Sunday, January 31, 2010

not posed


A couple of ceramic just-sent-off gifts I wanted to share.
My ceramic stash is almost depleted, but I'm back in the studio regularly (just 3 hours/week, but that's something) and playing around with arranging some babysitting swaps or something to do a push and get an Easter batch ready. Anyone up for it?

new fabric

I'm really in the mood for some garment sewing. I've seen lovely summery materials that I've resisted for months, thinking I should prove to myself that I can sew some old projects before I invest in know the mental routine. But then I really had to have new Easter dresses from Anna Maria Horner's Little Folks line (she's a Nashville girl! With a toddling baby boy! And, oh, those dobby voiles!) and what if my favorite sold out??? So, since I had a bit of a Paypal balance left from my holiday sales, I let the girls choose their favorites. Plus one for a Mama blouse/Reuben tie.And then had to add a couple of others, since I was paying shipping (I chose to order from an etsy seller, fabricworm. She was great; answering questions & shipping quickly). One favorite each: Owls for Audrey's summer solstice pajamas (a tradition I keep thinking I'll start since the girls have a drawer full of flannel Christmas nightgowns and not many lightweight jammies), and blue unicorns for Marian. And, um, how to resist a Japanese import that has both goats and hedgehogs? How often do you see that???The voiles are as buttery soft as promised, and the dobby dots are overdosing on cuteness. They're sheer enough that I think I'll need to line at least the skirts (using a pattern that I've sewn over and over and keep on loving--see a variation on Sally's blog here), maybe with just a layer of inexpensive batiste. The unicorn print is from Heather Ross' Far, Far Away line, and a double gauze. Since I didn't know what that was, I took a picture for you: prelined, basically. The two layers are attached every 1/2 inch or so. It will be interesting to sew. I've heard it's a bit of a headache. I think a spring blouse? Also, loving the apple-y selvage color swatch. Oh, yeah, that Paypal balance is so gone. This is not a "great deals!" sort of post.

Wish me luck.

and again someone else's pattern

My first blog crush: Hillary Lang of

She actually sent this pattern to Marian when her first Make-A-Wish foundation idea was to "meet a real craft artist" and her family had the flu when we could possibly arrange a visit. I think she thought it was awkward, too, but it all worked out awesome for us because she sent a big box of patterns and supplies and (gasp) "two of my best girls" (Sasha and Natasha: click to see the photos and then watch your jaw drop at Marian and Audrey's luckiness). I don't think I ever blogged about that, because we were a little overwhelmed with (1) the chaos that was our life at that point and (2) her generosity.

I love wee wonderfuls (with the possible caveat that I don't think they're "wee" enough, but I do have a miniaturizing problem) and have bought most of the rest of her patterns. Before and after the gifts. Still, the "W" is for "William", not "wee wonderfuls". I'm not quite that stalker-y.

Anyway. Space boy. I cut out 4 and this first one rocketed off this week to be a 19-month-birthday present for a favorite of mine. I really thought I could stash-supply this one, but it turns out that my fabric stash is overwhelmingly dominated by woodsy feminine fabrics (who knew??), fabric! (slightly ashamed, but also I love them)Since my space boys are all bound to baby planet destinations, I omitted buttons and, to make them more washable, made the belt and epaulets out of cloth (doubled the pattern, added seam allowances, stitched & inverted) instead of the recommended wool felt. A well-loved toy (hoping!) needs to have a good working relationship with a washing machine.

(Is it good or bad to be the first giftee? I'll make a couple of adjustments next time...)

dear purl bee

look at me have a big enough wool felt stash to have subtly different shades of red...and white...and pink ;)

I've gotten to a weird creative point where if I make something from a pattern, sometimes I think it doesn't "count". What or who is doing this accounting, I cannot quite explain...

But this week I did some happy pattern following, and am pleased to count them my creations, too. I initially thought I would just use this purl bee felt flower hair clip tutorial as a loose suggestion, but then I traced the pattern and just did exactly what they told me to do.

Dear Purl Bee,
I love them.
Your pattern was perfect.
Thank you.

Monday, January 25, 2010

from Marian

I thoroughly enjoyed volunteering at Marian's school's Holiday Store this year. The Holiday Store is a long and popular tradition there, and has historicallybeen stocked with dollar store-type items for kids to come and buy as gifts for family members. The new ladies in charge have made it into more of a gift-making session, which of course I love. When Marian came with her stack of quarters to "shop", I steered her towards a notepad holder that I thought I might find useful. "Uh-uh, Mom! I have something even better!" she assured me with a smug smile. Two or three times since I opened the little painted box on Christmas morning, she has asserted: "I told you you would love it even more. Especially because it has a picture of your little sweetheart." (The school provided stickers of the picture day photos. This one cracks me up).The classroom parent gift project is also adorned with a photo of my little sweetheart. They decorated the frame with cut pieces of a recycled CD, which I thought was clever, and "color-tinted" black and white photo copies of a photo taken in the classroom with color pencils.Check out the green eyes. The frame sits on my bedside table and yes, it does scare me a little.
Alien possession!!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

be my valentine

my needle-felting efforts this week

Oh, I love this holiday. So needed in sunlight starved January.

Plans are underway for our 7th annual Goates Girls Mother-Daughter Valentine Party (which Audrey always quibbles with, because the daughters have actually only been invited for 4). We're passing out invitation cards at random, so if you're local and we haven't run into you lately, feel free to come: Saturday, February 6th, 10 am-noon.

Hmmm...what Valentine love projects to pursue this year?

I was really inspired by Martha's list, of course. This year the girls' valentine piles will include candy gems in treasured chests

For Marian's class, I think we'll combine these packaging ideas:
sewn glassine and blown kisses

I want to do the spotted secret messages, though I suspect it will be too much this year.
And I want someone to knit me some of these hearts. Feel free.

Purl bee, always charming, came through with these fantastic felt rose barrettes. One for me, too!

And I'm inspired by this by Stephanie Congdon. "I'm sticking with you." Sold out, of course (hers do, so quickly!), but I'm not too sad: I happen to have quite the stash of brown and green materials...


Most of the last couple of weeks have been devoted to fuzzy creations of 3 sorts:

(1) Introducing needle-felting to 3 separate friends. Then more doing it together. I'm drumming up a lot of business for blue goose glen, my favorite wool web source. My fiber choice? For somewhere in the $25 range, they'll send you a pound of wool roving remnants, in a range of colors. A pound is a LOT of wool. 1/2 pound is also available. You can also get needles & other felting supplies. They used to run their store from ebay, but now have their own site, here, with all things fiber.
One of my friend Becci's creations (she's been a needling madwoman!) that she gave to Marian last night.
She's been doing some very cute things with acorns, too: vessels & wee animal caves. So precious you want to taste.

(2) Working on a first birthday gift for my cutie-patootie niece, Mykita. I love dolls more than anything, I think, and hand-sized dolls make me kind of melty inside. I made the body from a favorite cashmere sweater that succumbed to the big moth invasion of 2004, and it is so delightfully soft and light. It has been awhile since I've sewn, and I'm newly hooked. It was just really satisfying. I took some process shots that I'll share later, when her quilt is done, too, but if you just want the doll satisfaction without the sewing satisfaction, I recommend my favorite Waldorf doll maker: Aunt Boo's Babies. On etsy, of course. Her work is amazing. The next pile on the sewing table? 4 space boys.(3) Reuben has been growing hair (dubbed "fuzzies" by Marian when she was growing her own) for two weeks, and I had 122 photos on the card I loaded last night (yup, I just counted), trying to get the perfect fuzzy shot. That wasn't fuzzy. Here are a couple of my favorites:A nice thick fringe of black is growing on those gorgeous baby blues, too. We can't keep our hands off of his head. And: THIS TIME IT'S STAYING!!
(jinx not, please)Oh, you want more? Okay, since you insist. Here are a few, chosen for their very Reubasaurus-ness.That's my baby.

Monday, January 11, 2010

the other child

Just so you know, I have another child.

I just usually respect her disinterest in being photographed.

She's plenty crafty, but more of a writer, and I hope to see more of her writing on her new (ish) writing blog: goatgirly inks.
photograped by Marian, who doesn't always focus..
For Christmas this year, she made all of her gifts, but I was only involved in a couple of them, so they, also, weren't photographed to death.

She made a lovely little memory book for me, signs for her dad's office (3 reversible, with options like "back in 5 minutes" or "I'm here; please knock"), a wooden tree puzzle for Reuben, and a bracelet/keychain set for Marian. We have a cousin exchange on my side of the family, too, and I did get a few process shots of Audrey and a friend making block puzzles for the 6-year-old boys they both were gifting to.We went a couple of days before to our library's used book sale, and each girl chose a book with graphics that they thought their boy would like. Her friend's family just returned from a sabbatical year in South Africa, so her find, a poetry book full of mosiac-like African art was an especially great find (and resulted in a perfectly tricky puzzle). A whole picture book with big illustrations was daunting to work with at first, so to help the girls choose their art, I snipped little viewfinders. They were tremendously helpful.

from Marian to Reuben

Miss Marian made a nice gray linen hippo for Reuben's Christmas gift. It was a collaborative effort: she chose the animal & size she wanted to make, then...okay, I heavily influenced the gray linen choice. Marian can be very stubborn about her artistic vision, though, so I like to think she was of a like mind. The green striped inner ears were her choice. She traced and cut out the pattern pieces, and I cut the fabric and machine-stitched the seams. She turned the creature's skin. Marian wanted to use safety eyes and I attached those & the ears so they would all be extra-secure for the hippo-eating baby.Marian firmly stuffed the beast (we chose to use polyester filling so Mr. H will be machine-washable), and stitched up his bum. I love her stitches:
(Marian also gave Reuben the small tin mentioned in the last post, which I fill with various wee bits of the baby-safe variety (Kix are popular) and he loves to open and close and open and spill. It's the biggest hit of his Christmas, even if all of her glue-stick decorations only lasted 23 seconds.)

I badly want Reuben to cuddle this guy to sleep, and he usually will condescend to give him a fat kiss/bite (sometimes I get that sort, too; he's working on those canines!) at night time, but his preferred cuddly is a remote. Or phone. Either is fine, but the buttons are essential, and it's nice if they respond with lights or beeps. Such a techno boy already.
I'm trying to kick 2010 me in the p'toosh and do more house work. I need to do both kinds, of course, but here I mean the sewing and decorating sort. I finally finished the throw pillows for the couch, which I made far too complicated (each one has a different zipper approach, and I should have followed Sally's advice on all of them and used hidden zippers, because she's right, they are by far the easiest and prettiest, but I also rather adore using 10 cent zippers from the local factory outlet. Anyway, you can see 'em on the couch above. The fabric looks hodge-podgy, but was actually very carefully curated, and bought piece-by-piece from etsy sellers. I love them. Next up: getting these off the floor and onto the walls.

first wax

Santa brought Reuben a lovely first set (in a tin! such a sucker Santa is for tins!) of Lyra beeswax crayons. We tucked them in the travel backpack as part of my distract-the-starving-child pre-MRI toolkit last week and he really did catch on that those sticks made lovely bright tracks. He was uninterested in my attempts to teach him an appropriate grip and then rather interested in munching them. Sorry, too expensive, my love! Art lesson the first ended, and we moved onto finger puppets-in-a-tin (sensing a theme, here? He does love to open.).

Friday, January 8, 2010


Reuben is running wild and napping very sporadically, and Nathan has been home, with other ideas for those short naptimes, so my time has been munched up. No holiday wrap-up blogging yet (good handmade lovelies to share soon!!) But I had too much good news this week not to post a little something. If not crafty, it's very CREATE-ive. My brother's wife had a safe delivery of this chubby-cheeked darling, named after my father, who died 5 years ago: Greg Bryan Frandsen II. So much family joy with this one, I tell you. We're all weeping over the phone together. His name feels so right. Devn is the oldest son, so the name is his birthright, we figure. How to work out a trip to Arkansas???

Reuben had an MRI on Tuesday, and news is good: less enhancement than the one 7 weeks ago, which supports the theory that what is showing up is "normal" post-surgical healing growth. I especially buy that one because he can move his arm much better than anticipated--full range, as far as we can tell. The kid's a tadpole, and has been growing himself a new shoulder. Thanks for all of your good feeling vibes and prayers.

Off to New York in a couple of minutes: my little brother Paul is interviewing at Rutgers (starting a PhD in Evolutionary Taxonomy in the fall) and we're meeting him for a quick icy city day.

Saturday, January 2, 2010


Marian just slipped out to the mailbox with a fat stack of Christmas thank you cards.

And last year's Christmas thank you cards.
And baby gift thank yous.
(all found in a box, written & thus xed off the list...but never mailed. until today. luckily, many are to the same patient folks. not the best idea for saving on postage, I advise!)

Catching up.

Here's to a 2010 full of that.

Anna Maria Horner's thoughts on joining the human race this year really resonated with me. Read it here, the first point in her 2009 review.