October 2009

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We interrupt this generally crafterly blog to bring you the feverish rantings of the author. Most of the family is down with this sickness so it’s been a bit odd here, I’m not even sure what day it is. Monday wasn’t so bad but that was just the beginning, mostly books in bed and keeping the energizer bunny occupied in quiet pursuits to allow her brother to sleep.

Tuesday will be known as the day of the bucket, I’ll spare you the details, poor kid. Rich and I juggled an appointment about the house, the girl’s dance lesson, and taking the boy into the doctor. Now that was surreal. When I talked to the nurse on the phone she told me to call when we arrived so that she could meet me outside with masks because of his symptoms. Masks! The boy took it in stride thankfully but I wondered what was going through the minds of the other patients as they saw us escorted up the back hall masked. Luckily we got to see the kids’ regular doctor, a nice guy with a laid back manner, curly brown hair and a comfortable smile, he reminds me of the piano-playing dog on the Muppets.


If you know him, absolutely do not tell him I said that. After checking the boy out he took off his own mask with a roll of his eyes, diagnosing strep throat. He explained that the government had mandated that masks be worn in suspected cases of H1N1, giving the poor nurses fits. Personally I think this is going a bit far, they don’t do that with regular influenza cases. This is just going to make people more afraid of H1N1. If you are a healthy person you have nothing more to fear than from an ordinary case of seasonal influenza. Down soapbox. By the time we arrived home, antibiotic in hand, Rich was going downhill fast. I still felt okay but it was going to catch up to me.

Wednesday morning I managed to make french toast and keep moving until about 10am whereupon I suddenly crashed. Fever, chills, aches, generally miserable and wimpy. The boy however was feeling a bit better. Two doses of antibiotics making a difference? Energizer bunny? Still going. Too many hours of Noggin (I really don’t like this switch to calling it Nick Jr., what was the motivation there?) The boy and I had an ongoing game to see who could throw more snotty tissues at the trashcan.

In the evening I crawled into bed unable to find a happy medium between cold sweats and raging inferno. My skin is crawling, I’m curled up under the comforter freezing, slowly blowing my brain out my nose. If you’re squeamish you might want to stop here. I’m going to tell you about my nightmare next.

Just for a bit of context I heard a snippet of a song from Oliver! the musical the other day and ended up reading the plot summary on Wikipedia. We’ve also been watching a few two many reruns of crime drama CSI:NY.

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens CSI_NY

In the chill pre-dawn light, dark bluish black rough rock walls close in about the crumpled body of Nancy, late girlfriend of the evil Bill Sykes, from Charles Dickens’ novel, Oliver Twist. A voice in the background is taking note of the injuries, “numerous contusions of varying age indicate blunt force trauma to the head and torso previous to the crime as well as during the crime.” The shadowy figures of crime scene investigators reach in here and there to point out details, bag evidence and express their opinions. “She came here willingly; there are no defensive wounds.” In typical CSI:NY fashion, the crime scene investigation is punctuated with flashbacks to the actual crime. Nancy screams and pleads with Bill to let her go. But his selfish twisted soul cannot comprehend her unconditional love for him and is further angered to raging jealousy by her motherly affection for the boy, Oliver. She crumples into a ball under the blows of his heavy black boots. In his animal anger, he continues to beat her long after she has stopped moving.

Despite the fact that a significant part of my brain was quite aware that this was only a dream, I was unable to rouse myself which set me into an increasing panic. Rich eventually heard me and woke me up enough to snap out of it. Yikes, dreams on fever, not so fun.

So here I am feeding my fever with soup, ice pops, etc. That’s right isn’t it? Starve a cold, feed a fever? And blabbering in the middle of the night because I can’t sleep anyway. Time for more cough syrup possibly. I really should be keeping a chart of who got which med when.

Now into Thursday I think? Kind of a blur. The boy seems much better although still has a touch of fever. I still feel like a pin-pricked rickety old wind-blown skeleton? You see? I still have a fever, can’t quite ditch it. Energizer bunny now has a fever but you wouldn’t know it. She’s still running around, singing her songs, flitting about like normal. I made the mistake of drinking Pepsi. For some reason my addled brain thought that since it was flat, the caffeine had gone out of it? No really, I do remember thinking something along those lines, I can drink this because it’s flat. Bwahaha, what was I thinking? That’s why I’m up again at 2:45.

I can’t believe we are going to blow this whole week on a microscopic germ! Do you think the germ is thinking . . . The bigger they are, the harder they fall? Of course not, germs can’t think. I’m not that feverish. But still, it is a good lesson. “Best laid plans . . .” “Don’t count your chickens . . .” “Tomorrow . . . God willing . . . “

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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Leopard kitty

Several weeks ago I gave the kids a deadline for deciding what they wanted to dress up as for Halloween. The girl had her mind firmly set on dressing up as a leopard. I bought the leopard print fabric at the local fabric store. It’s synthetic but fairly soft and heavy so I thought it would be warm, especially if I lined it which I did, using hemp/cotton fleece for comfort. I made pants from her regular pants pattern, slightly flared. The pattern for the hooded top was cobbled together using her long sleeve shirt pattern and a comparison of the hoods of two jackets. The tail snaps on to the bottom of the jacket. Placing the pattern pieces on the fabric was rather tricky as there were darker and lighter bands running with the grain and I had to deal with matching those up and deciding how they would go together. I used most of 1.5 yards without much waste. A cool clear separating zipper makes the top into a jacket that she can wear this fall and in the spring. The hood turned out rather large despite the fact that I cut the pattern pieces down from my original tracings before cutting the fabric. Oh well, now I know.
For some reason this is the only picture I have of the girl from the pumpkin party we went to at the home of a classmate of the boy’s. Hopefully we’ll get some better pictures at Halloween. I may do a few more things, maybe some mittens with paw pads?

child's leopard costume

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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.


Last night I broke into the new Jacquard acid dyes despite not having found any citric acid powder which is used to fix the dyes. Instead I used white vinegar which some instructions warned is much smellier but since I have a cold it made absolutely no difference to me and no one else in the house complained. I didn’t purchase the citric acid by mail order with the dyes since it is supposed to be available in grocery stores, just not the one closest to our house. I was dreadfully unscientific about the process, despite my best intentions to take care with measurements and such. But this was already a pretty mixed up yarn.

hand dyed hand spun blue yarn on the swift

So all that to say, the yarn is now a pleasantly variegated stormy autumn blue after a soak in vinegar water and a dye bath in a low oven. Dried overnight, wound into a ball this afternoon, cast on with a provisional cast-on (that screaming white stripe of crochet cotton at the bottom), and about an inch into becoming a hat that I have no pattern for! Yes, are we surprised? I am making it up as I go along. How quickly my tendencies with other crafts have invaded my new knitting skills. I did knit, wash and block a test swatch however. Does that count for anything?

knitted swatch of hand dyed, hand spun fingering yarn

cake or ball of hand dyed hand spun blue merino corriedale fingering yarn provisional cast-on with contrasting white yarn

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Boy clothes are harder than girl clothes. Boys’ styles are simpler and the basic lines need to be good looking because they won’t be covered up with a lot of ruffles or eye-catching prints. It can also be a challenge to make something that’s a little different but not too cutesy. Thankfully these new pants met with the boy’s approval despite his reluctance to be photographed.


I have tons of this great brushed twill in several neutral colors. I paired this cinnamon brown with a bit of home dec weight woven stripes in soft blues/greens/browns. I cut the striped fabric into knee patches, back patch pockets and belt loops. I used elastic in the waist and stitched a faux fly. I also used the twin needle to topstitch most of the seams. I need to make a few adjustments to the pattern but these fit well enough. The boy tested out the knee patches right away. Good thing I got them in the right place!


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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This cut-and-color activity was originally created to accompany a lesson on the parable of the mustard seed (Mark 4:30). I found the wonderful black and white illustrations on an educational site allowing use of the images for personal or educational use. I chose pairs of young and adult animals and plants that have fairly different looking forms.

random-charm's cut-and-color matching game, young and adult animals and plants

I did this activity with several kids ages 4-7 and it was challenging enough to all of them to make and to play. If you are making these with more than one child in the same house, use different colors of cardstock for the backing so that each child will know which set is theirs. You can play at least two different games with these cards and I’m sure they will spark interesting conversations, walks outdoors and field trips! Enjoy!

2 page PDF 5.5 MB download

random-charm's cut-and-color matching game, young and adult animals and plants random-charm's cut-and-color matching game, young and adult animals and plants

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