Fairy House

I’ve never gone in for “high fantasy” stuff (at least, not since I was a young teenager). But, for some reason, when M asked for a story at bedtime recently, I told her one about a little fairy who lives in the woods. She was completely enchanted and has asked for more and more fairy adventures. (And, for some reason, even though we can read the same books over and over and over, every fairy story has to be a NEW one!) It tripped a switch inside of me, and I’ve gone full-on Waldorf!

Okay, not entirely, but I was like, ‘I MUST make a fairy play set immediately!” I did some searching around Pinterest to get ideas, and I found several different examples of little worlds made inside small suitcases. I had the perfect wicker case (about 9″ x 14″), and I used wool roving to make a felt sky and ground. A few felt flowers and blades of grass, and our little habitat was ready for a fairy! I decided to buy one of these fairies from Magic Cabin instead of making one. (We got the pink one — everything has to be pink right now — and the hair is all wrong on ours, but M still likes it.)

Everything else was handmade or unearthed from my stash of crafty stuff. The little polymer clay flowers are beads that I bought in London — eleven or twelve years ago? The insects and the frog are made out of beeswax, and they all (except for the bee, which I made a couple of months ago) are from the stories I’ve told M. In fact, as soon as we got the fairy yesterday, M asked, “Where’s Katie?” Katie being the caterpillar who had starred in the previous evening’s story. As soon as I’d made a little (pink) wax caterpillar, she said, “But how does it turn into a butterfly?” So off I went to make a pair of felt wings, with an elastic loop for easy metamorphosis.

M has been really delighted with her new play set. You never know with these things. It was definitely MY whim that drove me to make this so quickly, but she’s enjoying it as much as I could have hoped she would. It’s very rewarding to watch her reenacting the stories I’ve told her, and I love that she gets involved, asking where such-and-such is or whether we could have a story with this critter or that. So there’s a little more Waldorf in our world now!

Outside Apron

How cute is this little apron I made for M? There’s a pattern I want to use to make something similar for myself, but I have to get to a good fabric store to find the right linen (or blend). I had a big enough scrap to make M’s, though! I didn’t use a pattern for hers — it’s just one big (gathered) rectangle sewn onto a narrow strip, with two more strips for straps. They cross in the back and snap onto the body of the apron. I would have sewn them in place, but adding snaps meant I could make the size adjustable. For something so basic, it sure looks adorable when she’s wearing it!

When I told her what I was making, she was like, “Uh, no, I want it PINK,” so we compromised and put on pink pockets. They’re the perfect size for bringing eggs back from the chicken coop. I sewed a little loop onto the side of each pocket, so she can slip the handle of a garden trowel through (or a flower — or whatever a little kid finds on the ground). So far, it’s stood up to the rigors of egg collecting, though I had a hard time convincing her she didn’t have to hold onto the eggs WHILE they were in her pockets!

Sunday Fun

I took a break from screens yesterday, in order to knock out a few projects I’d been wanting to do. (The active part of our device detox starts today! Go back a couple of posts to read about it and get the PDF, if you’d like.)

I had already cut out pieces to make M a new pair of slippers (using this pattern), so it didn’t take too long to sew those up. When I’d asked M what color fabric (from my stash) she wanted, she’d said, “Pink… and brown. And red and orange.” And I was sure I did NOT have anything like that — but look what I found! She’s pretty happy with the colors. I just wish I would have gone up a couple of sizes. I made a 10, which is what I’d buy for her in shoes, but these slippers just barely fit, and I wanted them to be roomy. Ah well. I was probably a little too generous in my seam widths.

I baked a loaf of bread in the morning — or, well, I put the ingredients into the bread machine and told IT to bake a loaf of bread. Then I made a small loaf of gingerbread after lunch. I halved the recipe from How to Eat Supper and baked it in a loaf pan instead of an 8×8″ cake pan. I let the chickens outside shortly after the gingerbread finished baking, and when I came back in, the house smelled like freshly baked bread AND gingerbread — can’t fit that into a candle!

M and I also made some daffodils for the window, a project I saw on Pinterest the other day. We’ve done a few sun catcher projects using clear contact paper and tissue paper squares in the past. (You lay down one piece of contact paper, sticky-side-up, the child helps you stick the tissue paper squares on (and possibly dumps a large amount of glitter on top), then you sandwich it under another piece of contact paper.) It was the cupcake liner center that sold me on these! So cute. And, luckily, one of the daffodils from our indoor bulb garden bloomed yesterday, so M was able to see exactly what we were making.

New Hat

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My hat! I needed a new hat, which was a great excuse for a knitting project. And the PERFECT excuse to finally splurge and buy a skein of Madeline Tosh wool. I’ve been wanting some for ages, but it’s definitely out of my typical price range, especially for a multi-skein project. But a hat only takes one. I wound up choosing Hosta Blue in a chunky weight. And I fell in love with this pattern, even though I wasn’t sure the yarn and the pattern would work together. You’re supposed to use worsted (= smaller than chunky), but when I knitted a swatch, it actually came up smaller than the gauge listed (I think I got 20 stitches over 4″ on size 8 needles, vs the 18 stitches in the pattern). So I just shrugged my shoulders and decided to see what happened.

Luckily, it fits! It feels just right, actually. The pattern seems pretty flawless to me, although I’ll be happy if I never see another k-tbl (knit through the back loop) again. It’s what makes the columns of stitches inside the “medallions” stand out so well, but — ugh — it slowed me down. I’m no expert knitter (just good at following directions), so “tbl” required a bit too much attention. That said, I managed to knit all these lovely cables with no mistakes — or none that I didn’t immediately catch and fix — even with M and F wanting my attention every row, more or less. Whew!

Stockings

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Here they are! I made M’s stocking before she was born — finishing F’s when she was out in the world took quite a bit longer! But I love how they look, and I hope the girls will grow up loving them, too.

I just used a regular 72-stitch sock pattern with worsted weight yarn (Red Heart acrylic, so I won’t have to worry about moths when the stockings are in storage). I found charts I liked rather than following a set pattern. I’m so happy to be DONE with these! Although I suppose it’s inevitable that I’ll eventually want to make one for myself… and for Rob… and, and, and…

Knits, with Buttons!

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I realized I never shared the little vest I knitted for Baby Sister — and I even sewed the buttons on it (and M’s chicken sweater)! I get so lazy when it comes to buttons, for some reason. M still loves her chicken sweater, and I was glad to use up most of a little collection of DK odds and ends on the vest. We’ll have to wait and see if it actually fits Baby Sister; my knitting was a bit smaller than the gauge, for some reason, but I don’t think I’d have had enough yarn if I corrected it. So it’ll either be a very-newborn vest or, possibly, just a doll’s vest. I used this pattern and added the colorwork myself.

Chicken Sweater

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Sometime last year, I started making this sweater for M. I’d had the skeins of dark blue yarn (Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino) since my London days, and the lighter color (same brand/kind) came from my friend Em and was left over from a sweater I made M when she was ~6mos. I found this vintage pattern and thought it would be a good use for all that wool. And while the elephants on the original cardigan are cute, well, they’re not chickens, are they? I hunted down some appropriately-size charts for a hen and chicks and used those instead.

My only real change to the pattern was to make the collar and bottom band seed stitch instead of ribbing. (The button band on the original was already seed stitch.) I knit the back and right side and then did about a third of the left side whenever it was that I started this sweater, and then I didn’t pick it up again until last week. Even though it’s a “size 3”, whatever that means when it comes to vintage patterns, I was worried that it wouldn’t fit M if I didn’t finish it NOW. I was down to my last skein and a bit when I got to the sleeves, and the first one used over half of what I had remaining! I made the other sleeve two stitches narrower, and I don’t know if that actually made a huge difference (you can’t tell it’s narrower now that it’s finished), but when I cobbled together all the scraps and everything, I had enough for both sleeves, the collar, and the seaming. Whew!

I still haven’t sewn on any buttons, but at least the cardigan fits M! She was really excited to wear her “chicken sweater” today. We love our chickens!

Valentine’s Tree

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With our Valentine’s decorations up, the mini Christmas tree that was on the sideboard looked a little out of place. But M loved having it there (she loves anything that lights up!). So I replaced it with the slightly larger, white tree that had been up in Rob’s skyroom. Valentine’s tree! I grabbed some pink and red ribbons for garlands, and then M and I made ornaments.

It was the perfect excuse to try out the ‘porcelain dough’ I keep seeing on Pinterest. It’s just baking soda, cornstarch, and water, which you cook on the stove to form a dough — here’s a recipe. The results? Well, it’s not compared to porcelain just because it’s nice and smooth — it’s also a lot more fragile than salt dough. A few of our ornaments broke while we were decorating them (mostly my man-handling, not M’s). But we had fun, and I love how they turned out. We used cheap finger paints, which actually took on a translucent, glaze-y look, which I like. Toddler art is, perhaps, an acquired taste, but I think M did a fantastic job. She’s always so impressed with how art projects turn out, too, which is the best part. ‘Oooh, pretty!’

Another project down. I’m trying not to think about where I’m going to store all these new Valentine’s decorations!

Valentine’s Hearts

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I was very anti-Valentine’s-Day when I was a younger person, and I haven’t given it much of a thought one way or the other in recent years. But this year, I decided that I’d go all out and decorate the house. It’s the beauty of having a kid — you get to enjoy things because you know they will. I hung the first of those tissue paper pom-pons during M’s nap, and when she came upstairs, she was quite excited to see it and said, ‘Birthday to you!’ (since her birthday decorations were the first time she’d really seen the house decorated).

This morning, we made ‘stained glass’ hearts for the windows. I taped down a piece of clear contact paper (sticky side up) on the counter, and then M stuck down squares of tissue paper, red paper-hole-punch dots, and silver glitter. A lot of glitter. I tried to adjust the container so it wouldn’t come out very fast, but it could sense that it was in the hands of a toddler and went crazy. I was worried the finished product would be practically opaque from all the glitter, but it actually looks really good. I guess M knew what she was doing!

When she was done adding things (or, rather, after I pried the glitter out of her hands), I laid another sheet of contact film on top, sandwiching everything between the two sticky sides. I thought this might be the tricky step, but by unrolling only a little bit of the paper at a time, it was actually pretty easy, and it went down without any bubbles or wrinkles.

I think the best way to add a ‘frame’ around the outside would be to have two frames — one on each side — that are slightly bigger on the outside than the ‘stained glass’ shape you’ve cut out. That way, you could just glue the frames together around the edges, trapping the plastic part inside. (This would be a particularly good method if you want to hang them from a string instead of putting them on the window.) I thought I’d found a glue that would work with the plastic contact film, but it peeled right off once it was dry. So I just tacked the frame to the plastic in a few places, using clear tape. (You could also just staple them.)

Et voilĂ ! I’d like to do an organized art project (vs just letting Maris paint on her own) nearly every day, and I’ve got lots of Valentine’s ideas — so we’re going to be up to our eyeballs in pink hearts for a while!

Play Dough

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We made a different kind of play dough today, using just cornstarch and hair conditioner. I keep seeing it pop up on Pinterest. It’s basically one part conditioner to two parts cornstarch, but make sure you have a little extra of each to tweak the consistency (I needed a little extra cornstarch). I used 1/2c conditioner and 1c+ cornstarch and made enough for the two blobs you see in the photo.

It’s a fun dough — kind of a mix between regular play dough and the gloop you get when you mix cornstarch and water. If you hold it up high, it’ll stre-e-etch down to the table and look like it’s drizzling down. But you can also break the lump clean in two. M was moderately interested in it, but she was just waiting for me to move her tower over to the sink so she could play with water.

My tip: use unscented (or very lightly scented) conditioner. I didn’t think the stuff I was using was particularly pungent, but it seemed way too strong when it was all mixed together!