Friday, November 30, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

Sewing with kids week

This week I have been spending my afternoons working at a local elementary school teaching embroidery to some talented and delightful children.
The first project that the kids did was a Thanksgiving card, which I neglected to take any photos of.
It was a hand-turkey. They turned out pretty cute.
The next project was a felt leaf.
Each kid made a leaf or two for a tree wall hanging.
To make the wall hanging I took inspiration from this beautiful tree in my neighborhood.

I love the negative space in the center. 
I drew up a plan on the computer and then I cut out the trunk and branches, and appliqued it to the background fabric.

The leaves are each a little different. 
The kids used back, running, and whip stitches on them. 
I love the different colors and textures they used.

I found a quote by Samuel Taylor Coleridge from the poem Youth and Age which seemed so appropriate to their project. I plan to embroider the words  "Friendship is a sheltering tree" in the open space below the branches.
I'm still in the experimental stages for this wall hanging, I think I need to add some length to the branches, and I the bark needs some definition.

The kids did such an amazing job this week.
We met every day for about an hour, and they were so diligent, creative and focused. They really accomplished a lot.
Besides the leaves, they also completed squares for a full-size quilt like the mock-up I did a couple of weeks ago, and a group of them made applique felt hearts which I think will make a beautiful garden of flowers for a second wall hanging.
It's very late, and I am suffering from a little sleep deprivation, so I'll sign off now.
Happy weekend

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Keep Calm and Craft On

Time for Keeping Calm and Crafting On with Nicole!
I have been doing a lot of embroidering lately, this is the heron square for my 2nd grade embroidery project. I had planned to have a loon and maple leaf and samara for the quilt as well, hopefully I can finalize those tomorrow or Friday.
Yesterday was my first time in the classroom with the kids and it was so fun. They were all excited about the project that we did, which I'll share this afternoon.
This weekend I'll make the final plans for the projects that are on tap for next week -a couple of wall hangings and the bigger version of the quilt.

Now than I am in the swing of doing a little hand sewing every day I was super excited to see this book on another blog this week.

Those eyes are embroidered, and I just can't wait to try them out. I would justify making a bunch of dolls by saying that they were for The Youngest, but the truth is that she has two favorite things and they are green block and any block that is in her other hand 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Quilt mock-up for Artist Residency

Quilt mock-up for Artist Residency by fifthlampdown
I finished up this sample quilt  today for an interview this morning with the 2nd grade teachers at the school where I will do my artistic residency in sewing and embroidery.
I am really excited about this project, and there is another part to it which I will share next week, since I forgot to take a photo before I brought it to the school, and they kept the prototype.

For this quilt I did something a little unorthodox, I lined it with flannel instead of batting.
This summer when I was teaching a kids' sewing camp at Treadle we were making quilts and as we were using stash fabrics and there was not enough batting in the bins we tried using flannel instead.

It made for a light weight quilt, but he finished product wasn't any less warm than a light-weight batting might have been.
The big bonus for me is that flannel doesn't need to be contained the way cotton batting does, so the quilting can be minimal, if any, and since I am not a very proficient or speedy quilter, nor do I enjoy it at all, this seemed like the perfect technique to use with this little mock-up.
We may go for flannel lining for our finished product as well, since I don't want to quilt over the children's embroidery squares, but if we use cotton batting it usually needs to be quilted fairly densely so it doesn't come apart in the quilt (and I am a fabric snob, and would prefer to use natural fibers at all times).

I began sketching out forest animals and the four above were the most successful thus far.
To fit our theme I thought we could add turtle, loon, otter, bear, deer, and maple leaf and seed.

As an aside, we call maple seeds helicopters, but it turns out that the correct term is samara. Do you think anyone would know what I was talking about if I labeled it maple samara in the quilt block? or should I just go with maple seed?

Happy Thursday to you all, I hope you're enjoying as beautiful day where you are as we are!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

First Snow

Yesterday it snowed for the first time this fall.

There wasn't much, but what there was made driving the kids to school a harrowing experience.
Usually it takes about 12 minutes door to door to the kids' school, but with the icy roads and multiple accidents to go around it took 30.
It took another 30 to get 3/4 of the way back, so I stopped off at my parents' house and hunkered down until it melted.
It was nice to have a little impromptu time with my mom, and we chatted for a couple of hours.
By lunchtime the Youngest was getting cranky, so I packed us up and we went home.
There was a big traffic jam on the way, and so I sat back and prepared myself for more bad roads.
Turns out that the jam was because of this -

I think this big tree was on its way to Rice Park, to start off the Christmas season super early, though who am I to talk about early, since I spent Saturday caroling in a local mall...

Time for me to make up some ornaments, I think!
Happy Tuesday

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Embroidery with kids

I have been quite lucky in my life to work with creative people doing creative things.
Whether sewing, knitting or making music, I can look forward to spending time with people who, for the most part, want to be where they are and want to do what they're doing.
In my newest endeavor, I am planning to teach embroidery to 2nd graders at a local elementary school.
I couldn't be more excited to plan the lessons and projects that we'll do together.
One of the ideas we had during the planning session was to do a quilt and have each child embroider their own square. 

Doodling with embroidery by fifthlampdown
I drew up a few animals and am putting needle to cloth for some examples to show the teachers.
We had thought of forest animals, but I think it might be fun to do animals we see in the neighborhood.
These are, admittedly, a little wrinkly, the Youngest was having her way with them, but I think they'll be sweet in a simple patchwork with solid shot-cotton squares.
What fires you up about your job?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Frenzy

It's a good thing we're paring back our spending, because the last thing my house needs is more clutter.
Though if money were no object, I would definitely get all of this new stuff that I just saw at Target this morning.
It's all knit themed!
The platter looks like a cable sweater, though you have to look close at this photo, and wouldn't you love to sip hot chocolate out of that knitted tree mug? 
There are times when I realize how very much I am the demographic that they're aiming for when I go in there.
I was almost tempted to buy the set of Disney princesses, too. 
Christmas frenzy begins...

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Happy Wednesday

This sweet lady turned 7 months yesterday.
Today is the first day of her 8th month, and a shining day for Minnesota and the nation.
Happy Wednesday, All.
(photo by my friend Leslie)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Englisch spielend leicht

Long-time readers will recall that I took a trip to Germany about 4 years ago.
When I was there I saw this book in a bookshop at the train station, and I just had to snap it up.

At the time, the Younger and Elder were 2 and 4, respectively, but this week my pack-rat tendencies paid off.
The Younger was clearing a shelf in the bookcase so the Youngest wouldn't be tempted to eat the books as she was on the move, and he pulled this out.
"Did you know that skirt is rock in German?!"
This morning he learned that birthday boy is Geburtstagkind.
We'll have to keep this up! One new German word a day, and he'll be fluent in no time ;)

Thursday, November 1, 2012


This morning as I was driving the kids to school they were talking about how November is Men's Health Awareness month, and people commemorate this idea by growing mustaches, which then makes this month Mo-vember.
We have had a fall of thinking about men's health issues here at the fifth lamp house.
My husband was taking his morning shower one day in August and felt a lump.
He went to the doctor right away and was diagnosed with testicular cancer.

I've been having difficulty finding words to talk about this experience, it all happened in kind of a whirlwind of activity, and doctor visits and surgery and chemo.
The best news about this situation is that testicular cancer is very treatable, with a 90% cure rate, and even higher if caught early before metastases.
Since early detection is the best way to treat this cancer, please do exams.
And if you find something out of the ordinary, please go in.
The doctors we saw told us that many of the people who come in have tumors that they've ignored for weeks or months and at that point the cancer has spread and it's more difficult to treat.
So the moral is - If You See Something, Say Something.

As for our family, we're out of the woods.
My brave, strong husband is cancer-free, and finished with chemo and we're back into our regular routine.
In a lot of ways we've been lucky - he caught the tumor really early, the doc was surprised he felt it at all, his surgery was without complications, the chemo was only one dose and my rock star of a hubby came through it like a champ.

Anyway, if you feel like growing a mustache to help raise awareness for men's heath issues, or would like to donate to the American Cancer Society or Livestrong, or the Prostate Cancer Foundation here are some links.

Hold close the ones you love, today and every day.