Category Archives: halloween

Happy Halloween!

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Happy Halloween! I had nothing to do with the kids’ costumes besides online shopping, but I would still like to share them here. The kids themselves are homemade, right? And I took the pictures! I try not to act too excited when my kids tell me they want to wear coordinating costumes because I’m afraid if they had any idea how much I like the idea they would decide against it. The big kids have been into Harry Potter since last spring. Worth says he is not Harry Potter but Oliver Wood the quidditch captain, which sounds about right. Dorothy is Hermione, and Daphne is Harry’s owl Hedwig. The kids begged for costumes in the late summer so I went ahead and bought them then. We made a deal that if they decided to wear anything else they’d have to choose from the dress-up bin (no more purchases) and that they were going to pose nicely when the costumes were new so that I got my picture whether they stuck with their Potter plan or not. Now it seems they actually are all on board to wear the costumes Saturday (you should hear Daphne hoot!) and I get to relax and drink hard cider with our neighbors instead of chasing my little wizards around trying to get photographs because I’ve had these since August! I made the little card to send to our family. Have a great Halloween weekend!

A scary Halloween project–no, really

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You know the meme circulating on Facebook with the picture of how your fall display looks in your head, versus the one you actually manage to execute? (Hopefully this link works if you haven’t seen it.) Well, this project is kind of like that. Somehow we never manage to get our pumpkins carved until the last minute, so it’s just our big ol’ pumpkins sitting there on the steps until right before Halloween, at which point they both promptly rot and look out of season. This year I got the idea I’d crochet up some quick pumpkin cozys to slip over them to decorate them until they are carved. Charming idea, right? Like little jack-o-lantern sweaters. Maybe I’d make one with chevrons and it would look so very a la mode. Well, it’s ok to laugh. It totally didn’t turn out right! I sketched out a little face on graph paper and estimated the size I needed, using bulky yarn and a big hook to go fast, and this pumpkin cozy looks stupid. 🙂 The face is askew and the whole thing is too big. So it’s tricks instead of treats for me this year! And you know what? I kind of like it anyway. Happy Halloween!

Two Elsas and an alligator

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alligator elsa1 elsa2 elsas-togetherHappy Halloween! As is my usual custom, I did not make my kids’ costumes. I like to take advantage of good pre-made costume deals and then spend my crafty time on things I’ll get to enjoy seeing the kids in on a more regular basis. I’d been pretty pleased with an eight-year run of costumes that did not ever include Disney Princesses, but this year Dorothy has been particulary enchanted by the movie Frozen and she jumped on the bandwagon with her choice to be Elsa this Halloween. We happened upon these costumes at a Cracker Barrel at the end of summer, and Dorothy was thrilled to see that we could get an Elsa dress for her and a matching one for her sister. So of course I bought the dresses, and Dorothy finished them off to her taste with blue capes she sewed herself and some Photoshopped snowflake magic, art directed by her but executed by me. The girls are cute in their dresses. Worth was inspired by the alligators we saw on our Hilton Head trip this summer and chose to impersonate this carnivorous swamp creature. He’s been pretend chomping everything, just as you’d expect from a 4-year-old boy/alligator. Hope your Halloween is magical!

A bat table runner

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I love Halloween! Last year I made this photo garland for our favorite costume photos; this year I decided to upgrade our dining table. I sewed a simple table topper out of a burlap-colored fabric, then made a freezer paper stencil of a bat to paint on. I’m not very good at drawing, so I admit to tossing three bat attempts before settling on this one, but the good thing about freezer paper stencils is that you can use them several times, so after I peeled it off my dry bat on one end, I just ironed it down and used the same one at the other end.

This was a fun project and my favorite part about it is how much the kids like it. I’ve often thought that one of the best things about having a daughter is her genuine appreciation of my crafty efforts. I can show my husband one of my projects when he comes home from work, and he’s very polite, “oh that’s great! Looks so nice,” or whatever, just like he’d have said if I’d bought it from Costco. He’s a nice guy and he’d never omit a loving comment about something that’s important to me, but he doesn’t get it. But when I show my daughter something I’ve made, she bubbles over with genuine enthusiasm: “Mom! You made that! It’s amazing! Show me how you did the….” And I thank my stars, once again, that I was blessed with a girl-child. (Two, even.) But both of my kids were truly pleased with this one and Worth is now drawing bats on every scrap of paper in the house. Fun times.

apple-jar2 apple-jarThese little jars got left out of my post about Daphne’s first birthday a few weeks ago. They are baby food jars painted with glass paint, spray-painted lids, then a little bead and felt leaf glued into place on the top. I filled them with M&Ms and gave them out as party favors to our small guests. They were inspired by a Pinterest pin and turned out cute, but the glass paint didn’t look like I wanted it to.  I’d watched this Youtube video about liquid fill glass paint, but my paint wasn’t runny enough to do this technique. My bottle says “opaque,” so maybe that’s why? I just brushed it on instead and the jars were still nice gifts.

 

Halloween at home

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photo-bannerAfter I took the cute picture of my last post with my three kids in their costumes I realized I needed a way to display favorite Halloween snapshots every year. I made this banner to hang in the pass-through window between my kitchen and dining room. I slipped cardboard into each flag so my photos won’t curl up and sewed a little clear vinyl pocket onto the front of each to slip a photo into. Now I can easily change the photos as our collection of favorites evolves.

spider-websI got out our Halloween “spider webs,” which are really my great-grandmother’s crocheted doilies that I have dyed black. starched flat, and populated with plastic spiders. The kids love these and so do I.

making-pumpkinsThe big kids made paper jack-o-lanterns for us to string up over our hearth.

first-fireThey made a spooky/cozy scene for us on chilly school mornings when we were happy to be staying in and cuddling our new baby and having school at home instead of waiting in carpool lines across town.

skeletons-in-my-cabinetI also got out my wee poseable rubber skeletons to haunt my china cabinet. They bend kind of like Gumby and I enjoy arranging them in  yoga poses or popping out of tea cups, clinging to candles, etc.

Hope your Halloween was happy!

Halloween costumes

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witch-and-catDorothy could hardly wait to finally put on her Halloween costume with her cat accessory present. I broke down and gave in to her pleading when Daphne (the accessory) was a week old. Here are the spooky sisters, together in costume at last!

witch-cat-spidermanAnd the whole crew, with our Spider-Man brother no doubt looking tender beneath the mask. Or something. 🙂 Daphne’s little costume, a project from earlier in the fall, fit her well, but we skipped the mitten-paws because they made her mad. Dorothy and Worth’s costumes were store-bought, which is really my preference with Halloween costumes because I hate to put the effort into something that will only be worn once.

 

Cats and Dogs

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puppy-hatThis is a hat I crocheted for my cousin’s little boy. He’s having a puppy-themed first birthday party! He’s going to rock this hat if he keeps it on, because he’s even cuter than it. I’m making one for Worth too because he saw the work in progress and decided he needed some of that in his life too. I used this pattern by Sarah Zimmerman and the washable merino wool from Knitpicks.

kitty-costumeThis is a project I’ll definitely want to blog about again, once I can get a picture of it on the newborn kitty herself. Dorothy decided months ago that she wanted to be a witch for Halloween and that she wanted her new baby sister to be her black cat, which seems like a totally fitting Halloween costume for a baby who is just going to be dressed up and paraded around to suit her mother and big sister for at least the first six months of her life. Dorothy was set on a really expensive witch costume from Chasing Fireflies, but fortunately we encountered a much cheaper but equally awesome version at a TJ Maxx. I looked all over the internet for a newborn kitty costume, since as I said before I’m not that into sewing costumes that are only going to get worn once or twice. (I did break my own rule last Halloween and sewed Dorothy’s Little Red Riding Hood costume and Worth’s wolf suit. Dorothy’s dress was just as disappointing to me as I’d thought–she wore it on Halloween and never again, even though I thought I’d made it in such a way that she might consider wearing it as a regular old dress without the cape, but no. Worth, however, has worn the wolf costume enough that I don’t regret the time. He even wore it to music class at least once last spring! And he looks so awesomely Where the Wild Things Are when he wears it around the house.) Anyway, I could not find a ready-made newborn kitty costume. I found many infant costumes, but my baby due October 12 would surely be overwhelmed by a costume intended to fit a child up to 3 months. Plus comfort is a big issue for a newborn, and many store-bought costumes are itchy. So I ordered a newborn-size black onesie and thick black tights (not pictured). I crocheted a kitty hat, mittens, and booties and fabric glued felt on them for the paw pads and inner ears, then I stitched a kitty tail and little pink belly onto the onesie. There’s no reason I can’t put the booties, mitts and hat on her sometime again, except that I’ve made so many at this point they may never make it into rotation!

I admit to feeling pretty miserable here in these last weeks. I’m totally feeling the “advanced maternal age” stamped across the top of my chart at my obstetrician’s office. As the weather finally turns cooler and fall decorations and winter squashes start cropping up everywhere I’m feeling very ready to reap this little harvest of my own. I’m trying to remind myself that another two weeks aren’t a big deal in the big picture, but I have to say that 16 (or so) more mornings of dragging my huge, sore, cumbersome self in and out of bed and around to all the places life requires seems a little daunting at this point. I think all the baby projects are done, she just needs to show up and try them on!

In search of a hook for knooking socks

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UPDATE FROM 2016: This post still gets a lot of hits four years later, so I want to edit this to say please don’t follow my advice here! That hook was a pain to knook with. Buy this one from Amazon instead, which wasn’t available when I wrote this but is now. 🙂

I’ve been wanting to try knooking something with a very thin yarn, like socks, but I don’t have a hook small enough. My kit came with a 3.5 mm hook but I’ve been finding that my gauge when knooking is consistently bigger than the knitting gauge you’d expect with the same size hook, so 3.5 just isn’t going to be small enough for a project such as socks. I read a terrific idea for making a sock knooking hook out of beading cord and a crochet hook, but I didn’t think that would work for me for a couple reasons. First, I tried something similar with cord before I bought the eBay hooks and I didn’t like the feel of the yarn on the cord or the way it kind of snagged getting on to the cord–working with a lifeline of ribbon works much better for me. Second, I wasn’t sure of my ability to file a point at the end of the hook. Something about two children, one puppy and tiny metal shards was just making me nervous. I thought if I had a regular yarn needle long enough to use comfortably maybe I could just bend the point into a hook. A little googling lead me to discover that tatting needles are just that–long needles with a hole in the end just the right size for a small cord or ribbon. I ordered a couple online. My idea started to fall apart when I confidently grabbed my needle-nosed pliers and realized that the needle was too rigid; it was going to snap before it bent. At this point my idea starts to be just as kid- and puppy-unfriendly as filing metal. I turned on my gas stove and heated the end of the needle until it was red and hot. (I held the needle with a silicone mitt!) This actually worked pretty well, but my first hook turned out oddly shaped and uncomfortable to use. I switched to using my jewelry pliers, which are small and strong, and they worked perfectly. I reheated several times while tweaking the shape of the hook, but I finally got it just right. I’m pleased with my tatting needle turned knooking hook and I think I’m now fully knooking-empowered, in any gauge. (Shew! I know you are as relieved as I am. Grin.)

This is not crafty, just cute. My sweet kiddos in a pumpkin patch yesterday. Worth wanted to take home every single pumpkin and Dorothy was primarily concerned with selecting a pumpkin for herself that was at least one obvious step up in size from her brother’s.This is a headband/earwarmer thing I knooked for a friend’s daughter. The little girl loves wearing headbands so I was thinking that headband-like winterwear might make her a nice birthday gift. I used some of my leftover Chroma yarn from my recent hat project and this pattern, which was quick and easy. I started it Saturday morning and gifted it Sunday afternoon! I didn’t have time to block it, but I’m hoping that on an active six-year-old no one will notice.

Spooky bat pilllows, an Irish hiking hat, and knooking hooks

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It has been my goal to have the unfinished, storage part of our basement clean and organized before the time came to put out Halloween decorations this year. I adore Halloween decorations and have blogged about a couple of my favorites in the past. We moved right before Christmas last year, which was nuts, and unpacking and reorganizing for this house has been a long and gradual task. The basement had finally climbed up on my priority list and I was making good progress on it right before Rob’s injury, but now it has taken a back seat. I think I’m going to mostly let the Halloween decorating go this year because I just can’t stomach the task of locating and dragging up boxes of decorations from a messy, disorganized space and plopping them back down there the same way. But I still can’t let my favorite season go by without a little festively spooky fun. I made cushions for my front porch chairs over the summer but the floral fabric no longer seemed appropriate to the season. I sewed these new Halloween pillow covers (only one is pictured)  in a neutral fabric, then used fabric glue to attach a black felt bat cutout to the front and made stitching around the bat with white embroidery floss. The shams were a quick but satisfying project made with inexpensive materials and a design that is strong enough to be noticed from the street. Now all I have to do after Halloween is launder them and tuck them into the right box downstairs–not such a bad job.Rob’s injury has increased the time I’ve been able to spend knooking and crocheting. Waiting rooms are really the perfect spots for yarn crafts. I knooked this hat, but modified to have a fold-up brim like this one. I love the classic look of the Irish cable pattern and it was surprisingly simple to do. In my head knitted cables have always been swathed in some sort of unapproachable crafty mystic, but some basic internet instructions explained the process quite clearly and it didn’t end up being any more difficult than regular ribbing. I think this hat might want to be finished off with a faux-fur pom-pom kind of like this one but I’m not sure where to buy one. Maybe I will just make a trip to Claire’s and purchase an inexpensive accessory that includes a fur pom-pom and use that. Seems kind of wasteful but I’ve not seen them for sale on their own. I used this yarn from Joann and it’s okay. Soft but unexciting. The hat turned out a bit big, either because my gauge was off with such lofty yarn (I didn’t check) or because I have a small head, but I kind of like it that way–it won’t squish my curls.

And my knooking set came in! I’m thrilled. It was totally worth the wait to order this set from China via eBay. The price was terrific and I now have all the basic sizes. The quality seems good, the holes are just the right width and the sizes all clearly labeled. Plus it was just fun to get a parcel sent directly from China. Dorothy studied all the unfamiliar characters on the customs sheet and we traced the path the package traveled around the globe.