Well, I think 3 months might be a new record for me away from this blog. Seems like my blog comes in “seasons” now, kind of like Downton Abbey. Then it’s just re-runs for a while. (This is a joke, just in case you think I have delusions of grandeur.) But I’ve been recording projects here for six years now, and in spite of this and other absences I haven’t actually stopped. In my time away the holidays happened, with their busy, crazy, happy rush and mess. My computer went all Blue Screen of Death and every second of my laptop time for weeks went to trying to get all that back in order. But mostly the daily chores of keeping three kids alive and reasonably educated has prevented me from taking the time to keep my little record of the other, more tangible, stuff I accomplish in the corner moments. Yet here I am again, rounding up some photos I’ve snapped here and there in the last weeks, writing down my projects notes so I can hold own to my own accomplishments and so my comments can join everyone else’s in the best thing that ever happened to the handicraft universe: the internet!
I’m going to reintroduce myself since I’ve been gone so long. This is my family on Christmas Eve. My babies are Daphne (2), Worth (5), Dorothy (9). We’re a homeschooling family in Louisville, Kentucky. I bought the elf hats at the Dollar Tree and put the kids’ names on them with my embroidery machine. They cheerfully wore the hats everywhere during the Christmas season, which is possibly the only thing they all did cheerfully and in tandem except open gifts. Daphne is at a “difficult” age, which means that she occasionally lays on the floor and screams for upwards of 45 minutes because her mean parents insist on things like Closing the Refrigerator. Worth, sandwiched between my two intense girls, has a sweet spirit and his generous smile and goofy sense of humor makes the time-consuming task of teaching kindergarten very worth it (pun sort of intended). Dorothy is my very tweeny tween. She loves dolls and likes boys (already?!), still plays with Calico Critters, wears ripped jeans on purpose, loves big earrings, but still wears her pioneer girl dress-up dress out in public. I’m Renata, keeper of this little online crafty scrapbook that reminds me I occasionally produce something besides dinner. Check back in here on upcoming Mondays and Thursdays, for at least the next few weeks!
I generally have a harder time coming up with homemade (or at least home-customized) gifts for our little boy friends than their female counterparts. I’ve never been brave enough to try to machine-embroider directly onto baseball caps, but after watching a few online tutorials recently I decided to give it a go. Basically you stitch the hat to the stabilizer that’s already in the hoop, do the embroidery, then pull out the basting stitches. I did four hats for upcoming birthdays and one was crooked, but I’m hoping it doesn’t show on a moving 3-year-old. I’m happy to have another boy gift in my crafty arsenal!
A few weeks ago I made my daughter this blue hat. I had only glanced at the lace chart and not at the instructions, and thus knitted the edge pattern incorrectly. I wasn’t unhappy with the result, but I wanted to do it again the right way, and plus I wanted a hat for myself out of it this time. I used some half-skeins of wool in my stash. The pattern is the edge-of-lace hat in 101 Designer One-Skein Wonders. On my daughter’s hat I made decreases for the crown instead of following the pattern, but for my own I followed the pattern just to see how it would look because I’d never made a hat with sewn-off crown in that way before. Basically you just knit the hat as one big tube, then sew off the top and stitch all the corners together. I actually really liked the extra fullness this gave the top of the hat. It is more flattering on me, I think, than a more fitted cap. But lest you think this project went just as I wished, let me confess this: I also also knitted mitts based on the wrist-warmer pattern associated with the hat pattern, but they were too big, so I gave them to my neighbor! Now she has pretty mitts and I have a pretty hat and we must never wear them in the same place at the same time.
Dorothy got a new blue hat to start out this chilly January. It was really supposed to be my hat, but sometimes that happens. The yarn is a delicious, wonderful, hand-spun, hand-dyed wool from Block Island, Rhode Island. A friend sent it as a souvenir of her trip. I’ve held on to it for six months while I waited for the right inspiration to hit, and when I came across the edge of lace hat pattern in 101 Designer One-Skein Wonders I decided that would be it. I got a new black coat for Christmas, and I thought the pop of bright blue was just what it needed. The first problem with my execution of this plan was that I only read the first line of the pattern, which says to do the eight lines of the lace pattern twice. And I followed the lace chart completely through–twice. The edge was pretty, but not a bit like the photo I’d been drawn to in the book. I looked more closely. I was supposed to have put a straight knitted row in between every row of the lace chart, and the chart itself represented two repeats of the pattern. Oops. So my lace is unique. That didn’t bother me so much given that what I ended up with was still pretty, but my blue-eyed Dorothy had been watching me knit this and thought it was so nice, and then when I tried it on the color wasn’t very good for me. It made my autumn colors and green eyes look sickly, which is never the look I’m going for. Then I popped it on my daughter’s head and it was gorgeous. The blue is just the right color for her eyes and porcelain skin. So there you go, a hat for Dorothy. I have some heathery purple yarn left over from some other projects and I think I may try the hat again in those colors for myself. And I’ll enjoy my handiwork in a place I can see it better, on the head of my oldest!
This was a project a long time in the making! My husband bought this pretty Jelli Beenz yarn for my birthday in July 2013, when I was seven months pregnant with Daphne. He went to a local yarn store and asked the clerk to help him buy something that could make a project for his wife or any or all of our children. She set him up with four balls of this pretty multi-colored yarn, and I decided to make hats. I made Worth and Dorothy’s last fall and they wore them all winter. My own went onto the needles right after, but infant Daphne didn’t feel like I really needed to be doing much knitting, so that’s where things stayed for about a year. Now as fall is peeking at us around the corner again, I resumed work on my own hat, finished it, and worked up Daphne’s little bitty one in short order. Hers needed to be last anyway because her head size changes faster than anyone else’s! I’m hoping that having three mobile children in matching hats makes it easier to keep track of everyone on field trips or at the park. Can’t hurt, right? Daphne got irritated with her hat immediately and ripped it off as soon as I put it on. But magically, after she saw me put on my hat, then watched as the other kids clambered to show off theirs, she allowed us to put hers back on and she laughed out loud when she realized she was included in this new matching hat game. It’s good, clean baby fun, folks. :)
My beat-up overnight bag needed retirement, so I bought a cute new blue polka-dot one one sale recently. But of course a new store-bought bag needs some handmade upgrades, and I was on it. I made a zippered pouch to hold toiletries and a cute luggage tag to make it mine, inspired by one I found on Pinterest. I have to say that I was a little late to the Pinterest party–I didn’t really get what I could use it for. But now that I’ve figured out how to make it work for me (I want to sew a new luggage tag, I will type “luggage tag DIY” into the search field and browse photos while I nurse my baby to sleep) I’m glad to have it as a tool.
I’ve been enjoying playing with the new chalkboard fonts I downloaded after reading this blog post recently. I made Daphne’s invitation, which I shared earlier, and then I made these little bookmark/card thingies for my sweet nieces on the occasion of their baptisms. My own handwriting
kind of sucks is not very pretty, so I’m enjoying this little technology-enabled back door into the chalkboard writing craze.
Unbelievably, it is time to get ready for a first birthday party. Wasn’t I just waiting impatiently for her, getting all those tiny little newborn handmades ready? But here she is, a big, sturdy, almost-toddler who moves of her own locomotion, calls me by name, and incessantly tries to eat the dog’s food. I’m planning a little apple-themed party for our family and a couple homeschool friends with toddlers who I think she can safely count as friends.
I crocheted this sweet hat for her from this free pattern by Kay Meadors but made a little leaf from felt instead of crocheting one. I also made a little garland of felt apples to function as a party decoration, photo prop, and fall decoration in our kitchen.
Daphne wasn’t feeling particularly smile-y when it was time to take her picture, and she’s too little to bribe with M&M’s so I settled on this sweet but semi-serious pose for the back of her invitation.
Then I designed the front of her invitation in Photoshop with the help of the instructions on this blog.
Now we’re ready to party, except for this Mama trying to remember to not waste Daphne’s 11th month being nostalgic for the first 10. I won’t have more babies and I’m actually happy with that choice, but I do wish I could just keep one in the closet to snuggle on or sniff or nurse just when I want to. There is nothing like snuggling on your own sweet baby. I’ve been a lucky mama. And now I’ll focus on how lucky I am to hold her hand when she takes her wobbly steps; enjoy Worth as he takes in the world all new, amazed that everything around him is Covered in Words!; and be amazed at the poised and accomplished girl my big one is turning out to be. Lucky indeed.
After all of Dorothy’s enthusiasm for her rubber band loom and her potholder loom I thought maybe we should branch out. Santa brought a wooden loom, but packaged in its box with its big book of instructions it seemed a little intimidating so we hadn’t gotten it out yet. Then an opportunity arose during one of our homeschool lessons to do a supplemental activity that involved making our own loom out of corrugated cardboard. To my surprise, the “doll rug” Dorothy made on our homemade loom actually turned out pretty well, and the experience we gained following the directions for it gave us the confidence to unbox the Christmas loom, so now Dorothy is hard at work on a whole collection of woven doll bedding.
And here’s Miss Daphne, now three months old, sporting the green sweater I made for her before she was born, and yet another pair of my ubiquitous crocheted booties. She’s growing so much! Unfortunately this particular growth spurt seems to involve waking to eat in the night during periods through which we were previously sleeping, but if there is anything that motherhood-times-three has taught me, it’s that it all goes by so quickly–if she wants to start eating more at night, I’ll feed her more at night. And cuddle her, and enjoy the way she smells, and the way she fits in my arms, and the cute little slurpy noises she makes. Because we’re both lucky to have each other.
And speaking of growth spurts. The little red hat, which was too big for her in the hospital because her head was so much smaller than her brother’s at birth, is now almost too tiny. She’s laying on one of several flannel blankets I’ve made recently. Daphne still wants to be swaddled but is now too large for standard receiving blankets. I bought several 1.5 yard lengths of nice-quality flannel from Fabric.com (here’s a link to the hedgehog one) and just hemmed up the edges.
And last but never least, Dorothy has requested that I share her most recent rubber band creation on my blog. She’ll have her own website before you know it. :) She got a book of new rubber band loom patterns for Christmas and just completed this belt, which has adorable loops in the front and a simple chain in the back. Very cute. Nice job, Daughter. Blog accomplished.
The project currently strewn all over my craft table is embroidered t-shirts for the kids to wear while watching the Olympics next month. Team USA will have finely-attired sofa spectators in my three (I hope).