Monday, November 30, 2009

Knitted Advent Garland

Several years ago, there were several knit bloggers creating knitted advents for their families. It was such a cute idea, and each year I've imagined that maybe I'd be able to squeeze the time in to knit one of my own...and then before I know it, December has started, and there is no time. This year, I finally realized that I will never "find" the time; instead, time has to be made. I started this advent garland in the beginning of November, and it took me about two weeks. 17 socks, 4 pairs of mittens, 4 hats.

The children helped me clip them up to our "clothesline" wire over the dinner table, and it was so gratifying to see them all lined up at last.

I secured a fabric yo-yo to the tacks at each end with a few stitches; I like the effect.

With something like this, it's kind of all about the little touches; the details.

The mittens:

The hats (Noro Kureyon Sock -- I used two colorways, and you can see the progression from bottom to top, as the yarn changes through each of the two hats):

I love the touch of whimsy that it gives to the dining corner of the kitchen.

One of the most fun things about the project was getting to knit through so many different kinds of yarn in short succession. I could finish up to 4 socks in a day, but even if I just completed one, I still got that small thrill of a finished project each time I closed up a toe. I was able to compare different kinds of sock yarn side-by-side; it was so interesting to me to note the differences. It was fun, as I worked up each tiny item, to remember what the sock yarn had been for -- all of the socks I've knit for my mom, for myself, the children, one pair for a friend who was moving away (MA), some fingerless gloves for a cousin (Sara). It pulled up so many memories of the moments I've knit into socks (or other things) through the years.

If you've been wanting to do an advent calendar or garland too, but just don't have to the time to knit 25 items before tomorrow (!!!), you can check out these (non-knitted) ideas on Whip-Up: 30 of the best advent calendars. I love this one: Matchbox Countdown. Also inspiring: 30 of the best holiday buntings and garlands. I want to make a few of these for our celebration of the New Year!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Curtains, curtains, everywhere!

In all of the places we've lived, Greg has always been our interior decorator, which always involved a multitude of band posters, tons of colored mood lighting, lava lamps, and tie-dyed wall-hangings. In our first apartment it made sense: he lived there for several months before we married and I moved in, so it was already all set up by the time I arrived.

In each of the places we've moved to since, I always knew we wouldn't be there for too long, so I felt that it wouldn't be worth really digging in, indulging in my nesting instincts, and creating space inside of my house to make it a home that reflected me.

During Greg's last deployment, I started to feel a change. As I looked around the house and considered the style of decorating, I realized that there wasn't much that said "me" outside of my wool room. When we were getting ready to move here to Texas, I knew that this time it would be different. It was time for a change, and this time, I wanted to be in charge. Armed with the incredible (and doable!) inspiring book, Handmade Home by Amanda Blake Soule, I began to gather my supplies as my head filled with all sorts of ways to beautify, personalize, and soften the interior of my home.

The first major change is: no posters, except for Large Important Framed Ones. So far, he hasn't framed any, but there are at least two huge ones that will look pretty awesome in the hall (we're going to create an "art gallery" of sorts along the walls). The second, and most important to our discussion today, is: There Will Be Curtains. Proper curtains. White, breezy ones.

I've been just a tiny bit curtain obsessed lately. Obsessed, as in: this is pretty much all I've wanted to do, think about, and discuss this week.

So here they are.


Thrifted bedsheet, vintage doilies. The lace panel at the edge of the top valence is from the edge of the sheet.

I love the way the light filters through. The vintage doilies remind me of snowflakes.

I sewed the curtain-rod-casing so that there would be a little frill over the top, but now I'm thinking I might sew loops into it instead to hang it that way. We'll see.

Here's my wool/sewing studio:

My favorite part of the handkerchief curtain is that, like the doily one, it showcases someone else's handwork (in the case of the crochet-edged or embroidered ones), putting their talent on display, rather than allowing it to be forgotten in the corner of a drawer, or worse still, thrown away.

I am also terribly charmed by the ribbon loops and the box pleats.

I've got another that I sewed for the children's toy room, with a playful polka-dot ribbon border, but the curtain rod that I bought for it is too small to fit the window. Once I find the right size, I'll be able to show it to you.

Tomorrow, I'm going to show you our little knitted advent garland!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

All week I've been wanting to say "I hope you have a nice Thanksgiving!", but I suppose that now I can just say "I hope that you enjoy what remains of your Thanksgiving weekend." We certainly are!

The boys have had a short week at school -- I took signed them out of their classes early on Tuesday after Andrew's class performed an adorable (but very politically incorrect) Thanksgiving play. I'll upload the video at some point, but for now, here's a few shots of his class:

We left school and drove into Austin to do our last bit of food shopping for Thanksgiving dinner. We weren't the only ones with the same idea; the parking lot at Central Market actually had parking attendants. Thankfully, it wasn't too crazy inside the store, and the children (with the promise of Gelato at the end) were complete angels. It was miraculous.

There wasn't any school on Wednesday, although Greg still had to work, so the children and I had an unusual, long day all together.

On Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, Jillian and Aaron drove up from San Antonio (where they live) to spend the holiday with us. It was so nice to have them, and fun to collaborate our dinner menu. And quite a menu it was:

To see details, click through to the Flickr set.

What a crew. Thank you Jillian and Aaron for helping to make our Thanksgiving special! We love you guys!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A tiny bit of knitting in a big way

I would be blogging...

But I've got socks in my eyes.

Lots of socks.

I mean seriously, I'm not kidding, AHELLOFALOTOFSOCKS.

And mittens.

I got this idea for a knitted advent clothesline a few years ago and have always wanted to do it, but suddenly about a week ago, I felt like I COULD NOT GO ON if I did not knit it RIGHT NOW.

I've just finished up two more pairs of mittens, so I've got 21 items down. Excuse me now while I go knit 4 tiny hats... (and maybe a few little sweaters just for good measure...)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Child's play

The creativity of a child is a precious thing.

Built into a child is the natural ability to play in a way that is free from the worries of messes they might make, or the end result of their actions. This ability can be infuriating and seen as destructive by the Grown Up among us, but it is amazing how freeing it can be to just let go from time to time and create with a toddler.

In the mornings while the boys are in school and Jonah is napping, Lavella and I are able to spend time together, just the two of us, and I've had the opportunity to look at the world through her eyes, enjoying things from her perspective.

There is a quietness and a joy to chalk stained knees; the sensation of fingers, slick with fingerpaint, slipping over giant sheets of paper; the warmth of freshly made playdough, and the taste of the salt and the flour; coloring with crayons without a design in mind, just to see the colors next to each other on a page; going on a treasure hunt through the neighborhood for twigs and leaves and pebbles to build fairy houses for the bugs.

If you can allow yourself to let go, the world can be a magical place through the eyes of a child.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

October 31st fun

On October 31st, our family dressed up as a Family Of Fire Ants (according to Andrew and Elijah), and went out to a pumpkin farm for the day.

It was a gorgeous, sunny but nearly cool day; there were so many fun things to do at the farm, and, most importantly, lots of space to run.

Corn maze.

Running through hay tunnels.

Sand Art Jack-o-lanterns.

The children begged us to go on a pony ride (they were actually horses), so we finally relented, although it ended just as we assumed it would.

Lavella went with great hesitation:

Andrew refused altogether, and Elijah refused a moment too late:

There were goats to pet:

Trees to climb:

(Greg is seen here wearing a hat that I knit for him a few years ago.)

Overall, we had a great time together as a family.

It's fun to make our own family traditions.

(For even more photos of the day, click here for the Flickr set.)

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Catching my breath...

I've been busy working on some projects lately, so I either haven't been in the mood to write, or alternately haven't had any time. Usually both. Thus, the need for some catch up, because life doesn't pause when I take a blogging break. Plus, I've got some pretty cute pictures for you, and I hate to keep those to myself. Half the fun of taking pictures is in the sharing. In the interest of not drowning you in photos, however, I've broken it down into some galleries on Flickr, so I'll give you some highlights here, and then if you're interested (i.e., related and feel the need to See Every Photo), click on over.

In the past few weeks, Greg and I have gone out to a few shows in Austin. First, to a Del Castillo show:

(More pics here)

And then to a Wolfmother show:

(More pics here)

On Thursday, Andrew received an award at school for perfect attendance. I thought this was rather funny that he was even a candidate, since he started the school year so late, but Jonah, Lavella and I attended the ceremony anyway.

We checked in on Elijah's class, and followed them to lunch, so that we could hang out with our favorite preschooler. Here we are, eating at the far end of the lunch table where the "lunchbox kids" sit (there is a child in their grade with peanut allergies, so this way they can ensure that he remains separate from anything harmful to him that may have come in the lunchboxes).

Last week was "Red Ribbon Drug Free Week", so each day they did something as a school to emphasize this (team shirts for "Team Up Against Drugs Day", crazy socks for "Kick Away Drugs Day"). I asked the little girl sitting across from Elijah at lunch (pictured above in the pink shirt) what she'd learned about drugs. She looked at me very seriously, pointed her finger sternly and said, "Drugs aren't free. Also, this is what they do to little kids: they TAKE THEM AND MAKE THEM SCREAM!" (Demonstrating with her cup how someone might be kidnapped by "Drugs")

On the way home, I asked Andrew and Elijah what they'd been learning about drugs.

Andrew: "Well, it's just stuff little kids aren't supposed to smoking cigarettes and drinking beer..." (brief pause, in which Elijah looked thoughtful...)

Elijah: "Yeah, and putting jelly on sandwiches."

Andrew: "Um, Elijah, I don't think that's drugs..."

Elijah: "YEAH, YEAH, because that can get really messy."

On Friday morning they had the "Scare Away Drugs/Halloween Parade". Andrew and Elijah dressed up as robots. Since Lavella and Jonah and I were there to cheer them on, Lavella arrived as a Princess/Butterfly/Fairy.

I'm not sure what Jonah was, as he refused to talk. :)

Elijah and some of his class, waiting for the parade to start.

Elijah's teacher:

Andrew and class:

Elijah tried really hard to show me that he wasn't having a killer time:

Although, of course, he was.

It was so adorable; the parade was just through the school halls, but all of the children took themselves so seriously, and were each so proud of themselves for their "official" role as Parade Marchers.

Lavella and I hung out with Elijah's class afterwords:

Lavella is so jealous of the boys that they get to go to school. She fits right into their preschool -- sitting down in the group and participating as though she belongs. She can't wait until she's old enough to go herself for real!

Next, we joined up with Andrew's class for their Run For Life out on the track.

I loved watching how Lavella immediately made some friends, and she and these girls walked along talking during their last lap:

She's got incredible stamina -- I think she made it around the track 6 full times!

For more on these two days of school activities, click over to the Flickr set here.

Enough pictures for today -- next post, I'll tell you all about what we did as a family on Octobor 31st.