Monday, December 29, 2008


Don't all pirates wear pink?  And pearls?  And chomp on organic candy canes?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

a glimpse of our handmade holiday

While we did have a few "plastic" gifts this Christmas, I was proud that a large portion of the gifts under our tree were handmade.  Some were made by me, and some came from other fine Etsy sellers.  (You can see their shops for better photos than what I have here.)  I really wanted to show these before Christmas, but that would have spoiled the surprise, wouldn't it?

Chad's favorite gift was this coptic bound plaid journal from Highland Books:

Lizi and Lydia got dolls made by the "Mae" pattern from Bit of Whimsy:

Some of Lydia's made-by-mom dress up playthings (her favorite is the kitty cat ears and paws):

Precious prints from rkdsign88 (she is such a wonderful seller too - sent me more extras than what I actually bought!):

Pendants for the girls from Rough Edges, sorry about the glare! (I'll let you guess which girl is the math fanatic):

Cute amigurumi mouse and bunny from The Enchanted Pumpkin:

And does to-be-handmade count?  My sweetie gave these to me:

And there were other gifts I made that got out the door to friends and family before I photographed them; I hope they go on to be well loved!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

Last stitches knit and sewn... check.
Gifts wrapped... check.
Stockings stuffed... check.
Pantry and fridge stocked... check.
Holiday greeting?

Wishing all my blog friends a
Christmas and New Year!


what do i knit now?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Good intentions...

Lydia is really getting into playing "dress-up" lately, but doesn't have a lot of "dress-up" clothes.  So that was one thing I wanted her to have for Christmas - play clothes for all the things she likes to pretend to be.  One of those things is a lion, so I wanted to make a little lion's mane headband sort of thing, complete with ears.  I pulled out the closest colors of yarn I had, figured out how to do a crochet loop stitch, and went to work.  Here is the result.

So, what do you see in this photo?  Cute dress-up accessory?  Or 70's bath mat of doom?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Simple Christmas stocking

I made some easy Christmas stockings as gift bags for my little preschool class on Wednesday nights. I thought they turned out so cute, I'd show how to make them.

Supplies: I used 9"x12" pieces of felt, a little ribbon, decorations, tailors chalk, and scribbled a stocking pattern. You may trace another stocking if you like.

I wanted small stockings, so I made my pattern to fit 4 on a piece of felt. You can make yours any size or shape that will fit on your felt. Trace around your stocking pattern, leaving a little space between stockings. I put the tops of my stockings on the edge of the felt, so I wouldn't have to worry about getting them straight. Don't cut them out yet.

Pin two pieces of felt together, matching edges, with your traced stockings on top. This is so that you have 2 layers, making a front and a back. Don't cut them out yet.

Stitch on the lines you traced, leaving that bit of space between stockings because you will need to cut there. Obviously, start at the top of a stocking on one side, then stitch all the way around to the top on the other side. This could be done by hand, if you do not have access to a sewing machine.

Now, you may cut them out. Cut about 1/8" away from your stitching, a little less if need be.

Now for the fun part - decorating! We just used simple felt shapes, which we fused with fusible web. They could also be glued with fabric glue. Or you could use something else altogether -other fabrics, paint, glitter - use your imagination!

Stitch a little loop of ribbon at the top for hanging.

Fill with goodies!
(If it's candy, make it all natural, please! For me? :) )

Something new

I wanted you to meet a new little family in my Etsy shop - Mama and Baby Whale!  I've been trying to get them listed for ages, but I've been too busy on Christmas knitting and sewing.  Better late than never, eh?  I hope the CPSIA doesn't make them extinct.
I also wanted to show you this ensemble.  Lydia dressed herself this morning.  Notice the pirate hat, the Thomas the Tank Engine shirt, and the upside-down skort (not sure how she managed that).

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Unsolicited testimonial

Check out this post by my friend Maya at Springtree Road!  I love her blog - she takes the most beautiful photographs!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Now what do we do?

We all know about the lead content and other problems with toys recently.  Something obviously should be done about it.  I've recently become aware of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), passed by Congress to deal with this problem.  But is this really the best solution?

This legislation looks pretty good at first glance.  The gigantic toy manufacturers should have no problem meeting the standards, and our children will be safer for it.  But the act requires testing by an independent third party, and most small toy manufacturers will not be able to afford that.  Even toys made of obviously safe components, for example, of wood and finished with food-grade beeswax, would have to be tested for lead!  Toymakers in Europe have been held to a very strict standard of lead content for a long time, and now I read that some are pulling out of the US market because it is not cost effective to pay to have their (very safe) toys tested to prove their safety.

With the threat of lead in toys, many families turned to smaller toymaking companies for their safer materials and uniqueness.  Personally, I like toys that are not plastic and not emblazoned with a character from a TV show or movie; I think it helps a child develop imagination.  But that option may be a thing of the past come February 10, 2009. 

And this is not limited to toys.  Anything marketed toward children, whether clothes, accessories, or whatever, will have to be tested.  My mind goes wild thinking about the possibilities.  How much will the cost of necessities like clothing that we have to buy for our children rise as manufacturers cover the costs of this testing?  What about sellers of vintage toys?  And my favorite places, consignment shops and thrift stores?  Will they have to test every older toy and piece of clothing before it can be sold?  What about Grandma making toys to sell at the church bazaar?

I sell toys on Etsy.  I don't have a huge investment in them, and if things go south I can always make something else to sell.  Or just stop selling and make oodles of toys and clothes for my own little ones.  But my heart goes out to those family businesses who will lose everything over this.  Do you think they will get a bailout?  Not likely.

If you'd like to read more about it, check out the Handmade Toy Alliance.  And if you are so inclined, please contact your congressman and respectfully suggest that he fix this.

Another note - My friend Maya found this link, and I didn't want it to stay hidden in the comments.  It lists some easy things you can do to help.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Opinion, please?

Wow, I just kinda dropped off the planet for a while there, didn't I? Sorry! Hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving!

The last few days I've been tinkering around with the eyes on my owls. I hesitate to do this, because they are one of my best sellers as is. But some people think they look angry or scary. So with guidance from my artsy, anime-loving daughter, I've been experimenting with round eyes. That is the style I see in items for sale most often, so I suppose the 'great horned owl' is not quite as trendy as his rounder-eyed cousins at the moment.

Here's what we've come up with; an example of the old style on the left, the new on the right. I welcome your comments and suggestions! Do you like the old style better, the new style better, or do you think I need to keep working on it? I'm thinking the round eyes might need to be just a tad lower and the white part just a smidge larger. Thanks in advance for your input!

Shameless plug: Both of these guys are for sale in my Etsy shop, if you need a stocking stuffer!