Another Handmade Holiday

I can’t believe it’s already that time of year again. I feel as though I was *just* blogging about my holiday endeavours, but that was already a whole year ago! Yikes!

I’m really looking forward to the upcoming holidays. I’ve got lots of fun ideas in the works for handmade gifts! My knitting needles are flying, my sewing machine is whirring, my scissors are snipping. For several years, I have given handmade gifts for Christmas, but still purchased gifts too. This time around, I’ve decided to take the plunge and make it an exclusively handmade holiday. This mama won’t be going shopping! Not only do I have zero interest in being part of the consumer frenzy, but I have better things to put my limited money toward (such as saving for a down payment on our “forever farm”).

So far, I’ve completed a little bear with moveable arms & legs for Robin, made from an old flannel pyjama set of mine. I had taken several lovely photos of the little bear to share with you, but my kids got their hands on my camera and it is nowhere to be found. When the camera resurfaces, the bear will make its online appearance!

Raina saw a picture of a mermaid doll and is begging for one of her own, and because Raina wants a mermaid doll, Lynden does too. I’ve been putting outgrown clothing aside to cut apart and turn into dolls, and as soon as I find a moment I’m going to get started. Raina’s also been asking for a teddy bear, because she lost the one I made for her two years ago and is rather heartbroken about it.

The adults on my list have some warm, fuzzy surprises coming their way, too, though they read my blog so you’ll have to wait until after Christmas to see what I have created for them!

What are you creating this holiday season?

Yarn Along

It’s been a while since I’ve joined in Ginny’s Yarn Along, and I’ve got so much to share! There are lots of finished projects being worn around this house -

The “Bombay Love” shirt, newborn size for baby Gaia (all of my recent projects have been for Gaia!) – free pattern available HERE.  Lynden and Raina each selected a button for this little shirt. I used Bernat Handicrafter Cotton yarn for this project.

The simple vest I shared as a work in progress in my last Yarn Along post (free Ravelry download), which suits Gaia quite well if I do say so myself!  The yarn is Cascade Superwash 220, 100% wool, and incredibly soft.

And then I added my own variations to this sweet little baby vest, to jazz things up a bit -

Here it is with a cable down the front (go back a few blog posts to see a photo of Gaia sporting her lovely cabled vest!). This yarn is Galway Highland Heather, but I can’t for the life of me remember the colourway.

And here it is with a candle flame lace pattern. This, perhaps, is my favourite of the three vests. I knit it up in the three days after my water broke, before labour kicked in. The yarn is 100% wool, left over from my stash. Paton’s, I believe?

This is Gaia’s new little dress, which I crocheted the other day in just two hours (give or take a few minutes). Raina wants one of her own, so she and her sister can match. Free pattern is available HERE. These yarns are the same ones used for the “Bombay Love” shirt,100% cotton.

And lets not forget the “Aviatrix”, quite likely my favourite hat pattern, which knits up SO QUICKLY and is really freaking cute! This is a free Ravelry download. This yarn is a bamboo/wool blend from my stash left overs, nice and soft for a brand new head.

I also finished a pair of shorties, which I don’t have a photo of, that were modified from a pattern in Linda Permann’s book Little Crochet.

And if you’re looking for some good books to read, I’ve recently finished Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, which was not by any means a literary masterpiece but a very satisfying read nonetheless. It’s a great story with strong characters. Now I’m gobbling up Mr. Pip by Lloyd Jones, which had me totally hooked in the first three pages.

What projects are you working on, dear readers? Have you read any great books lately?

Waiting for Baby

Because Braxton-Hicks contractions are keeping me awake at 3am, I’m using the computer while my children snore soundly a few feet away. Of course, this means I’m going to be all the more exhausted come sunrise, but such is life.

We are getting so close to the arrival of this new little person, and I am filled with anticipation. Boy or girl? Big baby or small? Bald like the other three, or lots of hair? Who is this little person growing inside of me!?

To keep myself occupied (not that endless laundry, household chores, and three children don’t keep me occupied…), I’ve been knitting & crocheting baby stuff. These little newborn vests are so quick and easy and fun, and a great way to use up leftover stash yarn. I’ve done a few already, and want to do more with different cables and colours. I’m bursting with ideas on how to maximize the cuteness! I’ve also got some crochet longies on the go, which may actually end up being shorties or capri pants instead, since this is a Spring baby and we may not get much use out of long-legged wool pants.

This is my view, looking down. My lap is rapidly disappearing and it’s increasingly difficult to get footwear onto my feet. Lynden has often said, lately, that he can’t wait for this baby to be born so I can stop groaning every time I have to bend over, and so I can finally hold him again! Of course, he always throws in, “But I’m actually excited to meet the baby, too,” which is evident by the way he’s been cradling his doll while singing lullabies when he thinks nobody is paying attention.

And Raina, sweet Raina, so anxious to become a 2nd-time big sister. She is positively giddy with excitement, and absolutely certain that she’s finally going to have a sister. I hope, for her sake, that we do have a girl, because Raina’s heart is set on even numbers of males to females in this house.  Raina has wished harder than I thought possible for a little baby girl to hold – if only wishing hard enough could makes things come true…

And so, now we wait. In the corner of the dining room sits a laundry basket filled with homebirth supplies – freshly washed towels, compress cloths, hydrogen peroxide, receiving blankets, a flashlight with new batteries, a large plastic container for the placenta, and other things that likely won’t be used (we never used our entire birth kit for the previous three births!). Two large flannel-backed table cloths have been placed under the bed sheets, “just in case”.  The kids have been drilled on keeping the house nice and clean over the past few weeks, for the sake of mama’s sanity and being ready for a birth. The toilet’s been scrubbed to shining, the floors are mopped every few days with lemongrass essential oil in the mop water for a lovely & refreshing clean feeling in the house.  And we wait.

Yarn Along

Joining Ginny from Small Things this week for the Yarn Along.

I’ve got a sweet little baby vest on the needles right now, in anticipation of baby #4 (it’s a free pattern on Ravelry, if you want to make one of your own!). This vest was in my Ravelry queue for quite a while – I think I intended to make one for Robin, but never got around to it. Now that the countdown is on for baby #4, all I can think about is the list of precious little baby patterns I’ve been wanting to make.  This vest is coming along very quickly – hooray for the instant gratification that tiny baby garments bring! It helps that the entire thing is done in a very fast stockinette stitch, with no major counting or fancy charts to keep track of. Perfect for late-pregnancy brain!

I’m delving into my baby books lately as well. Right now I’m enjoying Diaper Free by Ingrid Bauer. We’ve cloth diapered all of our other babies, but this time around I’m determined to carry through with elimination communication. I figure a refresher course is in order.

Baby’s due date is April 3. Anyone want to guess as to the actual birth day?

Yarn Along

Joining in with Ginny at Small Things again this week for the Yarn Along. It seems I’ve had knitting fever the past week or so! I’ve been frantically trying to finish Lynden’s hoodie, knitting up a pair of warm woolen work socks for a friend, and squeezing in a few rows each night on this project:

It’s one of the only projects I’ve worked on for myself. I started way back in June, and as you can see, I haven’t had many opportunities to make it grow. Now that Lynden’s hoodie is almost complete and the holiday madness is over, I’m determined that this project is going to take priority.

It’s the Bat Shawl! I’m using my own handspun yarn. It’s a beautiful naturally-coloured steely grey wool from New Zealand that I spun a year or so ago, about sock weight.

The lace pattern is hard to see in these low-quality photos taken from my phone, but it’s coming out beautifully and the bats will be glorious when the shawl is finished and blocked.

I love bats! I can’t wait to get this shawl finished and wrap it around my shoulders.

What are you working on right now, dear readers?

Dino Goes Down Under

As you may recall, I made a stuffed dinosaur toy for my oldest son as part of our handmade holiday. I got some pretty good feedback on it, and decided to offer it as a made-to-order item in my Etsy shop.

I made DinoRoar with 100% wool (all but the eyes, that is). I love the way washed wool stuffs compared to polyfil, and the way a woolen toy feels compared to polyester or other fake fibres. Wool makes for such a warm, cuddly, cozy toy – perfect for little hands.

After spending Wednesday and Thursday knitting some serious green, today I was happy to send a new little DinoRoar off to the land down under – all the way to Australia! I hope the sweet stuffie has an uneventful journey and arrives on the other side of the planet safe and sound.

Oh, and Lynden’s DinoRoar? She’s gotten some serious love since Christmas-time. Lynden has to ward off his younger siblings when DinoRoar is around, because they’re always trying to steal her away. A successful gift, I think.

Yarning

After the madness of trying to finish all of my Christmas crafting, I took a sort-of break from knitting & crocheting in January – instead of knitting every day, I only knit a few days a week. I still have several projects going, but they’re all coming along well enough.

Remember Lynden’s hoodie? It’s nearly complete! The other day I finished the sleeves (after having to rip them back a little and make them longer) and have started the hood. My fingers are crossed that it will be finished within a week. Lynden is eager to wear it!

Yarn Along

Woo! My second week joining in Ginny’s Yarn Along! This week I actually have a book to share…

Here is a little something that is being knit with some of my handspun – but I can’t tell you what until after the holidays! I detailed the process from carding to spinning a week or two ago, here it is for those who missed it. Try as I might, I could not get a decent shot of this project. The light was all wrong, then when I tried a different angle & different lighting, I couldn’t get anything in focus. Oh well, there you have it – a mediocre shot of a pretty cool little project.

Lynden’s winter sweater is coming along very slowly, between holiday projects and household chores. I managed to finish off the body, bordered around the bottom with a moss stitch. I think I’ll do the same around the edges of the sleeves, whenever I manage to finish them. The first sleeve is underway! I am making SOME progress! Being just a simple knit sweater with no cables or lacing, one would think it would be coming along quickly, but somehow the opposite is true. As long as Lynden gets to wear it a few times before the snow has come and gone, I’ll be a happy mama. (As an aside: I love, LOVE bamboo needles. They are so delightful to work with, so gentle on the hands, they warm so quickly to the touch, they’re so smooth to knit with. Bamboo is where it’s at.)

I’ve been reading The Power of Positive Dog Training by Pat Miller. It’s a great book for people who don’t feel right about “conventional” training methods. The book deals with clicker training, a method I began using with Oddler when he was a pup after a “conventional” trainer permanently damaged poor Oddler’s throat with a prong collar.  I love clicker training. It is so much fun for human and dog – I find my dog & I really work as a team, and it’s so neat to watch the dog’s wheels start turning and the thoughts get flowing. Clicker training really makes a dog THINK. Oddler is nearly 11 years old now, but every so often I like to brush up on training. When all the old commands have become so familiar that they are just a part of every day life, it’s nice to add a new trick to the bag. (Hey, did you know that any critter can be clicker trained, even a chicken? So cool!)

Alright, with that done, I’m off to ogle other yarn alongs!

Yarn Along

I’ve been admiring other bloggers’ knitting & crocheting projects for quite a long time now, thoroughly enjoying the “Yarn Along” that Ginny from Small Things hosts each Wednesday.  This week, I thought I’d go ahead and join in.

With cold weather setting in and the holidays fast approaching, I’ve got a handful of projects on the go right now. These are the two that are closest to completion: on the left, what will be Raina’s bunting doll (a Christmas gift), and on the right, Lynden’s woolly winter sweater.  Lynden chose his sweater yarn himself – I was surprised at the plain, undyed colour he selected – and for the first time he is actually excited at the prospect of wearing what comes off my needles.  The finished sweater will feature a nice, large front pocket for holding “treasures and dinosaurs” and, of course, a hood.  Lynden’s requested that the hood and the pocket be knit in a tweed yarn, for contrast.  Might I have a garment-knitter in the making?

I’d like to say I have a book I’ve been reading as well, but alas, these days I find I have zero time to enjoy a good book.  A tragedy! But it’s true: each hour of my day is taken up with child care, snuggles and play time, household chores, knitting & crocheting projects, cooking – and then, just before bed (or first thing in the morning) I hop on the computer for a short while to do some blogging or blog reading and ogle potential new patterns on Ravelry.

Maybe when the holidays are over I’ll be able to dive into the pile of books that awaits me…

Handmade Holiday – ROAR!

My oldest son, Lynden, is totally obsessed with dinosaurs.  He’s got dinosaur encyclopedias, volumes of dinosaur books, and an extensive collection of dinosaur toys.  Of course, all he wants for Christmas is more dino-related stuff.  So…

Yesterday I knitted up a dinosaur for him. I used 100% wool for the body and stuffed the dino with soft, fluffy wool fleece.  I can’t wait to see him open it on Christmas morning!

 

I’m offering these dinos made-to-order in my Etsy Shop.  If you’d like one for your own children, I’ll happily knit one up for you!