Saturday, February 27, 2010

Whew! It's Hard Work on the Crafting Farm

My daughter makes me laugh. Often when we are working together, she says, "Whew! It's hard work on the farm."  When we are working in the garden she says, "Whew! It's hard work on the garden farm".  When we're cleaning the house, "Whew! It's hard work on the house farm".   You get the idea.  So it's with her in mind that I titled today's post.  I love Saturdays!  No homeschool (although all homeschoolers know that every moment is a teachng moment), plenty of leftovers to feed the kids and plenty of crafting for me.  I had gotten together with a friend on Thursday and worked on a Waldorf "heavy baby" from some kits we had purchased.

I got as far as this that night.

And since my dear "hard-working" daughter was waiting so patiently for it to be finished, I decided to tackle that first.  In a few minutes, she was "born" and promptly named...

STAR now joins her sister doll DAWN
Best Friends Forever

Then I set my 6 year old to needlefelting in cookie cutters while I finished up a project for a friend.  One of my students had dropped out of my Knitted Farm Blanket class because she felt overwhelmed and frustrated. She came to me the other day with a bagful of knitted squares and asked if I could finish her blanket for her.  "Of course", I said and set to work all week piecing and embellishng.  I was finally able to put the finishing touches on it today and I will soon be able to present it to her in all it's glory.  So she ddn't learn the whole creative process of making a farm mat but she will have a lovely imaginative toy for her child, a piece of art for her wall and an heirloom to pass on to the next generation.  I can feel satisfied in that.

Just another day on the crafting farm.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Little Girl in the Big Dress

Like many homeschoolers, my older daughter (6 years) enjoys the Little House series by Laura Ingles Wilder.  She calls them the "Mary" books, for some reason identifying with the older daughter in the books rather than the author.  I promised her that I would some day make her a "Mary" dress.  We searched for the most authentic looking pattern, just the right natural fabrics and last weekend I decided to tackle it.  It took nearly the entire day just to cut it out with all it's many pieces and another full day to sew it up but it's finally done and let me tell you, YOU COULD FIT THE WHOLE PRAIRIE IN THIS DRESS!!!  It's huge.  Little House in the Big Woods, NO WAY...Little Girl in the Big Dress is what I'm calling it.  But gosh, darnit, she's cute and gosh, darnit, the dress, pinafore and bonnet are lovely and gosh, darnit, they better be because she'll be wearing them until she's 10!!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Homemade Bread...Any Way You Slice It

Something I've been doing for years is grinding my own grain for our breads, muffins and pancakes.  It doesn't take that much more effort (especially with an electric grain mill) and the taste is spectacular.  I experiemented for months and months, making all my breads by hand, to find just the right recipe to use with my grain so I've put in my time and I know that if called upon, I've got the skills.  But OH the convenience, OH the smell, OH the joy of fresh baked bread waiting for you  in your Zojirushi bread machine at 7:00 o'clock in the morning. (Especially when you found the Zo in the thirft store for $15.00)  Ok, so if I was the kind of mom my great grandmother was, I'd be up at 5:00am making it by hand so it would be ready at 7:00am but sometimes you just have to compromise on the little things.  When my little girls come bounding into my bed in the morning, pounce on my head and say, "Mommy, it smells so good!", I thank God for my Zo, roll over and snuggle.  Life is good!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Ahhh...Spinning Day!

Ahhhh......Spinning Day! 

It's when I turn some of this amazing stuff

Into this amazing stuff!

I read a long time ago that Stephanie Pearl McPhee sets aside Tuesday as her spinning day.  Now I'm not one to copy but I did think that was a brilliant idea to adopt into my busy life.  My schedule is so crazy between homeschooling, teaching classes, growing our vegetables, cooking our food and eeking out whatever crafting time is left in my day, that if I don't set aside a day once a week to spin, my poor spinning wheel will sit forlornly in the corner collecting dust balls big enough to...well, spin.  So Tuesday spinning day works for me too and if it's only a half hour I get well, by golly, then I'm using it to spin.
Shhh....Don't tell anyone, but I applied for a SOAR scholarship!  EEK!  YES!  I did it!  I applied for a SOAR scholarship.  If you're not familiar, SOAR is the Spin-Off Autumn Retreat sponsored by Spin-Off Magazine.  It's not something I would normally do as I never feel right taking anything for free.  I guess it goes back to some deep-seeded childhood traumatic memory of having my heart crushed by Joey McGlauphlin in fifth grade when he told me not to sit next to him, that he was saving that seat for Kim Nichols and not feeling worthy.  But I was thinking, I NEVER go to workshops, mainly because they are just not in the budget and because I have two little girls who need their mommy.  Everything I have learned, I have learned on my own or from watching youtube.   But I said to myself, "By golly, Why Not!! (Who needs Joey McGlauphlin anyway!)"  After getting hubby's approval to watch the girls, I did it!
I will not find out until the end of April if I am chosen as a recipient so everyone who's reading this, ready?  Take a deep hold it until April 20th.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Congratulations! It's a girl!

No, no calm down. I haven't given birth....well at least not in the conventional way. But anyone who's gone through the work of making a Waldorf doll from start to finish will know it's a lot like giving birth. My daughter was so blessed to have an amazing preschool teacher last year at our neighborhood Waldorf inspired school, Maple Village. It was Miss Andrea who inspired me to actually make one of these beautiful dolls. Years ago, she had purchased a doll kit and had never done anything with it. When we met and she became acquainted with my crafting abilities, she gifted me with the doll kit saying, "I can't think of anyone else who would get more use out of this." I was so excited and flattered. Not too long after, I borrowed a doll-making video from a friend (thanks P) and proceeded to give it a shot. I got the head done and set it aside for a while. Then as luck would have it, I took a workshop to make a "heavy baby". Not only did I come away with a lovely baby doll for my younger daughter but I came away with inspiration enough to finish the other doll I had started. In one day she was complete. All but her hair and then I stalled. Back into the box she went until I felt confident enough to tackle the hair. Well guilt set in when the other day, my oldest found the doll in a box and started carrying her around, naked and bald, everywhere! Even to the store. "That's it", I said. "I am going to finish that doll this weekend". Since I was only one sleeve away from finishing a sweater for said doll, I promptly finished that off, sewed on the buttons and set the next day aside for the doll's hair. I was surprised at how easy it was to crochet the wig and to put in the hair strands. I barely got the last piece of yarn attached and the doll was snatched from my hands and immediately loved. When I found the doll this morning with the sweater buttoned on backwards (to pose as a nightgown), I promptly dug into my stack of fabric and picked a lovely flowered flannel to sew up for a nightie. Fortunately Miss Andrea's doll kit included clothes patterns. As expected, as soon as the last stitch was in, before I could even sew on the snap, the doll's nightie was snatched away and put on the doll now named SARAH. My daughter's last words before going to bed were, "Mommy, I need my baby!"  They've been inseperable ever since.   My heart is full!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Speaking of that Sweater...

So that sweet little raglan sweater by Fiona Duthie that I referred to in my last post, which by the way is from the Spring 2008 issue of Living Crafts Magazine, was originally knit in a size 2 for my dear little 2 year old Abby last February. The yarn is a beatiful thick and thin single that I spun up
 from Cherry Tree Hill hand-dyed WOOL roving. Ok, what's wrong with this picture? I knit it in February, it's wool, it's a size 2, Abby was 2. We live in CA people! What was I thnking? So did she get to wear it more than for a few hours? NOOOO!

I'm so glad I teach knitting classes because there was no way I was going to be self-motivated enough to reknit that sweater in a size 4 so she could wear it this year. So to get a fire lit under my knitting hiny, I scheduled a Child's Raglan Sweater Class and of course I have to knit one along with all my students. So during class ONE, I rip, during class TWO, I cast on in the round, class THREE, I knit the sleeves in the round and by class FOUR, the sleeves are pieced and the collar is knit and Abby has a new size 4 sweater. Also fortunately for me, I had a good amount of the same yarn left over from the size 2 sweater. FYI, 8 oz. of roving will make a child's size 4 raglan pullover sweater spun into a thick and thin single with very little left over. Just in case you're asking. Here is a pic of the new sweater in size 4 with a little of my handspun thrown in for fun. :)

Did I Mention I Was Published?

So one of my students was talking one day about an ornament exchange in which they had become involved with Living Crafts Magazine. Word had gone out on a craft list that I belong to looking for 12 crafters to participate. She mentioned she had just squeezed in to the last spot. I literally ran home and got on the list. Fortunately for me, they were accepting 6 alternates and fortunately again for me, I knew the woman coordinating the exchange. Fiona Duthie had been in my home a few months before leading a natural dyeing workshop that I had coordinated. Ok, let me back up a little. One of the first issues of Living Crafts Magazine had included an adorable pattern for a handspun child's sweater. I had spun this gorgeous Cherry Tree Hill roving into a thick and thin single and began knitting this cute little raglan sweater when I ran into a part of the pattern that made no sense. I did a little detective work and found the email address of Fiona Duthie who had written the pattern and was also a contributing editor of the magazine. When I wrote her with the problem, she was
so sweet and so appologetic and promptly sent me the corrections.
We struck up an internet freindship and a few months later, she contacted me to say she was flying into LA from New Zealand where she had been on a wool sebatical for the last 2 years (How does one get a gig like that?) and would I like to help coordinate some workshops for her. I, of course, jumped at the chance and voila! There she was in my home dying wool and silks with Austrailian Flax, Cochineal Bugs, Indigo and Osage. I was in heaven!

So here I was a few months later, desperate to be a part of an ornament exchange for one of my favorite magazines and she was the coordinator. Needless to say, I got on as an alternate. She outlined the theme and the medium we should use and I started submitting ideas.

A filet crochet pouch...
Three different Scherrenschnitte designs...

and some hand-dipped pine cones.
All such simple ideas which I was almost embarrased to submit but I thought simple might be better since not everyone who reads the magazine is an experienced craftsperson. Surprisingly, two of my ideas were chosen, the Scherrenschnitte angels and the dipped pine cones. We each had to make multiple ornaments, (I had to make multiples of both) and have them turned in by the end of summer so they could be distributed to the other participants along with all instructions and photographs. When the magazine hit the stands in late fall, I was thrilled to see that my Sherrenschnitte angels had made it in the issue while so many others had not. I was also told that my pine cones would be featured in a future issue! So why the heck did it take me so long to tell anyone? Well, life is so full that I just put it aside and relished it within my own little circle. So I'm putting it out there folks...Let's Celebrate!