Sunday, September 30, 2012

Travels Around Town

It's been a couple of days of fun outings for my fam. 
Yesterday the three youngsters and myself went to the apple orchard. 
We didn't end up picking any apples, but we did have a great time in a corn maze, took a tractor ride and met some sweet animals.

 The Youngest got her first taste of fresh apple and loved it.

That hunk of hair is always in her face right now, teen years here we come...

On Friday my mom and I went to the Idea House at Bachman's, which is a local flower and plant outfit.
I clearly need to bring a stroller along when I go places, my photos have been suffering from blurritis.

This was my favorite idea, though I think I would use shorter nails, I could see getting snagged a hundred times a day in my small house if the art stood 3 inches out into the room
What's on your weekend to-do list?

Friday, September 28, 2012

Two Lives

I have been listening to this song on a loop for the past day.
No one does heartbroken like Bonnie.

Great Night

Last night was an extravaganza of great community.
First we went to the kids' school for a garden party and hootenanny.
Yep, a hootenanny! There were lots of kids performing some great solos and ensembles, and though the sing-along that I was expecting never quite happened it was still super fun.
The Younger got up and played Old MacDonald on the keys and at the end he asked if I would help him lead a dancing song called The Bubble Dance where the kids act like bubbles, dragons, horses, bunnies, the possibilities are endless.He was fearless in front of a great big group of people, I was (and am) so proud of him.
(So bummed out that I didn't think to bring the camera...)
After we got home I trotted down the alley and borrowed a bike rack from our great neighbors and drove across town to Mr. Michael Recycles Bicycles.
Mr. Michael is an amazing man who takes in donated bicycles, refurbishes them and gives them away to whoever asks for one.(You'll read in that link above that Mr. Michael has been a catalyst for multiple people finding work and homes due to having reliable transportation. What a guy!)
He just wants some basic info, boy or girl, your height, what kind of biking you like to do, and then you wait your turn and get a free bike!
Our bikes were stolen at the beginning of the summer, and that sucked, I won't lie, but we got on Mr. Michael's waiting list and Tuesday our name came up.

Since we've been dealing with some pretty big medical bills around here we didn't even think about replacing the bikes. It was such a stroke of luck that I heard about Mr. Michael and now we'll get a nice Fall-worth of riding in before the snows fly.

As a super-bonus he had a matched pair of bikes for us! 
So I present the Beautiful Bronze Bandelin Bicycles.
I can't get enough of the fact that, despite occasional crappy circumstances, wonderful people are everywhere and the world can be filled with joy.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Creation Station

Last Saturday I spent a few beautiful hours in a Saint Paul park making art and teaching a little knitting.

Even though the skies were threatening bad weather, the rain held off and just like Fall in Minnesota it fluctuated between "Glad I wore a sweater" and "Hm, it's pleasantly warm"

We had painting, mosaic-making, story collecting, nature mobiles, and knitting. 
My not too great photo above shows half of my friend Rachel who came up with the idea of this fun happening called The Creation Station. 
Such a wonderful time, I met lots of great people, and taught a few folks a new skill.
The very best thing there was this wall installation
Before I die was the brainchild of Candy Chang, an artist who " is an artist who wants to make cities more emotional. She believes in the potential of contemplation and collective wisdom in public space to improve our communities and ourselves. " (from her website.)
We were all giddy about art-making and thinking of the things that were missing from our lives and there are some beautiful entries up there: visit every continent, be a doctor, be a mom, find peace in my reality, but my favorite one was from a passer-by who wrote in the upper left corner - make my mom happy. 
Not a bad way to send a Fall afternoon.

Friday, September 21, 2012


This dolly has been a labor of love this past month. I am not a huge fan of tiny needles, quick and dirty is more my style.

I alluded to the hair project in the last couple of Yarn Along posts, and finished it up last night.
Since this doll would be for The Youngest, I didn't want long flowing Waldorf-y hair for her to choke on.
I wanted it to look more like an old-timey china doll with painted on hair.
First, I had planned to knit a wig, and it was mostly finished, but it wasn't really ringin' my bell.
Then it hit me, I could needle felt the hair on.
I had stuffed the doll with some undyed alpaca roving I got at Yarnover a couple of years ago (the alpaca's name is McRaney) and I thought I could use that for hair.
So, I opened her seam, pulled out the roving, re-stuffed her with some other fleece bits I had hanging around, and got to needling.
The color is a little washed out, but it is super soft.
All in all, I'm happy with the results.

So, without further ado, meet Flora.

The Youngest will still have to wait a little while before she spends much quality time with Flora, since I'm pretty sure the hair won't stand up to the level of sucking and gnawing that's going on here, but soon enough I'm sure they'll be the best of friends.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Quiet Time

The Youngest and I took a walk through my very favorite spot in Saint Paul this afternoon. It's so quiet there,  I imagine it's just the same as it was 100 years ago.

Craft On and Yarn Along

Keeping Calm and Crafting On today with Nicole.
As well as Yarn-ing Along with Ginny.
Thank you all for your supportive comments last week.
I love the way it feels like hanging out, chatting with neighbors, here. 
Even if you're all around the country and the world.
I haven't finished up with the dolly's hair, I had one idea, and then I had a completely different idea, which would involve some extra work but might be more effective in the long run. Still percolating on that one...
This week I am doing a little weaving. 
We had a weaving meeting at the Yarnery the other day, and it was suggested that we need more woven models up in the store.
I jumped at the chance to bring out the loom. 
Even though I did weave a blanket for The Youngest before she was born, it's been quite some time since I used the rigid heddle loom.
 It's nice and compact, and even with a sniffly baby needing most of my time and attention, I have been making some good progress.
It looks a little wonky right now, but I'm sure it'll shake out in the blocking.
I'm still not reading anything, unless you count night-time with the kids where we're cookin' along with The Goblet of Fire.
To help out with our efforts to scale back the spending, we're no longer eating out, and so I have also been spending a lot of quality time with my favorite new-ish cookbook Time for Dinner.

What's on the scene in your crafty world today?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Baby in Progress

If I have ever needed a time to Keep Calm and Craft On it's now.
It's been a little stressful here at the fifthlampdown house the last few weeks, mainly money woes which, as I have stated often, are for the birds.
Nothing that we can't weather, but unpleasant nonetheless.
Craft Therapy is here for me through it all, which is pretty good.
I made some good progress on the felted dolly for The Youngest, and I was able to felt and stuff it yesterday and today.
I have some interesting hair plans, which I hope come to fruition, and I will share as they develop.

As I said in my Yarn Along post last week, this pattern is really fun and if you've made socks or a hat in your life you can (and should) make this doll.

Yarning Along as well, and I have to say that I haven't read a word all week, if you don't count blogs.
I have, instead, been fascinated by this whirlwind of developing baby goodness.

What's on your needles today?

Thursday, September 6, 2012


A couple of weeks (months) ago I shared an open sign that I made for the Yarnery, which is a yarn store where I teach and sometimes clerk.
It so happens that the other store where I clerk and sometimes teach, Treadle Yard Goods, had a problem with it's open sign at the same time.
I thought it was so quick and easy to knit up a sign for the yarn store, I should whip up a sewn one for the fabric store.
However, as quick a project as it might have been, I didn't take into account the fact that I might lose the project half-way through and not find it until September.
My husband is always teasing me for having too many project bags, and this time he was vindicated when I found the sewn open/closed sign in a bag that I almost never look in.
Anyway, I found it yesterday and realized that I was really close to completion.
So after a few false starts with the morning nap, I was able to have an hour to work on it this morning.

Originally I had planned to have the darker colorway as closed and the brighter as open, but I started cutting out the letters on the yellow before I realized what I was doing and so I let the forces of the universe dictate that the brighter one should indeed be the closed sign, since it would be easier to see the brighter side at night.
I made this with 2 - 9" x 12" felt squares, 1/8 yard of two different fabrics, double-sided fusible Peltex and Wonder Under.
I fused the Wonder Under to the entire felt square, drew the letters and cut them out with a small, very sharp scissor.
Next I fused the fabric to the back of the piece.
I hand-sewed around the letters with a running stitch, and then I repeated the whole process for the second side.
I placed the Peltex in the center of the sandwich and fused the whole thing together.
Lastly, I sewed a long piece of bias tape (I think it was a whole package) around the sign.
As you can see from the first photo, I had intended to hand-sew the bias tape around the edge, but I realized that I would have difficulty getting the needle through all the layers, so I did it with the machine.
While I was making both of these pieces I had this skit from Sesame Street running through my head.

Anything on your crafting to-do list today?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Yarn Along

Yarning along today, it's been a little while.
Today I have been finalizing my lesson plans for my classes at Choir School which starts tomorrow.
There's not much that's more fun than going through my library of music books to choose songs to sing with my little friends.
I also started reading In the Lake of the Woods for my book club. I am not very far into it, but the writing is engaging so far.

I have been knitting away at the dolly for The Youngest.
If you've ever made a hat and socks this doll is for you. The rear end is exactly like turning a heel on a sock, and the foot actually is a sock.
At this point the doll is the same size as The Youngest, so it should be a nice size for hugging after it has been felted.
What's on your needles today?

First Day of School!

Waiting for the bus, first day of school.
3rd Grade for the Elder, 1st Grade for the Younger.

The Youngest gets belligerent with the paparazzo and declares "You can't use my likeness."

Monday, September 3, 2012

Caving on My Terns, Redux

Joining Nicole for KCCO today. Also, I just learned about Needle and Thread with Elizabeth, what fun.
As I said last week, the Elder has, for the first time in her school career, supplies that belong to her alone.
The first thing we did was make her a pencil case and this weekend we realized that she needed a new backpack as well. The binder that was required is bigger than the messenger bag that I made last year for my sweet lady.
Her old bag was pretty grubby anyway, so I wasn't too bummed out that we needed a new one. 
The first edition was made of linen and felt squares, and I was a little afraid to wash it, so this time I decided that we should make it from material that was easy-to-clean.
As she was still in the Hello Kitty mood I set off for Google and found a photo of Hello Kitty.

I got small amounts of solid-color oilcloth in the 5 colors in the photo, and went to work.
Next I taped the printed photo to the window and traced the little shapes directly onto the oilcloth.

This plan didn't work with the black for the outlines, but I cut the photo up and taped it directly on to the oilcloth and I could cut out the shape I needed and the tape peeled right off. 

I decided to use the black under the other pieces with overlap for the borders, and I snipped out the whiskers so that the face could just slide into place.

I measured the huge binder and made up a new messenger bag with the vinyl that I used for the pencil case. 
There was a hairy moment when I was turning it inside out and the vinyl started to rip along the seam, it was a good thing that The Elder was out enjoying the last day of summer playing with friends, since I was not in control of my language...
When I was about to top-stitch around the whole thing I realized that I couldn't use pins, since they would leave holes, so I grabbed a package of barrettes and used them to hold the layers together.
So here we have it - 

The Elder was excited to see that I was able to make the straps adjustable (for the first time! she cried) and the binder fits. 
I was able to make this whole thing with stash, and that's pretty awesome, since it's Labor Day and the fabric store is closed, but I still have to attach something as a closure. I was thinking velcro, but I might go with snaps depending on what is available at the shop.
Happy Back to School to you all out there, I know we're all excited around here to get back into the groove.