August 2010

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These projects barely qualify but since I haven’t done much else with a needle and thread lately you get to see them. Please excuse my lack of grammatically compete sentences. Strange mood tonight.

Water bottle holder. Yummy coffee/cocoa swirly fabric from Robert Kaufman. Self-lined with thermal-reflective fabric enclosed. Normally used to make potholders but should insulate cold as well as warm drinks. We’ll see how it performs.

water bottle holder with thermal lining

Mario Galaxy luma stars. At the request of the boy and his copycat sister. Green, his current favorite color and dark pink, her perennial favorite color. Highlights and eyes sewn on by hand, outline sewn by machine on felt. The boy named his Starfy and the girl named hers Perla but subsequently calls hers Starfy as well. The inspiration is thanks to “Uncle” Chad who brought his Wii game with him when he came to visit. (The jury is still out on whether or not we should press charges.)

hand sewn handmade felt luma stars from Mario Galaxy

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Under the waterline, starting from right side is large scuba man with lots of little oxygen tanks inside for the little scuba guys at the bottom who are dug into rooms under the sand along with a crab. In the upper left quadrant is a jellyfish, a cameraman, a horseshoe crab, an orange starfish and a lobster. This is a perfect example of the boy’s drawing style. Arrows represent relationships, movement, or the passage of time. Different elements are drawn with different levels of detail, often using varying points of view depending on the subject.


Do you sense a theme here? An ocean unit at school and a summer of trips to the beach have likely contributed to the subject matter, although I’m rather surprised not to see a hermit crab among the creatures.


Again we see a representation of events or cycles, not just a single snapshot. “A whale eating a shark eating a dolphin eating a little fish eating a little tiny shrimp” across the top. Also pictured are a diver taking a picture of a jellyfish, a baby shark, a manta ray gliding across the sand, a tiny starfish, and a “diving digger”. And “don’t forget the sea plant.”

I find the thought process of the boy’s drawings intriguing. Every child has their own style, even those who think they don’t like art can be encouraged to open up and go for it in the right environment. If you don’t have your own children to draw with, I highly recommend borrowing someone else’s child for an afternoon (with permission of course.) Get out some chalk on the driveway or some large pieces of paper on the floor and get down on your knees and draw together. Let the child guide you and don’t worry about having the right color or the right perspective or any of that kind of thing. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised how much you can enjoy and learn from drawing with a child.


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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My friend Lynn tweeted about verrines the other day and I had no idea what the word meant but I used to make them fairly often—B.C. that is (before children). So since the boy who does not eat fresh fruit was off at his grandparents’ house I decided this would be a good dessert for the girl and I to make together.

Sliced strawberries, made-from-scratch vanilla pudding, wild Maine blueberries, whipped cream and a few blackberries from our yard. Layered in a tall glass. Divine. Devoured.

fruit and pudding verrine parfait dessert


It’s been several years since we’ve had a vegetable garden. Not since we moved in fact. So this spring as I was moving perennials around, I was also contemplating where to put in a raised bed. I decided to remove a tired flower bed that had been taken over by primroses. They were quite a sight in bloom but not so much to look at the rest of the summer and a black hole for balls, toys and the feet and even backsides of children running through the yard. I gave away at least 50 bags of the plants through our local freecycle exposing a large area of dirt. So when we decided on the spot for the raised bed, Rich removed the sod before putting the wooden frame in place and I transplanted the chunks of sod to the site of the former flower bed. It worked wonderfully.

digging up sod for a raised garden bed

Two months later we are enjoying the fruits of our labor, a few purchased seedlings and a number of gifted transplants (and a yard+ of loam/compost). The blackberries came from a few old plants barely visible among the brambles at the edge of the woods behind the house. We’ve also enjoyed fresh dill, chives and greens this summer. I’m waiting on more cukes, zukes, ‘maters and squash to ripen in the coming weeks. The peppers, alas, have shown little inclination to do anything. I may pot them and bring them inside.




The girl put on a fashion show with some of her favorite stuffies the other day. The boy provided music, commentary and urged me to take pictures. I complied of course.


The new looks for fashionable stuffies everywhere, available by appointment only.


The girl did most of this herself, using her own hair things, dress-up stuff and doll blankets, etc. The littlest bear is dressed in a cutoff baby sock, I did that.

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handspun marled singles from hand painted merino superwash fiber

This project started out with 2.5 oz of earthy colored handpainted fiber I received in a trade. It’s probably superwash merino. There was a good sized line of deep brown that ran all the way through the rope of pine green, stormy blue, dark pumpkin and natural wool. I spun it into marled singles which I’ve never tried before. Actually I didn’t know that’s what it was called until after I started doing it. It creates nice soft color transitions.

I ended up with 250 yards so I decided to make a scarf. I decided on garter stitch not just because it’s easy but because I like the nubbly texture and the fact that it looks the same on both sides. I ended up knitting lengthwise so the stripes would be vertical when worn. I used all but about a yard. Washed and blocked and waiting for me to decide who to give it to.

handspun lengthwise garter stitch scarf

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strangling vine lace scarf

One skein of Spa acrylic/bamboo yarn in a color they call rose bisque I think, a free pattern from Ravelry, and a few minutes here and there over the past few weeks resulted in this scarf (Ravelry link). The name of the pattern is Strangling Vine which hardly seems appropriate for such a pretty pattern. The pattern is easily memorized but I kept wandering off track so it took me longer than it should have. I also added a made up border to each end. By the time I was done the whole thing was curled up in a ball but flattened out nicely with a little stretch and steam. The scarf is light, soft, not too long and should make a nice accessory for the boy’s first grade teacher who seems to favor this shade of pink. Too bad I didn’t finish it before the end of school last year.

detail of strangling vine lace knitting pattern

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