art director’s sketch into reality. Although they are usually at the bottom of the org chart, a good production artist is worth their weight in gold. I am not a good production artist. But I suppose this was good practice. The art director seemed pleased with the results and was even persuaded to help with some of the production.

orange skeleton mohawk dude kid drawing

We have recently acquired a rather large collection of worsted weight acrylic yarn balls in all colors from a neighbor and I have found these quite useful for occasions such as these. He quickly picked out the desired colors and I went to work on crocheting a cover for the toy ball. Yes, I could knit this but I’m better at winging it with crochet and I find it easier to get a firmer fabric with crochet, so better for dolls and animals.


Boring part over we moved on to the body. I started each foot and then had him sit in front of me and helped him through single crocheting the stripes. It’s just a matter of sticking the hook through the right hole and pulling out a loop of yarn. We joined the legs into a body with more stripes, I did the decreases toward the neck and crocheted the arms and the blue eye rounds. He helped me sew on the arms and the details on the face. I did about one row of hair and he did the rest, styling as he went.

amigurumi mohawk skeleton striped dude

He took it to class for share day with a cardboard guitar he made. Rock on, mohawk dude.

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I haven’t been posting so much lately. I’m not really sure why. I thought I would have more time to myself with the girl in afternoon kindergarten. It doesn’t seem to have worked out that way. But I suppose I have been able to volunteer at both of the schools.

Various photos:

socks handknit from self-striping yarn

This is the second pair out of the same ball of self-striping yarn. Matching socks for the boy and his sister.

dyed wool blanket remnants scraps

These are scraps of an old wool blend blanket that the boy and I dyed various colors. It was originally a light green and the boy had a great time seeing what would happen when we overdyed with various colors. It took the dye fairly well but unfortunately it did not felt well. That may change the intended use.

swatch of eyelet lace border

Swatch of eyelet lace border that I originally improvised for the strangling vine lace scarf. Someone on Ravelry saw my project photos and asked about the border. I had already gifted the scarf so I had to look at the photos to try and figure out what I had done. I hope I got it right. Although the pattern is quite simple, I have a hard time remembering to stop and write down what I am doing. Probably why I didn’t write it down in the first place. So my Ravelry notes for this are now out there and I really hope there aren’t any mistakes for the sake of anyone who may try to knit from them.

homemade chili in iron pot

This one because you need a food photo don’t you? Recently I have made chili with pulled chicken instead of beef in it and I like it very much. I use poached chicken thighs and pull the meat apart with two forks. And I always put the diced green pepper in just before serving so they stay nicely crunchy.

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The boy (and his sister) decided they wanted to dress up as ninjas for Halloween. This sounded like a good plan to me so I heartily endorsed it. Covered head to toe in something that should be easy to buy or make and could be worn later as pajamas.

Black tee shirts and leggings were purchased. I sewed the balaclavas and belts from material I already had, they will get thrown into the dress-up shelves. I already had two pairs of long black dress gloves that worked perfectly. I made the balaclava pattern a year or two ago for a Batman costume so all I had to do was find it and sew some more. Very fast and easy on the serger in a knit fabric. Men’s black tube socks worn over their shoes and pulled up to the knees provided an extra layer of warmth and silent ninja feet. Because of course, nothing else about the evening was ninja quiet.
Halloween dress-up ninja costumes


handmade DIY drop spindle made from afghan or tunisian crochet hook and toy wooden wheel

Apparently I’ve never actually given the instructions on how to make a drop spindle out of an afghan hook and a wooden wheel. It’s really quite simple. You need an afghan hook (also called a tunisian crochet hook)—looks like a crochet hook on one end and the back end of a knitting needle on the other end. The shaft is completely round, no thumb bump like a regular crochet hook. Fatter and metal is better for weight purposes. I like mine about 10 – 12 inches long. You can buy these in craft shops or find one cheap at a yard sale or second hand shop.

afghan or tunisian crochet hook

The second part you need is a wooden wheel or circle about 2.5 to 3 inches in diameter and .5 to .75 inches thick. The larger diameter and wider width will spin longer and steadier. I’ve found these toy wheels in craft stores in the bare wooden parts/toys section and places that sell unfinished wood furniture. The ones I like the best actually look like truck tires and are wide on the edge but have a well in the middle. I prefer these turned pieces because they are uniformly balanced.

toy wooden wheels

These wooden wheels do have a hole in the middle already but it’s probably going to be too big for your afghan hook. I use a thick black photographers tape or masking tape wrapped around the shaft about two inches down from the hook until it is a tight fit for the hole in the wooden wheel. I usually cut the tape in half lengthwise and taper down the end. It’s thick enough when you can just barely get the wheel on with some gently turning and twisting. Put the wheel on with the flat side toward the long end. You could add a drop of glue if you like, I haven’t found it necessary.

wrapping masking tape around the hook IMG_8400

The last step is to use a craft knife to cut a notch in the wood opposite the hook. This serves as a resting place for the yarn you are spinning. If you paint the wheel, I prefer to cut the notch after painting to make it more visible. ETA: The finished spindle should weigh approximately 1.5oz or 50 grams.

DIY drop spindle made from afghan hook and wooden wheel

There are many videos available on the web to show you how to use your drop spindle.

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The boy was lent a “learning buddy” by his teacher this year. A hedgehog by the name of Prickles helped the boy with various tasks at school and made visits home on the weekends. They were fast friends and Prickles made an appearance in many of the boy’s drawings and stories. As the end of the school year drew near the boy was sad that he would have to leave his buddy behind. But he was consoled by the fact that he would always have “Prickles” in his heart, and that next year the little hedgehog would be helping some other little boy or girl in his old classroom.


On the last Friday of school, the boy came bounding off the bus, announcing with great excitement that Prickles had come home to stay. There were grand plans of a home for the hedgehog with tunnels and slides, cozy holes, lots of toys and a running wheel. The next day at the transfer station (read dump) the boy and I picked through the trash-to-treasures pile looking for any oddments that might make an appropriate home for a stuffie hedgehog. I was secretly hoping not to find anything when suddenly I spied this round wonder with a handle sticking out. I told the boy it would make a fine amusement ride for Prickles and some of his other animal friends. The boy was delighted and completely unaware of my ulterior motive for allowing this strange contraption to enter our house.


The clear lid lifts off to add or remove objects. When the handle is spun the inner basket whirls with surprising speed. Just about any of the little people and animals that would fit in the basket hopped in for a dizzying test spin.

And what is this carnival ride for stuffies in reality? I’ll admit I’m not sure. I initially thought it was a hefty salad spinner but it is way overbuilt if so. My guess is that it’s a countertop washing machine for clothes. I plan to use it for spinning the remaining water out of washed fiber or yarn. ;)

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We’ve had several rainy days in the last week. While the girl does enjoy a good puddle walk, our time outside was still cut down considerably. One of our projects was to wash some rather old and musty random balls of yarn I was given. A burn test and the presence of bits of VM (vegetable matter) confirmed the yarn was indeed wool. And therefore worth the time to skein, wash, dry and rewind. I think it was about nine cakes in the end. Some pinks, some blues and some neutrals, all about worsted weight. I have a sweater in mind for the boy that I think I can eek out if I combine the blues and greys. I should probably start on something for the girl first however since she did patiently help with as much of the process as she could.

miscellaneous balls of wool yarn

skeining yarn on a yarn swift washing wool yarn skeins of wool yarn drying

and after:
cakes of wool yarn wound on a ball winder

Oops, a ball of handspun crept into that last photo. That IKEA folding towel rod thingy is not so great for hanging towels but it makes a great rack for drying skeins of wool!

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How awful is that? I did not sew a thing in the month of January. Oh wait, I forgot about the dance practice skirt I made for the girl. I blocked it out of my mind because although it fits, and the girl likes it, it did not turn out how I intended at all. Like the difference between turning left and turning right.

She got this sweet doll for her birthday. Originally the doll had blue and yellow socks/shoes that were sewn on which was a problem to the girl because we don’t wear shoes in our house. Therefore she does not want her dolls to wear shoes in the house either. So I did some surgery and the doll now has permanent pink tights. I also made a pink flowered dress at the same time. Apparently I neglected to take a picture of that.

So anyway, the girl has been pestering me for doll clothes. I don’t remember making doll clothes as a kid, I made lots of things but I don’t particularly remember making doll clothes. And I don’t remember my mother making clothes for my dolls either. Now I know why. It’s annoying.

But about the sewing of the moment, raglan sleeve pink shirt with picot edging repurposed from little girl’s turtleneck. White tutu made by cutting the foot off a ruffly toddler sock. No sewing. Instant gratification. Tutu wins.

doll shirt repurposed from little girl's turtleneck and doll tutu made from cut off toddler sock


yarn ball in netting keeper

I bought a $1 bath pouf a while ago and keep finding interesting uses for it. When I took it apart it turned out to be something like 10 feet of tubular netting. It’s not very strong but it’s stretchy and very smooth. I cut off about 10 inches, knotted one end and stuck a 4oz centerpull ball of yarn in it. The netting will shrink around the ball as I use the yarn. I like being able to see the yarn but not having to deal with a ziploc bag.


and everything in its place. I don’t know who originally said that but I am certainly finding wisdom in it.

I’ve been working here and there on organizing parts of the house and trying to find a home for everything, whether that is in our house or in someone else’s. I’m hoping that we can keep what is really needful and dear to us and let go of everything else. So far this is working best in the kids’ room. But I did make a little addition to the kitchen today.

There is often a piece of fruit or two out on the counter in the way and I decided that this odd corner under an upper cabinet was a good place to hang this wire basket. It’s collapsible and has two handles on it that when held together cause the top of the basket to close almost completely around the contents. I’m sure it has some distinct purpose but I can’t even remember where I got it or why. The girl and I strung some wire through the rim, screwed a hook into the underside of the cabinet and hung our new fruit basket. It looks quite at home already.

collapsible mesh basket with fruit

Earlier in the week or was it last week? I did some serious work with the miter saw. The girl donned a favorite outfit to help me with the sanding and assembly of a ladder for the bunkbeds. See her hammer there?

sanding and assembling ladder

I just have to include this picture of her outfit, don’t you love her style? Vintage ’70s brown floral (originally made by my mother for me) with the leopard pants from her Halloween costume. She makes me smile. I would never have worn anything half so fun.

vintage '70s brown floral dress with new leopard pants

bunkbed ladder

I recently found out that this is actually the third generation to sleep in these bunkbeds. Everyone else has done just fine without a ladder but this allows me to use the space at the foot of the bed for the organizer that holds all the dress-up accessories. It’s not pretty but it’s functional and the kids like it. Maybe it will get painted as well if we get around to painting the walls.

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sandpaper glued to popsicle sticks and tongue depressors

I make these sandpaper sticks by gluing scraps of sandpaper to old popsicle sticks and tongue depressors. I write the size or “grit” of the sandpaper on the back of the stick. These are like emery boards but much sturdier. I stick them in the pen jar on my desk and in the kitchen and they come in awfully handy.


The before: one $.99 stretchy plastic coil keychain bracelet thingy and a random assortment of double pointed knitting needles threatening to get out of control.

stretchy plastic coil bracelet assortment of double pointed knitting needles

The after: organization. Simple and inexpensive. Can you believe they sell these things 3 for $5 in knitting stores? From one $.99 bracelet I cut 8 little coils which will each securely hold 4-5 double pointed needles size 2 through 8. Pretty versatile for a $.12 DIY thingamajig, yes? Works on straights and probably other things I haven’t thought of.

DIY plastic coils holding together double point knitting needles dpns

PS. I forgot to take a picture of the blue one before I cut it up. The rainbow colored one belongs to one of the kids.

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$1 mesh bath puff

Take one mesh bath puff, a pair of scissors, 2′ of bias tape or wide ribbon, 2′ of cotton string, about 10 minutes at the sewing machine and voila! a reusable mesh bag for fruits and veggies. The bath puff is held together by a short length of cord, once you cut it you get a really long tube of soft mesh, diameter about 10″. I cut it into 15″ lengths. I sewed leftover bias trim from another project to close off the bottom and then as a casing around the top. I threaded cotton string through the top as a drawstring.

It’s actually about the same size as the plastic grocery store bags and would hold about 8 apples I guess, maybe 2 crowns of broccoli, etc. I don’t think this mesh is as strong as I would like it to be but we’ll see how it works out in practice. I have another source for some heavier duty mesh but I figured I’d try out my idea with something cheap and readily available first.

I hate coming home from the grocery store with ten of those clingy plastic bags. They aren’t really good for keeping your veggies in once you get home or for storing anything else for that matter, too flimsy. They are recyclable but still, they have a useful life of about 30 minutes. What a waste. So I thought I’d try out some mesh bags and see how I like them. My big problem will be remembering to take them with me to the grocery store.

reusable mesh fruit or vegetable bag

And for anyone who wants to try this themselves, there is enough mesh in one of those bath puffs to make 10 bags! You could probably use foldover elastic on the top edge instead. Might be easier to make and use than the drawstring casing. The fabric trim just looks pretty!

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