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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

The Three Little Fairies Tutorial

Posted by on 07 Mar 2009 | Tagged as: friends, tutorial, wooden toys, wool felt

Our little friend Meredith turned three yesterday, and I thought she should have a little fairy for each of her years. I (well, mostly Tony) followed along with the camera so that you can make some little fairies of your own if you like.

Supplies:

little boy wooden peg shapes
acrylic paint
fine paint brushes
drill with very small drill bit (Tony used 1/16″, but I had skinny 3mm pipe cleaners, so you might need a larger one for larger ones)
pipe cleaners
felt in assorted colors
embroidery floss to match the felt
fairy pattern
beeswax polish

Step 1:

First, I took three little peg dolls — these are the little ones, called boy peg dolls. I painted their heads in a peachy color using about three coats of acrylic paint.

When they dried (I didn’t wait very long at all), I painted on their hair, parting it in the middle and sweeping it out and then down to frame the face. I very carefully dotted on the eyes, and carefully drew a little mouth with a very fine brush.  I really need a finer brush and found myself having to paint over and redo the mouths a couple of times — don’t be afraid to make a mistake, it’s fixable with a little more peachy paint.  Then I mixed a little pink with the peach of the skin and added a hint of pink cheeks just below the eyes.

I was inspired by these clothespin dolls at Posie Gets Cozy, but wanted something a little smaller and simpler to start (though I’m definitely planning to try some clothespin dolls before long!)

Here are Meredith’s three girls in production:

Fairy faces

I realized only after I had finished them that I’d forgotten the little hair bows, so I painted those on at the end. It’s a much better idea to do all the painting BEFORE dressing them — all went well this time, but it would be sad after all that effort, to have to start over on an outfit.

Then, as Lucas slept on my lap, Tony took the dolls and drilled small holes through at shoulder height. They should be just large enough to fit a pipe cleaner through the hole, but preferably no larger than that! Here are the rather creepy pictures he took of this step:

Drilling the fairy arm holes

Fairies with arm holes

Step 3:

I fed the pipe cleaners through the dolls so that 2 inches extended on either side. I bent them to find the middle and then wrapped the pipe cleaners using the technique I learned from Felt Wee Folk. Basically, you just tie the floss onto one part of the pipe cleaner, wrap down around the bend of the pipe cleaner that will be the hand (be sure to cover all the fuzzies!). Then, just above the hand, pinch the two pipe cleaners together and wrap the rest of the way up the arm, tying the floss off at the top. Repeat on the other side.

Fairy pipe cleaner arms

Wrapping the fairy arms

Wrapping the fairy arms

Wrapped fairy arm

Step 4:
Print and cut out the fairy pattern for the fairy dress and wings. Cut fairy dress and wings out of felt, making sure to make the neckline no bigger than it is drawn in the pattern, maybe even a little smaller.

Felt fairy clothes and wings

Step 5:
Pull the dress over the fairy’s head and position the wings in the center back, high enough that the wings don’t extend too far below the base of the fairy. Use a double strand of floss to do a chain link stitch to sew the wings onto the dress (you can take the dress back off of the fairy for this step).

Basically, pull your thread up through the fabric, then put the needle back through the same hole (or near it). Before you pull all of the thread back through, push the needle back up through the fabric where you want your next stitch to go, but pull the needle through the loop of the thread that you have remaining from your first stitch. Does that make any sense? Then you repeat it again — putting the needle back through where you just emerged, but not pulling the thread all the way through, instead leaving a loop through which you push the needle when you make your next stitch. Here’s what it should look like:

Sewing on the fairy wings

Completed fairy wings

Step 6:

If you wish, you can add a little embellishment to the front of the dress (such as the hearts on Mia’s Valentine fairies), but I think they are pretty cute plain, too.

Using a single strand of floss, blanketstitch to sew up the seams along the lower arms and sides of the dress, but also to finish the sleeves, bottom and neckline of the dress. A great blanketstitch tutorial can be found here.

All three fairies

All three fairies

Step 7:
For a little added durability (and sheen), I rubbed the painted faces of the fairies with a little beeswax polish

Applying beeswax varnish to painted surfaces

I finished up our gift for Meredith with a little woodland box home for the fairies. But I’ll be back tomorrow or the next day to share a little tutorial for that!

Fairies in their box

Fairy box with mushroom chairs and table

Enjoy!

Chile Llama Farm

Posted by on 12 Jan 2009 | Tagged as: family, friends, gardening, local food, winter

My friend Melissa and I made habit of frequenting the little farmer’s market that opened near her house last spring, and our favorite vendor is Kevin, a very kind, helpful and talkative man whose small-scale farming operation is called Chile Llama Farm.

The end of farmer’s market season here has been rough. Although our freezer is stocked full enough to eat vegetarian chili once a week and pesto twice a week until next July, we miss the vast quantities of fresh veggies we had at our disposal from May-early December. Here’s a one-week haul from our CSA last summer (and that’s not counting our additional veggies from Chile Llama):

Farmer's Market Haul 6/28/08

After New Year’s, I called Kevin, and he said he had enough lettuce and spinach for our two families to come out and pick our own. We were thrilled and drove out to see him on Saturday, which dawned a beautiful, cold and sunny day. The following pictures were taken by Melissa and her husband Christian.

Our girls had a wonderful time eating “candy carrots,” as the organic gardener Elliot Coleman calls them. In winter, the carrots that are still in the ground freeze, and their starch turns to sugar. I’m afraid the girls didn’t leave any for Kevin!

Harvesting Candy Carrots

Candy carrot

Lucas was mostly interested in playing with the rainwater collection containers and other farm gear, but also tried his hand at picking lettuce.

Little man

Chile Llama lettuce

We had a wonderful time, enjoying the moment, but also enjoying the ripple effect of our children knowing where their food grows, and the wonderful, fresh, organic veggies we’d be eating over the next few days. (Tonight’s dinner was pasta with raw cherry tomato sauce out of our freezer, fresh Chile Llama spinach sauteed with garlic and Chile Llama greens with a vinaigrette dressing. We also roasted Chile Llama beets for tomorrow, one of our little ones’ favorite foods.) It was just a wonderful, beautiful day.

Future farmers

More fun with friends

Fun with friends

Right about this time of year, I start getting the urge to sit down with seed catalogs and plan our garden. And in two months, we’ll be able to start planting! But tonight, I’ll be working on the Valentine’s Day Countdown Calendar. It’s coming along nicely, but I may have a couple of late nights to have it done by Wednesday!