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I guess they missed me. : )

A few pictures of things we’ve done over the last few months.

For Valentine’s Day we made corner bookmarks like this lighthouse one I made for our dear neighbor E. I cut 2.5 inch corners off of envelopes (red ones left over from Christmas cards were especially useful) and then attached 2 inch triangles of a different color or patterned paper to each side. The kids had fun mixing up colors and decorating with stamps, stickers and cut-outs from magazines and catalogs. We found the nursery/seed catalogs and the quilting fabric catalogs to be gold mines for this activity. You can find instructions for a similar corner page marker here at Tally’s Treasury.

lighthouse collage corner page marker bookmark

Then we stuck the bookmarks into these Valentine cards. I think I made up this sentiment myself, but it’s possible I heard it somewhere. In any case I found some free clip art online and made this card. I printed out enough copies for all the students in both of the kids classes and they colored and decorated as desired, making each one special for the recipient.

all occasion card for readers books world bookmark earth

I’m including links to the printable pdf version here if you’d like to use it, just print on cardstock or regular paper, fold in half and in half again. original Valentine’s Card. And the write-your-own-occasion card pictured above.

knitting a tapered skinny scarf with novelty yarn

I knit several skinny scarves out of novelty yarn. This is the sort of yarn that looks pretty or fun but you really don’t know what to do with, or at least I don’t. But I finally figured something out that is easy to make and looks good. With extra large needles, I knit loose garter stitch scarves about 3″ wide with a single ball of novelty yarn, about 75 yards, for a long accessory scarf that can wrap around the neck and hang down fashionably. These won’t keep you warm at all but they are fun to wear. Rather than making a blunt end I figured out how to increase and decrease to make tapered ends that give a little extra finishing touch. My construction notes are on my project page in Ravelry.

hand knit skinny scarf with tapered ends novelty yarn

rock candy crystals homemade kitchen science

The subject of gems and crystals came up and on the way to explaining how crystals grow, I decided we needed to do an experiment. This falls under the category of what I call kitchen science—real experiments you can do with stuff you already have around the house. Even though I know I’ve done this before, it took two tries to produce a sugar solution that grew several of these rock candy sticks. I used the instructions from Our crystals did not retain either the flavoring or coloring that we added to the solution. Nobody complained when it came time to eat them.

smashed pansy bookmark flower ink

I cannot remember why we did this but we had fun. The girl and I picked pansies out of the garden to make some smashed flower art. The colored juices from the plant are transferred to soft paper by force. I used some bookmark sized pieces of heavy paper left over from another project. We used a regular hammer, sandwiching the flower face down on the paper between a piece of paper towel on top and wax paper on the bottom, on top of a scrap piece of wood. I cut the green fleshy calyx off the pansy with sharp scissors after positioning it on the paper. You could use this technique to make cards, placecards for a summer meal, or even art to frame. Get more details on how to make prints from botanicals from this great post by Wendy of Build/Craft/Make/Bake. Too bad I read her post after we did this project but there is plenty of summer and plenty of blooms yet to try!

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I realize it has been a long time since I last posted. An obvious reason is my preoccupation with a certain little boy. It’s hard to craft or cook with one hand while bouncing up and down. There have also been times when we have been crafting but I haven’t taken step-by-step pictures because that does take a bit more time. Having two children who really enjoy “making” means that most of my projects are done with their “help”. And sometimes it’s not worth interrupting the rhythm of their creativity just because I might want to post the results to my blog.


This seems like a good time to remember why I keep this blog. This is mainly a personal record of the things I make with my hands. I used to make thing and then give them away without having taken pictures or adequate notes. Because I rarely follow instructions, I found it difficult to reproduce my creations, or even to remember even vaguely what I had done. So now I try to make a record of most projects. I also try to add links to references or pictures I might have found inspirational or helpful. I often refer to my own blog to remind myself how to do something I’ve done before, or to get started on a new project with roots in a previous project.

I’ve made this journal public because sometimes people ask me how I made something or when or why and it’s nice to have all my notes in one place to refer to or even pass on a link to a post. Because the blog is mainly for my own use, my pictures are not perfect, descriptions may be sketchy on one project, lengthier on another. Some projects may include patterns or tutorials, others may just be a photo reminder. Please feel free to e-mail me if you have questions about something in particular. I do try to answer all e-mails and I do like to provide more information when I have the time and know there is interest. I am constantly surprised and touched that people are interested in my creative process. And I am always happy to hear that you are motivated by a blog post to try something new yourself. Thank you all for reading and thanks especially to those who take the time to leave me a note!

Some pictures of the yard in spring bloom—the perfect sprig of lilac flowers, a chive blossom complete with spider silk lines, Solomon’s seal bending over the hostas on the north wall.

lilac in bloom chive flower edible

Solomons seal and variegated hosta foundation planting

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heirloom primroses – probably been here since the house was built

yellow primroses

baby squash – planted last month

young yellow squash

the first Stella D’Oro daylily – planted last year

stella d'oro daylily


These little charmers are called spiderwort. I have no idea why. And the Latin name is rather a mouthful, tradescantia. They are perennials, native to the eastern seaboard. I received a few bedraggled plants last year, and they have adapted happily, blooming profusely this year.

pink and blue spiderwort flowers

My favorite fruit salads are usually composed mostly of berries—no bananas for me thank you. This one here has strawberries, blueberries, red plum and blackberries. I’m hoping that later this summer we’ll have blueberries off our own bushes, wild blackberries and maybe a few strawberries as well. Confession, I really don’t know the difference between blackberries and black raspberries. But I think maybe what we have in our backyard is not like these storebought blackberries so maybe they are actually black raspberries.

fruit salad strawberries blueberries plum blackberries

We had a dead tree taken down so I let the kids, ours and the neighbors, play on it for a few hours. They had a great time pretending the tree was a fort, a castle, a mountain, a nest . . . We also enjoyed, well, some of us enjoyed peeling back the bark and watching all the creepy crawlies shy away from the light. There was also a rather intense debate on the possible dangers of mushrooms and fungi. I stayed out of it for the most part but helped guide them to the conclusion that mushrooms were best left alone unless bought in the store or eaten at a restaurant.

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For a school field trip, the girl’s class was required to dress in orange shirts. The girl’s teacher was less than thrilled and I do have to admit that orange is not a common color in the girl’s wardrobe. The girl does have a tie-dyed orange tee shirt handed down from her brother that she could have worn but . . . I just can’t leave well enough alone.

So I took apart a tee shirt of mine in a nice pumpkin pie color. I modified a peasant shirt pattern with a little inspiration from a tee in the girl’s closet featuring raw edges. I had no thread that looked remotely suitable so I pulled out a directly contrasting slate blue and stitched away. I used the neckline trim to create an elastic casing for the neckline and empire waist. Having run out of the round cord I stitched some gathers into the sleeves by hand. I gathered strips cut from leftovers into rosettes and sewed tiny buttons to the centers, placing one on each sleeve gather and a grouping of five off-center on the empire waist. It turned out really cute I think. And the girl loved it.

pumpkin orange raw edge peasant tee

raw edge hand stitched gathered flowers rosettes with button centers

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I love the slow unfolding of spring here. Every season really, but especially spring, seems to bring subtle changes every day.

Behind the house in the “wild” there are various ferns poking up to uncurl their fronds and strange primordial-looking plants pushing up through piles of dead leaves.

fern leaves uncurling

curled fern heads fiddleheads

ghost pale ferns


And around the front of the house we have a swath of cheery daffodils nodding under the flowering cherry tree. A gentle breeze sends pale pink petals drifting like snow.

yellow daffodils foundation planting

cherry blossoms sakura against the blue sky

cherry blossoms against white wood sakura

More to come.

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I know this is not the only thing I’ve crafted in the last few weeks but I’m really at a loss as to what else I’ve been doing! I suppose we’ve been outside more. We are really full swing into spring now and it’s lovely to hear all the little birds and see all sorts of shoots coming up out of the ground. Sometimes I can’t remember what I planted where!

cast-on with handspun handdyed wool yarn

This project began with some yarn leftover from a hat I made for the girl, along with some other remnants that I used as dye sops. A simple but interesting construction, the pattern of paired decreases produces the soft scalloped edge. The finished knit looked like a crumpled mess.

knitted flower bowl ready to be felted

With faith and several runs through the washer and dryer it shaped up nicely into this sweet little felted flower bowl (link to Ravelry).

felted fulled knit wool flower bowl

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This is the hat I made from that PURPLE yarn. I am enamored with it. I’m usually relatively satisfied with the things I make but this one—this one makes me happy.

hand knit earflap hat handspun hand-dyed yarn

I really, really like how this project (Ravelry link) turned out. Did I already say that? It probably has more mistakes than anything else I’ve knitted but I decided it was more important to keep on and finish it rather than get bogged down in fixing little mistakes and lose my momentum. I made a few minor modifications to the Monarch Lyon Hat by Veronica O’Neil. I used the sizing from another hat pattern by the same author. In the original pattern the earflaps are detachable using buttons but I decided that the girl did not need one more thing to lose since part of the reason I knit this hat is because she has already lost several hats and mittens this winter. I’m wondering what we will find in the spring when the snow melts.

knitted snowdrop flowers

The main modification I made was to integrate knitted snowdrop flowers into the bottom of the i-cord ties. I chose snowdrop flowers since they are a delicate winter/early spring flower and they natural hang down in real life. I used a pattern by Lesley Stanfield from the book 100 Flowers to Knit and Crochet, although I was able to download it from the Lion Brand website for free. It was a bit fiddly but after trying several other flower patterns, this is the one I liked best. I think I’ll have to put this book on my wishlist, I like the variety and realistic look of the flowers in this book. The girl would probably prefer I put all 100 flowers on the same hat but she’ll have to live with my preference for simplicity for now. I guess she likes it, she graciously posed for a number of pictures.

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I have to say that the men in the house pulled off the best handmade presents this year. I helped a little but the ideas and much of the execution was theirs. The boy made his sister a monogrammed purse which she adores.

hand sewn felt and leather purse for little girl flowers monogram

We traced and cut an oval from some stiff pink felt left over from another project. The boy used a fabric marker to draw a curly “S” in the middle of the oval and then arranged and sewed on felt flowers all around. I cut a very simple pattern out for a curvy purse with a large front flap, reminiscent of styles from the ’70s. I cut the pieces from some scrap leather I had. (I’m pretty sure it’s bi-cast or laminated but it looks surprisingly nice and I think it will hold up fine to loving use by a little girl.) The boy helped me machine sew the oval onto the front flap. He then used a fabric marker to stencil a sweet message on the inside to his sister. Later I hand-sewed the pieces of the purse together and attached the strap to rings at the sides. It looks great, the boy was quite proud of himself and his sister was over the moon! See the photos below for the play-by-play action.

Oo! Pretty!

Oo! Pretty!



Oh, man, she kissed me!

Oh, man, she kissed me!

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Buzzy Tree

We’ve been singing Laurie Berkner’s Buzz Buzz at the top of our voices. And the bees in our yard are enjoying our flowering cherry tree so much the tree is constantly buzzing with activity. I’ve counted three, maybe four different kinds of bees!

flowering cherry tree in bloom sargentii

bumblee bee in a cherry blossom bee in a cherry blossom

The boy and his sister have been singing their own song, flower snow in the summer, while dancing under the petal breeze. There’s nothing like spring in Maine to remind you of the intricate beauty and mind-boggling enormity of creation.

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I’m always trying to find a way to contain the girl’s hair. It’s wispy just like mine. I tried this quick headband with some leftover yarns. The first one was made following this pattern from Carissa Knits (Ravelry link). The only changes I made was to size it down for a smaller head (8″ ties and 8″center). It turned out to be stretchy enough that I could wear it too.

knitted headband with crocheted flowers

I added some rather roughly crocheted white flowers to the ballet pink basketweave headband. The ties are made with I-cord which I had never tried before. It turned out to be fast and easy and fun! The second one was made from green cotton using the same recipe but substituting garter stitch for the basketweave and I used some of the pink yarn to embroider some wonky flowers. The green one is going to my little niece for Easter. Hopefully she won’t notice that embroidery is not one of my better skills.

knitted headband with embroidered flowers

These were so simple I actually made two in one day despite the crankies. I may even make one for myself, I have a little ball of dark plum colored cotton that might be just right.

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Admittedly, this photo is about a month old but I just realized I’d never shared it. The boy in the leaf pile. We had a great time that day, jumping in, playing leaf monster, piling on dad, etc. There’s some other things I’ve missed as well but I’m just going to offer some random favorite photos here until I get myself reorganized.

sleeping cats

Lila and Duke, curled up on the couch, just about every evening. Sometimes they let us sit with them too.


The girl, as Rudolph, with her ballet teacher, as the Nutcracker, after her very first performance. She was thrilled to be on a real stage although she did say more than once that she would have preferred to be Clara so that she could dance with her teacher. And of course she was quite enamored with all the beautiful costumes. The Maine State Ballet has a cute tradition of Father Christmas and his reindeer (the youngest ballet class) pulling the sleigh with Clara in it off the stage at the end of the ballet. It has nothing to do with the story and they are only on the stage for about 20 seconds but everyone loves it. Her brother and a special friend attended with us and all three of them sat in rapt attention through the performance. Tchaikovsky has such a universal appeal.


The girl cleared the top shelf of her bookcase of all its usual oddments and carefully arranged this sweet vignette. I had to snap a picture of it. The rose her daddy gave her after her performance in the Nutcracker, her well-loved kitty, given to her by her Nana, and Abby, her little Lego girl that I handpicked the pieces for and assembled to look like her.

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I actually made this dress a few weeks ago but the pants did not get finished until this week. I’ve had this in mind for quite a while and it all started with a very small remnant of the Ginger Blossom fabric in corduroy. I paired it with some yummy stretch baby canvas from Robert Kaufman in bubble gum pink. I then got a yard of the quilter’s cotton in the same print from an online sewing friend. The kiwi dots are from Michael Miller I think. I don’t usually buy patterns but I had wanted to try out one of Sandi Henderson’s patterns as they came well recommended. I chose Claire since the top is close to what I had in mind for this outfit.

peasant tunic and pants using Sandi Henderson Ginger Blossom fabric

I made a number of alterations to create the long sleeved tunic pattern including the wide bands of the kiwi green dot print at the hem of the tunic and the sleeves. I also made my dress without a waist seam. The pants are from my own simple pattern with slightly flared bottoms and an elastic waist. I added the corduroy bands to the bottom to mimic the bands on the dress. The girl has been delighted to wear the dress but, not surprisingly, refuses to wear the pants beyond the initial trying on. I even remembered to add a little “tag” to the back of the waist. Oh well, I don’t mind that she prefers dresses. I have some fabric ready for a second dress that will follow the Claire pattern more closely.

DSCF1799 DSCF1797 DSCF1800

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mushroom in the leaves blue boots splashing in a puddle of leaves last zinnia of summer

A mushroom (or toadstool according to our neighbor E.), blue boots splashing in a puddle, one last zinnia of summer

autumn leaves on the wet pavement one green leaf in a puddle of autumn leaves white fungus growing out of a stump

leaves on the wet pavement, one last green leaf, fungus growing on a stump

autumn road into the old cemetery squirrel sitting up on haunches eating an acorn

looking down the lane into the old cemetery, a little friend getting fat

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pink tie dye shirt with scattered daisies

Please excuse the silly look on my face. Rich told me I looked too serious. An old white shirt freshened up with pink on pink tie dye and then embellished across one shoulder with a little daisy rubber stamp using fabric inks. And a little frog hiding in the daisies at the hip.

rubber stamp with fabric ink on tie dye shirt rubber stamped frog and daisies embellish tie dye shirt

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