Archive for category Crafting w/ M

Back Again – Maybe?

I could make a lot of excuses for my absence, tell my life story or give a laundry list of accomplishments.  But I won’t.  Honestly, you don’t want/need to know, and I don’t want to waste time thinking or writing about it.

In a society where being busy is praised, but showing that you are stressed is looked down upon – I’ve finally thrown in the towel.  I’m at the point where I am openly saying no and admitting that I have reached a state of overwhelm.  Admitting it to others, really, because I had been trying so hard to not admit it to myself for months. It was somehow easier to allow myself to accept that I have limits if I told others that I did.

All that being said – I’ve mentioned time and time again that Fall is my favorite season.  Apple picking, sipping wine outside at my favorite vineyard while M runs around, watching football with my parents on a Sunday afternoon, Halloween.  Fiber Festival Season.  Every part of it makes me happy.  But honestly, it also adds to the stress.  Needing to make all the apple things before the apples rot, driving two hours each way to get far enough out into the country to feel like I’m really appreciating Fall, and traveling to and from festivals.

This weekend is the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival.  When M woke up this morning (after actually sleeping in!), she was on me about leaving the house and doing something.  Meanwhile, I was sitting on my craft room floor soaking in the fact we had NOTHING scheduled for this weekend.  Planning to savor every unplanned moment of the day.  And I felt guilty about it.  I hadn’t told her that there was a festival this weekend because I knew she would want to go. She loves festivals and she’s already “mad” at me about going to Rhinebeck without her again…

I slowly weighed my options. It’s not like I wouldn’t enjoy the festival – I enjoy most of them and this one is pleasantly small and much less crowded.  But it’s over an hour away, with traffic likely two.  It was late morning and (we’re being real here) I hadn’t even showered.  The idea of rushing around to get ready so we could get there at a reasonable time was stressful.  I carefully chose my words and told her about the festival.  She asked if there would only be fiber there.  I honestly relayed the details.  She thankfully declined once I told her the distance and the length of the drive.

Instead, she asked for me to get her “Box of Projects” out of the craft room closet and she disappeared for another hour working on her own crafts.  We’ve since spent a lovely day crafting, making waffles together, butterfly watching (our three butterfly bushes out our front window are still blooming), and just breathing.  One of the many benefits to parenting – having a child who can read you and your needs sometimes, and understanding that sometimes, even moms need a break!

I hope you all are having an amazing start to your Fall!  But I also hope you are finding ways to slow down and take some time for yourself, too!

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Summer Crafting, Preschool Style

I have an amazing sister.  I know, this is not a blog where I brag about my family too often.  But no joke, she’s awesome.  When it comes to being the fun aunt, she’s even better.  Our vacation this summer mainly involved staying at my sister’s place where we went on loads of fun adventures to the beach and Coney Island and more.  Back to my sister, though.  She anticipated nearly all of my daughter’s wants and needs… before M even knew she had them.  She even had her willingly eating multiple helpings of salad… my daughter likes her veggies, but baby spinach?  This was new for us…

I brought some toys my daughter hadn’t played with in a while hoping to fill some of the odd hours where we didn’t have something planned and we needed her to be able to play quietly so the adults could rest from all the traveling and excitement.  But it was my sister who brought some real child-entertaining game.

We arrived to find a well-thought-out list of activities she had planned to keep M busy.  There was dress-up, slinky racing (which M and my brother-in-law took off running with), and more drawing than I thought could be humanly possible, especially that done by the adults at the direction of my daughter.

However, the most impressive activity my sister came up with and the one that seems to keep on giving is the one involving thin cut-out wooden bears. Think paper dolls, but made from wood liken to a tongue depressor.  My daughter helped direct how she wanted the faces drawn on… I snuck off for a nap… and when I awoke – all three bears had paper outfits cut out of fancy card stock.  I don’t just mean dresses.. There are shoes, a hat and a purse.


Plus, these outfits aren’t glued on.  There is the potential for more outfits to be created.  That’s because my sister thought to also get that weird blue wall putty stuff that you can hang pictures on your walls without messing up the paint.  The stuff that will now always be referred to as the amazing putty that allows my child to make her own bear dolls’ clothing that will stay on when we want it to but be so easily changed to a new outfit on a whim.  No silly fold-over paper tabs where the clothing inevitably falls off in less than five seconds like normal paper dolls.


Since we’ve been home, I’ve been incredibly inspired to come up with more fun crafting/play time for my daughter and me.  Last summer we had dabbled in some art journaling.  This summer, M is going at it full force.  We pulled out the paints, stencils, glitter glue, crafting tape and craft paper and she has been adding to her pages pretty consistently.


We also pulled out some other projects I had planned on us completing together…. years ago.  We finally painted and decorated the wooden letters for her name and hung them on the wall of her room by stringing them on decorative ribbon (less nail holes).


I’ve also been struggling to find ways to better display all of the artwork she creates both at school and at home, so we hung a couple more lines of ribbon in her room and are hanging each piece with clothes pins.  Now she has her own little art exhibit that she gets to curate.


For our next project, we will be revisiting the bears by making them homes.  Shoe box homes.  I told her we could paint them to look like rooms and paint furniture and rugs and such.  She turns to me and says “and we can cut out a door and make windows too!”.  I hear we will also be gluing the shoe boxes together to make a little bear mansion…. It will likely take up the rest of our summer!

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The New Toy



Enough said.  Right?  It’s now pretty clear why I referred to it as the best Mother’s Day/Christmas/Birthday present ever.

I suppose I could give some details.  It is the Strauch Petite drum carder and we were able to leave Maryland Sheep and Wool with one in hand from the Stony Mountain Fibers booth.  Though I had to wait several hours before I could open it up and try it out – as soon as I could, I made a few small batts out of some washed, but unprocessed, Rambouillet I had picked up at a Uniquities Fiber Farmer’s Market.  It was amazing and I am hooked.

Since Maryland Sheep and Wool, I have now made those batts and then…..


I finished processing the Jacob fleece.  That’s it.  The entire fleece, all rolled into little batts of happiness and joy.  I no longer have to wonder if I will ever have the entire fleece combed and ready to be spun for Tour de Fleece 2018… No.  It’s ready for THIS year’s spinning enjoyment.  I could maybe even dream of having the sweater coat knit by the end of this year.  Plus, I would much rather spin this in a true woolen-style (long-draw and carded, not combed) and three-ply it so I can have a nice aran(ish) weight yarn.

So, in about two and a half weeks the jacob fleece turned into this:

IMG_8332 IMG_8333IMG_8339 IMG_8340IMG_8335I chose to card the fleece into batts that would all have a variety of the colors of this spotted fleece.  They are all mostly the dark brown with strips of gray and white.  This way, it will have more of  a tweedy look, instead of running the wool through the carder several times and making it a more consistent color throughout.

I am incredibly anxious to start spinning it up.  But I am going to be patient and finish all other spinning projects first and clean my ladybug to prepare her for the Tour de Fleece.  When I will attack.


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Holiday Crafting

Though I usually have M make all of her valentines, I decided to do things a bit differently this year.  She has many of the same kids in her class as last year and I didn’t want to give them the same foam heart with foam letters and heart stickers.  Plus, I’m all about gifting things that are also useful.  Often valentines are store bought cards and/or candy.  Which is fine.  But four year olds only need so much candy.

Instead, I decided to use some of my dish cloth cotton to knit heart “scrubbies”.   These nice little hearts can be used to scrub dishes or as wash cloths.  Plus, with their super convenient crocheted loops, they can be hung in the dishwasher or be thrown in the wash.  I did try making a crocheted heart to see if it would take less time and look nicer… but it took at least twice as long… just to do one side of it.  I asked M on Thursday morning which of the two she preferred.  Luckily, it was the knitted heart.  So M’s teacher was gifted the larger, “fancy” heart and I made ten (I promise, even if only eight made it into the picture!) of the little knitted hearts.  In order to give each valentine M’s special touch, she was in charge of writing out the tags with each child’s name and her own.  Which, for a four year old, is a lot of hard work!

i ♥ tawashi's by Julie Tarsha and HDC Heart in Lily's Sugar'n Cream cotton

i ♥ tawashi’s by Julie Tarsha and HDC Heart in Lily’s Sugar’n Cream cotton

M was so pleased with how they were turning out, she started to list other people I should make the hearts for.  Since I was working on most of them during our snow day the day before Valentine’s Day, I told her the others might have to wait until next year!

Once Valentine’s Day was over, I had the three-day weekend ahead of me to craft on whatever I wanted.  I always find that after (self-imposed) “obligation” knitting is complete, I want to do nothing but spin.  Since I was out of the house most of the weekend, I did work a lot on my mother’s sweater.  But whenever I was home, I worked on spinning up some Highland Handmades’ Polwarth (aka Pitch Pine Top) in the SSKers For the Win colorway.

Highland Handmades Pitch Pine Top - SSKersFTW colorway

Highland Handmades Pitch Pine Top – SSKersFTW colorway

On Presidents’ Day, I took advantage of my day off to not only clean my place, but to sew the rest of the fold-over hems on my father’s sweater as well as sew on the six buttons.  One would maybe think this should have been done back in September when the knitting was finished.  But after finishing the hems at the bottom of the sweater, the collar and both the sleeves were incredibly intimidating.  Not to mention time consuming.  I kept fearing I would get nearly to the end of the collar, only to find that I had sewn it askew.  Luckily, I had an easy way to line up the sleeves as the hem portion was continued directly from the rest of the sleeve and I could line up the stitches exactly.  However, the collar portion had been picked up and knitted from the cast on of the sweater, so there was not the same number of stitches and with the raglan increases, the stitches in the sweater were at an angle while the “hem” was straight.  It took some doing and a lot of straight pins (which are incredibly useless when sewing knitting), but the sweater is now finished.  My father, who was over spending some play time with M, was able to wear it home.


I might not be completing my intended goals during this Olympic season, but at least I seem to be staying on track with my overall year goals of completing these sweaters and using up stash!

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2013 Wrap-Up

2013 seemed to go by in a blur of ups and downs.  I am hoping to keep a better handle on 2014 and make it a year full of more intentions.  While my professional life is keeping me very busy, I am determined to set aside time for knitting and spinning and continue to find ways to include my daughter in on the fun.

Last year, I purchased my first fleece, and M was there to help sort and wash it with me.  She also helped pick out my only purchases at the NY Sheep and Wool Festival (aka Rhinebeck) and guided (or dragged) me around the barns to visit with every sheep at least three times before we left.  She has a definite interest and still likes to treadle at the wheel, but I think her interests fall much more toward the fiber and spinning side of the spectrum and she has no interest in knitting or crocheting at this point.  I believe her words were: “But Mommy, you can just make it for me”.

However, because of her guidance, I had a wonderful time at Rhinebeck and was able to keep my spending down.


Saying hi to a newborn

Saying hi to a newborn


During the Ravelry and Podcaster meet-up she entertained herself, as well as a few unsuspecting passersby, with an enormous leaf pile of fun:

Bringing others in on the fun!

Bringing others in on the fun!

Enjoying a very brief moment

Enjoying a very brief moment

As Fall came to a close, I began seriously buckling down and trying to crank out my Christmas hand knits.  I didn’t attempt to complete nearly as many items as last year.  Instead, I focused on a couple special pieces that were themed according to their recipients.

"Tattered" scarf knit out of GnomeAcres "I Dream of Zombies" colorway.

“Tattered” scarf knit out of GnomeAcres “I Dream of Zombies” colorway.

"Zombie Teeth" shawl knit out of GnomeAcres "I Dream of Zombies" colorway.

“Zombie Teeth” shawl knit out of GnomeAcres “I Dream of Zombies” colorway.

I ended the year off by knitting and crocheting blankets in rapid succession.  Unfortunately, this has continued into the new year and I cannot seem to see the light at the end of the enormous-project tunnel.  One more blanket to finish and three sweaters to complete and I will be able to move on to less (self-imposed) “obligation” knitting.

Crocheted lap blanket

Crocheted lap blanket

Knit baby blanket

Knit baby blanket


MDSW Round 2

Last year, Maryland Sheep & Wool was my first festival. I had heard about how large it was, but I had no real idea of what I was in for. I planned the trip in terms of how to take my then two and a half year old along with my mother, but I didn’t plan for what I would buy. I didn’t even budget. I figured I would be fine…

Though I still love what I came home with last year, this year, I knew better. I knew that at every turn I would see beautiful things. I needed to know what I did and did not need, because I knew I would always want it all. Over the course of this year, I am also attempting to only make yarn and fiber purchases while at festivals and retreats. I may not have what some consider an enormous stash; I can still decide to cast on a new project any given day and have plenty of options. I decided I would go in with a list of vendors who wouldn’t be at the retreat I am attending in July and with a short list of sweaters I would like to knit and DO NOT have the yarn for. This way, I would look at all the lovelies with purpose. I created a definite focus, which I almost stuck to.

We arrived a bit before 8:30 am and though “gates” didn’t open until 9 am… we followed the stream of people right into the fairgrounds. Since I was trying to reign in my purchases this year, we didn’t rush to certain vendors in hopes of beating the crowds. Instead, we strolled through the grounds methodically and leisurely. Until we reached the Jacob Sheep Conservancy booth where I promptly fell in love with a 3 lb 7 oz fleece. That’s right. Before the festival was officially open, I purchased a fleece. Which of course didn’t fit in the stroller we brought to push around M and my purchases for the day. Luckily, my mother is amazing and took the fleece back to the car while M and I watched some sheep judging.

Jacob Fleece from Fire Fly Farm

Jacob Fleece from Fire Fly Farm

Then the journey continued. M had spotted some amazingly adorable (and seemingly well-priced) lambs for sale toward the front gate on our way in, so we back-tracked a bit so that she could bond with some, only to leave us both heart-broken when we had to leave them behind…


I later found my sweater-quantity of yarn at the Uncommon Threads booth, where I picked up several skeins of my first-ever madelinetosh tosh dk. I’ve been waiting too long. I fell in love with the chocolatey browns mixed with the subtle pops of blue.

madelinetosh tosk dk in the William Morris colorway

madelinetosh tosk dk in the William Morris colorway

Along the way, we, I mean, M fell in love with more wonderfully soft and friendly animals. As a reward for her good behavior, considering the circumstances, I bought her the softest alpaca-panda on earth!

Baby angora!

Baby angora!

We were in Alpaca heaven.

We were in Alpaca heaven.

Of course the only picture I managed to get of M and the panda was on the drive home... worn out!

Of course the only picture I managed to get of M and the panda was on the drive home… worn out!

Eventually, we made our way to the Main Exhibition Hall where M gladly helped pick out a few Loop Bullseye Bumps as well as some Spontaneous Spinning Cloud to use for core spinning. She also managed to impress the wonderful folks at the Into The Whirled booth and scored herself an extra button… which I will eventually give her when she’s not so accident-prone.

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Between the mindful purchases, the awesome experiences and the amazing people I met, I feel that I was able to enjoy this year’s festival so much more!  Plus, I got to pretend I was driving a fire truck… what could be better? 😉


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21 Days ’til Christmas

Projects in Progress: 7

Projects Complete: 6

Total Presents to Complete: 23

Although my numbers haven’t changed, I have been making loads of progress.  One of M’s fingerless mitts is complete, and the other should be finished today or tomorrow.  The shawl I am actively working on only has six more rows of the lace border before moving into the stockinette short row shaping, so this should also be finished tomorrow.  Meanwhile, I have gotten a few more rows of my fathers sweater done. All-in-all, I’m not too bad off.

Another thing to point out, though I have seventeen presents remaining, I am only knitting for twelve people.  I have completed presents for five of the twelve… so as long as I complete seven more projects by Christmas, everyone will have at least one present.  Seven isn’t nearly as bad as seventeen.  So my strategy at this point is to work my way through the presents I need to complete so that everyone on my list has a gift, then I will go back and complete the outstanding presents if there is time.  If not, maybe M and I will just make them a lovely handmade card to go with their gift… and pretend like that’s the same.

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22 Days ’til Christmas

Projects in Progress: 7

Projects Complete: 6

Total Presents to Complete: 23

I’m struggling.  Not with the idea that I have 17 projects left to complete.  I cannot seem to find the time to knit M’s Christmas presents. I want her to actually be surprised! How do you manage to surprise a three year old that seemingly never sleeps or plays by herself.  And she is aware.  So aware.  Each time she sees me with a new project she asks what I’m making and who it’s for.  I started her mitts last night, when I thought she was sleeping… only to have her walk into my room half asleep.  I was able to quickly throw it under the blanket before taking her back to her bed.  Even just a glimpse of the hot pink yarn would give away that it was finally a present for her.

Since she seems to be refusing to sleep, I am forced to only work on her presents while we are not together.. which leaves me only my lunch break.  I was hoping to have both mitts done tonight, but I only got through the first half of a mitt today.  I might risk pulling it out to finish a mitt and just having other projects next to me to distract her with if she decides sleeping is only for adults – which tends to be her mantra. That is, all adults except, well, me.

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23 Days ’til Christmas

Projects in Progress: 6

Projects Complete: 6

Total Presents to Complete: 23

After working five hours yesterday, I did not get the normal amount of Saturday knitting complete.  Since my mother was out of town this weekend, M and I opted to stay at the apartment all day today instead of venturing over to my parents’ place for church, brunch and Sunday dinner.  M was lovely and let me knit while playing with her and during movie time.  If that wasn’t enough.. she actually took a nap. My daughter.  Slept.  When the sun was still shining. It was a solid two hours of knitting time.

It was then that I finished the ribbed hat of doom and started seriously working on the Arroyo shawl.  Tonight, the plan is to finish the lace border on the shawl (no I’m not that amazing, it starts with the border) and get to the short row shaping before heading to bed.  I’m hoping to get through the rest of the shawl tomorrow during my lunch break since knitting garter stitch is going to feel like a breeze after all that ribbing!

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30 Days ‘Til Christmas

Projects in Progress: 6

Projects Complete: 5

Total Presents to Complete: 30

That’s right, people, we have one month. The lights may be hung, the tree trimmed, but what good is all of the holiday pretty if there are no packages under the tree? In all honesty, I am not completely present driven, as I truly believe in all that Christmas is about.  However, I adore gift giving.  Even when it’s not Christmas, I love the hunt for the perfect gift, whether store bought or handmade.

With M, I am trying to instill that same feeling toward the Christmas season.  We don’t focus so much on what she wants for Christmas, she’s three, she wants everything. Instead, I’ve been having her sit with me while browsing through Ravelry and pattern books, carefully selecting each project for it’s recipient. So far this seems to be working and it’s nice to get someone else’s input regarding what kind of presents the people in our lives would like.  When she doesn’t quite choose the most practical patterns, we switch over to choosing yarn for the projects.

In terms of progress, I have made some with a new wrap I started with some of the Black Friday yarn and did place the sleeves on waste yarn to continue with just the body of my father’s sweater.  I am hoping to have the wrap done by Wednesday and at least 5 more inches of the sweater’s body done by the end of the week.  That being said, I don’t want M to start to resent Christmas for taking up too much of my time.  Most of my knitting time is still being reserved for Sundays and at night after she’s in bed.

I hope everyone survived any Black Friday shopping and made it out for Small Business Saturday.  But if you are still scrambling, Cyber Monday is still to come… Let me know how you are enjoying the official start of the holiday season!

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