Friday, November 30, 2012

Another FO(Finished Object)

Here is my Geysir Stretch shawl. Despite my initial misgivings about the colors, I am quite pleased with it. These photos are pre-blocking, but I couldn't wait to share it. I added the darker stripes between the last few red to soften the transition between sections. I really like my version.

Pattern: Geysir Stretch by Stephen West
Yarn: Malabrigo Worsted
Needle Size: 8US

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Tree

The kiddos and I helped my mom and dad put up their Christmas tree this past weekend. It was a crazy event at first. Half the lights on their pre-lit tree were not working. After a lot of hemming and hawing, my dad decided they needed to come off. The next several hours were spent removing the many strands of lights. Despite the use of wire cutters and other tools, the kiddos lost interest early.

Finally the lights were restrung and the hanging of ornaments could begin. Aine selected her favorites and only wanted to hang those. 
Benton wanted to hang the ornaments on the tippy top placing a stool upon a chair to achieve this.

Eamon decided to install new batteries in the electrical ones and was puzzled when they did not quite work.

Despite these very specific individual goals, everyone helped and decorated the tree while Dave arranged holiday music for us. It was very interesting showing my kiddos the ornaments from my childhood. They particularly liked the plastic lid decorated with red felt and my school. I think I made it when I was in first grade. I recalled the favorites of my childhood and told the kiddos of my holiday memories. They shared what they liked most and mentioned wishing they had their special ornaments. We all decided that although it is a different tree, it is our tree this year. And it is a good one.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

More Distractions

Once I finished the last scarf, I cast on for another "quick" project.*  I was lured by the siren song of a knit along with a bit of mystery. The ChoreoKAL is from Stephen West, and consists of four patterns released over the course of as many weeks. At the beginning he provided the type of project, but not the pattern (shawl, hat, legwarmers and scarf plus a bonus) I like his bold designs, so I decided to give it a try. The first pattern is a shawl in worsted weight yarn. I selected three skeins of malabrigo in bold red, soft gray and dark gray (bergamot, pearl and tortuga). I then waited for the pattern.
I really liked the pattern when I received it, but I questioned my yarn choices. Initially I used the soft gray as the background and red as the stripes. I hated it. It looked like The University of Ohio football colors. So, I switched the red and the gray. After the first repeat with this variation, I hated it too. I liked the first combination better. I frogged the shawl again and returned to the original colors after seeking much input from Dave and both of my parents. I persevered through the initial repeats and began to really like the colors.

The shawl is coming together really quickly and is easily memorized. This means it is perfect to take along on our outings. I think it will be finished today and then will need a good blocking. I am hoping the Malabrigo relaxes a bit to give me a bit more drape. Not sure who will be the recipient, but they will be warm wrapped up in it. When this one is done, I have quite a few projects to begin as well as two holiday WIPs. And of course, another ChoreoKAL pattern (this time a hat).

Reading has taken a bit of a backseat lately. I have been having a bad case of startitis. I am still listening to The Marriage Plot when I can. I have about a third of the book remaining. I started The Casual Vacancy, but it was due in a week. That was much too short for me with the craziness of Thanksgiving. I also have the three above books crowding my basket. I really like each of them. I have been working through both Simplicity Parenting and Project-Based Homeschooling: Mentoring Self-Directed Learners. Both speak to me. I have tried from the start to have a more simplified approach to our lives and continue to pursue this ideal. As far as homeschooling, we are very much non-traditional. However, the kiddos pursue their interests with fervor, and I would like to aid them in those endeavors. Inspired I made up a calendar for the kiddos and me. I am hoping we are able to settle into a rhythm and accomplish many of the great things I read and see on the web.

* I know I should really be knitting Eamon's shawl, but he is a bit too observant to knit in his presence. On top of his keen observation skills his gift is one he requested, so he will definitely notice if I am making it.

Following Along with Ginny at Small things for this week's Yarn Along.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


In all honesty, I have been procrastinating on holiday gifts. This doesn't mean I haven't been creative. When I finished Aine's holiday poncho (which turned out oh-so-cute), I cast on immediately for Eamon's shawl. He requested the Vulpix shawl several months ago. He loves Pokemon and picked colors to represent his favorites. The selected colorways were out of stock at the time, so the project was moved aside. The yarn finally arrived just in time for gift-giving. However, the pattern requires a bit of concentration, which means it is not conducive to park knitting.
Enter the Just Enough Ruffles scarf. It was the perfect distraction, and the perfect knit for the everyday. After only three days of knitting, it turned out quite nicely. I used Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted in the Tuscany colorway. I think the colors play nicely in the scarf. I was able to knit it at a couple park days while talking, pushing kiddos on swings and laughing at everyone's antics.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Being Grateful

We spent the last several days enjoying time together and great food.
* Thoughts of gratitude and thanks adorned a wreath crafted by me and the kiddos
* Dave mastered the turkey and presented a delicious main course
* Everyone helped in the kitchen. Eamon helped make pie with Grandma while Benton and Aine made the deviled eggs
* The table was set with fewer plates, but the energy was still big
* Granddad shared his love of the game, Euchre. The kiddos were easily taught and played endlessly. Every evening now consists of the game or entreaties to play.
* Lights were removed from the artificial tree due to outages and replaced with new strands. Eamon misses our real tree, but this year Grandma and Granddad's artificial one will have to do.
* Pledges to never buy a pre-lit tree were muttered after removing the copious strands of lights.
* Ornaments were hung and memories surfaced.
* Peppermint ice cream graced everyone's plates after a scrumptious dinner of turkey soup

All in all it was a good weekend spent together. We look forward to more togetherness during this holiday season.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Cousins, and that Rope

Earlier in the week while Benton had an appointment, the older kiddos spent some time with their aunt and cousins. Benton was very disappointed and mentioned that they get all the fun. His initial disappointment was allayed when we returned and spent the rest of the afternoon playing and dining with them. It was a delight to watch them interact. Each is getting older and the dynamics are ever changing.

Bikes, scooters and the skateboard were pulled out of the car. Laps were done. Rollerblades were donned and help was provided. Of course, the rope was also retrieved from the car, and much hilarity ensued. The kiddos worked on tying the rope to each other and the skateboard. They would run as fast as possible pulling their victim cousin along for a speedy ride often ending in a crash into a curb. This combination of pulled and pulley involved the bikes, skateboard and even the rollerblades. Each walked away with the knowledge that if you don't like the speed instead of screaming for the puller to slow down, just let go of the rope! No one was hurt and the laughter was infectious.

Wheeled vehicles were eventually cast aside for more of the rope. After climbing the nearby trees, Eamon and Aine decided it would be great fun to tie the rope between two. They worked on either end tying grand knots. Eamon was the first to attempt the tightrope holding tightly onto the branches swaying above his head. He didn't progress very far the first time and his cries for help were a bit comical since he was only a couple feet off the ground. Each of the kiddos and their cousins took turns. Comments about monkey toes abounded. Soon the play turned to hanging from the rope and attempting to cross that way. Amidst all this fun, the sprinklers came on and children and mamas went running!

With water spraying, the children began running and dancing throughout the grass. They yelled and sang as they played in the water. Holding hands and running through the spray elicited such happiness. They enjoyed the moment and the spraying water as temperatures hovered near 80 on this fine fall day. It was such a fun time with their cousins. I am glad that they know and love these people and have them nearby to play with often.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Finding the Magical in the Everyday

With picnic in hand, we headed out early for our Pokemon Club. The weather has been beautiful, and I thought a bit of running around would be good before the meeting. I also had three new sketchbooks for the kiddos and official drawing pencils. After gobbling up some food, I suggested they each take a sketchbook and look for blobs (again inspired by mama scout!). At first they were a bit reticent. Eamon just wanted to draw. Aine was unsure until I showed her what I meant. I explained we would turn these outline drawings into our own pictures once we returned home. Their initial hesitation soon dissolved and each of us were looking around for amazing outlines. They found some great images amid the cracks, olive stains, sand, and natural markings. Each was thinking about the magical forms and outlines hidden within plain site. This week we will take those outlines and create new pictures from their imaginations. I am eager to see what evolves.

Saturday, November 10, 2012


A few months ago, I stumbled upon an art project I really wanted to do. I cannot remember the initial blog, newsletter or book that inspired me. I can only remember thinking my kiddos would love it. The problem was that we were living out of state, so my fall back art supply was blick's. I checked online, and the store was sold out of what I needed. So I waited and eventually forgot about it. Then a few weeks ago, Amy, at mamascout, posted about the same art project. My interest was renewed, and with glee I  found the paints in stock. We were set to do some sumingashi or Japanese marbling.
The Innovation Marbling Kit paints used for this project are special dyes which essentially float on the water. With bins I picked up at the dollar store, the kiddos and I set about learning this art method. I filled a palette for each of the kiddos and handed them toothpicks and paintbrushes. We found regular printer paper worked best for us. I had mistakenly bought calligraphy paper when finding supplies. This paper did not work at all. It tore easily and folded onto itself. A couple sheets of watercolor paper were also used with success. Eventually I would like to buy copperplate paper, but it is a bit pricey for us when purchased online. I will need to see if I can find some locally.

With the knowledge gleaned from an online video, we set to creating. Initially the kiddos used the brushes and toothpicks to place the inks onto the water. They blew the paints, used the paintbrushes to swirl the colors and made concentric circles by alternating colors. We experimented with the amount of ink on the brushes finding that those prints with more ink made more vibrant colors. The kiddos also used the floating dots included with the kit to apply drops of ink directly from the bottle. This created amazing results.

Piles of prints cluttered the floor as they created. Eamon was the most enthusiastic churning out paper after paper. He perfected his technique and enthusiastically raised the paper from the water to see the result. He would then meticulously blot the creation and lay it on newspaper to dry. Aine and Benton even stopped at one point to watch him. Everyone had such a good time with this art medium. We now have a large stack of paper to create books, pictures, notecards and greeting cards. There was even talk of teaching grandma to do it. I foresee many more days spent doing sumingashi in our house.