A few weeks ago I met Lyss at her weekly waldorf chat n' craft. It's a bit of a drive eastward from madison, but an excuse to see her and little D, and the indigo pot, of course. Another of the many little projects we have stewing is plant dyeing. Mostly yarn, but the chat n' craft ladies were kind enough to let me also throw in some of F's things... his knightly halloween costume was indigo dyed "armor".
This thick n' thin yarn is waiting to become the sweet baby mossy jacket...
Really, we are. It's coming along by hook or crook. Lyss steals moments to scribble on loose paper while her boys run around the living room with legos, I steal moments staying up later than everyone to tap away at this keyboard. And to make a few drawings, like the marmalade, above. To use color, or not to use color, that is the question. Thoughts?
This is how we do our autumn walks: A, always looking up, watching light filter through the canopy. Me, always looking down, keeping my eyes peeled for the perfect red leaf. And now F, this time asleep against A in the carrier.
The new yellow, seeing wild turkeys, balancing on a log. Thinking: Diaphanous. and then: the diaphanous gown of fall's canopy, the arch of a fallen knobby limb that acts as drawbridge between this beckoning color and a girl who never liked to walk alone.
Other sentences; we traded turns making them up, and I don't remember them all now.
But I will remember the eyes of this sleepy boy just waking up to the yellow all around him for the very first time.
We have a thing for red foxes in this house. For A, my guess is that it's some transfer from his childhood favorite story, Peter and the Wolf.
For me, I know that I have a pleasure center in my brain for the color red (and it's warm derivations). Strangely, I dislike red when it's the dominant color, but I like it a lot in small quantities. The majority of my shoes are red, for example, but I have no larger red gear, like sweaters or dresses. I also have a quite large pleasure center for mysterious wild animals.
Finn, who knows. But we assign him to liking foxes until he can tell us otherwise. We did get a red fox puppet for him. Trying to imprint a fox friend memory?
So, Fox, here in our little house? We'll be your friends.
It's been four months since f. was born and hence, about four months since I've really checked into this space. The little one is rolling over, teething, chuckling and growing like a weed.
I, meanwhile, have been growing too. In all the early parenthood ways that you would expect. Love, patience, pride. And though most days it doesn't feel like it, I actually have been getting a few crafty things done. I have a few endeavors to share, and will be dolling out the posts over these next few weeks, as a way to ease myself into this discipline again. You'll see drawings, knitting, a few arrangements. But first, I have a chuckle party to talk about.
The above drawings will be printed on canvas, cut into patches, and faux-serged on the edges. They will be the Finn Chuckle prizes, given out at his "The baby laughed" party to anyone who makes Finn chuckle.
The idea for a chuckle party was planted by Midwife Mary when we came in for our 6 week appointment.
When we arrived Mary asked: "Has he chuckled yet?" We replied in the negative: "Smiles, but no chuckles." Mary used to work at a Navajo reservation hospital in the southwest, and the nurses would always ask this when parents brought in a new baby for a checkup. The idea is that in the first weeks of life, the baby is hovering between the spirit/ancestor world and our physical world. The baby stays in this limbo until the first chuckle. It's at this moment that the child has decided to fully engage in the world, and to join his/her family and community. The first chuckle is a cause for celebration, and whoever elicits this chuckle is responsible for throwing the family a party! The nurses didn't want to be always throwing parties, so they'd always ask to see if it was *safe* to try and make the baby laugh before they did it!
So who made baby laugh? We did. Right in this very house, where he was born and continues to grow. So we're saddling up and baking a cake for the adults and throwing a chuckle party. Hope it doesn't rain.
Since it's a baby party, these patches are designed to adorn baby carriers or diaper bags. I'm making three: a babe, a pala, and a mama. But what, oh what, animal should the mama be?
I haven't known what to post, seeing as how feedings and changings have taken precedence over art + craft projects as of late, but I wanted to check in with a little photo and say that life, at this stage, is sweet.
Balance with projects will come, and you'll hear more from this little space when the pendulum swings. Soon.
(A digital tablet was given as a birthday present; I anticipate drawings...)
is that they are always mono prints. You can't really detach and re-iron on the previously used design- it just won't stick again, try as you might, even if you've managed to carefully pull off your stencil without ripping it. (Which would be good for practicing patience, but not actually all that useful in terms of getting more mileage out of your stencil.)
One way, however, to get a wee bit more distance from your time spent with the Exacto is to use your positive. The one I recommended to just throw away last post? Yeah- that one.
Here I used the positive bird from this shirt. I followed more or less the same steps: ironed it on where I wanted it, and just painted around it this time instead of inside it.
The difference this time, of course, is that the image will be a negative once you paint around it, and you'll have to decide on a shape to contain the stencil (and therefore the paint). I chose a simple square here, so I just cut out strips of extra freezer paper and boxed in the bird.
Just a way to get a little more life out of your efforts.
And ALSO, how very exciting to have had a little moment on WhipUp a few days ago! Woo-Hoo! I'm honored; they are truly the compendium of craftiness.
It's likely that if you're reading this, you were either there for the freezer paper stenciling of 2 weekends ago, or you already have read tons of blog entries on the how-to's of freezer stenciling. So now that we're agreed, let's not call this a formal tutorial, but rather some more show and tell, and thoughts on the process.
You see, freezer paper stenciling has been buzzing around me (and everyone else) as a project idea for some time, and I just never had gotten around to it. In fact I had grand ideas of doing all manner of printmaking these last few months, not just baby projects but making "real" prints. I wanted to really dig in while I have the relative quiet and the steady sleep pattern to enjoy.
Well, certainly I could say something about the 'best laid plans'. But instead let's just say it that it took this baby party to get me actually making stuff, and for that I'm glad. Cause after stenciling for the baby, I found that I was still feeling pretty stencil-happy, and so decided to make a gift for a friend. And I hope this is just the beginning of my embellishing days cause this whole freezer paper stencil thing, in case you haven't seen it done before, is relatively pain free and straight forward.
and of course, some inspiration and something to print on.
You start by drawing your design with a pencil onto the non glossy side of the freezer paper. (Make sure you measure the size of the freezer paper against what your printing on to make sure it will fit!)
Using your cutting board and Exact-o knife, carefully cut out your design in detail. You'll be keeping the negative image and throwing out the positive (unless you use that later for a reverse design, but more on that another time.) If not all the shapes connect, it's okay- you can iron them into place later:
(as I did here, with the bird eye and the inside blocks of the endless knot.)
Go ahead and iron your cut out, negative design onto your fabric. The glossy side of the freezer paper should be directly against the fabric, and it's a good idea to iron some extra pieces of freezer paper on to block out areas in case you cut your design too close the the edge. This will help prevent those potentially infuriating stray paint marks!
Once you're ironed on, you can use your fabric paint and stencil brushes to tap paint into the open areas. Before you start though- put either extra freezer paper, wax paper or cardboard between any layers of fabric to prevent bleeding.
I found it was best to hold the stencil up to a window every now and again to make sure enough paint saturated the fabric. Otherwise your stencil will look blotchy and not quite filled in.
Once dry (and do wait till it's dry; it's as agonizing as waiting for fresh bread to cool- but otherwise you might smear it), peel off the freezer paper and VOILA! You have your basic stencil design! Depending on the fabric paint you're using, you may have to set the design with some quick ironing at this point. The directions on the paint will let you know if that's necessary.
I decided that my design needed a little something extra at this point, so I took a thin brush and added some hand drawn detail on top with white paint. The alterations you could make are pretty limitless.
2 weekends ago, A proved again that he's an awesome partner and threw a surprise baby shower. There was Indian food, there were baby gifts, there was freezer paper stenciling. Rather than the typical baby shower games, we broke out all the blank onesies and everybody got a chance to design their own baby outfit for The Bean.
It was a really sweet day.
Yes those are special ginger cupcakes... I accidentally ironed some crumbs into this particular outfit...
Man, it's been awhile since I went a'blogging. I even promised to write about Alyssa's and my monthly recipes, and so far haven't. My excuse, or at least the one I'm using, is that I've been increasingly distracted by Baby Prep. My due date is late May, so there's still about a month till then, (unless the bean is early!) but whether late, early or "on time", I know these last days will go really fast. I've been scheming to make my own mattress (for a discontinued, oddly sized, craigs-listed co-sleeper), buying fabric for bumpers and sheets, sorting clothes from generous friends and neighbors, going to childbirth prep classes, renting a tub, and gathering supplies for birth. In reality it's not a whole lot to do, and we're certainly keeping things low key and collections minimal (no dedicating and painting a baby nursery or buying baby toys or anything like that), but it was a lesson for me to realize that just choosing a carrier or stroller can take hours of sorting through the customer reviews and recalls, not to mention the multitude of options. Guh.
Anyway, one project that I've made time for and can now share are the personalized bookplates I made for A's birthday.
When I met Adam (for the second time), he was 22 and living in CA with very few possessions. Part of that was because he'd simply moved out with little: only a duffel bag and a guitar tossed into his green Tercel (which I still drive). The other reasoning was because there was, I'll admit, some kind of delusional romance to sleeping on the floor in just a nest of second hand blankets and borrowing your nightly reading from the public library, not to mention knowing you could roll all your belongings up into an arm load or two and be off (whether you ever went anywhere or not).
When I entered into his picture, I was the collector. I too moved out to CA in a tiny car, but mine was packed to the hilt with art supplies, music, books, clothes, even my sewing machine made it out. As our lives morphed, our collections grew mostly due to my tendencies. For the first few years A was always diligent about semi-annual purging, but over the years he has picked up one real habit. I don't know whether my pack-rat-isms have rubbed off a little, or if stable life has let his own tendencies grow, but what A really loves to collect are books.
We've affectionately taken to calling him the Book Troll. This can be seen in action if you ever walk into a (cheap) second hand book store or library sale with Adam: he can be witnessed hobbling around with his arms wrapped protectively around a sizable stack of treasures.
Well, last year A lent out his favorite book and never got it back. This was a little devastating for him. Though we don't have a lot of first editions in the house, this one was, and also had a kind of sentimental value, so I decided for his birthday that I would make book plates for his loaners in hopes that they would encourage borrowers to remember from whence the books came. I chose to make a drawing of mushrooms to go along with A's Book Troll persona: it helps me have little daydreams of him as a furry footed book collector, reading amongst the moss and cold stones.
The plates started as a drawing:
And from there got messed around with on the computer:
And finally converted into the final:
I found the fonts here, the rest is either drawn with a pen and scanned in, or shakely drawn with a mouse. I'd really like in invest in one of those digital drawing tablets, but having never used one, I'm not sure if they'd be worth the expense (anybody know?). I'd also like to do more of these. I always talk about starting an etsy shop (one of those non-follow-through things), but if I ever get around to it, maybe a selection of book plates would go in (and thanks for the idea, Lyss). Ahh...nothing like starting off a shop selling something people hardly ever use!
Lemon juice is kind of a staple in our house and during the summer I have to restock every week. A blows through our stash by taking straight swigs or often adding a glug to whatever he happens to be drinking (summer means kombucha, mostly). Last summer fetching lemon juice was a very pleasant chore: we lived in Rochester proper, only a short backstreet bike ride to our co-op. I'd swish through the warm summer air on my used (but new-to-me) bianchi, yellow plastic bin attached on back to haul small grocheries, tomato plants, books, and various other summer collections. It was nice.
During the winter a bottle of lemon juice can sit undisturbed in the fridge for months (good thing acids have a long shelf life!), only to be recalled when I cross paths with some alluringly lemony recipe (thanks for the link, lisa), get inspired and jump up to make it. Right now the apt is getting filled with the pleasantly sweet/sour smell of lemon bread baking. (It will make a good afternoon treat for A after his big day of job decision making.)
I had just (barely, but almost exactly) enough sugar on hand to make the recipe. Whenever that happens I agree with lyss, who said: "Having just enough of things feels just right, like I was meant to make just that recipe just when I did."
Speaking of alyssa and making,
We are making a mini cookbook.
Its our self imposed project for the year. One recipe a month, worked out by spending time in the kitchen together brewing away, taking pictures/making doodles of the final products, with the hope that it all coalesces into a nice printed book for holiday time giving next year. We started in January, and now I hope to start a-blogging about the recipes as we go.
In Jan. we made a new years feast of eggs benedict. In Feb. a winter's dream of marmalade. This month we're thinking lemony brioche (we must have lemon on the brain). I'll be back to post about the marm...as it fits in nicely with the recipe linkage I found with the lemon bread.
But right now that lemon bread is smelling done, and when warm citrus treats await, I go.
If I were to categorize myself, I'd say that in general I'm more of a crochet gal. Crochet is arguably more free form than knitting; it provides more immediate results, it's easier to hide your mistakes, and is less exacting. You can easily make things up while crocheting and don't even have to count stitches if you don't want to.
My mom taught me (and my little brother, who right now is making crazy crocheted costumes out at his grad school) how to crochet. I was in college when I learned and went through a spate of crocheting scarves and wonky looking hats and even one very, very embarrassing sweater where I used all leftover yarn and totally made up the pattern and didn't count anything. It's acrylic and horrid and striped and the arms are different shapes, but I digress.
Though knitting seemed painstaking to me, I always loved the look of smartly knit things. I love the tidiness of knitting. The put-together-simpleness. So though knitting seemed like something I'd never take on, I have been lucky enough to know a few knitters in my life.
You would think that with all the hullaballo around knitting these past years I would know more, but I actually only know threetrueknitters. Knitters that really are serious about their craft, that go beyond making a hat or scarf once a year and really pull out the big needles. They knit sweaters and bags and garments and they amaze me. The best thing about knowing serious knitters is that they sometimes gift you or barter with you for their sweet and tidy creations. I have a favorite black shrug that was knit by a dearest friend and given to me for my birthday. It is perfect for 3 seasons of nights out that have a little nip in the air (or not); it's consistently commented on and very well made. I have a bartered white knit bag that I like to carry around to the point of it getting perhaps a little too well-used looking. I have a new red hat this winter and cute grey fingerless gloves. Knitted gifts are really the best gifts.
So after all this knit love and lust, Ms. Alyssa (the shrug knitter) decided to teach me how to knit.
The first attempt she made laid the groundwork, but unfortunately didn't take right away. A year ago I knit a cell phone case. The stitches vary in size and the whole thing is way too big and though she left me with my very own pair of wooden needles, they were left in my big basket of fiber project stuff for, oh, the rest of the year. Then some bug bit. It may be that cliched old thing about pregnant women picking up knitting to make baby things, I dunno, but suddenly I wanted to try again.
A has one of the aforementioned wonky hats from my crochet days. A little too pointy on top, and a crappy blend before I knew any better than to just buy cheap yarn; overall he's been a saint for wearing it all these winters with no complaints. So I decided that for my first real knitting project, I'd knit him a new winter hat. Lyss was kind enough to jog my knitting memories one day while I was over at her place making marmalade. Funny thing: I found out that knitting can be almost as free form, make-it-up-as-you-go as crocheting. I am not a real knitter, and I only know knit and purl, but still the possibilities are clear. AND, as any new knitter can tell you, it's kind of addictive.
So I knit A this hat in just a few days. Knitting while watching the daily show online, while listening to radiolab, while in the plane to visit A' s folks. While still on our trip, the knitting itch continued and so thought I'd try to make a matching hat for The Bean. I didn't really know what I was doing, and am accustomed to just making stuff up and trying it out, (sometimes failing miserably, of course) so I thought I'd just try 1/2-ing the stitches (for what will be a much smaller newborn noggin). Those few stitches were too small for the circular needles so I knit it straight with intent to sew it together on a seam. Turned out too small, so I knit a smaller section and kinda grafted it on. I guess I'm back to my old fudging-it crochet tricks. It's not perfect, and after a few projects I know that knitting is not my true calling. I likely will forever be a one or two projects a year kind a knitter. A hat knitter. A scarf knitter. A knit and purl simple-stuff kind of knitter (but a happy knitter). And that's why I feel so lucky to know the knitters I DO know, who kindly send their knit love my way, and I rejoice.
Though its been awhile, here are some more of the holiday era makings:
Our friends Kyle and Lisa have 2 cats. Lisa says: "Megan, paint us an oil painting of our cats!" Kyle says: "Can you make it reversible so we can not look like crazy cat people when company comes over?" Too funny. I thought cat pillows would be a good compromise.
This may be hard to see, but I kept the original drawing up on the windowpane(which I was using as a light box to transfer the drawing to fabric) because it amused me: Looks like Lily (the cat) is staring up at the crow (which is an amazing carved wooden bird by Jason Tennant, btw.)
And then here are more of the hand carved stamp stationary sets I made: