Sunday, July 26, 2009

Summer of skirts

This has truly been the summer of the skirt. I made one for each of my girls awhile back, one for each of my twin nieces, one for a (big kid) birthday gift and another for a (big kid) friend that is about to return home after a visit in the US.

Here are the two most recent skirts. They seem to be getting better with each one I make. The yellow is a dragonfly print with green polka dot trim and the other is a rich, chocolate brown with blue vines. My older girls picked the fabric and the ribbon for each of the skirts and helped with the sewing. It's a great project to have their help on since there is minimal measuring, it's quick, and seems to speak to their 4 y.o. fashion sensibilities!

What I like more than the skirts are the values they seem to be teaching my kids. In no particular order here are a few that I have noticed emerge in their own words:

First, give of yourself and your talents. When ever we talk about giving a gift to someone the girls immediately begin to brainstorm from the handmade things that I/we have given them. Sometime entire family dinners are spent dreaming up fabulous cakes, cookies and art projects we could give to our neighbors, friends and grandparents - for no particular reason.

Second, give gifts you're excited to give. The girls are so enthusiastic about giving handmade gifts! They often run around with them in the hours before we give them, showing them off to their stuffed animals. They make-up songs about them and say they dream at night about making more.

Third, put time and thought into the gifts you give. The girls have thoughtfully hand-picked fabric, ribbon and even thread for these projects. I've even witnessed them debate between yellow and green fabric and make an apparently informed decision based on playground evidence. "Remember that day when she [the recipient] played with the yellow ball on the playground?" one of them shared. "I think she'd like the yellow best." This is a skill that I continue to work on, but comes naturally to their Dad. It seems to have been passed along.

Lastly, a gratuitous photo of my littlest stretching her creative wings. She has been asking to color (sounds more like "cul-ur") a lot lately; we've been switching around from chalk to markers, crayons, water colors and colored pencils.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

America's Knitting

I'm so excited to share that I was asked to participate in Wisconsin month on America's Knitting. You can check out my mittens here, as well as other gorgeous knitted projects from my fellow Wisconsinites.

The website itself is chock full of great information on knitting all across the United States and the site is dedicated in support of local yarn shops. Mary puts it quite simply, "Yarn shops are important." This is so true.

Speaking for myself, as a mostly self-taught knitter-learner, the yarn shop is the place I go for just about everything. Supplies/notions and yarn, sure. But for me they are also like a museum, research lab, library, resource center, socio-emotional center and teaching institution all rolled into one.

Mary's site is an invaluable tool for travelling knitters - she has current listings for many, many, many stores across the country all sorted by city and state, and she even gives you a map! I know that I'll be visiting to learn about the nearest LYS the next time I'm planning to attend a conference away from home. She also does in-depth coverage of specific stores on the spotlight page.

Mary wrote such kind words about my work and creative effort - it's more than enough to get me back to my needles, double-time.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Slowly getting back on my feet (with socks)

Slowly, slowly I'm gravitating towards crafting again. Not sure what my hiatus was all about. I think I just reached a saturation point after sewing the quilts and needed to rest for a bit. I also think that the pull of the outdoors: gardening, camping, reading in the hammock and al fresco meals, took/takes more of my creative energy that I realized. I'm happy that it's been put to good use - our yard is really coming together and we've had some fun adventures - but I missed my needles. I am back on to something again and it feels good: restful, fulfilling and exciting - all that knitting should be for me.

I'm diligently plugging away on these socks (I will meet my deadline) and I cast on my first pair of self-striping socks. This is my first time working with a cotton blend yarn and so far so good. I think that I am going to call these my rain garden socks. The greys, blues and greens remind me of rainy summer days, and I cast on for them in the midst of planting our new rain garden.

I've also been doing some planning for a set of sweaters for my girls this fall. I'm thinking of a pair (or triplet) of wallabies, with slight modifications (rolled hems, maybe no pouch).

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Zero crafting going on over here

My husband has been working crazy long hours during the past six weeks. In addition to his work/job, he's been learning a lot about the foreclosure problem (link to his blog) in the U.S. and is currently organizing this workshop. Not only does that mean that I've been working crazy long hours at home with the kids, but my left over energy - at the end of the day, or during the day - to be crafty has been very, very low. In fact, it's non-existent. I haven't even picked out a next project. I don't mind. The girls and I are outside all day, every day; we're constantly on the go and I've been enjoying every moment of it. This has also given me some extra time to read and browse magazines.

Here's the list of what I've read lately, in no particular order:

Coop (a father's day gift, but I get to read it first!)
Animal Dreams
Population 485
Cooks Illustrated (various back issues)
A Homemade Life
Fall on Your Knees
In Defense of Food
Mother Earth News (various back issues)
Baking: From my Home to Yours (the world peace cookies are incredible)
The Complete Book of Small Batch Preserving
An Introduction to Latent Variable Growth Curve Modeling (for my dissertation)

This photo is of me and my husband on a rare day off for him - the Friday before the 4th of July. We finally rigged up a pair of hammocks we bought when we were in Bocas del Toro, Panama just before we were engaged. The girls had an extra long nap and we were free to read and doze while swinging in the breeze.