Christmas Craft: Potato Stamp Wrapping Paper

Around here I am always looking for fun things to do with Elliot while Clementine naps. Once in a blue moon he’ll fall asleep during his “quiet time” but usually he pops up after about 10 minutes of reading books by himself or puttering around in the living room — they share a bedroom so he takes his quiet time on the couch downstairs — and wants to be entertained. And I’m like “seriously you are done ALREADY?” but I keep my mouth shut and then try to remember how much I will miss him when he moves out of the house.

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My children are very different; Clementine will play by herself, alone, unprompted, for long beautiful periods of time. Elliot is a more typical first-born, craving adult attention almost constantly. Or he’ll start pestering me to watch TV. I will admit, it’s easy for me to fall into the habit of just letting him watch TV or play games on the tablet while Clementine sleeps, which, when combined with the one hour of Busytown Mysteries or Pink Panther they usually watch in the morning while I shower/chug my coffee/check my email AND the half hour of video games he’s allowed to play while Mr Rae makes dinner starts to add up to more media time than I am comfortable with. And honestly, while my Perfect Self thinks the amount of media time I’d be happiest with is NONE, my Real Self realizes that as much as I’d like to be the Wundermum who doesn’t ever have to rely on TV to entertain my children, it’s not a realistic expectation for me personally. So. I’m happier with a reasonable set of rules for media time than none at all. Currently that’s 1 hour of TV in the morning for both kids, and a half hour of video game time for Elliot before dinner (Clementine sometimes watches him play, but more often plays by herself while he does this).

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Which brings me to that hour or two of time in the afternoon when Elliot and I find something to do together. Sometimes we draw pictures or play games. Sometimes I let him sew. I’ve really enjoyed Meg’s Things We Do After Nap series over on Sew Liberated and the websites she links to in this post where she finds more great ideas. And now that Christmas is upon us there’s a bunch more things we can do, including making homemade wrapping paper with potato stamps! I remember making potato stamps as a kid with my mom, so when we got a package from amazon that had a ridiculous amount of packaging in it for the size of the item I saved it for this project. Score!

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I’m pretty sure the pictures speak for themselves, but basically I cut a potato in half and used a knife to cut out the two basic shapes here (a star and tree) and then used a couple of 99 cent paint trays at the craft store and sponge brushes to spread out acryllic paint so that the paint would go on the potatoes relatively smoothly. And then we just made an assembly-line style station at his little table and stamped away. He probably lasted about 15 minutes before he got sick of it but there it is: homemade wrapping paper!

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I’m always looking for new ideas, so throw them at me if you’ve got them. And what about “media limits?” Are there rules at your house? For kids or even yourself? I am infinitely interested in this topic.

Posted in holidays
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Knitting, my holiday hobby

One complaint — perhaps the only complaint — I have with sewing is that it doesn’t exactly lend itself to holiday socializing. You can’t really put your machine in the living room when the whole family is over and chug away at projects while everyone else talks and eats chocolate covered pretzels. For one thing, if I try and talk too much while I’m sewing I usually mess something up. For another thing, the chocolate always ends up all over my project. And then there’s the issue of machine volume, which for some machines (like my serger) is enough to put everyone off conversation altogether.

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We go up north every fall with a bunch of Mr Rae’s friends and their spouses and families and each year I try to take a knitting project with me. This year I started this cute little sweater for Clementine and continued working on it in Florida last week, and now this week in Seattle. As you can see it’s still in the works. It’s fun to create something handmade without having to shut myself in a sewing room.

I’m not a full-time knitter. One disadvantage of restricting knitting to just a fall/holiday hobby is that I basically have to teach myself to knit again every year. Purl Bee‘s tutorials (right sidebar) help me with this, but it’s kindof like riding a bike; once I pick it up and do a few practice swatches, it starts to come back.

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One thing that has really helped me is when I ask for knitting patterns for Christmas or birthday gifts, I also try to ask for the YARN to make the project too. This really makes a huge difference for me when it comes to starting a project. If I have to go out and procure the yarn it’s way less likely to happen. I get so confused at yarn stores.

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This particular pattern is the Yoked Cardigan by Knitbot and the yarn is this Plymouth Tweed. Maybe someday I’ll get around to putting it on my Ravelry page (not even going to link it, it’s so pathetic), but sometimes I just get sick of keeping up all of my social media sites, don’t you? I really like this pattern though because it’s knit top-down on circular needles, so there are NO SIDE SEAMS. The thought of not having to stitch it up at the end is divine. I’ll be sure to show you how it turns out.

I also have this Jane Richmond pullover pattern(shown above) that I really want to make, but no yarn yet. So we’ll see if that happens this year or not. And then there’s my “Someday when I’m a knitting superstar” board on Pinterest where I dream about all the fabulous things I would knit if I had the time/ability. Here’s a few current favorites:

Source: ravelry.com via Rae on Pinterest

Source: needled.wordpress.com via Rae on Pinterest

Source: ravelry.com via Rae on Pinterest

Source: quinceandco.com via Rae on Pinterest

How about you? Is there a knitting pattern on your brain right now? Is it started or just a daydream yet?

By the way, I really do enjoy sewing and socialization together when it’s in the form of a SE Michigan Crafter Meetups (and there’s another one coming up, just next week: December Meetup!). There’s a big room full of machines and a bunch of crafty people and snacks, so it’s tons of fun. If you’ll be around SE Michigan next Thursday night, let us know you can come!

Cow girl

This is what she wore to Trader Joe’s the other day. You know, for our less-than-36-hours-at-home-before-we-get-on-a-plane-again shopping trip. Hey, we had to eat. And what do you say when your child asks to wear her (handmade) Halloween costume to the grocery store? YOU SAY YES, is what.

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So if you saw a little cow pushing around a mini-cart this past weekend, that was Clementine. And if it weren’t already obvious: the blond boy bumping into her with his mini-cart? Elliot.

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Sidenote: This fit her two years in a row. I was very excited about that.

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Is it too confusing that there are Halloween costume pictures on my blog the day before Thanksgiving? Sorry!!!

Posted in holidays
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Just gonna rub it in a little bit more

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Yup a bunch of you guessed right, we’re in Florida! Mr Rae’s parents rented a house in Clearwater Beach for the whole family (parents, siblings/spouses and kids) and it’s been really fun and warm. But it’s almost over, and then next week it’s off to Seattle for Thanksgiving to spend time with MY family. I tell you we are just a bunch of jetsetters this year. I did a little mental tally: this year I have been to San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, New York, Florida, and (next week) Seattle. That’s waaay more travel than normal for me, plus the first four were long weekends without kids (woot!) But Mr Rae wins hands down with so many trips out to New York and San Francisco in the past year I’ve lost count (he’s got a tech startup). Anyway. What was I talking about again? Oh yes. Florida! We spent a lot of our time here in the sand:

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And we took a side trip to Busch Gardens on what ended up being the hottest, most humid day we had all week.

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While we did enjoy the park a bunch, I have to be honest here: with a 2- and a 4-year old, I didn’t feel it was really worth the $$$ to get in. Elliot was a little disappointed that he couldn’t go on most of the rides he picked out on the map.

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But there’s a cute little area for preschoolers called the “Sesame Street Safari of Fun” so that’s where we spent most of our time:

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And they definitely had fun. But we joked that the four times Elliot rode on the Air Grover mini-coaster costed us roughly $50 each. And then there’s the issue of Ms C’s nap-time, which happens every day, whether we like it or not:

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So that was the end of our visit. Maybe we’ll wait until they’re each old enough to ride the big coasters before we go back. It’s a really great park…I just don’t have kids who can really appreciate it yet. They’re just as happy to play in the sand.

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Hope you’ve enjoyed the pictures of our trip! Glad I have a visual reminder for next week when I’m shivering again.

Posted in travel
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Flower Garden Dress

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At the very first SE Crafter’s Meetup ever last November, Emily brought some extra knit fabric along for me to take home (woot!). One of the knits was this amazing border knit that she had found for a bargain somewhere (and now I’m forgetting again Emily, was it Hancocks?). I loved this little garden of flowers along the border, especially these snails…

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I knew with such a detailed print that I needed a very simple pattern to show it off. I’ve made quite a few skinny tees for the kids lately just based on their measurements, so I just added a skirt to Clementine’s tee pattern to make the dress. Same idea as adding a skirt to a baby one-sie, really very simple. And I’m so happy with the result!

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And how many of us played with this same Fisher Price train, I’d like to know? Ours is still holding up well, 30+ years after it was first given to me when I was her age. Love this thing!

Pink Voile Tunic, for me

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Another project started in New York at the Heather Ross workshop, made with Anna Maria Horner’s Little Folks voile (also used for this Pierrot top for Clementine) and a variation of this basic pattern, just a very simple design I came up with that I’m starting to grow very attached to.

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I wanted some little pintucks to play with the plaid a little bit (maybe this isn’t technically “plaid”…but you still get what I’m talking about?), it breaks up the pattern just enough to be interesting without being too distracting.

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I can’t think of anything else to say about this tunic. Which is odd because normally I just blather on and on until I realize I’ve been puttering away at the same post for 3 hours and have to cut myself off.

Consider this a (brief) respite.

Another Dip in the Photo Pool: Charlieeeeeeeeeeeeee!

I’m loving all the new Charlie Tunics and Dresses that have appeared in the photo pool lately. Here are just a few of my favorites! Seriously, this Minnie Mouse is killing me:

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1. charlie tunic dress, 2. Tula Pink tunic 2, 3. Evelyn as Minnie Mouse, 4. Subject Charlie Tunic

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1. sewing september 025, 2. Sz 4 Charlie Tunic ELM_6065, 3. Untitled, 4. DSC_0109.jpg

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1. Charli(z)e Tunic, 2. Charlie Tunic (3), 3. new beach clothes, 4. Gingham Charlie tunic

In other news…

NEW CHARLIE POOL! I realized that we didn’t have a dedicated Charlie photo pool yet (oops) so I thought I would remedy that situation, stat. Now you don’t have any excuses not to share your great Charlie photos! It’s here: www.flickr.com/groups/charlietunics

NEW BACKPACK PATTERN! The new version of the toddler backpack pattern is now available in the pattern shop. You can see the changes I’ve made and learn what to do if you purchased the older version of the pattern but still want the updates right here.

CHARLIE DRESS? I am just now starting on the Charlie Dress pattern pieces *looks sheepish. ducks*. Everyone who emails me about this wants to know: a) when will it be ready? and b) how much will it cost? I don’t have answers to either question yet, but I do know that it will most likely be sold as an add-on pack to the original pattern. If there were two of me it would already be available. Hope that helps?


HANDMADE CHARLOTTE AT ANTHRO: I’m so excited for my friend Rachel at Handmade Charlotte! We met in person a few weeks ago at the Weekend Sewing Workshop in NY and she is a supercool individual and so much fun in person. Anthropologie is currently selling her mini-collection of children’s garments and it is super-cute (pictured above and below). LOVE that peacock coat. Anyone who has ever made handmade garments to sell knows how completely amazing this is. Congratulations Rachel!!!

Posted in charlie
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Moon coat for Elliot

One of the projects I worked on at the Weekend Sewing workshop a couple weeks ago was an Oliver+S Schooldays Jacket for Elliot. The moon fabric is from the Far Far Away II collection by Heather Ross, and the flannel inside is by Robert Kaufman.

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When Elliot is riding in the car he gets really excited when he sees the moon. He’ll point out the window and yell, “there’s the MOON!!!” It’s cute. What really kills me is that when we turn a corner and he sees the moon again a few minutes later he’ll yell, “ANOTHER MOON!” It’s as if, in his little universe, there are more moons around every corner. And of course this fabric just confirms the unlimited nature of the moon.

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This pattern (like all Oliver+S patterns) is really great! Even though sewing this coat is a somewhat involved/lengthy process, I like that Liesl breaks it down into really easy-to-follow steps, and the outcome is a really professional-looking finished garment. I made the coat exactly as specified by the pattern, with the exception of the button tabs, which come out of the side of the center panel rather than across it. I honestly liked the idea of using horn buttons for a duffle-coat effect better but then got too lazy to go out and find them and just settled for it this way because it seemed easier. I used magnetic snaps for the inside fasteners, and I like that it’s easy for him to put the coat on by himself as a result.

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He really just can’t help hamming for the camera.

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