Painting Ornaments
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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!

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Last week was National Pie Day, so this past Sunday my knitting group gathered for our annual Pie Day celebration, but far more importantly, we invited a few more folks over and held a baby shower for Ms. Maggie.

Maggie’s expecting twins in the early spring, so we took the opportunity to shower her with pie, love, and handmade baby things!

As is now my typical baby gift, I made two sets of envelope tees from Growing Up Sew Liberated,  tag blankies from Simple Sewing for Baby and Made by Rae’s Basic Newborn Pants. All versions of things that we used/use often with Little Miss Cleaver and all of which, I seem to have forgotten to photograph, except for that glimpse of green corduroy above.

We ate pie, played match the baby photo to the party guest (harder than you’d think), opened gifts, ate more pie, and stenciled bibs and onesies.

Can I talk a minute about stenciling clothes? Why have I never done this before?! So fun.

I found a perfect Handmade Charlotte Woodland stencil collection and we used Tulip Soft Fabric Paint at Michaels. I’ll have to get a report back on how they hold up to washing, but having the stencils took the pressure off of a) coming up with ideas and b) having the skills to pull it off, that free-hand drawing would require. I kinda want to stencil everything now.

As per usual, the food was delicious and the versatility of pie continues to impress. There was veggie quiche, apple/cheddar/leek tart, mixed berry pie, cranberry custard, chocolate caramel, chocolate pecan caramel, as well as an array of other lovely snacks and  hors d’oeuvres.

Pie Day may be one of my favorite days of the year (especially in the midst of a cold January), but it’s even more fun when you get to celebrate a dear friend. Now to wait a few months for the little guys’ arrival!

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We got our live tree at just the perfect time this year. Picked it up Saturday morning without incident, including my first attempt at strapping it to a car (thanks bungee cords!) and set it up just in time to head to the third almost-annual ornament swap with my knitting group. I made the needle-felted winter scene and took home the snowman head, which went perfectly with my non-breakable/no-hooks-needed theme for this year’s tree. Once again, I was super impressed with all the ornament makings (though I still can’t get my brain around how the pom-pom ones work).  Our timing was also perfect since we got about a foot of snow the next day. We did make a first attempt at sledding with Little Miss C, and while the snow was tasty, the cold and snowsuit and the dog in her face was all a little too much and big tears were shed about .05 seconds after that last shot was taken.  Good thing there’s a cozy warm house and pretty lighted tree to return to.

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Come Friday, Little Miss Cleaver (LMC or Miss C.) will be a month old (well, four weeks). It’s hard to believe a) that it’s been a month already and b) that’s she’s only been in our lives a month. The nights are long and the days are short and we couldn’t be happier.

I’ve managed to get in a little sewing, and Miss C. went to her first knit night last week and got tons of cuddles and mom got to use two hands at once. I spend a lot of time just looking at her and thinking how beautiful she is and how amazing it is that she’s ours.

I love being a mom to this little wigglebottom.

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Sot it’s been several weeks since Rhinebeck but I’ve finally got my act together to put pen to paper (as it were). The trip as a whole was a bit of mixed bag because of some hotel troubles, but the Festival itself, along with the excellent company, made it an overall win in my book.

We headed out early Friday morning to take a detour to Northampton and WEBS, and everyone managed to pick up copious amounts of yarn – even me! I got enough yarn to make myself a Wispy Cardigan, a Porom Hat, and a bag of worsted weight tweed for a Mr. Cleaver sweater. At Rhinebeck itself, I limited myself to two skeins of FoxFire Cormo/Alpaca which will likely end up as these. When I will have time to knit all these things I don’t know, but a girl can dream right?

In our hotel room we entertained ourselves by reading the “naughty bits” of romance novels out loud and chowing down on snacks.

On the first day of the festival, we all got a good laugh when Bristol got recognized as the Winnowing designer about five seconds after we got into the long line at the front gate. After that there was more shopping (I got a Jennie the Potter bowl and a sheepskin), some apple cider doughnuts, and chatting with friends and fellow designers we saw along the way. After we tuckered out at the Festival, we headed to Poughkeepsie and saw the Walkway over the Hudson.  While just three of us walked the whole length and back (which admittedly was probably more walking than I should have done after walking all day), the views were definitely worth.

On the second day of the Festival I took a “drafting methods” spinning class, along with Maggie and Bristol from Beth Smith, It was my first spinning class and I found it highly enjoyable and educational and would recommend Beth as a teacher. After our class, the whole gang got together to photograph our matching sheep heids, before hitting up a few more booths and heading home, suitcases full of yarn.

Sarah Jarosz Concert

Apple crisp in the making

Yarn swap

First of all, I wanted to thank everyone for their kind words on our big announcement. Mr. Cleaver and I appreciate each and every one. It also appears that March is quite the month for blogger babies, from the number of comments I received from ladies with similar due dates!

In the first of what will be many full Fall weekends, Mr. Cleaver and I caught a cozy Sarah Jarosz show at USM. If you’re not familiar with this bluegrass musician yet, I’d highly recommend you check her out. She has a fabulous voice and is no slouch on the mandolin/banjo/guitar either. Also, seeing her adorable outfit really confirmed my need for a pair of cowboy boots someday.

I utilized about a third of my massive bag of freshly picked apples in a pair of apple crisps. I’m thinking this coming weekend will be the big pie-making event.

One of the crisps went to Bristol’s for our first (massive!) yarn swap. The pile of odd balls in the photo above was already well-picked over by this time, and doesn’t include the three other piles of sock yarn, sweater lots, and 3-4 balls. When it comes to yarn, I managed to leave with less than I came, taking only a Zauberball and a sweater’s worth of purple Blue Moon BFL DK that I want to be a cardigan yesterday. I did however, also come home with a grocery bag full of jersey fabric and a cut of nice wool. I’ve been venturing into the land the sewing with knits and free fabric to practice with is always appreciated it.

Lastly, I had hoped to share my first maternity sewing project with you, but I started guessing on the tutorial instructions halfway through, and had to spend to quality time with a seam ripper this morning, so it’ll be a bit on that one yet.

How are you enjoying these first days of fall? (or spring, for any southern hemisphere readers?)

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This weekend Lynn held a skirting party at her place to process a lovely fleece she had purchased at the Maine Fiber Frolic about a month ago.

As usual Bristol was our resident expert on this kind of thing, but the fleece was clean there was about 2 minutes worth of “skirting” or picking off the icky bits, so we instead turned our attentions to Tour de Fleece spinning and eating the fabulous potluck lunch. Lynn’s dog Porter, turned his attention to rolling in the yummy smelling sheep water.

It was such a hot day that the washed fleece dried super quickly, and we were able to spin up a sample, and boy is it going to be a beauty!