Happy Easter!

Yesterday was Easter Sunday, which we celebrate around our house with Easter baskets for the kids from Mom and Dad and chocolate eggs hidden around the house by the Easter bunny.

Thing 1 particularly liked her Star Wars book pillow from Audin Roy Boutique.

Thing 2 really loved her Gudetama pillow, which I picked up at Ottawa Geek Market.

And the two of them spent most of the day eating chocolate eggs and making creations out of their brand new Makedo Cardboard Building System, which is so much fun that I have a set of my own.

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter weekend too!

613flea Saturday April 20th

It’s finally time for the Easter weekend edition of 613flea! I’ll be there as usual with my latest and greatest vintage housewares and kitchenware finds.

You can find me in pretty much the same spot as last month, a little bit left of the north door (the far left door on the long side of the building if you’re coming in from Bank Street).

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Yarn Dolls Tutorial

Yarn dolls are something that I used to make all the time as a kid; once again, I believe I learned how to make them in Girl Guides. I realized that I hadn’t made any with my own children yet when Thing 1 came home from Guides the other night with the beginnings of her own yarn doll in the works. Thing 2 hadn’t had a chance to make them yet, so I thought I’d dig out my solid-colour yarns left over from previous projects and let them get at creating.

If you’re not the kind of person who’d have yarn scraps around the house, don’t despair! There are lots of very cheap yarns available, even from the dollar store. But before you head there I might recommend hitting the local thrift shop. There you can usually find orphaned balls of yarn for a fraction of the price of buying new, and it keeps a previously-loved item from going to a landfill.

Yarn Dolls

Materials:

– yarn
– OPTIONAL: googly eyes, beads, buttons, scrap fabric, etc.

Supplies Needed:

– book, binder, folder, or piece of stiff cardboard
– scissors
– OPTIONAL: glue, needle, thread

1. Get your yarn, book, and a pair of scissors. I chose a stack of file folders for 8″x10″ pages because they were about the right size for the size of doll that I wanted to make. However, you can really use any size of book or even a piece of cardboard. Since it’s just going to hold the yarn, you don’t have to worry about damaging it.

2. Wrap the yarn around the book until you have created a thick hank. How much yarn you use depends entirely on how big you want the doll to be and what size of book you use. Feel free to experiment! There really isn’t any “right way” to do it. Then cut the yarn off of the ball.

3. Cut a piece of yarn that is a little bit more than twice as long as the book. Thread the piece of yarn under the hank and tie it tightly with a double knot.

4. Slide the hank off of the book. Pass the piece of yarn that you used in step 3 through the center of the hank again and tie another double knot for reinforcement. Turn the hank inside-out so that the knots are on the inside. Smooth the piece of yarn so that it is now part of the hank.

5. Cut another piece of yarn that is a little bit more than twice as long as the book. Wrap this yarn tightly around where you will want the neck of the doll to be, then tie it tightly with a double knot. Wrap the yarn around one more time and tie it again for reinforcement. Smooth the yarn into the hank.

6. Holding the yarn taut, snip the loops at the bottom of the hank (opposite from the head you have created). Trim the excess yarn so that it is roughly the same length.

7. Separate roughly a third of the yarn to create the arms (1/6 of the yarn per arm). For thicker arms, separate a little bit more.

8. Cut another piece of yarn that is a little bit more than twice as long as the book. Tie that yarn to create the waist, using the same technique as at the neck.

9. Braid the arms, double-tying the wrists tightly with scraps of yarn. Divide the bottom of section of yarn in half and braid it to create the legs. Double-tie the yarn tightly around the ankles.

10. Trim off the excess yarn on the hands and feet.

At this point your yarn doll is technically done, but if you feel that it is too plain, that’s where the optional decorations come in! You can:

– add googly eyes or beads or buttons for eyes,
– tie on more yarn as hair,
– sew scrap fabric for clothing,
– tie on artificial butterfly or dragonfly wings to create fairies
– twist a pipe cleaner into a halo and tie on a big lace bow as “wings” to make an angel
– make tiny yarn dolls to hang from earrings or necklaces
– make small yarn dolls in festive colours to use as Christmas ornaments

Exercise your creativity!

There are a couple of basic variations on this kind of doll that are useful to know. The first is the “dress” version, which basically omits braiding the legs to create a skirt. You may note that the arms of this doll are tied instead of braided, which is a much quicker way to do it; this is great for younger children who may have limited patience or braiding skill. It should be noted that this version requires a shorter length of yarn (i.e. a smaller book) due to the lack of braiding.

Also, for a simple snowman, use white yarn and tie it all together at the bottom to create a “snowball” instead of legs.

A great Halloween version of a yarn doll stops at Step 6, and requires only the addition of googly eyes to become a ghost. This is probably the simplest version possible, which is perfect if you want to make a bunch of them and hang them as decorations.

Have fun!

Flotte Socke Christmas

I am loving working on my sweater of many colours, but it has become just a little bit too large to comfortably carry around in my purse. I mean, I could always buy a larger purse, but I am generally most comfortable with one that fits my wallet, cell phone, a paperback novel, and a small knitting project. The last time I carried around a Mary Poppins-sized bag was back when the kids were really little and I always had to have diapers, extra onesies, blankets, and bottles on hand. I’m really glad to be past that stage, to tell you the honest truth.

But if I was leaving the sweater at home, I needed another, more portable project to occupy my hands during downtime. (I know that I can always read, but I can actually now read and knit at the same time, so long as the pattern is simple and I don’t have to hold a physical book open.) So I dug around in my stash for a ball of sock yarn that I bought before Christmas so that I could get started on gifts for next year — or maybe something for myself for a change? Who knows, it’s usually far in advance for me.

I bought the yarn during the Christmas stocking rush and I knew I’d drive myself crazy trying to complete yet another pair of socks in time for the holiday, so I didn’t even try. I’m really liking how it’s coming together now, though. The self-striping pattern is really cute and the yarn itself is actually quite soft (75% superwash wool, 25% polyamide). The yarn is Flotte Socke 4f Christmas by Rellana Garne in color 2401. One way or another, even if I knit the sweater at home and the socks on the go, these Christmas socks should be done in time for the holidays.

If it sounds a bit like I’m trying to justify starting a second project while the first isn’t complete, honestly, that’s exactly what’s happening. I learned a long time ago that if I have too many projects on the go at once, I end up finishing nothing! I try very hard to limit myself to one type of project at a time, i.e. one knitting, one sewing, one costume (except during final con crunch), etc. Working on this pair of socks seems like I’m breaking a rule somehow.

Christmas Breakfast

Yesterday I hosted Christmas breakfast at our house, which is generally a cold meal with a lot of selection. There were a variety of cheeses (including two kinds of Balderson cheddar, a couple that were actually lactose free, and a spreadable goat cheese), smoked salmon, crackers, Nan’s pan rolls, mini banana muffins, Cookie Monster’s Famous Cookies, cold cuts, an assortment of crackers, and Little Shop of Lobsters’ crab and lobster mousses. To drink there was milk or juice, or the more festive apple cider or eggnog.

This meal is generally served buffet-style, everyone munching away while we open gifts in the living room beside the Christmas tree. This meal represents the last of my cooking for about a week, since I’ve gone into overdrive to get everything ready — not just for breakfast, but for my contributions to Christmas Eve dinner, Christmas dinner, festive baking, and Christmas parties the week before. This spread isn’t just meant to feed us for the day; the leftovers will become meals in their own right for the week to come, so we can all relax a bit and play with our new toys.

Faster Than Takeout

This weekend we found Candy Cane sleighing down the side of the staircase:

And petting the reindeer in the Little People Christmas train:

This morning we found her taking pictures of the family as they walked down the stairs:

Yesterday was a very busy day filled with Christmas visits, Christmas shopping with a good friend, and knitting (I’m finally on Stocking #3). All that didn’t leave me with much time to cook, but I didn’t want to eat out, so I compromised with some quick fixes from the grocery store.

That’s pork schnitzel from the butcher section; I’ve had schnitzel before, even had it in Germany, but I’ve never had the pre-made pork version from the grocery store. I didn’t have high hopes, but it wasn’t half bad! In an effort to keep in quick and simple, I served it with eggs over easy and a prepackaged spinach salad with clementine wedges, strawberries, cucumber, goat cheese crumbles, and sliced almonds. Overall, it was quicker than ordering takeout, and also both cheaper and healthier!