Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Almost finished with Adam Gidwitz's "The Grimm Conclusion."
We had a bit of a rocky start with this read aloud. For the first ever, my boys traveled without me. They had a three day head start on our mid-winter holiday. So, for three days, I read aloud to them over the phone.
We didn't like it. And, for the record, I didn't like traveling solo either... Now, back to the topic of books...
I love it when my kids' eyes light up over a new book from a favorite author. I've been pretty darn amazed over the details they remember from previous read alouds. And, I think, the best is when they pick up books we've read together and read it all over again for themselves.
All three of the above have happened with the Adam Gidwitz books. My younger boy actually sprinted across the store to grab this book when it first came out (we couldn't read it immediately because we were still in the throes of the Percy Jackson series). "The Grimm Conclusion" references parts of the first two stories. I confess to forgetting what happened all those many read alouds ago... but both boys jumped in to fill in the details. And, already, E is telling me he'll be reading the series again soon.
Though my blogging has been sporadic these months, the reading streak continues on. Long live the reading streak!
Saturday, February 15, 2014
I'm heading out to CA for the week. So much to do before the flight. Laundry. Packing. Paperwork... the list goes on. But what have I been fussing about? Making a crochet caddy for myself so I can craft in comfort on the plane ride across the country.
Make the caddy? Or do my chores? Guess what I chose to do? Ha. As if there was ever any real question.
I chose to use this pretty cigar box for my crochet caddy. I've heard lots of people oohing and aahing over "rolls," but I prefer my supplies contained in boxes. I think it looks neater, packs well and can be stored in visually pleasing stacks. I'm envisioning one cigar box caddy for my embroidery supplies, another one for my hand sewing kit and yet one more for cards and letter writing.
The only supplies necessary to make the caddy are:
- The box
- Fabric (I'm wild about this "Golden Book" fabric)
- Bias Tape (I like extra wide, double fold)
- Standard sewing supplies & machine
- Trace the bottom of box/tray onto a piece of pattern paper.
- Add a quarter inch seam allowance around rectangle.
- Cut paper pattern out.
- Use pattern to cut 3 pieces of fabric. Two pieces will form front & back of caddy insert. The third piece is used to make the pocket.
- Use pattern to cut 1 piece of batting.
- To make the pocket: Press the third piece of fabric in half. Sandwich binding across the folded seam and sew across.
- Layer pocket piece, fabric rectangle, batting rectangle. You should be looking at all right sides of fabrics.
- Pin where seams should go to partition big pocket into a series of smaller pockets. Sew.
- Add either smaller pockets, loops of binding or loops of elastic to hold small boxes, measuring tapes or misc. supplies. This forms the front of the caddy insert.
- Pin front and back sides of caddy insert together - right sides facing in. Sew together leaving a small seam open to flip right sides out. I used a quarter inch seam allowance.
- Trim excess batting off sides and corners.
- Slip stitch seam closed.
- Drop into box/tray.
Here's the one I made for myself. Can't wait to break it out on the plane tomorrow.
And because I had an extra box and I'm still loving this fabric, here's the one I made to sell as a crochet kit at my shop. I love it. Wonder if anyone else will?
Sunday, January 26, 2014
When we chose the Rick Riordan series as our summer aloud, I never thought we'd still be working through his books some eight months later. But here we are, in the freezing cold throes of winter, still caught up in the struggle between demigods and giants.
While we've enjoyed the entire series, my boys & I agree that our current book, The House of Hades, is more exciting than the previous book, The Mark of Athena.
Our favorite character? Leo. He's goofy. He can build anything. And we don't have to hear too many mushy details about dating from Leo. Leo is one of the main narrators in the current read aloud. All three of us get extra interested when we hit a "Leo-chapter."
Our least liked character? Piper. She's a nice girl and all. But being the daughter of Aphrodite means she's a bit too fixated on boy-girl stuff for us. I admit to feeling a little uncomfortable when I have to read about Piper and her boyfriend, Jason. I push through these parts by hamming it up, reading more dramatically and making my boys giggle even as they wrinkle up their noses and groan about having to hear about how much Piper loves Jason.
Would we recommend the Riordan books to others? Yes. Absolutely. But I also think parents should be aware that as the characters grow older in each subsequent book, they find themselves dealing with more and more teen-aged issues. If someone's 8 year old is plowing through these books on his/her own, one might find oneself having some rather unexpected conversations.... so just be warned.
We'll be finishing "The House of Hades" in another week or so. Then it looks like a long wait til the last book of the series is released. My boys and I are already in discussion over which book to read next. I'm lobbying to slip in a few of my favorite childhood classics. Much as I'll miss our demigod friends of the past 6 months, I am also looking forward to introducing the boy-os to new characters, stories and authors.
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
It's such a gorgeous skein of yarn. Cascade Baby Alpaca Chunky. Buttery smooth to the touch. Dramatic black and white colors twisted together. It's the yarn that has everyone stopping to take a second look at it in the shop.
Yet there's been hesitation about buying this yarn. I understand why. Everyone's been wondering what it looks like knitted up.
Beautiful yarn does not always translate to a pleasing knitted "fabric." Case in point: variegated yarn. I love the look of that stuff... when it's just yarn. I hate the randomly blotchy look of it after it's been knitted up. So no variegated anything for me!
What about my new "Penguin" yarn? Nothing to do but knit a swatch of course!
Here's what I did with one skein:
- Cast on 24 stitches using size 8 knitting needles
- Used a basketweave stitch. I chose to alternately knit-4 and purl-4 through each row.
- Switched order every 6 rows (between starting a row with knit or starting a row with purl).
Now that I've tested this yarn out, it's time to see what I can do with the Cascade Eco Duo I have shelved right next to the Baby Alpaca Chunky. Stay tuned!
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
If anyone has been keeping tabs on me, you'll notice I've been blogging really sporadically... blame it on this whole starting a new business thing...
But, just because I'm not updating this blog regularly doesn't mean I've stopped crafting! Not at all. I've been dreaming up all sorts of things over at Stitched Tribeca. Just haven't had time to tell y'all about it.
Anyway, here's a silly little something I put together to this week's drop-in craft project. Once again, it's just a little felt, a bit of embroidery floss and some good laughs over these goofy little finger puppets. I think they're cute - what about you?
Thursday, January 9, 2014
Made this little green guy as the prototype for this week's Crafty Afty at the shop. He's cute, huh?
A few more pics of him on the store blog. If you'd like to know more details on how to construct this, just let me know.
Sunday, January 5, 2014
Here's a cozy cowl I crocheted while en route to our vacation destination last month. Loved this project since it met my preferred crocheting criteria:
- Meditatively mindless. Sometimes I just don't want to think about what my fingers are doing. Sometimes I prefer plugging my mind into a movie and setting my hands into making mode. After creating the foundation chain, the only stitch required to form this cowl was half-double crochet. Perfect.
- Re-made from discarded materials. Thank you to my buddy, Rachanee, for giving me her reject knitting project last year. It took a little time to unwind the yarn, but the pretty, free yarn was worth it!
- Sharp looking results. Ok, I do make a lot of things by hand... but this doesn't mean I necessarily like the "homemade" look. I like clean colors, simple lines and functional pieces. This cowl is all three of these things.
The instructions for this project comes from Marion Madel's "The New Crochet." She has quite a few patterns I'd like to try (although not the giant oven-mitt-mittens).
Crochet. It's really a very cool skill to have. You can keep things simple (as I prefer) or get real fanciful with it. And now, I believe that's enough talking about crocheting & time to fetch my hooks and a skein of yarn. It's Sunday night. It's freezing out. My boy is sitting next to me watching old Star Wars movies... feels like the perfect time to get crocheting!