No backing out now!

Posted by on 03 Jan 2011 | Tagged as: about me

Flower Crown Little Sister

I spent a lot of my childhood in Germany, which I think explains both the source of my crafty love and my anguish worrying I’m not providing my own children with the same idyllic childhood I had. Life in Germany seems to go at a slower pace, and the traditions that we associate with Waldorf here are infused into the mainstream culture and schools there. I can list many reasons for loving Germany — the lure of the old cobblestone pedestrian downtowns, the flowers that seem to spill from every windowsill and balcony because even apartment dwellers need something green, the public transportation system that makes living a car-free life easy. And don’t get me started on the bakeries on every corner. But the reality is, it’s not a tally of things like beautiful craft stores or Christmas markets or lantern walks in the fall, it’s how I feel when I’m there, and really, how I feel when I’m not.

My husband and I spent an idyllic junior year abroad in Berlin with our beloved dog Bogie, a shelter pit bull we adopted a month before leaving the States. We had every intention of returning to Berlin after completing college, but a tragic pit bull attack led to a nationwide ban on the breed and so we didn’t go back. We stayed in the States. And almost eleven years later, we haven’t visited — not out of holding any grudge, but partially out of logistics and expense, and partially because I think it will be hard to be a visitor in a place that felt more like home than anywhere I’ve lived since. Hard to have to leave again.

But I need my children to know Germany, and so this year, we have vowed to throw caution to the wind. We are still figuring out the exact logistics (how exactly would you, for instance, smuggle a dog’s ashes into the country?) but we are definitely going. You hear that internet? No backing out now. Three glorious weeks that will seem like a heartbeat.

I know I promised craftiness — please forgive the dripping nostalgia instead. I spent the evening repairing one of Christmas gifts I’d made, so I’m a little behind! More tomorrow!

Do any of you have big plans for the New Year? Something you want to announce to hold yourself accountable, I say, as though anyone is reading this…

Happy New Year!

Posted by on 01 Jan 2011 | Tagged as: about me

Happy New Year!

I hope your holidays were filled with as much joyful abandon as ours were! I’ll be back in this space this week to share some handcrafted Christmas presents and plans for the New Year. We started 2011 off right with a picnic in the park with friends, complete with collards and black-eyed peas. The trails were a little muddy from all the melted snow, but the temperature was warm, the food delicious and the company very pleasant indeed.

{this moment}

Posted by on 17 Dec 2010 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

From Soulemama:
{this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

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The Christmas Stockings

Posted by on 15 Dec 2010 | Tagged as: animal crafts, Christmas, family, needle-felting, sewing, winter, wool felt

Two days in a row! Woo-hoo!

And another big Christmas project, though this one was from last year. Looking back, I’m not entirely clear how I managed to needle-felt three stockings with a newborn, though I guess he was still sleeping a lot of the time in his father’s arms, so maybe that explains it. Years earlier, I had decorated felt stockings for our little family of three people and ten animals, but I’d used the cheap synthetic stuff and had never gotten around to making one for Lucas after he was born. So I was determined my children would have lovingly-crafted felt stockings, newborn baby or not!

I found a pattern for a Santa on etsy for Jonah’s stocking:

Jonah Santa Stocking

I’m really proud of the Santa — and I was impressed how much heftier he was than he would have been had I not followed a pattern — I actually needle-felted him first and then sewed him on rather than needle-felting him directly onto the wool felt. I am disappointed at the shape of all the stockings — they ended up too long and skinny, with boxy toes. But I do love that Santa:

Santa

For my ballet-in-general-and-Nutcracker-in-particular-obsessed daughter, I attempted a Sugar Plum Fairy. Mia loves her, but I’m afraid she turned out a little too manly in the face and shoulders. I tried and tried to fix it until I’d needle-felted everything so firmly there was no more tweaking. Oh well!

Mia Ballerina Stocking

And a close-up of Mr. Sugar Plum:

Ballerina

And finally, for Lucas, I used as inspiration, the wonderful, beautiful book we discovered last year thanks to our friend Lynn — Eve Bunting’s Night Tree

Lucas Night Tree Stocking

The animals ended up a little cartoonish, but I still think it’s sweet. It’s decorated with strings of popcorn, apples and oranges. The family in the book goes to the edge of town each year to decorate a tree for the animals. It’s such a wonderful story, and when they are back home, there’s a scene where the little boy is lying in bed, thinking of all the animals coming out to eat from the tree. Covering the little boy is a quilt with a tree and all the animals on it — a sweet touch this crafty mama really appreciated!

Here’s a little more detail on Lucas’ stocking:

Night Tree Bear

Night Tree Fox

And now I need to get to crafting for this year! I have lots of littler gifts, plus a large crafty gift for each child still to make! I’ll be back in this space, sharing a little of our decorating and crafting as we go!

Advent Calendar and I’m really back this time, I promise

Posted by on 14 Dec 2010 | Tagged as: calendar, family, needle-felting, winter

It’s been a very full year for us, one of wonderful things, though also some sadness. We’ve sold a house, bought a house, lived out of town for an extended period of time, started a business, soft-launched a project, sent our oldest off to kindergarten and our middlest off to preschool, traveled out of the country, suffered the loss of a dear family member, a sweet cat and bunny, and the injury and illness of another family member and cat. But we are feeling grateful, as we enter the holiday season, for our sweet little family, our home, our loved ones. And I am ready now, after all the upheaval, to return to this place and share a little bit of the crafting that has grounded me over the last year. I’d like to start today with the advent calendar.

I’ve been dreaming about this advent calendar for years, and have even started similar attempts, the first when my six-year-old was only one. But it’s never come to fruition. Until now. I started it late, over Thanksgiving, and of course failed to have it done in time for the first of December! The kids had to wait several more days, and I still have some logistics to figure out — how to hang it, for one. But here it is with all the doors:

Advent Calendar with Doors

I had intended to make little felt doors and blanket stitch the numbers onto them and the doors onto the calendar, but well, being days late already, I opted for needlefelting. I figured I would go back and add doors next year. I don’t know — I like how the doors in the snow, sky and tree are camouflaged, and when the doors are open, they are gone instead of potentially blocking what was behind or next to them. But I think felt doors would look better on the house and barn… we’ll see.

Here’s a peek at a scene from one of my favorite books when I was little, growing up in Germany: The Tomten and the Fox:

The Tomten and the Fox / Tomte und der Fuchs

A close-up of the shooting star in the sky:
Shooting Star

And the sweet animals in the barn:
Sheep, horses, cows and bell in the barn

Cat and mouse in the barn

Here are the children upstairs in the house. On the right, two children are reading, and on the left another child is being kissed by a dog (you can see the dog’s pink tongue if you look closely enough!):

Children and dog in the house

And downstairs in the house, the mother and father hold the baby by the fireplace and Christmas tree:

Mother, father and baby

Since this post isn’t long and rambling enough, I realized something that bothers me about so many Nativity sets — the baby Jesus is almost always lying in the manger and it just seems like someone should be holding such a new little baby. Granted, this is coming from a person who pretty much never puts her baby down, but I just realized this season how “off” it seems to me. I did see some cute Peruvian sets at Ten Thousand Villages where Mary is holding Jesus, and it made me wonder how much our own culture plays into something as simple as where the baby Jesus figure is in the Nativity scene. Okay, back to the calendar. Here’s the whole house:

The whole house

The tree:

Cardinal, owl and squirrel in the tree

That’s a cardinal, an owl and a squirrel — somehow my squirrels always seem to suffer most in my calendars — he’s just not quite recognizable.

And the skunk under the tree:

Skunk

Eagerly anticipating opening the next door:

Anticipating what's behind the next door

The fireplace reveal:

The Fireplace

And finally (though the little ones haven’t seen it yet!), the whole calendar:

Advent Calendar

I love this time of year, the lead-up to Christmas, even more than Christmas itself. I love the traditions from my childhood I can share with my own family, the appreciation I see growing in all of them for handmade gifts. Mia, my 6-year-old, is busily crouched over paper, scissors and glue, making gifts for her classmates and her family. And I am filled with happiness, knowing she not only recognizes how much love goes into the gifts I make for her, but she is getting to experience the joy that I feel when I give handmade presents.

If I have any readers left at all, I’d love to hear what you are making or enjoying this holiday season!

A little something for my midwife

Posted by on 03 Feb 2010 | Tagged as: about me, animal crafts, family, needle-felting, sewing, wool felt

Our family was lucky enough to get to experience a perfect and wonderful homebirth under the care of our dedicated and much loved midwife. During the course of my pregnancy, we bonded over our mutual love for animals, and both she and her birth assistant enjoyed having our pup Audrey there for Jonah’s birth. When it came time for me to make a gift for her, I decided to attempt to render in felt a photograph of Audrey and Jonah shortly after his birth. I also included a little vervet my midwife raised and who now lives at The Primate Rescue Center in Kentucky.

Here’s the original picture:

Jonah and Audrey

And my attempt to recreate it:

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I don’t think I succeeded in recreating sweet little Jonah — his nose is clownish, I couldn’t get his hair right and those adorable little forehead furrows… I think I should just stick to creating REAL babies. But I’m pretty pleased with how our Audrey lady and Bob the vervet ended up looking.

The founder of the sanctuary where Bob now lives is featured in part of the book Animal Underworld: Inside America’s Black Market for Rare and Exotic Species, a chilling investigation into the trade in exotic animals in this country. It follows paper trails that lead from AZA accredited zoos to canned hunts, explains the dangers and cruelties of keeping wild animals as pets and is just generally one of those books that you can’t “unknow” after you read it. You’ll find yourself recounting horrifying details to innocent bystanders, but who knows, you might end up influencing just the right person to make a difference… [steps off soapbox...]

The crafting is coming along slowly around here with a baby who has suddenly started making the distinction between Mama’s arms and just about anyone else’s. So while we manage to never actually put him down, he’s needing specifically me in the evenings when I would be crafting. I’m still getting a few minutes in here and there, and I have some plans for Valentine’s Day, but progress is slow. I’ll try to post some older projects if the newer ones take too long, so keep checking back!

Almost back!

Posted by on 24 Jan 2010 | Tagged as: about me, family

My little break was quite a bit longer than I expected, but I’ve missed this space! It’s just been a blogging break, not a crafting one, so I do have some crafty goodness to share once I get some pictures uploaded. For now, here’s my excuse for my loooong absence — I was crafting a little someone of my own:

sweet boy

Jonah Carl was born at home on December 8th and our not-so-little-anymore family has been spending an awful lot of time baby gazing over the last 6 1/2 weeks. More actual craftiness to come this week, so please visit again soon!

I’ll be back soon!

Posted by on 02 May 2009 | Tagged as: about me

I can’t believe how long I’ve left this blog idle! I have been super busy, without much time for crafting. But I’ll be back soon, and in the meantime, I’ll try to post some pictures of things I’ve made in the past, so please keep checking back! Happy Spring, everyone!

Needle-felted Easter Eggs

Posted by on 01 Apr 2009 | Tagged as: Easter, needle-felting, spring

I needle-felted a little eggy goodness for the little ones’ Easter baskets. I spent one evening needle-felting two natural eggs and the next adding little scenes to them. Here’s a little peek at them:

Needle-felted Easter Eggs

Needle-felted Easter Eggs

Next up? Well, I need to still make those wee bunnies, as well as finish a little project I never finished last year, and I’m hoping to come up with a few more things.

Right now, though, I’m just feeling very honored to have been featured on Crafty Crow today! What a great and inspirational site — I’ve certainly found many a project to do and many a crafty blog to follow there!

A little bunny for a little friend

Posted by on 26 Mar 2009 | Tagged as: animal crafts, friends, sewing

A little bunny for a little friend who was much sicker last week than any little person should ever have to be (or any mama should have to see), but is thankfully all better now:

Bunny

I used the now famous Wee Wonderfuls Bunny Pattern, but with Bitter Betty‘s modifications (moving the face to the back). It also took all my determination not to make the bunny out of solid-colored corduroy. I’m all about corduroy and plain colors. But I love how quilts look, and while I don’t trust my ability to choose coordinating fabrics, I made myself follow through. I honestly had to fight the urge to return to the corduroy even once I had cut all the pieces and sat down to my sewing machine.

And as midnight came and went (why do others use the term “whipping up” a few of these or “quick and easy?” Am I really that bad on the sewing machine? Yes, yes I think I am.), I began to panic that I am terrible at embroidering even, round eyes and that I’d ruin the fabric trying. And I didn’t want to use sew-on eyes for such a little person as the recipient. Being rather sleepy myself, it occurred to me that maybe a sleepy, wool and lentil-filled bunny was in order.

Bunny

I think he’s pretty cute, though I think I sewed the side-seams a little too far down, not leaving enough room for the bottom circle, which I then had to butcher a bit to make it fit. It’s a little wonky, but he still sits, so I’m calling him a somewhat reasonable success. Now I just have to make three more for my two little ones’ Easter baskets and one for a little cousin who will also be at Tony’s aunt’s house for Easter.

The End.

Bunny

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