Sunday, March 25, 2007

A Book for Yvette and Nearly a Road Trip

I recently took part in the 5x7 Art Swap. The goal was simple, send your partner a piece of art that can fit into a 5x7ish size envelope. I sent to Yvette, an art student in England. Since she is into handmade books, I made a small one for her. This style is called a "star book." If you look at the pictures here, you can kind of see why it is called that. When you open it fully and tie it closed, it makes a star. It is super easy to make. You simply need to be very careful to get your folds neat and measured nicely. The actual book is fairly small, about a 3.5" square.
This weekend I am not having much time for creativity as we are packing and getting ready for our road trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico. The dog is off the the grandparent's home for a doggie get-petted-all-day-never-have-to-be-alone holiday. This makes her tail wag happily. The rats are off the have adventures at a friend's home and grandma Gay will take care of Chesterfield, our lovey, albeit demented and brain damaged, cat. I will not be posting for this next week as we are going computer free for the trip.
I promise to return with great pic.s. Happy Early Spring!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Operation Haremail

There's lots of fun going on over at Polka Dot Mittens where Operation Haremail is in full swing. The hostess says, "Operation Haremail is a rabbit-themed, Easterish sort of a swap. The suggested dollar value for the packages are $10-$12, and the contents can be anything rabbit-related. Chocolate rabbits, stuffed rabbits, pictures of rabbits... anything but actual rabbits." You can jump over to Swap-Bot and sign up anytime between now and Tuesday, March 27, 2007. The packages are due in the mail by Friday, April 6, 2007. Part of what is fun is how varied the packages will be. When I looked at some of the previous year's packages I found that some were handmade and others were totally shopper's fodder. If you want to be part of this swap use the links I have provided and sign up soon.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

A Grand Elephant Endeavor with Ellie

On Saturday night we had the triple birthday party. One of the things Ellie got for her birthday was a really cool kit called "Foldin' Art" by Milton Bradley. It is a very well designed kit to make a 3D paper elephant. Ellie and I are working on it together. It is a challenging project. You have to be detail oriented and willing to allow the glue to dry a bit before releasing your grip on the stop you are working on. In the pictures here you see what we got done so far. The head took us about 1.5 hours. Ellie is modeling it for us. We decided that once we are done with this one we will need to get more. We are thinking we might go for the kitten next.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Magnets, Parties and Wonderful, Dark Earth

During the fall Target had put everything from the dollar spot on 75% clearance. I picked up many things, including these large magnetic clips. They originally had the logos from popular cereal brands on them. I cover them with fun papers. The bird one was a postcard from a gallery opening. The others are made with scrapbooking paper that I really love. One of these days I may simply have to copy the idea of the flowers onto a quilt. I made them slightly 2D by cutting out important images and mounting them with foam tape. I then covered all of it with Mod Podge and let it dry. The next day I embellished them with rhinestones and fibers. Ellie hopes that I keep all of them. I think she really hopes that the bird one might become hers.

Saturday we had our annual triple birthday party for my husband, my daughter and my mother in law. We had the whole family over for dinner and fun. We had great food. Doug made Chinese Green Beans - a recipe worth looking up. Ellie got some fun gifts, including a wonderful kit to make a paper 3D Elephant. I will post about that later.

On Sunday Ethan and I worked in the garden. We find freshly tilled soil to be a beautiful thing. Today it was heavenly. We thought it would be hard going, like usual, but this year it was very easy. It seems that having the soil under many feet of snow for a few months is the key to easy tilling. We took out the old dead stuff, worked on the soil and even planted a few things. So far we have three kinds of beets, two kinds of carrots, two kinds of peas and about six kinds of lettuce.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Bloggy Inspirations and Good Bunny Findings

I'm working along on the fingerless gloves the my son, but there is not much to show, so I thought I would share some of the results of my recent web surfing.
I am interested in finding some toys to knit. Many of the toy patterns are for crochetting, but I like to knit. The first one comes from the DIY Network. It is an adorable knitted and felted bunny - very classic Easter style. I tried to put the photo of it here, but it would not go. So, go follow that link and then come back. I have another cutie to show you.

The bunny in the photo is from a fun blog by Jess Hutchison. The pattern is free and looks pretty easy to follow.
The other photos come from another beautiful blog called Ulla Benulla. You will have to look a little for those specific photos, or you can right click on them, select "properties" from the pull down menue that pops up and that will give you the information you need.
Here's a happy nearly spring day to you...:)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Do I Need Hand Holding? I Am Not Sure!

This past weekend I worked on the last bits of my bag and felted it. I have included the before and after photo for you to see. Some people were interested to see how it would come out because I used wools from Lamb's Pride (blues, periwinkle and fushia), Conti (lime green), Noro (multicolor strands) and a synthetic eyelash yarn. Those people worried that I would get an oddly shaped bag once it was felted because those yarns all felt at different rates. It is true that the Conti shrank faster, but it yielded to a bit of blocking and now you can't see the size difference. I carried (combined two yarns and knitted them together as if they were one yarn) the Noro with a solid color in most places, so it worked out great. I did use it alone in the handle. There I found that it results in a thinner felt than the others. The eyelash acted just as I thought it would. I am thrilled with how it came out. I was hoping that you could see the texture difference between the knitted and the felted. It does not show up as well as I had hoped. You'll simply have to believe me when I say it looks great.

Next up are the beginnings of fingerless gloves that my dear son, Ethan requested. I am both excited and a little scared to be making them. My other projects involved BIG yarn. The needles were always at least #10s, with 4 stitches to an inch. This yarn is tiny, as are the #4 needles. This works up to about 6.5 stitches to the inch. The pattern is GREAT! It comes from and is called "Knucks." If you knit and have not been to that site, you must go there soon. They have funny, wonderfully written articles and really cool patterns, most of which are free. If my son was younger I would make the scarf that looks like a legless dragon, complete with a face, ears and scales. Anyhow, I digress. So, we went to buy the yarn. The woman who often helps me greets me like usual. She is always wonderful about answering my questions. I tell and show her what I want to make. She is silent for a long moment, purses her lips and says, "Oh, I see..." I pause, trying to figure out her response. When I ask her about it she is sweet and tries to be neutral by beginning with, "It is important to challenge yourself... but this is very different from what I have seen you make." I wonder, am I too self assured here? Maybe. She tells me that she has not made gloves, but enjoyed making mittens. Maybe I should do those first. She reminds me that it is okay to have to rip things out several times - that it is a good learning tool. Ethan is not having it. He has dreamed of having hand knit black fingerless gloves, but he does mention that I would be okay if I did not want to do it. Still, he thinks his Mama can do and make nearly anything. This gives me a bit of courage. Then I realize that I often do not go the usual route. I don't usually take what my friend calls "hand-holding" classes where the instructor guides you through every step. I often skip things, leaping ahead. I buy what I need; she wishes me luck. I find my self a little scared (but know that I can get help, or I can rip it out, if need be) I go home, print out the pattern and go for it. In the last day and a half I have already made nine of the ten fingers needed. So far it is fun. So, which one of us was right? Am I being naive, or is she timid? Time will tell... I will keep you updated on the progress, including the ripping, that I make...

Monday, March 12, 2007

"Where the Wild Things Are"

My kids are such lucky little souls. On Saturday evening their Aunt Lilia and Uncle Mark took them for a fancy dinner at a swanky Thia restaurant and then to see the Colorado Ballet's rendition of "Where the Wild Things Are," inspired by the Maurice Sindack book. They had such a wonderful time. Even though they had been to the ballet many times, each saw it with eyes anew. Ellie's new vision is due to the ballet classes she is taking. She has developed a new sense of respect for what it takes to move like they do. For Ethan, it is a growing awareness in how things function together. He was thrilled to announce that when a man and woman dance together, the man becomes a tool. I was a bit confused, so I asked for clarification. He says (and he is right) That the man waits to help her dance. He lifts, spins and even tosses her. He does very little on his own. However, when it is just men, then they become dancers themselves. He tells me it feels like things are beginning to "click" in his head. I told him that in education we call this the egg carton theory - the idea that we collect all of these separate pieces of information, each one staying apart and distinct, then they combine together, like an omelet, making something entirely different and delightful. They also both joyfully recounted the very last thing. At the end "Max" comes back out, followed by another monster. Max beckons another monster back onstage. This monster is confused. What's going on? Then the first monster gets on his knees, brings out a small box and asks the other monster to marry him. They are thrilled. She jumps up and down (not easy to do in such a costume) and falls down on top of him. A very romantic, if clumsy, ending to a great evening. Which, by the way, was topped off by double scoops of ice cream. Does life get any better than this?

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Bag Lady II

I've been having fun making more bags. The cloth one is an improvement over the last one I made with the blue & brown polka dots. When I made that bag I pleated the top, but not th bottom of the lower section of the bag. The result is that when it is full of stuff the bottom gets wide and flat. I actually seem to be the only one that notices that. However, I wanted the bag that I make for myself to be different. Thus, I did twin pleats on the top and bottom seams of the lower section of my bag. I love the fabrics I used. The flower fabric is from Jane Sassamon's new collection. I have used material from that line for many things. The prints are too large to work into clothing, but I am doing my best to make the work elsewhere. The purple fabric is from my friend, Natalie. I think she got it at Superbuzzy. The yellow fabric matches perfectly with the flower fabric. It sports Chinese characters. I am pleased with the outside of the bag. The inside is a different matter. I did not taylor the inside, I simply cut and gathered material the size of the lower portion of the bag. The result is that it looks puffy. The upper section is quilted to give it some strength. I eched the flower pattern from the lower section.

The other bag is almost ready to be felted. I had knitted the handles, but saw another technique on line where you cast on 120 stitches and work just a few rows, instead of the cast on 10 stitches and tons of rows. I am not sure if I will both to rip the other and reknit it. If I do I know it will have straighter lines. The quesiton is, could I get that if I simply blocked the other well?

Thursday, March 08, 2007

"Pan's Labyrinth" & WIPs

Last night I found myself alone. Everyone else in my family had something else they needed to do, and none of it involved Mom's taxi services, a rare event. I shopped for a gift for a small diva-like, glitzy young friend who turns seven on Sunday. Then I went to see "Pan's Labyrinth." It is an artsy movie about a young girl who tries to survive in the midst of a tryrantical Captian Vidal in the mountainous forest regions of Spain. In an effort to try and escape her situation she goes into the world of fairies, fauns, monsters and magic. The costumes are amazing. The story is heartwrenching. At times I had to cover my eyes. I cried a few times. It is a brutal movie, brutal in a different way than you might see in a war movie. I hope that when the movie comes out on DVD that it will feature a "Making of.." featurette, complete with story boards. It is a movie worth seeing, but not one for kids. This is a dark, disturbing film.
On a lighter note, I have finished some things I hope to post pictures of soon. I have completed the knitting portion of my felted bag. I will wait to felt it with my friend so she can see how to do it. I have also made another funky bag, similar to the one in the previous post.
I am now trying to figure out what my next project will be. Ethan has asked for some fingerless gloves in a nice charcol color. I am considering it. He doesn't ask for much, so I would like to make them, but I have never done something like that before. The pattern is a little intimidating. My knitting friend, Gerri, says that it is time I moved away from the "big" stuff and challenge myself with something my complicated. I will most likely go for it. I may do a felted oven mit first, in order to learn how to incorporate fingers. There is a great, free pattern at Knit Picks, "Hot Out of the Oven." The pattern I am looking at for the fingerless gloves comes from They are called Knuckles. They have lots of fun, free patterns. When I was working on my felted tote I bookmarked a few of their choices.
We are also trying to plan our spring break, which happens in two weeks. The kids have requested a road trip in the new-to-us van. We are considering Santa Fe. We haven't been there since about 1988.Anyone have recommendations for us?

Monday, March 05, 2007

Bag Lady

I've recently been drawn in by the posts where bloggers are sharing photos of the tote bags they have made. I love containers (a funny thing to love - it know) and these fit right in that category. My favorite ones are by Juju.
Her Feb. 26 and earlier posts show the ones she has been recently making. If you click on her link you will see that this bag is reminiscent of a few she has made. The pink fabric is this wonderful cotton lame' that is washable. I originally made it for a friend, but Ellie is trying to convince me that she needs it. She also wants a black, white and red one, so we will see what comes of that. She alternately modeled it off her shoulder and on her head, like a chef's hat.

This was a busy weekend. We celebrated Ellie's 10th birthday. It is wild to have two double digit children. It makes me both happy and sad. We have a gaggle of girls over for a sleepover. We began with an art class at the local fine art supply store, Meininger's. The girls got to do a colorful, holographic version of scratchboard. None of them had done that be for and really enjoyed it. Then we had dinner at home. This was followed by a scavenger hunt for party prizes and Ellie opening her presents. Then the girls decorated the journals they each received. We pulled out loads of markers and stamps for them to go crazy with. They loved that. Then the watched a movie, staying up late. In the morning we found them all crammed into one bed - a funny sight. On Saturday they spent the day at the zoo. Ellie was happy with how the party went. Ethan to to go to La Junta to work on his Indian Lore merit badge. He had a blast. They got to visit Bent's Fort and sleep in the Koshare Indian Museum. At night they slept in the remake of a kiva. Thankfully it was heated, unlike the real thing. bHe said the people of that town were wonderful. He wants to go again.

We enjoyed watching "Stranger Than Fiction." If you are looking for an interesting movie, this might be it. It has Will Ferrell and Emma Thompson in t.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Beginnings of a Bag and a Little Chivalry after and Attack

After making so many knitted hats of late, I decided make a felted bag. I love the one Peg did and I go crazy for the ones at a local knitting store, so I decided to get started. A friend wanted to learn to knit, so we are doing these bags side by side, sort of. To ensure success we both got good, basic yarn. We started with two colors of Lamb's Pride wool and will get artsy by adding in a Noro yarn. You can see how the Noro is looking once I carried it with the solid color. I thought it would be a more distinct band, but instead it is more transitional. I carried the Noro with the periwinkle for a time, then switched over to the fusha. It helped things blend better. I am very happy with how it is coming along. I am excited to get it done. Currently my knitting rides around in a plastic bag from the store. It will be wonderful to have a nice felted one instead.

On a different note, I want to praise my husband. Yesterday we had Parent Teacher Conferences. My first conference was the meeting from hell. It proves that teaching HS seniors can be a dangerous, threatening business at times. I will not go into the details. We will leave it with you knowing that a student lied to his mother. She wanted to rip me in half because she thought the lie was true. The UNFOUNDED verbal and nearly physical attack was bad enough that people from all around the room stopped to watch. Another person went to get an administrator to stop the attack. The administrator had to take her by the arm and remove her. As they exited she was screaming that she would have me disbarred (never mind that teachers do not take the bar exam - thatwould be lawyers!) Once it was done, I was upset. I went to a private room where cried and vented. In my 17 years of teaching I have never been treated in such a way. If I was not so mad, I would be embarrassed for the scene they caused for themselves. Anyhow, I called my husband telling him I needed him to be available to talk when I got home. I would need some TLC. I also told him that I did not have a scrapper in my car. I was not sure how I would clean the snow and ice off of my car. Later when I went to my car I found that my dear husband had come to my car, scrapped it off and left me a new scrapper along with a paper flower my daughter made. What a great feeling that was. Isn't it wonderful that chivalry isn't dead? At least not within my family. So I went home to cry a bit more and find comfort in the love of my husband.