Tag Archives: crafty

Knit knot knat that

So I apparently lost the run of myself entirely on Sunday and decided that I should knit some mittens. I looked up some patterns and they mostly seemed to call for circular needles, which sounded far too scary and not what I was envisaging at all, but all it took was some mild encouragement from a friend on Facebook and I was out the door ostensibly to replenish our milk and beer supplies but actually to sneak in a quick trip to Joanne’s Fabrics and Crafts for another ball of wool and a pair of circular needles.

I didn’t even buy what the pattern told me to – I had the audacity to think I knew better than that – so I picked up some chunky (but not extra chunky) yarn in a nice aubergine colour that I thought nobody in the family would object to and the needles it said would be best for it. My thinking was that I would knit an experimental mitten and it – and, all going well, its mate – would go to whomever it happened to fit.

I also picked up milk and beer, to keep the ravening hordes at bay while I immersed myself in knit one purl two and also discovering, thanks to the delights of YouTube tutorials, the arcane skills of ssk (that’s slip slip knit) and M1 (make one) and other such hieroglyphs. And I cast on my stitches and started to knit.

Mitten in progress

Fillet o’ mitten

It was a strangely euphoric experience, watching something grow from my own hands. I gestated a mitten, shall we say. (Clearly I am having some issues with this no-more-babies thing.)

By later that evening I was live-tweeting the mitten’s creation. You probably missed it, so I will helpfully reproduce my tweets here.

You want to know the knitting joke, don’t you? Dash asked how I knew how to do braille. He meant purl, but I thought it was pretty good because purl is the bumpy side, just like braille. Sort of.

I spent last night dreaming stitches and needles. Today I finished the second mitten. They fit Dash, who is gratifyingly delighted with them. I have another ball of wool in my bag and I’m just itching to get off to Joanne’s and buy the right size circular needles to make Mabel a pair of gloves. In fact, in their absence I’m researching hat patterns. And I still have to finish my scarf…

Dash in mittens

Be-mittened boy

I’m sorry. I know you didn’t come here looking for a craft blog. I wouldn’t either. I’ll try to keep the knitting talk to a minimum.

(But if you really want to know, here’s the technical stuff. I’d never followed a knitting pattern of any sort before, or used circular needles, so that’s got to be a good recommendation for it being pretty simple.

I used this pattern for 45-minute mittens from Susan B Anderson. I made them with Lion Brand Wool-Ease Chunky in aubergine on 10.5 US (6.5mm) circular needles. The only other things I needed were a row counter – helpful, not essential – and a yarn or darning needle.)

Uncharacteristic pursuits

Apparently aliens landed and replaced me with a badly researched clone of myself the night before last, because yesterday saw me painting watercolours with the children and also gardening.

Or else it’s the spring air.

Mabel had been painting again the day before, and seemed to enjoy it so much that when I was at Target in the morning I picked up a watercolour pad I’d seen before and some brushes that looked a little more decent than the “brush that comes with the 1.99 paint set” we had at home. It was a raging success.

Mabel's assortment

Mabel’s assortment

The pad has 20 sheets of proper, thick, watercolour paper for 2.99, which seemed like okay value to me – though since we went through every one of them yesterday, I think I’ll be heading to an actual art-supply shop next time I’m feeling the urge. The brushes were also 4.99 for a selection of five different sizes, and they’re much nicer quality than the crappy Rose Art brushes I’d bought before. Both were from the Target Kid Made Modern range, which I really like. Their products are my new go-to kid birthday presents.


Dash’s stormy sky

My dad paints lovely watercolours, but he’d never really given me a lesson. I gleaned the tiny amount of knowledge I have much more recently, from Joanna and Emily. I talked about wetting the paper first with the big brush and soon the kids and I were happily bandying about the term “colour wash” as if we all knew what we were talking about.

One of my favourites by my Dad

One of my favourites by my Dad

(Okay, this is such a bloggy love-in bit here, but I have to explain. Actually, it’s all down to Jane at That Curious Love of Green. Jane asked Joanna to write a guest post on her blog showing how she does her lovely watercolours. And Joanna based her picture on a photo I had previously put on my blog. In the same series, Emily painted a beautiful picture for Jane to give away – and I won it, so it now graces my hallway here. I love the Irish bloggers.)

My lovely painting by Emily

My lovely painting by Emily

Meanwhile, in the garden, I discovered that our huge and indestructable rosemary bush had gone from partly dead to entirely and irrevocably dead, and was actually looking pretty atrocious, out there right in front of the house. So I cut it back as much as I could with the shears, in advance of informing The Muscles that we need to lug it out altogether. I also discovered that our poor rhodedendron looks so pathetic because it’s being crowded out by about four small trees that seeded themselves and started growing up right beside it. Apparently you have to keep a close eye on things or else they grow without permission. Then I dug up some dandelions and called it a day. My back did not thank me for that hour and I have strange pains in my forearms today. Much like housework, gardening is dangerous.

My masterpiece

My masterpiece

I think I’ll stick to painting.

My day in Upworthy headlines

You Won’t Believe What This Mom Gave her Kids for Breakfast!
[Spoiler: not pancakes]

You’ll Be Amazed By How the County Reacted To These Three Inches Of Snow!
[Spoiler: They closed the schools. Again.]

These Children Had a Snow Day. You’ll Be Astounded by the Amount of Squabbling That Ensued.
[Spoiler: lots]

Ten Fabulous Ways to Entice Your Children to Turn Off the TV. [Spoiler: The TV is still on.]

You Won’t Believe How This Mother Chose to Entertain Her Kids for Yet Another Snow Day. [Spoiler: Something from the Clearance crafts aisle at Target.]

Quiz: Which piece of random crap on my carpet are you?
[Results will be either: 1×1 Lego brick, tiny elastic band, melty bead, sequin, cheerio, rice-cake morsel, or squishy inside of an Oreo cookie.]

Five beautiful Pinterest crafts that look far too much like hard work.

Seven snack foods that you can eat standing up while your kids are distracted.
[Hint: My countertops are exactly the color of dark chocolate. Or a Thin Mint.]

This Mother Served Leftovers for Dinner Again: Wait Till You See Her Husband’s Reaction! [Spoiler: He ate them.]

This Woman Has a Blog: You Won’t Believe Her Latest Post!
[Spoiler: Done.]

Children with melty beads

Newest snow-day activity: melty beads!

Rubber bands

Just because both children had things to look forward to planned for school on Thursday – the 100th day party for Mabel and both his first honor-roll assembly and the opportunity to present his project in front of students and parents for Dash (and let’s just forget how I feel in theory about honor-roll; I still think it’s silly and unfair, but you can bet your bottom dollar I was planning to be there) – we had a ton of snow that night and school was cancelled. Then there was more snow the next night and Friday’s school was cancelled for Mabel too. (Dash had a long-standing day off for teacher training anyway.)

So the idea of this probable oncoming snow day struck fear into my heart on Wednesday. My kids do not always want to spend a lot of any given snow day actually outside in the white stuff, and Dash is not the best with unstructured free time. In spite of the zillion other things I had to do that morning while Mabel was at school, I made time to stop off at Target to buy 1400 rubber bands.

At this point you are either nodding in agreement or a bit confused. If you don’t have a tween girl you might not know that rubber band bracelets are the thing these days. When I was in second grade I remember making pompoms by wrapping wool around two donuts of cardboard. At some later date everyone was making friendship bracelets out of embroidery thread. I was never at the cutting edge of fads, and I’m neither crafty nor hailing from crafty stock, so if I did these, I can guarantee that pretty much every single other girl in school was doing them too just then.

A while ago the existence of this current craze came to my attention and I congratulated myself on not having a girl old enough to be interested in or find out about such things. The next day, as I dropped Mabel off to school, one of the boys in her class proudly showed me the bracelet he had made himself that weekend, so I was clearly wrong on both counts there; but I kept my head down and ignored the evidence. A few weeks later Dash mentioned that all the kids in his class were making bracelets with rubber bands and that he’d like to too. I filed that away under “future endeavours.”

It seemed that Thursday’s snow day would be just the time to unfile it. I had heard from the mom of the five-year-old boy that the loom was pretty complicated and that perfectly easy bracelets could be made using a pencil. Also that explanatory videos were to be found on YouTube. So on Wednesday I selected two packs of tiny rubber bands from the “current fads” section of Target (where they keep the Pokemon cards and the baseball cards – yes, really – and Skylanders cards and whatever else the kids are doing these days) and went on my way.

Thursday began, as I have mentioned, with a thick cloak of snow beautifully covering everything. After the cursory trip outside in it, at the point when life in general was weighing heavy upon the children, I announced that I had a new thing for us to do. I produced the rubber bands, we watched the video, and we got down to business. By the end of the day, Dash had made ten bracelets, Mabel six, and I had made four. (What? They made me do it.) By Friday afternoon there was a knock-down drag-out screaming fight over the last four red rubber bands, which I had to confiscate, and Dash had made another three or four.

Kids making bracelets, one in progress on two pencils, and the finished products.

The obvious next step is to figure out how I can leverage this industry for profit. Every second other family, apparently, has a surplus of these bracelets in the house, so I don’t think we can flog them to the unsuspecting public, lovely and unique as they are.

It might be time to teach him to knit.