Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Christmas giving

Here are a few of the Christmas crafts that adorned the holiday this year...

Handmade ornament books.

I used techniques I learned in a book arts course and sewed these little guys out of some scrap papers. I glued the decorative rick rack and ribbon, added a little glitter, and then wrote out Christmas quotes and poems in each one. We used these on our Christmas dinner table, and had guests read from the poem books for our Christmas blessing. It was really special and fun!

Poems used:

Let me not wrap, stack, box, bag, tie, tag, bundle, seal, keep Christmas.
Christmas kept is liable to mold.
Let me give Christmas away, unwrapped, by exuberant armfuls.
Let me share, dance, live Christmas unpretentiously, merrily, responsibly with overflowing hands, tireless steps and sparkling eyes.
Christmas given away will stay fresh—even until it comes again."

-- Let Me Not Keep Christmas . . . . . . . . Linda Felver, A Book of Christmas

I will Light Candles this Christmas
by Howard Thurman

I will light Candles this Christmas;
Candles of joy despite all sadness,
Candles of hope where despair keeps watch,
Candles of courage for fears ever present,

Candles of peace for the tempest-tossed days,
Candles of grace to ease heavy burdens,
Candles of love to inspire all my living,
Candles that will burn all the year long.

Somehow, not only for Christmas
John Greenleaf Whittier (1807–1892)

Somehow, not only for Christmas,
But all the long year through,
The joy that you give to others,
Is the joy that comes back to you.
And the more you spend in blessing,
The poor and lonely and sad,
The more of your heart's possessing,
Returns to you glad.


I made a few potholders for the grandparents, with AJ's handprint. They are kind of huge, so they might make better placemats or hot pads... I embroidered his name and the year on them too (did this after taking the photo).


New Sweater

AJ got a new sweater for Christmas... I started this one over the summer I think! I finally finished it and it is big enough that it should fit him through this summer and into next fall/winter. The color is so close to his eye color, I can't believe it. I used really cute fishbowl buttons from Jimmy Beans Wool. I only had three, so I am ordering a fourth one. Great pattern -- the Aran Pullover from Knitting for Baby by Melanie Falick and Kristin Nicholas.

new sweater

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Handmade hats

purple hat for MEM
Originally uploaded by stellesky
I made this hat for my niece's one year birthday -- this was knit almost entirely during the final presidential debate, with finishing and embellishments added in late November before giving it to my niece.

I used a variety of yarns, all in shades of purple and lavender. Most of the yarn came from the yarn tour event in NH I attended in October, and most of the fibers are hand spun and hand dyed wool. I don't work with hand spun too often, but it sure is nice! I also added a little leftover Morehouse Farms merino. I did a little bit of crochet around the earflaps and along the edge to help make it lie flat, and added a flower with some french knots. No real pattern used for this one...

I also bought some nice alpaca yarn and made AJ a new winter hat, which is already not quite long enough! I should always overestimate with his huge head :) I really like the yellow/chartreuse/grey combination, and this hat is so soft... again, no real pattern used...


The end of November was not an easy time, and I have had little energy for crafting, blogging and all of that, although I have a long list of things I want to do. Now that the holidays are here I am feeling a bit more energy and have been knitting again at night, and even did some sewing during AJ's Saturday naptime this past weekend. Stay tuned for a few holiday items coming up.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

plaid mittens

Originally uploaded by stellesky
I made these mittens for a friend's birthday. I had a skein of Rowan Plaid in colors I thought she would like, and found a simple, free pattern from Alison Hansel on Ravelry. More knitting progress, and some sewing progress, coming soon!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

hats for twins

hats for twins
Originally uploaded by stellesky
Actual knitting is taking place! These little hats were crafted for twins that should be arriving into our extended family sometime in the next month or so. One is a boy, one is a girl. I based this loosely on the Cabin Fever Colour Me Bright hat pattern, and turned the i-cord strands into a flower topper on the purple hat.

Sunday, August 31, 2008


banner success!
Originally uploaded by stellesky
We have a new tradition in my family -- every Christmas we make a family banner in honor of a special 'retreat' we have as a family called Kid's Christmas... We are really into banner making. Usually with felt. The inspiration for all the banner making is the summer camp we went to as kids and young adults in our family. We have been lucky to continue having our family 'retreat' at this camp, located in the Litchfield Hills of CT, the past few winters. When we were kids, each 'conference' we went to in the summer would make a conference banner, and all the kids would sign, and then the banner would be hung at the camp for posterity.

One of our friends from camp days is getting married this weekend, at the camp! My sister Anna came up with the idea of a banner to put in the dining hall at the camp, signed by all the guests, as a way to remember the special occasion. We thought Tibetan prayer flags would be special and colorful.
banner crew

We whipped this up this past week while my sister was staying with me. Got to use my sewing machine in the basement -- this totally reminds me of my mom's sewing area in our basement growing up!! TV and everything! Wow.
basement sewing area

Friday, August 1, 2008

seascape shawl and aran pullover

seascape shawl
Originally uploaded by stellesky
Here is the progress for my Seascape Shawl from knitty. Looking pretty shimmery with the Rowan Kidsilk Night yarn! I am taking my sweet bippy time with this one -- won't be ready to wear this for several more months?!?

And here is the aran pullover from Knitting for Baby that I am working on for Mr. A... knitting in the 2 year old size so it should fit him for a while. This is in Rowan All Seasons Cotton. I wasn't sure if I would like the marbled look of this yarn, but I do! Another fun cable pattern that knits up pretty quick.
aran pullover

Both of these are up on Ravelry.

Friday, July 18, 2008

craft time

Today I spent part of my day off finally sewing again -- I made some bags to use for knitting projects, lunch, or other small things. My sister Daeva and I made some bags like this one year when visiting my mom in Texas. This is when I learned how to make french seams and love them. Some pretty waverly-esque fabric from a thrift shop. I making some napkins, too...

new bags

Here are some random thoughts for a Friday...

Craft time restores your soul.

Here are some shots of me and my family in 'craft' mode, both times making easter eggs, first in the early 80's and then in 2003 at my old studio apartment in Brookline, MA.

craft time


And here is a shot of my mom in a sweater she made which I now have... too hot to take a photo of me in it, today, though.
mom's sweater

And of fun times with family in NH last weekend. I did some knitting in the car which I'll post eventually.
music lesson

Fun times with family also restores your soul...

Thursday, June 26, 2008

My day

Here is a glimpse at my day on June 26th as a working mom. Most days, I get some walking in, some knitting, some work (obviously), and lots of rushing around.

It starts between 6-6:30 (Ethan (husband) is already on his way to work at this point). I get out of bed and get myself ready in 10-15 minutes.

Next I go in to wake or pick up AJ who is either stirring, 'talking' or crying a little to be freed from the crib. After nursing, I get him ready, get all his food and supplies ready for 'school' (daycare) and we're there between 7- 7:15 most days. Sometimes we have a few magic glimpses at the wildlife outside.

good morning!

Some of the food that goes with AJ to daycare.
baby foods

A turkey hanging out in the backyard.

Next I'm in the car for 40 -50 minutes, depending on traffic. I wish I wasn't commuting. But for now, this is reality.

I arrive at the parking garage, and head out for my 15 minute walk to the library.

Get in to my desk between 8-8:15. After email/calendar/blogreader checking, I do a little work and then pump between 9:30-10, depending on meetings. Today I get out of a meeting about online finding aids at 10.

The pumping room is really just an alcove in a storage room several flights down from my desk... see my pump bag in the distance?
pumping room?

I try to relax while pumping - knitting, (currently working on the Seascape shawl from the latest Knitty with my favorite yarn - Rowan kidsilk night in Macbeth), reading, and sometimes doing work.

Now I'm back at my desk. Most of my work is on the computer. Makings sure the 'systems' I manage as a systems librarian are working. I consult with a staff member from the cataloging department on some records that don't look quite right. I make some updates to configurations for a vendor who is changing their urls for certain databases. I check some log files on the server.

Quick lunch break around noon. If I don't have a lunch meeting or lunch date, I usually eat at my desk, but I do get out to grab some food and some coffee, usually.

Today I run into a good friend on the street. After a quick chat, I grab some soup at Au Bon Pain.
lunch break

And then take a quick stroll to the main entrance. For a little inspiration. This building is beautiful.
back inside

Now some review of documents and notes while I eat lunch. Today I am gathering notes for a system upgrade for one of our database systems.
lunch with code

At 2-3, I go downstairs again to pump.

Then back up the stairs for some work testing out some changes to the library opac, and some research of some online training opportunities since it is quite difficult for me to go away for training given my non-work mama schedule.

Between 4-4:15 I'm leaving for the walk to the car. Feeling a little worn out today. A little sullen. Maybe it is the weather -- grey all day and kinda humid. But a good walk to the car with time to meditate on the day and where I'm 'at' will do some good.

I have a 35-45 minute drive, where I arrive at daycare and collect the boy. Some days Ethan gets him since he doesn't have class in the summer, or we both get him (we can walk there, it is very nice!). We try to soak up as much time with AJ as we can. The 2 hours with him each night never feels like enough.

off to see the cow

Get home, nurse, visit the cows, play in the living room/kitchen, feed AJ dinner, give AJ a bath, put on PJs, read books, nurse, put AJ to bed at about 7 (he either goes right to sleep or we have to 'shh' him and sit in the room until he falls asleep. I usually get my clothes for the next day together once he is asleep.

Saying goodnight to the cows
night night cows

Papa in his comfy pants, sneaking in a mid-week load of laundry
comfy pants

Ethan and I usually eat dinner after AJ is asleep -- and wash bottles, dishes, pumping parts. Prepare AJ's food for the next day. Prepare pumping bag for the next day. Then spend 30 minutes to an hour relaxing -- watching tv (lately the Daily Show, the Colbert Report, So you think you can dance, and soon, Project Runway), talking, checking computer. Sometimes a little more knitting... depends on how exhausted I am. Also, more lovely glimpses of the scenery outside. Dreams of having more time to be creative...

After a shower, and sometimes a little reading, it is lights out between 9:45-10:30. AJ is up once or twice a night for a quick nurse.. and then it starts again!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Cool, grand, parents

AJ turned 1 this week!

He received some very special gifts from his paternal grandma -- his very own "1" shirts (along with matching shorts for the red 1 shirt). My husband and his sister had shirts for their birthdays with their age on them growing up-- isn't that wonderfully creative and special? And of course they were handmade by my very thoughtful and talented mother in law. I was so excited when she made AJ some of his very own! frolic on the farm

1st birthday

I am very lucky to have very cool parents and inlaws, who now are also grand-parents... all inspire me with their talents, their lives and their care for the people in their lives.

Here's a picture of my very cool parents, from sometime in the late 1960's. What a couple! My dad is no longer here -- and today it has been 5 years since he left us -- but his spirit, his inner hipness -- lives on. Thanks DA. Here's to my cool, grand parents :)
cool parents

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Blu jeans

This weekend the Blu jeans got finished on Sunday morning, and AJ was wearing them after his mid-day nap.
blu jeans
blu jeans walking

I really like these little pants. Too bad they won't fit for very long, of course! I knit the largest size, but they seem to run a bit small, and AJ runs a little big these days. As usual, these are an example of the imperfections in knitting -- I think one side is longer than the other, but who notices with a little kid running all around?!?

These are so cute. I'm glad I managed to knit something for AJ for this stage in his development. And they are so soft and the real denim Rowan yarn is pretty nice!

And here is a cute bib my mom made:
New Bib
It works very well for spills! Knitting and fabric. What a good idea.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The best presents

I love handmade gifts. And knitted gifts are the best kind. Here is a picture of AJ in his sweater made by my friend Jeanne. She made this sweater and a lovely kimono top.

sweater from Jeanne

This is the Bookworm Sweater from Louisa Harding’s Miss Bea’s Rainy Day. How appropriate considering AJ's mama is a librarian!

This sweater is awesome -- looks great, is a nice weight, not too heavy but cozy for cool spring days, and with room to grow. I did have to make one minor modification and open up the neck a bit, due to AJ's 90th percentile head circumference...

You can see the opened neck here, it looks pretty cool:
in depth discussion with papa

Thank you Jeanne!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

I Heart my Hoosier (style) cabinet

A few weekends ago, a new piece of furniture came into my life:

hoosier style cabinet

This is the Hoosier -Style cabinet we picked up at a local antique/collectible shop. I didn't know how much I wanted one of these until I spotted this one. It isn't an actual Hoosier cabinet -- that would have cost us quite a bit more money... but it looks a lot like the one we had in my family kitchen growing up. I think having this in my kitchen now is reconnecting me to my old 'home' -- it feels very comforting. The finish has this pale spring green wash to the oak-like wood, like a table of my grandmother's that I have.

Here is a photo of the table from our old condo in Massachusetts:

Someday maybe I'll have a studio and can have the two pieces together in the same room! The table is currently being stored in our basement...

For now, the Hoosier is in the kitchen, a much better item of furniture to store all my craft and office-y stuff than the previous setup, especially with a rambling infant prowling around.

It is definitely an inspiration to me right now -- and is influencing my current projects. I've been doing a lot of embroidery, and have some special projects up my sleeve...
quail napkin embroidery

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Minimalist cardigan and Easter

I finished the Minimalist Cardigan on Saturday, the day before Easter. I wore the cardigan for 3 days straight! It fits well, and is very comfortable. Here are some pictures from the 'photo shoot' with my sister.

minimalist cardigan
The finished product

minimalist cardigan with shawl pin
With my beautiful Leslie Wind shawl pin

One mistake made is that the back is backwards -- so the ribbing is reversed. I had already seamed a lot of the sweater when I realized this error, and decided I didn't care. It is hardly noticeable. C'est la vie, or at least my life anyway...

Had a lovely Easter weekend... here are some of the highlights:

cupcakes made with my sister

Easter morning
Mr A enjoying his easter bunny

And me in my cardigan with my sister in law and niece!