Sunday, February 24, 2013

Lace and Number Rods

I haven't done a whole lot of crafty stuff since my last post. I've worked some on Finn's Montessori materials. With the help of my wonderful husband, he's now the proud owner of a set of number rods. I worked some on the bead materials too, but I made a mistake starting the 1000 cube (of course I would mess up the largest one) and now I have to start over. It was a silly mistake. I started in the exact center of the plastic canvas squares I'm using as support when I should have started one square off from dead center. Lesson learned.

Awesome number rods.

I finished the bit of fan edging I was working on. I screwed up one fan pretty badly and on another one the tension is a bit off, but overall I don't think I did too badly considering I'm in the very beginning learning stages.
Little bit of edging practice.

Not perfect, but getting better.

Last night I pinned up and started working on a bookmark. I wanted to work on it more during the day today, but I got distracted. I suppose I can try to find a little time after my shift tonight.
Set up for my bookmark.

Today I'm making 3 loaves of bread (cinnamon raisin, white, and rye) and a half dozen hamburger buns for dinner.

I also did all of my ordering for Back Road Soap Company today. The money going out kinda stung, but I'm really excited about getting back into things. I'm going to be making more liquid soap this year. I did it my first year, really just for my family. I mostly made laundry soap, and this year I'll be making it available in half gallons for my customers first at the consignment shop and, if it does well there, on Etsy as well.

I also picked up more cocoa butter for my bath melts that have been my best seller on Etsy, lip balm tubes, two new lip balm flavors (coffee and banana coconut), and palm oil for this spring's soap making.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Blanket and Pudding

My blanket is done! I just finished the trim around midnight tonight. I know, I should be sleeping but it's just so satisfying to finish something. I have enough yarn left over to make a couple throw pillows in the same pattern, but I haven't decided whether I really want to do that yet. I'm really looking forward to giving the blanket to Finn to test out tomorrow. While I was trying to finish the trim he kept shouting "blanket!" excitedly.

The other awesome thing I did today was make one of my favorite dinners. I did say I was going to include some of my cooking here. The recipe is from one of my favorite cookbooks Down Home Cooking: The New Healthier Way. I borrowed it from the Ithaca library back in the day and liked it so much I got myself a copy. Obviously I can't post the recipe here since I'm sure that's copyright infringement, but I can tease you with pictures.
Chicken Pudding!

Finn's plate.
I know, I know, chicken pudding sounds scary, but it's really quite good. The 'pudding' is a batter-ish mixture that you pour over the fried and boiled chicken before baking. It's just this nice bready stuff with crunchy bits. Yum! It took some convincing to get Tim to try it the first time I made it, but even he came around.

The only criticism I have of the recipe is it calls for you to make a silly amount of gravy. This meal can obviously feed at least four people, but four people don't need a cup of gravy each. That's right, it makes a quart of gravy. Good thing I can think of all kinds of lovely things to do with the extra.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Montessori Materials

I've been working a little bit on Montessori materials lately. Finn has been really very interested in letters and so I thought one of the things I would start with is sandpaper letters. My wonderful husband cut down a sheet of luan this weekend and sanded 26, 3" x 5" rectangles for me. He actually cut enough for me to make the upper case alphabet and the numbers 0-9 but he hasn't gotten to sanding them yet, and anyway lower case letters is all I need for now.

Ready to make some sandpaper letters.

The luan looks really nice.

Glue is drying.

Dollar Tree baskets are the best.

I'm really glad I chose to use luan. The cards look nice and I don't have to worry about Finn bending or breaking them. (He immediately bent the color cards I made.) I did the vowels in blue and consonants in red. I just used regular old Elmer's, actually brand X white glue.The sand stuck very nicely and is staying on well enough. I considered coating them with Mod Podge but it didn't turn out to be necessary.

Finn and I did a little lesson with "a" and "s". I would have used "m" too but the glue wasn't quite dry yet. He had a lot of fun and was very proud of himself when he correctly named the sounds the letters make. He even took them back out later on and worked with them by himself. He was a little put out when I put all but the two we were using up on a high shelf, but (A) some of them were still a little soft and (B) I'd rather have them introduced a few at a time properly than have him play with the whole set at once not knowing what they're for.

The other thing I did a little of was beading. I have to say I really love making these. I'm sure by the time I'm done will all the golden bead materials I'll be singing a different tune, but for now I find the work oddly soothing.
Too lazy to measure? String then cut!

Yay beads!

Four down and a million more to go (seems that way).
 I bought my beads at Consumer Crafts. Their prices were really very good. I bought 18 gauge wire, which turned out to be perfect for this. Pliable enough to not be a hastle but stiff enough to hold its shape well and the 6 mm beads I bought fit on it just fine. If I remember I'll take a picture of the whole huge bag of beads I have. It's almost 12lbs of beads!

Also, in case anyone was curious, a bead with a 10 mm hole will fit very nicely on a bootlace. I bought the 25 mm maple beads with a 10 mm hole just hoping that it would work with a $1 pair of bootlaces I picked up at the Dollar Tree (did I mention I love that store?) and it did. They're a little rough on the inside, so they don't slide nicely on the bootlace, but I can always fix that easily enough with a little sandpaper.

I've been working on making a torchon fan edging as my current lace project and I'm putting the edging on that crochet blanket. So, I should have pictures and posts for those things soon.

I've been focusing more on Finn lately, which is what I should be doing anyway. With the busy spring, summer, and fall on a farm I need to give him all the time I can while I have it. I started my onion seed today along with some herbs destined for pots and Tim and I went over our first order from the hatchery. Spring is just around the corner!

I'll also be trying to work in making a batch of lotion and placing my order for more soap making supplies. Then I'll put up my soap-making adventures too!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Blanket Progress

Exciting news (well, for me anyway) about the blanket I've been working on. I finished the squares!
So many squares!

Starting to sew things together.

I've started sewing the squares together but I didn't get very far tonight. I'd rather work on lace this late at night since I can sew during the day with Finn around. I have the evening off from transcribing tomorrow and I'll be taking a nice hot bubble bath and then making lace!

Also, I got my huge order of beads and such in the mail today. I decided that I'm going to make the Montessori bead materials myself since they're soooooo expensive (as is everything Montessori). I obviously won't be needing them for another three years, but I had the money now and it will take me forever to make everything anyway. 

Along with beads, there were 2 kazoos (Finn is a kazoo master), a xylophone, a huge bag of pompoms that I plan on using for sorting exercises, and big wooden beads for stringing. I'm going to set up Finn's stringing exercise tomorrow. He and I worked on color cards today. He can just about handle 3 colors at once. 

He's also been walking around the house counting to himself. He goes up to 15. I really want to introduce some of the early math materials (pink tower, counting rods) so that he'll have a better idea what all that counting means. 

I'm excited to get started making sandpaper letters too. I decided that they would last longest if I made them on luan (a type of plywood). It's about 1/4 in thick and Tim gets it for free from work. I just need him to cut a sheet down to index card sized chunks for me. He's off Saturday and Sunday. Hopefully I can convince him to do this for me this weekend.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


I'm sure that part of why I'm so excited about lace right now is because it's new, but this is seriously one of the most fun hobbies I've picked up. It's just so pretty! The whole process is beautiful. I love working with bobbins. So, this is what I did last night/today.

Third pricking ready to go!
Starting the pattern.

This was as far as I got last night before little miss woke up again and I decided to hit the hay. There really is a lovely rhythm to lace making. 

Almost done.

It's a porcupine!
 My son actually did the last few stitches for me. I was too excited to put it away when he got up from his nap today and he really wanted to help. He very carefully picked up the bobbin I pointed to and placed it where I showed him. It was very cute. He also wanted to play with the pins, but obviously that was not going to happen!

Kind of looks like a squid.

The second spider got a little wonky.
I wish this had turned out a little better. I think I did very well with the ground, but my second spider leaves something to be desired. I guess I need to make a lot more of them. Lace making seems to be a lot of muscle memory. 

I'm going to starch this little piece with boiled cornstarch and give it to my mother as a gift. I don't think she'll care about the screwy spider.

I don't know whether I'll work more tonight. I guess it just depends on what wins out between my excitement about lace making and my utter exhaustion from staying up too late the past two nights.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Home Again and Lace

I finally made it home after a wonderful extended vacation with my parents. I have to say it is nice to be back in my own house, and I'm sure my parents collapsed from exhaustion the second we drove away. God bless them.

So, after settling back in and doing a little cleaning, I finally got to break out my bobbins! I didn't think to get my camera out yesterday when I actually started working through the "Bobbin Lace Without a Teacher" book that came with my kit, but I did think of it this afternoon when I was winding up more bobbins to start the third pricking that came with the book.

Two pairs wound, eight to go.

Winding bobbins takes forever... may have to invest in a winder.
Last night, after I finished my transcription shift, I worked my way through the first two prickings that come with the book. I photocopied the originals onto cardstock and punched/pricked them. When I finished each practice piece I taped it right to the card to keep for reference (as it suggests in the book). I don't think I did too shabby for my first attempt.

Prickings one and two.

Whole stitch and whole stitch with an extra twist of the workers.

Half stitch plait. Exciting, I know
My only regret so far is staying up until 1 am yesterday working on this. I really need to sleep more. Unfortunately I just can't pull out the bobbins and pillow during the day with my very curious 2-year-old around. He needs to touch everything with his sticky little fingers, not that I blame him. Bobbins are very pretty.

This is the book that I'm going to start working my way through once I finish with the one I'm working on now. I found it at my local library and liked it so much I bought a copy. 

Obviously I haven't started with this book yet, but it's full of great advice, illustrations, and tons of prickings. It works through Torchon, Bedfordshire, and Bucks Point laces. The part I like best just paging through it is that it explains a bit about how the laces evolved and what makes each style unique and identifiable. Then towards the end of the Bucks Point chapter it says a little about designing your own patterns, which I'm far from but very excited to try.

I found this book on ebay for a steal, but amazon has it too (The Technique of Bobbin Lace). Seriously though, if you can find it on ebay snatch it up. I got my copy for $13 plus shipping from somewhere in England. It's used, but it's a library-binding hardcover copy and in good condition. Can't really do better than that.

I was hoping to get to trying out the next pricking (Torchon ground) tonight. We'll see if my little girl likes that idea. She just fell back asleep. Now to try and move her from my lap, a dangerous proposition indeed.

Oh, and I figured out what kind of wood the bobbins are made of, birch. When I was working with them last night it felt really familiar, and I immediately remembered a set of birch double pointed knitting needles I once owned. Has a great feel to it, but definitely a super soft wood. I loved those knitting needles until the day I snapped one of them, so sad.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Forced Vacation

So, after my son's birthday party on Friday (pictures of which are on my Facebook page), which unfortunately my mother-in-law had to miss due to an illness, I took the kids and went up to my parents' to give Tim time to work on the house.

As usual I had a wonderful time visiting. We did some really productive shopping during which I picked up things for Finn's 'daycare' at home. We also got to go up to Ithaca on Monday and visit with Uncle Jon and had a lovely meal out.

Monday evening when I spoke with my husband (Tim) he told me that he had been feeling tired and achy all day (red flag!). So I insisted he check his temperature, "yes dear, right now. I'll wait." Wouldn't you know it, he had a fever. So I postponed my return. He went to the doctor and was told that he has the flu. I am so grateful that he got sick while I was out of town with the kids!

On the one hand I wish I could be there to take care of him, but on the other neither of my kids nor I have gotten the flu shot this year (due mostly to Tim's dislike of vaccinations). I can't imagine how bad it would have been if we had been home and Alice had gotten sick. A fever at her age is just downright dangerous!

Where does this leave me? I'm on a forced extended vacation at my parents'. I'm still working regular shifts in the evenings and working on a little crafting. Fortunately I brought my crochet afghan, a sweater I'm knitting, and a cross stitch kit with me. If I finish anything I'll post here, but otherwise I won't have too much worth posting.

I hope I'll be home soon, but the nurse I spoke with told me to wait until Tim was feeling completely better, and he's just not there yet, even with the Tamiflu. I can't imagine what I would have done if my parents weren't so kind as to let me stay as long an necessary. It's so great to have such a wonderful loving family.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Lace Making Kit is Here!

I got my lace making kit from Snow Goose Lace yesterday!! There were two packages at my house when I got back from running errands. Little miss needed her 2 month check-up and little mister got himself a haircut with the help from my wonderful neighbor Debbie who held the baby so Finn could sit on my lap for his haircut. 

The big one is my lace stuff. The little one turned out to be my husband's new headphones, much less exciting.

The bobbins are just beautiful. I love the spangles. The wood is a little soft. The online description didn't say what type of wood it was but I'm betting it's some kind of pine. I'll have to be very gentle with them so they don't get dented or marred, but it's not like bobbins have a rough life anyway. 

I need to sew myself a roll to keep my bobbin pairs in and make myself a little pincushion to attach to the pillow while I work. I know there was a tomato cushion in the kit, but I think a large strawberry shaped one attached to the pillow would be more helpful. I'll post the pattern I come up with for the roll once I get it finished.

The real tragedy is that I haven't been able to try out my wonderful new supplies. I was too busy with making preschool supplies for Finn, getting ready for his birthday (which was today), and I worked last night. Now I'm at my parents' place with Finn and Alice and I couldn't bring the stuff here because my parents have two very playful cats.

I guess I'll get back to my crochet squares.