Saturday, January 29, 2011

Me? A Knitter?

When I mentioned I knitted a hat as a gift last month, some of you were surprised to know that I knit. Well, I do, but I don't really knit. My knitting career is not prolific, nor are my projects always successful. No, I imagine my life as a knitter started much the same as every one else's—too many scarfs to admit, a bunch of hats, a few pairs of mittens, the famous Clapotis—but that's as far as my knitting went. I was too intimidated to attempt an actual piece of clothing.

That's where amigurumi came in, which I have done lots of in crochet. Little did I know that it would be a crash course in every increase and decrease a knitter would ever need to know. For this reason, I would recommend knitted amigurumi to anybody who wants to learn a variety of knitting techniques in one project.

I started with this little lizard last year.

I recently made this eggplant, from Amigurumi Knits. (The smaller girl begged for this, though she wouldn't put a real eggplant near her mouth if I bribed her with a puppy.)

Then my older girl came to me requesting a Lochness Monster (note to self: hide the amigurumi book when not in use) and it sent chills up my spine. I had nothing to fear, though. With YouTube at my side, I soon learned I could conquer most any pattern.

Lochness Monster pattern from Amigurumi Knits 
Well, with all this knitting "success," I got a little cocky. After falling in love with this sweater, I decided it was time for me to go for it. I was going to knit my first piece of real clothing, and dammit, it was going to be for me. (I know what you're thinking. You're probably right. Read on.)

And isn't it lovely? It really was a pleasure to knit. Not scary at all. I knew every stitch I needed to know, and she came along quickly.

But, you see, when you don't pay any respect to the gods of gauge, the sweater you are knitting for yourself ends up fitting your 7-year-old-daughter just perfectly.

Me? A knitter? The jury is still out.

Monday, January 24, 2011

How a Rock Inspired a Party (and a pin)

I was perusing the 5 Orange Potatoes shop in the hopes that she-who-was-about-to-turn-seven would catch a glimpse of the screen and point out a favorite. Of course, she took the bait and flipped for this little pet rock.

From the moment she opened it, they have been inseparable, and it didn't take long for mustache mania to hit our home. It eventually end up as the theme of her birthday party, too. We cut out a mustache for each guest—one for every size and possible 'stache preference.

Well people, I'm here to tell you, that if you're ever looking for fun? Just add mustache. There is nothing more entertaining than a gaggle of girls running around in mustaches. And, while I'm sure you'd all love to see some pictures of that mustachioed madness, I didn't get any (shameful, I know). 

Luckily, I know a couple of girls that were happy to reenact the scene for the sake of the family photo album.

I caught a bit of the mustache bug too, and made a few little mustache brooches to commemorate this stage of hers. Picasso had his blue phase, Ruby has a mustache phase. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Notes From the Jeweler's Bench

I have decided to start a new series called Notes From the Jeweler's Bench, that I will post once or twice a month. I'll use the installments of "Notes" to:
1. show what I'm up to in the shop
2. give you tours of my space, tools, and equipment
3. demonstrate a few techniques, to take the mystery out of some of what I do
4. teach a few basic jeweler's skills.

You don't have to aspire to be a jeweler in order to appreciate this series. I remember being completely mystified (and curious!) when woman I knew told me she made her own wedding ring. Notes From the Jeweler's Bench is going to show you a bit of metal-shop behind the scenes, so when someone tells you they made their own ring/earrings/necklace you can totally play it cool and ask, "oh, is that cast or fabricated?"

Are you up for it? I hope so. Today, I'm going to show you the progression of a concept from sketch to finished product.

So much of the sketching I do is really just doodling. I'm not even drawing jewelry—just stream of consciousness pencil moving. Often, when I come up with something interesting, I'll turn into a drawing of some sort of jewelry. Recently I was doodling the most basic of doodles, a curly-Q line around a shape, and bingo! I hit on something. It started like this:

...and ended up like this: (I had been playing with the idea of translating my Christmas cards into silver)

So I made one of each of my girls...

...and strung them on a pretty chain that reminded me of those curly-Q doodles. Introducing the Doodle Silhouette Necklace. In addition to the necklace, Doodle Silhouette Charms are also available separately.

One thing leads to another, and new pieces are born from the original concept, like this Doodle Heart Necklace.

I think I'll keep playing with this, to see how I can develop it further. Until next time, happy doodling to you.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Are you sick of reading about the holidays yet? I wouldn't blame you if you were, so I should probably give you fair warning that this post is, in fact, about the holidays.

I almost skipped writing about the highlights of our gifts, seeing as 1. it's nearly mid-January, and 2. does anybody really want to read a recap of presents? But as I read through other people's blog posts (like Nicola's), I found myself quite interested in their gifting. What better way to get good ideas for future giving, than from clever, creative friends? With that spirit in mind, here is a peek behind the scenes of our holiday.

The girls have an on-going spy game with their neighbors, and we thought they needed a few more tools for their spy kits. We added magnifying glasses (purchased at Imagine Childhood) for inspecting evidence, as well as a couple of custom stamps that read "top secret" and "suspect." I had the stamps made here, and I cannot say enough about the customer service this shop provided. My custom request went something like this: "can you make me a stamp that says 'suspect' but make it look like old-timey stencil/stamp please?" She knew exactly what I was talking about and, as you can see, the finished product is perfect.

When "A" gets on Craigslist it is never a good thing, and when he comes across a sweet find, well there's no stopping him. This time, there was no reason for me to stop him, as he had his eye on a pair of antique machinist's tool chests. For a couple of toolies like us ("toolies." you know, like foodies?), there was no hesitation. We said "Merry Christmas" to each other and he set out on his mission. He returned with these beautiful boxes filled with tools. I snagged the toolbox pictured above (though I have not "moved" into it yet), and "A" got the one pictured below.

So much time spent in our basement workshops requires a lot of warm winter gear. I knit this hat to keep him warm, and love it so much (it's super simple) there will be three more knitted up soon. (Pattern is from More Last-Minute Kitted Gifts.)

I have a confession to make. I purchased a handful of things for myself this year under the guise of "gifts for the kids." I am not proud, but boy am I happy I got them they got them. This book of iron-ons was one such gift, full of the coolest illustrations, ready to be applied to whatever we want. Let the embellishing begin!

And last but not at all least, these doodle prints from Artsyville. Each one bearing a cheeky little ramble about being yourself, being determined, and being creative. These were also "for the children" (wink wink). 

The gifting has not stopped for us, as a certain little someone turned seven last week, and someone else as a birthday at the end of the month. Onward we march, into 2011, friends. 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


I don't make resolutions, but I love the tradition of picking a word for the year. Only problem is, last year I chose a word and, come December, couldn't even remember what the word was. Clearly, I had not carried that word with me through my days. This year? No word, no resolution. Just a few blurry ideas with maybe a lofty goal tossed in for good measure.

In the spirit of all the wonderful words I have been reading about, I am sharing a few words that have highlighted the past few weeks for us:

Pulley: Made by "A," as a gift for the girls (inspired by this). Let it be known that the one rule for the pulley was that they may not lift people on it.

Renovation: The antique soapstone sink in our basement has been given new life. 

Oreos: from this recipe. Click over and make them. The sooner the better.

Sledding: a blizzard is good for this one thing, and was it ever fun.

Wishing you all much love and luck in the new year!

Monday, January 3, 2011


Seven things I love about you, on your seventh birthday.

Your knack for hula hooping
How you are completely obsessed with a different animal every few weeks
Your quiet confidence
The way you draw dogs
Your unwavering love and dedication to your blankie
The songs you make up
The names you give your stuffed animals

Happy birthday to the funniest girl I know. I'm lucky to be your mama.