Sunday, August 30, 2009

Doll Quilt Swap 7 Progress and Faux-made Girls clothes

Thanks so much for delurking to tell me about knitting, everyone! I know a lady in town who can show me how to knit, and I will definitely check out that wool shop on 8th st next time I'm in Saskatoon, Anna, to pick up some wool and needles.

Well, I have been puttering away at my Doll Quilt for DQS7 for the past two weeks now. It has been slow going becuase a) its warm out, so I feel the need to take the boys outside, b) I'm experimenting with newish techniques, so I wanted to make sure I got them right, c)SOMEONE needed a Batman mask in a hurry,

and d) I changed my mind on the colours and techinques to use for the birds and flowers two or three times

Anyway, this is what I've got so far:

Everything is pieced, the birds are fused on and the quilt is sandwiched together. The flowers are not attached yet, I'll do that after I machine quilt it. I'm going to use three colours of thread to quilt it, and I'm quite impressed with myself because I actually went out and bought some new bobbins so I could do this fairly quickly.

Up until this point in my sewing career (I have had my machine for 15 yrs now) I have been running with 3 bobbins. Yes, you heard right. Three. I usually have one black, one cream and one of whatever colour I happen to be sewing a garment in at the moment. With clothes and other things where all the bobbin threads will be on the inside, I tend to keep running with whatever colour I have in at the moment until I run out of thread, then change it to match the top thread at that point.

I'm finding, however, that I am switching between projects a lot more lately, and I feel bad sending other people quilt blocks with grey thread on the top and purple thread on the bottom, and with quilting you can see the thread on both sides of the quilt. So rather than what I have been doing, which is to unwind the remaining thread off the bobbin, wrap it around a business card and generally leave it somewhere silly so that my two year old or my cat finds it and spreads it all around the basement, I thought it might be time to get more bobbins.

In fact, I was so impressed with the look of my new clear plastic bobbins (my old ones are metal) with the pretty thread in them that I tried to take an artsy photo of them:
I think I need a better camera for that to work, though. Something with a detachable lens and 500 features. Or a non-subterranean sewing room (why is it that I can't spell because correctly on the first try, ever, but I can spell subterranean?).

I had a few extra birds and flowers kicking around the basement that didn't end up co-ordinating with my doll quilt, so I used them to make a birthday present for my 5 year old friend, Bea. I picked up a hat and t-shirt and embellished them for her:

It was kind of funny trying to find a plain hat and t-shirt for these, actually. The town I live in has basically two places you can buy clothes for kids (one for adults). I went to Extra Foods to look for something to applique for Bea, and I found that almost all the girls clothes already had Faux-made embellishments. Like, pretend appliqued t-shirts and sweaters with little felt apples with purposely thick, clunky embroidery stitches around them. Seriously, you know hand made is getting to be cool when chain stores start pretending to make funky hand made clothes.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

So, Tell Me About Knitting . . .

Okay, I can't take it anymore. I have tried reading (too much concentration). I have tried hexagons (too many fiddly bits). I have tried felt softies (too much peril involved with being jumped on while wielding needles and scissors). I something crafty and portable. It seems I have come to that point where I have to start going to things with no purpose other than to watch something organized by someone else take place. Like swimming lessons. Or park time where your children actually play with other children. Or a reason to avoid doing the dishes after supper (oh, did I say that out loud?).

My grandmother taught me to knit when I was about 8 or 9. But she lived 12 hrs drive away, and I could only remember how to knit and purl, I couldn't remember how to cast on or off, and my mother was not crafty in the least. So I knit one endless line of green something and then gave up. But I think I still have a bit of a muscle memory of how to knit and purl. But how to cast on and off? What size of needles with which wool? What kind of project (a scarf to start with, obviously).

The last few times I have been in Michaels I have found myself wandering through the wool department. I even reached out for a pair of needles and touched their cool, metal surface and then shied away. It is a whole new, foreign world. Which is what I love about it, obviously. So many new things to learn. Something to occupy my mind and keep my hands busy and give me something to research. All things I need to keep sane.

I'm not going to give up quilting, I promise (I have that stash of fabric in the basement to use up, after all). I just need a portable project so I'm not aggrivated when my kids want to go to the park because I"m thinking, "But I really just need to do something creative. Can't we just stay home and hide in the basement?".

So where do I start? Anyone?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

We Actually Achieved Food This Year!

So, I have this thing about vegetable gardens.
When I was little, our household consisted of me and four teenagers, and one working parent. This formula meant that we had a garden. Not because my parents had any love of the outdoors or of gardening, but simply because they needed to feed all those mouths on a budget. When my brothers and sisters started leaving home, my parents stopped growing vegetables.

This means that I have this idyllic childhood picture of a back yard full of peas and beans and other things to eat, and this memory of harvesting food off of plants that my siblings had helped me plant. But I have no actual knowledge or experience in how to take care of a garden.

The result is that every year I hopefully buy seeds and dig up a small patch of our back yard. Then I never get around to planting the seeds, or I plant them too late and everything is ripe when we're on holidays, or I plant it too early and the frost gets it, or I forget to water and weed it and everything dies. One year I even failed to grow zucchini. I didn't even know that was possible.

This spring, we tried again. I bought the seeds. We dug up the ground. The boys and I planted the seeds. And then something happened. Because I was out in the backyard with two little boys anyway, and I needed something to distract Aaron from throwing more sand on his head and to stop Andrew from trying to destroy the ant hill again to see if he can find the tunnels, I would get us all to weed the garden. And water the garden. And thin the garden. And weed it again.

And wouldn't you know it, we actually got to eat a few things out of our tiny patch of land. Before we went on holidays we got about 2 weeks worth of lettuce out of our garden. We were welcomed home to snap peas that Aaron devoured while I was trying to unpack, and rhubarb ready for a spice cake.

Yesterday, we ate our carrots. Yes, all of them. The carrots got planted last, and Aaron was getting a bit too excited about planting seeds by that point, so a lot of our carrots got planted in the lawn, or dug under or drowned. But we did get enough carrots that we could eat the little baby ones for a snack in the afternoon, and cook the finger sized ones for supper.

Now we are just waiting for the pumpkins. The vines have taken over our whole garden, which I think is a good sign. It rained the entire week the blossoms were open, though, so I'm not sure if they got pollinated or not. We'll find out soon.

Hope your garden looks a little nicer than ours, and brings you lots of joy and abundance this year.

Quilt Bee update -- July and August

For some reason all my photos always appear in reverse order in Blogger. Sometimes I can wrap my head around it, sometimes I can't. Oh well. In reverse order, here are the blocks I've made lately:

In the International Stash Busting Bee, 2nd Ave Studios sent us the centre scraps,and asked us to make scrappy stars. Here are my two, one pink:
And one blue:

And in July, Shannon asked us to make a block for a hunting lodge quilt. She supplied the bear and the forest pieces. I didn't have much fabric that worked well with this theme, but this was what I came up with:

In the Threads Together Quilting bee we were asked to make wonky log cabins for August. I loved this fabric, it was so bright and fun. I made one slightly more traditional block:

And one a little more funky one:

In July we were asked to make wonky strips with these solids. I made this one at home, while I was listening to an interview with John Cleese.

And this one on my sister in law's sewing machine in Winnipeg, so it was a bit simpler as I didn't have all my supplies with me.

And this was my other July Stash Busting bee block. Lish had asked for stars of pinwheels. I was going to make something more complicated, but then I ran out of time, so I made this simple, but still hopefully striking block. Lish sent the little birds, and the rest was leftovers from my dad's 70th birthday quilt. The pattern said it was a 12" block, and I assumed that was the finished measurement - that is was actually 12.5, but it was a 12" block, so I added the border to round it out.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Kid Picture of the Week

Kris and I have started a fun meme over at Clever Mamas -- the Kid Picture of the Week. You can add a comment here with a link to your photo. If we get enough people we'll add a Linky in a few weeks.

Since Kris put her photo up on the Clever Mamas blog, I though I'd post one here:

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Familiar, but from a new perspective

Andrew is taking his first round of independent swimming lessons this week. And we went and bought him a good quality, comfortable pair of indoor school shoes today. When we were in Winnipeg I picked up some comfortable pants and long sleeve shirts for the school year.

The funny thing about these simple tasks is that I have never done them as a mother before. Yet I have such strong sensory memories of going to the little shoe store just down from Keskus mall to get my yearly Buster Browns, and the sting of chlorine in my eyes after swimming lessons, and the feel of being rubbed down roughly with a towel and hurried off to run after-lesson errands, and the smell of new clothes that were presented to me at the beginning of the school year.

Its like deja-vu, only with less polyester and patent leather this time around.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Vacation Round up

So, our vacation was a little more low key this year, because Dave and I were both so burnt out and it rained and rained and rained. We house sat in Winnipeg for two weeks for my brother. A lot of it was just us taking turns watching the boys while the other person slept / got out to civilization. Dave went on his reading retreat while I watched the boys, and when he came back he spent a lot of time with the boys. Because I actually wasn't nursing anyone this year, Dave sent me out to movies and coffees in the evenings while he put the boys to bed and enjoyed Speedvision.

None the less, we did get up to a few things. We went for a hike in the Assiniboine forest:
And took over the construction section of the Manitoba Children's Museum:

The boys enjoyed a lot of Treehouse and Retro Teletoon and PBS, since they only get an hour of DVDs fromt he library a day at home. Andrew was thrilled to get to see TransFormers, Spiderman, Superman, Bugs Bunny and (his new obsession0, Word Girl.

When the sun did peek out we visited the local schoolground which had a great park:
And of course there was always the Thomas Table in Chapters, another luxury for us. This usually lasted for a while before Aaron started getting into everything, but we enjoyed it while we could. Eventually we got so exasperated that we bought an umberella stroller to strap him into. That was after the day he took one of the kids cars they have for sale and I had to chase him around the entire store as he veered and careened around tables of books and surprised patrons' legs. I wonder where he gets his precocious driving skills from . . .

On one nice day we went to the Forks and spent about an hour watching the BMXers at the bike / skate park, and then got lovely organic cinnamin buns at the market. Before this they were doing 360s in a different part of the park, which was equally enthralling.
We went to the Winnipeg zoo, too. Andrew declared the animals too smelly, but he did really like these stepping stones:

And the prairie dogs were a big hit, too. It was funny, becuase there would be this huge empty field with a sign that said "Russian Gnu" or something similar on it. There would be three gnus hiding under a tree in the background, and about 30 prairie dogs wandering around in the foreground of the field.

Then we moved on to Regina, where we set up the tent. You may remember from last year that our tent weathered a huge rain storm, and so Dave was excited to see how it would do in the three days of rain that the forecast was predicting. I told him he could do a guest post about how to select and set up a good tent if there was no water in our tent at all after days of rain. The tent survived the two and a half days of rain we got, so stay tuned for Dave's guest post soon.

Anyway, here I am catching a little more sleep while the boys play with their GI Joes.

We also visited the Royal Saskatchewan Museum of Natural History on a day when it was pouring rain, which had some fun old school museum taxidermy going on, and some dinosoar bones. In the basement they had this fun kids area full of dinos. I think Someone had put a finger on my camera lens, so sorry for the blurry photos.

We were super fortunate that the weather cleared up for the Regina Folk Music festival. This year we did a lot more reading and a lot less active watching of the music. This was partially because some of the music was similar to acts in past years, and a lot of it was stuff that's not as much to our taste as it has been in past years. We did enjoy a lot of the music on Friday and Sunday night, and we really liked a fusion band, from BC, called From Dublin to Dubai -- a fusion of electronica, traditional Irish music and Bhangra dance music. It took me back to my days teaching at Princess Margaret, where the school assemblies had performances from the Bhangra dance team and the Ballywood Dance Team. And to Abbotsford where the IndoCanadian teenagers would blast dance music with traditional Indian beats from their cars. To much of the Regina audience I would imagine this was a whole new style of music so they got a lot more interested listening than spirited dancing. We really liked seeing K-OS live, and Bohemian Soundclash, and a new group called Chic Gamine was great, too.

In any case, can you guess who was reading what?

Aaron had a lot of fun at the Children's area at the festival. Here he is doing some two-fisted mural painting, just before the volunteer kicked him out for overly rowdy painting:

Andrew was getting a bit overstimulated by Sunday afternoon, so instead of making necklaces or painting he decided to peruse a toy catalogue I had brought, and draw:

One of my favorite things about camping is the traditional baths in the laundry tub:

And the campsite we usually go to has these crazy big balls. In past years, I've never let the boys play on them, becuase they do sort of roll, but this year Andrew was old enough to climb across them all himself, so they were a lot more fun. Aaron made his way across with help, but he liked jumping off the shorter ones.

That was about our vacation. I got caught up on my sleep and am now feeling remotely human again. Dave got to spend a lot of time with the boys, and we got to go to a few cultural and city-type things we usually miss out on. We have come back refreshed, and ready to start our new year. How was your summer?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Ninjas and Superheros

Everything is about superheros around here lately. This is in part due to a big dose of Retro Teletoon and PBS Kids' Word Girl while we were on vacation. But even before that, Aaron had decided that he was Batman, and has mostly only responded to Batman for the last two months. He quite often wears his superhero cape around the house, and makes every exit by putting one hand in the air, going "pshewww!" and running out of the room at top speed. This has led to some pretty funny conversations around here, all spoken in the two year old equivalent of a deep, growl-ly voice.

At the Regina Folk Music Festival, I heard him talking to a volunteer as she helped him string beads and buttons onto a string:

V: What's your name?
A: Batman.
V: Brandon?
A: No! Batman!
V: Oh, I see. Where is your cape?
A: I left it at home.
V: I guess you wouldn't want to get it dirty or lost.

At home, when I wouldn't open the half eaten bbq chicken until it was lunch time and he went to Andrew for help:

Aaron: Ander, open the chicken.
Andrew: No, Aaron, I can't open it.
Aaron: But you're Superman!
Andrew: Yeah, but that's not one of my super powers.

And one of my favorite comments from Andrew on holidays relates to Ninjas. With the new GI Joe movie coming out, there are pictures of those two ninjas everywhere. So we were discussing why a ninja would wear all black (so you couldn't see him at night) or all white (presumably so you couldn't see him in the snow?). Andrew thought for a moment and then said:

"So, if you wanted to be a ninja in a garbage dump, you would have to be covered in garbage."

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Important Stuff First . . .

I'm back from holidays! Yesterday was the official laundry and readjustment day, and today is the back to real life day. I hope to actually post some photos of our trip this year (ha ha) but in the meantime, I thought I would start with the "important" things.

I picked up this great book on my trip:

I don't believe I haven't heard more buzz about Lotta Jansdotter's newish book, Simple Sewing for Baby. Did I miss it, or did it come out at the same time as something with a better marketing campaign? In any case, maybe I just have babies on the brain, but I love this book. The projects in it look fantastic, are super practical and utterly doable by a beginner sewer or a mom with small ones underfoot.

I want a girl now, just so I can make a whole bunch of these:

And I know what the boys are getting for Christmas:

I love the idea of these little velcro pouches:

And the super simple change pad that I didn't photograph, but which will fit nicely in this quick, functional diaper bag:

Although I'm not great at the simple, Nordic asthetic, I did grow up in Northern Ontario surrounded by Finnish immigrants with saunas in their basements and rag rugs on the bare wood floors, so I do have a taste for Lotta's style. Its also great that there are not only full patterns in the front envelope of the book, but a bunch of stencils for decorating the projects (including those monster faces - how much do I want to put one of those on a shirt for Aaron?).

So, since the diaper bag and change pads and pouches require home decor weight fabric, I decided that it was time to give in to something that had been tempting me for a few weeks: Starlit Nest's close out sale. If you like Heather Ross or some of those almost gone Free Spirit Home Decor fabrics, you should check out her store before it closes.
She is selling Nigella fabric for a really good price, so I picked up a bit:

And I picked up a scrap pack of birds that will be going out as part of my Threads Together packages:

And she does these great grab bag jelly rolls (yes, that is Heather Ross, Joel Dewberry and Heather Bailey goodness you see in there):

With the knowledge that all this goodness was coming to my front door when I got back, I hardly bought any fabric on holidays. No, really.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Ah, vacation!

Well, we are two thirds of the way through our vacation, and all is good. I will pretend that I am going to do a full vacation update with photos at the end, but I never do, so here are some photos of our drive to Winnipeg, anyway. As you can see, we only stopped for the essentials:

impromptu soccer games at rest stops

runs through the tall grass

flower picking

That could be why the 700 kms took us 11 hrs.

For Anna

We went through Wadena on our way to Winnipeg last week and stopped here for lunch:

It reminded me of visiting the Irishes, and of their cozy living room and of Andrew enjoying looking at Finn editions of Richard Scary books and Andrew's much beloved bed and desk that Anna gave us when she left Saskatchewan, and of how I'm going to pull out her folding rocking chair for quieting our new baby in a few months (and hope Aaron doesn't find a way to fold it up on himself, although I'm sure it will just be a matter of time). Hope all is well, Irishes!