whoosh…

…there it went.

A week or so.

And, also:

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Our Greenhouse. RIP.

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Clockey, the best rooster we’ve ever known. RIP.

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Li’l, the Littlest Axolotl. RIP.

Harsh climate + farm life = constant lessons in the art of Letting Go. Somehow, it just doesn’t stick and we have to learn it over and over and over again and it’s harder every time.

In more pleasant news, I’ve been around the Sparkle blog here

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and here

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and updating my shop here.

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It’s not to late for the holidays, btw. Free upgrade to Priority Mail between now and Saturday, December 21st, and of course, there are always clubs and gift certificates, too:

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Whew. Well, back to regularly scheduled programming henceforth.

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visiting…

…over at the Sparkle Stories blog today!

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I’ll be there every Thursday sharing a seasonal craft project for children and their adults to enjoy.

Today’s tutorial is on making cloth napkins by hand, which I mentioned in a previous post. Oh, I think we’ll be making lots of these in the coming weeks, and a special delivery of birch bark from a friend this afternoon is a gift we’ll put to good use in adding a special touch to each one.

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Happy crafting!

Sparkle Crafts!

It’s been a long day of creating inventory, feeding animals and children (and sometimes myself, if I remembered me), worrying, and also solidifying a new collaboration I’m really excited about.

Every Thursday, starting next week, you’ll find me on the Sparkle Stories blog, sharing a crafting project suitable for the season and/or the week’s stories. I will aim to share projects that are enjoyable and doable for kids and their adults, so stayed tuned for that.

Click here to find out more about Sparkle Stories. They are a down-time staple in our house, especially on Friday afternoons when there are new stories in our Story Box.

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I took some horrible photos tonight of the gorgeous yarn that resulted from spinning up the boy-dyed organic merino you caught a glimpse of in my last post. When there is daylight, I’ll re-take, but I couldn’t resist getting the yarns up in the shop immediately.

*yawn* night night!

Thirty-Six and Thirty-Seven: 52

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Portraits of my main squeezes (just one again), every week (except when I forget to post before the Taproot Gathering…holy amazingness. More on that later this week. So, anyway, here: have two portraits today).

O, these past couple of weeks you…

…have been full of a whole lotta silly. The evening I got home from Squam, you sat down to have a perfectly normal conversation with me, except for the fact that you were a unicorn monster from outer space. I love you.

…only missed me a little while I was away, but really it was a much.

…have been very busy with your neighborhood buddies on the construction of a fort, complete with corrugated roofing. The sign nailed to the front reads “NO GRLS ALOWD” and you just had to make sure that was clear before the fort is finished.

…had your first soccer practice and your first soccer practice canceled due to weather. You have your first game today, and the whole season wraps up on October 17th. After that, we have to start thinking about Winter Sports. What??

…still covet my handmade objects, which is very heartwarming. I’m glad you like the acorn hat, and I’ll have to remember your “please, can I have it?” and those puppy-dog eyes when we’re struggling over bedtime later.

Speaking of the hat pattern (to play along with the new Sparkle Stories audio book, Martin & Sylvia: Knitting From the Beginning), the link wasn’t ready when I last posted about it, so here’s where you can find it:

On Etsy: The Acorn Doesn’t Fall Far From the Tree

On Ravelry: The Acorn Doesn’t Fall Far From the Tree

And here, have the adorable outtake that I couldn’t bear to actually take out:

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Tomorrow, I have a giveaway! If you don’t yet have the current issue of Taproot, you’ll want to pay attention. xo

Sparkling Tutorial #3: Sylvia’s Fairy Poke

Continuing with the companion project series to the Sparkle Stories audio book, Martin & Sylvia’s Knitting from the Beginning, which you can find on the Sparkle Single Stories page, this time we’ll make a wee satchel out of a small rectangle of knitting. This is a sweet project to make with a first piece of knitwork.

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In the 3rd story, “The Fairy Poke,” Sylvia overcomes her nervousness around knitting.  She thinks that it might be too hard to learn to knit, until Miss Melinda chooses the perfect project for her – a fairy poke.  These little satchels are the best way to carry something close to Sylvia’s heart – fairy gifts!

Again, I am not going to attempt to build a better mousetrap by providing basic knit instructions. There are amazingly wonderful visual tutorials on the web to go along with the verbal instructions in the Knitting from the Beginning stories!

For this project, I used size US11 needles and a chunky yarn. Use a bulky weight commercial yarn or handspun. Both the examples in the photos are made from scraps of handspun yarn. You won’t need very much yardage to make this little bag!

Cast on 9 stitches (that’s right, just 9 stitches!) and knit until you have about 10 inches of length. As you can see below, I ended up with about a 4-inch width and 10-inch length. Since this isn’t a garment, don’t worry about getting exact measurements.

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Btw, it’s not good practice to let kittens into your lightbox. Dirty feets. Beezer can’t resist yarn, though. Typical.

So, the fun part. Once you have your rectangle, it’s time to sew! Here is another eyeballing effort. Fold over your rectangle until it looks the way you want it. Then, sew up the side seams with a mattress stitch or whip stitch (these are also techniques you can easily find great tutorials on). Young ones will find the whip stitch easiest for seaming. If you leave yourself a nice, long tail after binding off, you can use that tail to sew up the seams. I just bring it through the bottom of the bag so I don’t have to attach a new piece of yarn to seam the other side.

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Once you’re all seamed up, simply attach a button to the front of the “pocket.” Because the stitches are large on size US11 needles, you should be able to shove buttons up to 3/4″ wide through the knitted fabric of the front flap. No buttonhole required!

The last step is to finger-crochet or crochet a chain to use as a strap for your Fairy Poke. Again, this measurement is up to you. In the story, the Poke is worn around the neck, as are my examples. You could make the strap longer to wear as a tiny purse, or satchel to wear against the body down near the hip. My son prefers the latter.

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Enjoy, and don’t be shy about sharing your projects!

Next up: Martin’s Acorn Hat. This will be a comprehensive knitting pattern for purchase. Stay tuned for the preview and pattern link tomorrow!

Sparkling Tutorial #2: Sylvia’s Sunflower Garden

Here is another companion project to the Sparkle Stories audio book, Martin & Sylvia’s Knitting from the Beginning, which you can find on the Sparkle Single Stories page. This is another tutorial that will help use up all those odd lengths of practice finger knitting.

In Part One, “The Spunderful Shop,”  Sylvia walks into Miss Melinda’s fiber shop and is dazzled by an array of sunflowers made from yarn. Now you can make your own vase full of flowers in any colors you like!

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What you need:

– A length of finger knitting of any size (a one-foot length is a good place to start), preferably with a long tail left at the end; the longer the length, the bigger your flower will be.

– Small felt scraps, which can be craft felt or recycled sweaters

– Embroidery thread

– Yarn needle

– Embroidery needle

– Floral wire; can be thick or thin, green or brown

Are you ready? Basically, we’re just going to make the tiniest of rag rugs with a length of finger knitting instead of braided rag. Simply take the long tail at the end of your finger knitting, thread it onto your yarn needle, and start forming a spiral with the knitting. Tack it in place every couple of centimeters with a stitch through the adjoining edges. Keep going until you have completed the spiral and have a tiny little “rug.”

As you can see in the bottom left corner of the photo collage, I like to tie a knot with the end from the opposite side of the knitting. If you have a lot of the tail left over, trim it a bit, but you can pile the ends up in the center of the flower, where you will be placing your felt circle. You can cut this out from your felt now that you know the size of your flower and how you would like it to look. If you’re making sunflowers, you want large circles!

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Attach your circle with the embroidery thread and blanket-stitch it to the front. For this, I bring the needle from front to back, leaving a small loop, and then from back to front, bringing the needle through the loop and pulling it tight.

When you have just a small bit of stitching left to perform, cut a length of floral wire to a little more than twice the length you would like for the stem of your flower. Bend it in half and push the bent end up into the bottom of your flower, where you have an opening in your stitching. Finish stitching your flower center to the flower, making sure to bring the needle through under the loop of wire a couple of times. This way, your wire will stay put.

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Finish by twisting the wire into a nice, tight stem. Repeat all the steps until you have a bountiful bouquet!

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Stay tuned for tomorrow’s installment: Sylvia’s Fairy Poke!

A Sparkling Tutorial For You!

I’m pleased to present a series of tutorials I curated and created to celebrate the launch of Sparkle Stories new audio book, “Martin and Sylvia: Knitting from the Beginning.” What a fantastical pleasure to be working with the Sparkle crew and share these fun projects with you!

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This first tutorial goes with a free story that Sparkle is offering on the itunes Sparkle Podcast and also on the Sparkle Blog!  It’s called “The Fingerknit Necklace.”

In this sweet story, Martin and Sylvia want to make a gift for their friend the children’s librarian.  They decide on a knitting project, and it’s not long before both Martin and Sylvia are hard at work on a clever fingerknit necklace.   They end up with two spectacular projects, and one problem: who will get the second gift?

The knitting project they create is the one featured below!  Listen to the Free Story HERE.

If you’d like to learn more about the full Martin & Sylvia’s Knitting from the Beginning Audio Book, you’ll find it on the Sparkle Single Stories page.


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(yup, it’s a fun project)

This necklace idea is curated from papier mache, with a bit of my own twist on it.

I loved this idea for incorporating finger knitting into a unique necklace, but as I am a felt artist, I couldn’t help but want to replace the ribbon with a strip of felt. I also thought about children wanting to put this on themselves and each other, and about how I like to have a tidy finish, and so replaced the bow tying concept with a simple button closure. With felt, all you have to do is snip your buttonhole into the fabric and you’re good! No finishing stitches required. Also, for further simplification for short attention spans, I left out the glue by securing the wrapping string or yarn with a knot and sewing it through the felt to attach it.

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I might have gotten a little carried away…

Finger Knit Collage Necklace

I call this a collage necklace because it’s such a fun combination of scraps and bits…a piece of finger knitting, strips of scrap felt, waste thread or yarn, and a special button.

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To make the necklace, begin with a six to eight-inch strand of finger knitting (it’s just about the length that kiddos make before they want to move on to something else). There are lots of great tutorials online and so I won’t attempt to recreate what has already been done well. In fact, if you click on this link to papier mache, the pictorial finger knitting directions there are fantastic!

Cut two lengths of felt about 1″ wide. You will be overlapping the end of the finger knitting by about an inch, so keep that in mind when you cut the felt to your desired length based on where you would like the necklace to sit. As you can see, I tried a variety of lengths. Craft felt, hand made felt and old felted sweaters will all work well for this project.

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Thread a needle with either embroidery thread, some scrap commercial yarn, or handspun. For the purple necklace, I used sock yarn, and it wrapped up much more quickly than the thread, so I recommend yarn for younger crafters.

Knot the end and thread your needle. With the end of your felt overlapping the end of the finger knitted piece by about an inch, bring the needle and thread through the felt and and knitting a few times.

Then, start wrapping!

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When you reach the point where you’ve covered the end of your finger knitting, wrap a few more times, then tie a knot and bring the needle and thread under and through the wrapped section and trim the end for an invisible finish (see the top right in the step-by-step photo collage).

Repeat for the other side, and then we’re almost done!

Simply attach a button to the end of one felt piece and cut a small buttonhole on the end of the other. Always start with a smaller hole than you think you need. Felt stretches and a buttonhole that is too large will be too loose to stay fastened.

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Fini!

Next up: Sylvia’s Garden: magical finger knit flowers! Also, my sweet model is wearing another project from the story series that I’ll share with you on Friday.

Have you made anything interesting with finger knitting? I’d love to hear about it. Link to your projects in the comment section!