Painting Ornaments








Painting ornaments

Every year my knitting group gets together for a handmade ornament swap and this year I though I’d combine my swap-ornament making with kid-crafting and make some cornstarch dough ornaments inspired by these.

The dough was easy enough to make (though the cornstarch gives it a sickly sweet smell) and it was easy enough to roll out, but my attempts at yarn embossing were awful and LMC’s insistence at playing with all the dough (not just her half) meant I had to keep rolling it out over and over again, which I just don’t think it was designed to do. So in the end, I had some brittle dough, a lot of ornaments missing a limb and a few with a rather prickly texture. Nothing suitable for gifting.

But, because they were no longer “precious” it meant that LMC and her dad could go to town painting them all and now I think they’re the most beautiful smudgy mud-colored things I’ve ever seen – missing legs and all.

All of this is to say, it was a valuable lesson in managing my expectations. Of course she’s going to want to the play with the salt dough like her play dough. Of course things are going to break. But you know what? At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter a jot because LMC had a great time poking and painting and hanging them up on the bottom of the tree.

So while I did have to come up with another plan for my swap ornament, I’d say all in all, it was a success.

Speaking of success – thanks to the 136 (!) of you who entered the giveaway and a very warm welcome to any of you who are staying around as new readers!

The winners chosen via random number generator are commenters Liz (#129) for the subtle kit, Rachel (#10) for the spicy kit, and Magda (#109) for the gift certificate. Congrats -I’ve sent you all an email about claiming your prize.

I’m down to the wire on my holiday crafting, with one toddler sweater on the blocking board and three more handmade projects in various stages, but the good news is come Friday, I’ve got two weeks off – one to finish everything and one to recooperate!



It’s giveaway day on Sew Mama Sew and being in the Christmas spirit, I thought I’d participate this year by offering two Maian Shawl kits!

Each of the kits contains enough lace weight yarn to complete the shawl, a Maian pattern, a drawstring-project bag sewn by me, and a $10 gift certificate to my Ravelry store. The “Subtle” kit features Quince & Co’s Piper in Avocet as seen in the pattern sample and a dogs in galoshes project bag (note: the Piper yarn comes with hand-written tags because it came to me without any). The “Spicy” kit features two skeins of Malabrigo lace in Glazed Carrot and a fox project bag.

As an added bonus, I’m offering a third $10 gift certificate!

But wait, there’s more! I’m offering 20% off any pattern in my Ravelry store for your last-minute crafting (or gifting) needs with the code STILLTIME.

To enter, leave a comment below telling me your most (or least!) successful holiday craft project. I just had a bust yesterday trying to make a bunch of (now limbless) cornstarch dough ornaments, but my husband is still wearing the the sweater I knit him back in 2009! Also let me know if you have a subtle/spicy preference!

Entries accepted until December 12 at 5 p.m. PST

As for the gift certificates/discounts – here’s a few ideas from my self-published archive that can made in the next 16 days or less:

Bradac zoetrope Krona

IMGP3371.JPGBob & Wave CowlDomenic Duck

UntitledFisherman's Wife BeretHeartRose Cardigan by Leah B. Thibault

From left to right:

Row 1: Bradac, Zoetrope, Krona Tam 

Row 2: Shoots & Ladders CowlBob & Wave Cowl, Domenic Duck

Row 3: Zienna Zebra, Fisherman’s Wife Beret (Free), Heartrose Cardigan

Punch-Through Advent Calendar

Prepping the Advent Calendar

Prepping the Advent Calendar

I finished my homemade calendar just in time for the start of Advent today!

When I was a kid we had an Advent calendar with little numbered doors that my mom would put candies in. In truth, I can’t really remember what it looked like, butt I do remember the fun of hunting for the right door to open for the day. As an adult, we’ve purchased the crummy $1 chocolate ones with the smiling Christmas mushroom, but I wanted to do something a little more for this year.

I have big dreams of making a beautiful quilted or embroidered or felt calendar for use year after year, but it time-wise, it just wasn’t happening this year and I wanted to make sure LMC had something to open on December 1st.

After scouring Pinterest, this project seemed a little more my speed. So I painted some toilet tubes, bought a Toob of farm animals* and some tissue paper and was off to the races. In reality, this was a three nap project, one for shopping; one for cutting, painting and gluing tubes; and one for assembly of the little gifts and activities (about a 50/50 split).

Today she got a little German shepherd figure and wanted to start punching in all the other days. So I guess you could say it’s a hit. So much so that we had to hide the calendar until tomorrow. 😉

Do you do Advent calendars or wreaths?

* Though they’re a perfect fit for this calendar, technically, the Toob figures aren’t recommended for under 3-years old.  LMC has had some similarly-sized dinosaurs for a while that she loves and hasn’t managed to choke on or eat, but use your best judgement for your own household.







On Friday we had our second snow of the season (the first being a dusting the weekend after Halloween), but it now being mid-November, this one is the true harbinger of winter.

We’ve shifted our clocks back, I’ve pulled out my sweaters, and generally speaking, the first snow comes right around Thanksgiving, so it’s all in good timing. We’re acclimating LMC to snowpants and boots and mittens (which are tiny and adorable), and planning on more indoor time.

My most recent take on the Geranium dress, made out of some lightweight shot cotton, is mostly inappropriate for the weather, but I bought the fabric back on vacation and cut it out months ago and we can always layer, right? In any case, I cut it long in the hopes that it’ll still fit come warmer days, which are now very far away for Maine. I’ve got a second dress cut out in the same fabric for her still-nudist doll, which I hope to have done by Christmas.  Because there’s nothing like November to kick-start a slightly dormant crafting bug.

Do you have any Christmas crafting plans in the works?



I’ve finished all the cross-stitching (excepting the name, which I’m saving for last) and have moved on to outlining. With 50 days until Christmas, it’s starting to look as if I might actually be able to finish the stocking in time for this year.

Of course Mr. Cleaver, being the reasonable one (and knowing me all too well), has encouraged me to banish the thought from my mind instead of giving myself some crazy deadline.

He’s probably right, butfor now, I think I’ll keep stitching along and call it come December 10th or so.








Happy Halloween Everyone!!

I love costumes. It’s the theatre kid in me. But to my surprise, LMC was excited to wear hers too. The first thing she said the morning when I got her from her crib was “ears” because she wanted to put on her headband. Gotta love it – and I think she looks pretty stinkin’ adorable.

Mr. Cleaver and LMC painted the pumpkins together on Wednesday. The tempura paint is starting to peel a little, but I think they’ll make it through the night.

We’re planning to eat pizza and hand out candy, we get 80-100 kids a year. We’re holding off on treat or treating for at least another year.

Hope your Halloween is fun and fabulous!

  • Olivia Dress: McCall’s M6913, View B with D collar. All Kona cottons from JoAnn’s.
  • Pig Ears: Improvised by me. Wool Felt from Z Fabrics.
  • Striped Leggings: Target
  • Tintin outfit: Goodwill and Mr. Cleaver’s closet

Devil Tube Monster

A Gathering of Monsters

Four-Legged Devil Tube Monster

Frankensteins Tube Monster

Tube Monsters

A Shelf Full of Monsters

Inspired by Pinterest, and in need of some Halloween decorations, Little Miss Cleaver and I got crafty this weekend and jointly made some little monsters to jazz up the jadeite shelf in the dining room.

As a wee toddler, there’s a limit to LMC’s crafting skills, but I couldn’t have made these guys without her, and I’ll admit to having way too much fun making these myself.

To make some monsters of your own you’ll need a few simple supplies:

  • Toilet paper and/or paper towel cardboard tubes
  • Finger or tempura/poster paints
  • Googly eyes
  • Hole Punch
  • Pipe Cleaners
  • Black makers
  • Big sheet of paper
  • Finger-painting Toddler

First, let your toddler go wild with finger painting on the big sheet of paper. When it’s good and goopy, take the tubes and roll across the finger paint for a fabulously mottled effect. If you have older kids (or are an adult), you can paint the tubes directly, but the finger-painting method is a lot more messy and fun!

Once the paint is dry, try to discern your monster’s personality. Are they scary or silly? Does it need multiple eyes? Does the top need to be smushed down into horns? Is there a smear or crease that would make a particularly good eyebrow or mouth?

Alternatively, let the toddler put stick-on googly eyes wherever they’d like and go from there. LMC preferred to put them on her chairs and clothes, so I had to improvise. Use the black marker to draw on eyebrows, teeth, scars, etc.

Using the hole punch, make a few armholes and thread a pipe cleaner through and bend into arms or legs.

Find a suitable display/play space and enjoy!

(Keep spare googly eyes on hand for when toddler inevitably rips them off to put on her shirt.)

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