Wednesday, February 27, 2013


I started this post yesterday. I've been so scattered.

To sum up the ramble that I'm about to delete: The Imp is much improved. He still has to finish his antibiotics, but is up and crazy as usual.

The rain finally stopped. It rained from at least Friday through Tuesday morning. It's so nice to see the sun again.

Emmaline is done! She took many days to dry and I think I've gotten most of the cat hair off of her (hey, all that frogging encourages mess). Here she is:

She's late to the party, but she'll be on her way soon.

In the meantime, I broke a rule. I broke the "I'll never knit a sock" rule. And I feel stupid because of it. Shortly after his illness became less scary, the Imp started to complain about the seams in his socks. I'll allow myself embarrassment and more for the comfort of my kids.

I've begun and frogged a ridiculous number of sock attempts. This one was knit using the Just Plain Socks pattern. Within two minutes of taking this picture, I frogged the sock. My Imp might grow into it in three years. I'm unwilling to wait that long. Also, I'm using a partial ball of sock yarn (because I'm not a sock yarn person) so I probably don't have enough. I probably ought to be using size 2 needles, too. Which I don't own. So yeah.

I'm almost done with The Death Relic. I need to review it and am unsure how. I have mixed things to say about it.

Linking up for the Yarn Along.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Emmaline and her special destiny.

Okay, so obviously (to some) I've been watching a great deal of BSG.

Let me tell you a story. I started knitting Emmaline on Thursday the 14th for a dear friend's birthday (hoping that I'd have it finished and on it's way to her by her birthday). On the 19th it looked like this.

Less than five minutes later it looked like this.

And now, three days later and more than a few rip-backs. It looks like this.

I'm hoping beyond hope that things are sizing properly now. During all of this, the Imp has been sick. We've taken him to the doctor for the first time in two years. He's on antibiotics and we're praying that it doesn't need to get any more serious than that. To say that I've been sleepless and worried would be a ridiculous understatement.

In the meantime, look what I got in the mail yesterday!

Can you believe this amazing Scottish lad? The amazing Laura of Under Rainbows made him especially for me. I don't have the words for how perfect he is. My boys were enthralled as I took him out of his packaging. The two youngest were anxious to hold him (and remove his clothing - what's up with that?). I'm reluctant to share him (my boys are of the wild and crazy variety), but am willing to pass him around for love and hugs.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Book Tour!

Today I have the honor of sharing an amazing book written by a lovely and talented woman: Making Peg Dolls by Margaret Bloom!

My boys and I have been the lucky recipients of more than a few peg dolls made by Margaret in the past. Upon receiving a copy of Making Peg Dolls my youngest two boys immediately set off to match their peg dolls to the ones in the photographs. It continues to be a game they indulge in from time to time. My oldest son, the Elf, has placed bookmarks for all the projects he wants to make (and let me assure you, there are a lot of bookmarks in there). For the purpose of this post he chose to make a cat from the Halloween project. We're cat lovers, what can I say?

He couldn't stop at just one, though. He immediately dove into making the knight as well. While sewing he began to tell me all of the ways he would adapt the patterns to be other things (woodsman turned Robin Hood, for example). All the while our Imp stood near him inquiring "is it done? Can I play with the cat yet?"

Peg dolls are an amazing doorway to imagination - and not just for kids! Our collection of gnomes and other peg dolls have wide and varied adventures. They farm, rescue princesses, fight super villains, wait tables, run shops. I've seen more creative play with these small bits of wood and wool than I have with any other toys during the past ten years of being a mother. My boys, even the younger two, often remark that their handmade toys are more fun. Or more durable. Or the only toys not broken in the house.

Whether this is your first introduction to peg dolls or just another step a life-long love of them, Margaret's new book deserves a special place in your home and on your shelves.

Be sure to visit these other wonderful blogs for more of the Making Peg Dolls blog tour!
February 4th: The Crafty Crow
February 5th: The Magic Onions
February 6th: The Toymaker
February 7th: Clean
February 8th: Anna Branford
February 11th: Red Bird Crafts
February 12th: Art is a Way
February 13th: Softearth's World
February 14th: Chocolate Eyes
February 15th: Rhythm and Rhyme
February 18th: Wild Faerie Caps
February 19th: Sacred Dirt

For more information about the book, links to purchase, and an amazing stop-motion trailer for the book, visit Margaret's blog here.

Friday, February 15, 2013

More bowls (tutorial)

I've been knitting and felting more bowls. I've used bulky yarn, worsted held double, and handspun. I looked at a great many free patterns to see how they were making bowls. The most common construction element was the part I didn't want to do - knit the bottom and pick up stitches. I've gotten over it. Here's my basic recipe for knitting a bowl with the intention of felting it.

If using bulky yarn or worsted held double, I recommend an 8mm circular needle. I think mine is 16 inches long but I'm not sure. You could also use DPNs. It may not be obvious, but you should be using 100% wool. I wish I could tell you an amount, but I've been using scraps and just sort of winging it.

First, knit a square in garter stitch. You want to knit roughly twice as many rows as you have stitches. That is, if you want it to me somewhat circular/square (depending on how and if you block it). This is where you could change things up. Add more rows or knit less and you've got something more rectangular or oval. Increase towards the middle of the piece and then decrease again, make a triangle, get creative.

When you're happy with the base, pick up stitches around the remaining edges. At first I tried really hard to keep the same number of stitches for each side but.. honestly, it doesn't really matter. Pick up enough stitches to not leave huge gaps. At this point, begin knitting in the round.

Knit straight up. Change colors, throw in some charts, make it all one color, add some beads. When you've reached the height that you want, or you're close to running out of yarn, bind off with an applied i-cord. I really like the rounded edge that creates. You can weave in your ends and be done here. Or you can add some i-cord handles (or any handles, really). Sew them on and admire your floppy bowl. At this point my kids and I like to put the bowls on our heads and laugh at each other.

Once done, throw the bowls in your washing machine (I have a top-loader and wouldn't know what to do with a front-loader, sorry!). I set the washer to a hot/cold cycle on the lowest water setting and the heaviest wash cycle. I leave the lid open so that it doesn't rinse and spin right away. I'll check the bowls and restart the cycle if necessary. When I'm satisfied with how the bowls are looking, I close the lid and let the cycles finish. I don't block my bowls exactly. I form them into shapes while still damp and leave to dry.

Some yarn turn seriously fuzzy after going through the wash. We have a super industrial dog hair clipper set. I use that to shave the fuzz until the fabric is nice and smooth. Voila! You are done.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Yarn Along

I meant to post this yesterday for Nicole's Crafting On series. But.. I didn't. For various reasons.

At any rate, here's what I've been working on:

Two bowls from leftover bulky yarn. Not enough to make anything worthwhile. And it turns out that these are kind of addictive. I looked over a bunch of patterns, saw how it was generally done, and winged it from there.

The Beast wanted to show these with some of his critters (made using Linda Dawkins' wonderful patterns).

Here's another that's waiting to be felted. It was knit from two strands of worsted yarn.

Still working on this hippo. Why, of why did I pick lace weight yarn?!

Microgreens shooting up. I didn't use the "proper" sunflower seeds (I used bulk-meant-for-eating seeds). I'm not sure how these will taste or when, exactly I should harvest them. I'll be Googling that today, I guess.

From Friday through Monday I spent every free moment working on gnomes for the shop. I ran out of felt, can you believe that? My regular source isn't stocking any more so I've had to seek alternate places. It's more expensive and hopefully at least equal quality. Sadly this means that all gnomes listed after 2/15/13 will be $4.50 each rather than $4 each. Which, if you shop around on Etsy, isn't an unreasonable price. Anyway, buying the felt spent all of my "chicken money." I realize you have to spend money to make money, but it's still depressing.

Reading! I forgot to take a picture of what I'm reading. Oops. Currently I'm reading Made from Scratch by Jenna Woginrich (I picked up two of her other books from the library yesterday) and The Death Relic by Chris Kuzneski (a LibraryThing Early Reviewer book).

Linking up with Ginny for the Yarn Along.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Creative Friday

Or should we say Peg Doll Friday? We've been much inspired by Margaret's new book! Look for my post in her blog tour on the 18th!

While I was doing this:

The Beast was doing this:

When he finished, the Imp took over and painted everything he could get his hands on.

I've already set up my first "I will have chickens, dammit!" order of peg dolls! So excited! What's even better is that it's a recurring customer who is always great to work with. Hopefully tomorrow I'll get some of the gnomes I worked on today photographed and listed in the shop.

Would you believe I've hardly touched my knitting needles? I even took gnome hats to "late night knitting" tonight to sew.

Linking up with Linda for Creative Friday.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

On the Up.

I've written this post so many times and deleted it just as many. I'm still finding the borders of how much I want to share here. Let's just say that there has been a great deal of mental and emotional turmoil in my head lately. The stress of that has caused all manner of physical problems, not the least of which is how I've been handling interactions with my kids.

Today at lunch I was talking with B and everything just clicked into place in my head. There have been times I've found peace these last few weeks, the moments when I don't feel overwhelmed and they all have something in common. I think I need to be following my passion. As an amazing woman wrote about recently, I've been letting my fear direct me, prevent me, control me.

I find my center when I'm reading about homesteading. I read things like Made From Scratch, Storey's Guide to Raising Sheep, From Scratch, and a slew of blogs. My heart sings when I read about families and their gardens and animals.

So what's the problem? I don't live on acreage with skills and knowledge and friends and.. right. See, I let myself become bitter. I told myself that I couldn't have the life I want just because it wasn't being handed to me. Yes, I'm a thirty-two year old who occasionally thinks like a spoiled child.

Where am I going with this? B and I talked at lunch. I've (we've?) decided that this year, I will have chickens. Come hell or high water, as they say. Or maybe Guineas. But birds, dammit.

This leaves me with challenges to overcome. I need to make money to pay for birds, their food, their housing. I need to clean up the backyard. I need to read and research. We have no tools to speak of, no woodworking experience, no farm experience, no animal care beyond cats and a dog. Any tips, ideas, suggestions will be heartily appreciated. I'll be churning out some assorted gnomes (really the only thing to sell in my sad little Etsy shop) to help raise money.

For those of you that have sloughed through this dull-to-everyone-but-me post, here are pictures of random things from the past week.

(these are sunflowers. Microgreens here we come!)

Monday, February 4, 2013


This was my first attempt at stranded, woven colorwork on a large project. It was knit on large needles for felting purposes. Because of that, prior to felting, the colorwork had.. issues. You could see my carries through the stitches in some place. After running it through the washing machine, though, I think it looks pretty good.



I haven't made a Ravelry entry for it yet. So here are the details.
Yarn: Malabrigo worsted
Needles: US 10
Bag pattern: Learn to Felt a Project Bag
Robot chart: Robot Hat
Tardis chart: Doctor Who Fair Isle
Sheep (on the handle - it didn't turn out very clear): Stranded Sheep Scarf

Now, of course, I'm without a fun! new! exciting! project. So I'm a bit miserable and making everyone around me crazy.