Monday, November 29, 2010


This project was a birthday gift for a dear little friend. His mom and I are pals, and she'd mentioned she was looking for a way to pack lunch/snacks for him on their adventures. I couldn't find a kid-size bento box that was affordable (or would ship in time for his birthday), so I made an approximation.

He's a big fan of sharks, so that was the first thing to find.

Then I tracked down some little containers that would nest inside it, and made sure there was enough room for a sippy cup or kid-size water bottle. I added a small freezer pack to keep everything cool.

The last part of the gift was cloth napkins. I let Piper pick some fabric, then I cut out squares and hemmed them using decorative stitches on my machine (also with a little help - "MOMMY! You hafta use THAT ONE! I want you to use the squares!"). It was pretty fun; I had never tried most of them before, and they looked cute in contrasting thread along the edges.

Piper made the wrapping paper and helped me tie the bow. She was quite pleased to give this special gift to her special little friend. I think his mother appreciated a gift that didn't require assembly or make noise.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Outdoor knitting

A Tomten in progress. I'm experiencing a bit of frustration with the pattern, both with the instructions and the amount of yardage it's taking. Someone gave me a ginormous ball of bulky-weight acrylic yarn, and I thought this would be a good way to use it up. The kid really needs a warm, trashable, washable sweater to wear to preschool, and I thought this soft, fuzzy stuff would not only be comfortable, but I wouldn't have a heart attack if she got paint on it (unlike, say, something made from this gorgeous yarn).

Except that I've still got the hood AND sleeves to do, and I'm more than halfway through my 615-yard ball of yarn. Which means I either need to forget the hood and proceed to the sleeves (and I still might not have enough), or go get another ginormous ball of acrylic (the only size this yarn comes in can best be described as "enough to get you through the Apocalypse"). I would definitely have enough yarn that way, but I'd also end up with a bunch of leftover fuzzy acrylic yarn, and probably find myself in this same position next year when I'm trying to use that up. This is actually my second attempt at a Tomten; the one I started last fall ground to a halt when I ran out of yarn, also some given-to-me stuff I was trying to use up and also right at the sleeve joins. Hmm, I'm sensing a pattern here.

I've probably made it too big. Maybe my measurements were off, or my math, or something. Oh, well, better too big than too small, I guess. I'll just roll up the sleeves and get a couple years' use out of it...provided I ever finish the damned thing, that is.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Impromptu Picnic

On a chilly day, we decided eating lunch in the front yard would be more fun.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Amazing What You Can Do With The Right Tools.

It's no secret that I love Babylegs. They have been one of the most useful items of baby/kid gear we've owned. They continue to be so, especially now that she's in preschool. The kids spend at least an hour on the (really cool wooden/natural) playground at her school every day, and they also spend time inside playing and doing art or other activites. The weather this fall has been pretty dry, with cool mornings and warm afternoons. Sometimes there's a 15 or 20-degree difference in the temperature between getting into the car at 9:00 and picking her up from the school playground at 1:15. I put her in shorts or a skirt + legwarmers in the morning, and when she gets too warm she can take them off, ditch her jacket, and run around without overheating.

However, at $12 a pair, with care instructions that include the words "hand wash," they are not exactly ideal for the rigors of paint, soap, glue, slides, woodchips, sandbox, hiking trails, and everything else she gets into at school. Plus the actual Babylegs styles seem to be getting both more cutesy and more gendered - lots more sections labeled "girl" and "boy" and lots fewer stylish designs - so I decided to just make her some out of knee socks.

I'd seen the tutorials around for a few years (and had a secret stash of knee socks hidden under some fabric in my closet, just waiting for the "someday" when I could get to them), so I looked over a few sets of instructions, threaded my machine, and got to work. It was supposed to be easy-peasy: just cut off the foot part, chop off the heel & toe, use the remaining small tube of fabric from the foot part to make a band, and sew it to the leg part. Ten minutes, tops.

You can guess where this is headed.

Even though I cut and pinned carefully, the knit sock fabric did not cooperate. It slipped. It dragged. I swore. I shrieked. I hunched over my machine with clenched hands and a sweaty brow. I tried different stitches, different machine settings. I sewed and ripped it out over and over. And after four days of failure, I remembered all the praise I had heard about ball-point needles. I bought a pack of eight.

Once I got home and put one in the machine, it only took me ten minutes to sew up all four pairs.

Ball point needles! For sewing knits! Who knew that would be the key to my problems sewing with knits?!

If only all my problems could be solved for $3.95.

(crappy cell phone photo, taken under compact florescent light bulbs, at night)

These are primarily Halloween ones, because I have a big pile of socks waiting to be legwarmer-ized but it was four days to Halloween at this point, so I wanted to do those first. The long blue ones were the experimental pair. I figured if I screwed them up, it was okay, blue socks are easy to come by, but I wasn't about to fool around with my $5-a-pair Halloween socks. Thanks to the needle change, they came out really well, except for the part where I didn't realize the argyle skulls would come out upside-down on the bottom bands. Oh, well. Eventually I'll get some plain gray ribbing and replace the bottom bands on those. Maybe. I sewed all these with a straight normal stitch set on the longest length, and they all stretch fine. I did not finish the seams in any way, because I am lazy and I keep forgetting to buy some pinking shears. I suppose they could come undone, but I don't really care. I made these partly because they're cute but mostly so she could trash them at school, so it's no big deal. Besides, if they start to come undone, that's Future Steph's problem.

The short ruffled blue ones I did with a zig-zag stitch, because they were toe socks and there was nothing to make a bottom band out of. Besides, this way they will fit nicely over her shoes and keep water/snow/dirt out of her socks. They also make some wicked cute arm/hand-warmers - I know this because I keep wearing them that way. Every time I do, Piper looks annoyed and asks me "Mommy, you have Babylegs on your ARMS! They are supposed to go on LEGS!"

Friday, November 05, 2010

Falling Around

Yesterday was one of the rare days when I am actually glad to live here. The weather was perfect and classically Fall - low 50's, light rain, just breezy enough to make a cup of hot chocolate sound good. The neighborhood was quiet and peaceful for a change, and we went outside to take advantage of it.

I took lots of pictures of leaves. 

Her raincoat, boots, and umbrella made happy reappearances.

Her favorite splashing puddle was back, and she greeted it by riding her tricycle right through the middle.

We even went for a walk in the (slightly soggy) woods.

And then it was back inside for hot chocolate, followed by a nap. As we roamed around the quiet and deserted field behind our house, I was extremely grateful to live in a place where we can pull a perfect Fall day out of early November. Sometimes I forget that a lot of people are battening down the hatches against Winter right now, whereas we can still do hours of outdoor exploration wearing jeans and sweatshirts.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Candy Corn

This was her Halloween costume, as per her very specific and repeated request. I was going to make her some sort of dress and knit a pointy white hat, but her grandma came to the rescue with this number she did (without a pattern and with only a guess at Piper's measurements).

She was thrilled with it, as all onlookers seemed to be. We took her out trick-or-treating in our neighborhood, which we usually try to avoid doing, but since this is Super-Bible-Land, a lot of neighborhoods made their kids trick-or-treat on Saturday instead of Sunday and after some confused driving around we decided to just tough it out on the home turf. Luckily I had bought a bag of emergency candy, so I didn't feel like a total heel for partaking and not handing any out. Of course, it took about six minutes (no, really) for the bag of chocolate bars to disappear because our street was chockablock full of teenagers not even bothering with costumes but bowling over littler kids in their race from house to house.

 We took Piper up and down half our block, a trip which lasted about  45 minutes and filled her little plastic pumpkin about a third of the way. It was more than enough candy for a 3-year-old, and she had a good time talking to the neighbors. It was a little surprising to see how many of them know us by sight and her by name. I also realized this is the only time all year we see a lot of these kids' parents.

I think she would've gone home happy after the first or second house, but the house on the end of the block had some wicked awesome decorating going on (it included a fog machine and music), so we sauntered down to check it out. She was pretty tired and ready to quit after that, and she begged me to carry her between the last few houses as we walked home.

The first thing she said when she woke up the next morning was "Can I have some candy?"