Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Merry Month of October...

Home again!  I'm just back from a quick visit to see my mom.  She just had surgery and needed a little cheering up, and I needed to sit with her and see with my own eyes just how she was really doing—much better—thanks for asking.  My time with my mom this week was full of sweet moments.  A while back Annri blogged this lovely post about mothers and mothering and it has really stayed with me—she said it all so well—I love that about her.

What does a girl need for a short stay away from home?...

Well, I'll tell you...she needs at least a half dozen knitting books, a basket of wool for working on the mini-stocking knit along, her mystery socks, several odd skeins and stitch guides for random swatching, an apple coffee cake, a batch of cherry scones, an assortment of teas to help settle Mom's queasy tummy, at least two books for reading, because you don't know what you'll be in the mood for, a camera which she will promptly forget about until after she's left her mom, her ipod loaded with various podcasts, her favorite slippers and...oh yeah, a change of clothes...This is why it is dangerous for me to travel by car.

{sorry for the blurry pics in this post —my camera is being persnickety these days}

Now that I'm home, it's starting to look a lot like...

Have I told you how much I love this holiday?...the dressing up, the crafting, the pumpkins, the weather, the colors, and the candy!!!

 In the interest of full disclosure (you're only as sick as your secrets, right?) I will own up to the fact that this is about the time of year when I stop eating meals and just forage for candy.

I didn't even buy treats that I like this year and still today's lunch was a handful of candy corn and a cup of coffee...and I don't even like candy corn, but, after all, it is candy and it's here...pathetic, I know.

Even more than the candy though, I love the creative opportunities surrounding this holiday—so many fun crafts, so little time.  We made this little door pocket a while ago.  There have been many like this through the years.

It is a perfect first sewing project—perfectly imperfect!  Terrific for new sewing hands.  You will need some wool felt scraps, some buttons and yarn scraps to make this quick project.

Here's how...All we did was draw the outline of the shape we wanted onto a piece of paper, pinned the paper pattern to two layers of felt and cut around the edges.  Then we raided the button jar and the scrap pile for eyes a nose and a mouth.  Time to pin the facial features to one of the layers of felt and sew them on with a whip stitch or running stitch.  There is really no way to mess this up.  The results are always cute and a little funny.  Finally we layered the pieces of felt together and sewed around the edges using a blanket stitch.  Leave the top of the head open for candy, notes or whatever, and tack a ribbon or spare piece of felt to the inside back of the pocket for a handle and voila!  Easy-peasy, and once it is filled with candy, this cranky kitty is absolutely delectable!

This just in...

If you're still trying to figure out how your little darling is going to carry all of her Halloween loot, or if you're feeling the need for a festive and seasonal knitting bag/purse, you might want to check out the Going Batty Treat Bag pattern — free for all who want it! 

Glad to be back...I missed you!...Alison

Friday, October 23, 2009

Going Batty part deux...

After consulting with my crack computer team (love that guy), we have success.  Here is the link to the Going Batty Treat Bag pattern.  Thanks for your patience with all of this.

Have a great day!—xoxo—Alison

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A different kind of creating...

Creativity comes in many different forms in this house...

and I am so happy it does!

This is the middle fish—and a wonderful opportunity for the mama to exercise her letting go muscles...enough said.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Going Batty...

:Another beautiful fall day here in the middle of the middle!...I think that an after school trip to the pumpkin patch may be in order.  I have been feeling so cozy lately, wanting to bake and knit and play house—I have to keep reminding myself that there is a lotta' cozy coming up.  But these colorful fall days are numbered, and now is the time to get out there and enjoy it.

Here's what's been on the needles this week.  In addition to the mini stockings (ahem...we're on day 21—and am frightfully behind) and the mystery sock (fun, fun, fun!), I have been working on a new treat bag for the little lad.  This project super easy and it worked up in a twinkling.  Admittedly, I did do some ripping after the lad and I consulted and he informed me that the design might be nicer if the bat didn't  have eyes (he was  right, btw), and I did have to rearrange some of the yarn overs in my original design so that the batty pattern would be easily recognizable in this thick yarn, but other than that it just flew off the needles.  Now I know that Halloween is just 10 days away (we're counting them over here), but this really does zip up and if you have the inclination and a little bulky wool in your stash, you could have this done in a flash.

Okay the name of this bag—Going Batty—isn't just about the pattern motif.  I am having a bad computer day—problems importing this pattern here, but I wanted to post it here today—it's important to have a goal.  I have saved it as a document and as a pdf and I will consult with my crack computer team later tonight to see how best to get it posted here without having to retype the whole thing.  In the meantime, just email me if you would like me to send you the pattern.  {Got this fixed—here's the link to the pattern}

Okay, officially signing off for now...pumpkin patch here I come!...xoxo—alison

Friday, October 16, 2009

Happy weekending...

First of all, I want to share a glimpse of the birthday celebration and trunk show at Yarns Unlimited last Saturday.  I took lots of pictures, but the revelry, sugar and caffeine must have gotten to me, because they are almost all blurry (sigh), but you can see the trunk show and a little of the shop here at least.


This was such a fun event!  The day just flew by with lots of laughter, and knitting and cake eating!  Knitters really are some of the nicest people in the world (if I do say so myself)...supportive, joyous, creative, and funny...these women love to laugh and have a good time...practically perfect in every way!  It's been a while since I've had a day in the shop and this one was spectacular...knitters beginning new projects, hunting for yarn, lots of inspiring people ticking off the items on their holiday knitting list, beginners and true experts, and surprisingly, lots of really young knitters (like 9 and 10 year olds).  These kids are so amazing to me—many of them have worked their way through hats and socks and sweaters and they all have tried their hand at designing for their dolls.  I love how these little people have no fear or inhibitions around their knitting—they seem to be completely free of the second guessing and insecurities that sometimes plague us as we get older.  It makes me so happy to see their enthusiasm and joy in creating, and the fact that they are completely free from negative thinking chatter is a glorious thing to behold!

I've been thinking about internal chatter and creativity a lot lately.  For the past couple of weeks I've been taking a wonderful online course by Marisa of Creative Thursday.  I can't say enough good things about this course—it's really gotten me thinking.  One of the topics that has come up in the course is intention and blogging, which has brought up the question of how much of your "self" you are comfortable sharing online.  I'm still trying to find the balance there.  I don't want this to be a place for venting, I want it to be a place where I will feed my better self and connect with others.  At the same time, I want to remain honest and am going to indulge in some shameless self-reflection for the next few minutes—be forewarned and move on if you feel the need—I won't take it personally.

Needless to say, there has been much pondering around here lately...about happiness, the creative journey, my life at home and at large, about balance and congruency.  Two of the questions that Marisa asked in the first week were, what do you love about what you create and what does success look like to you.  A lot to think about, right?  This has been a real chance to step back and take a hard look at what makes me happy, where I want to go and how to get there, how I tick, what makes me wither and what makes me thrive.  I tend to be one of those people who is always running to the next thing—waiting has never been my strong suit.  It's not that I'm not a self-reflective person, it's more that I feel like a total slacker if I'm not doing something productive.  I want to do...fill in all the gaps with activity or productivity—that's not to say that I'm always productive, but it is to say that if I'm not, I am as likely as not, to berate myself.  I don't know if this sounds familiar to anyone out there, but I can't believe that I am unique in this.

I have had some wonderful opportunities in my life and have gotten to go places and do things that have challenged me, given me great joy and even some measure of success.  As a parent, a teacher, and a friend, I know that love, creativity, dreams, and individuality need to be nurtured.  As a mom,  I feel with my whole being, that it is my great privilege to nurture the souls in my keeping, to encourage them,  to guide and empower them, to hold their hand and to patiently and lovingly watch and wait for them to find their way, and then to let them go.  It's not rocket science, I know, but I am struck all of a sudden by the fact that I and, indeed, many of my friends do not nurture ourselves in remotely the same way.  How can my creativity thrive, my best self emerge, or my way become clear if I am perpetually striving to fill the gaps and being critical of myself.  For today, just for today—mind you—baby steps and all—it is my goal to parent myself as I would one of my kids, to give myself a little leash, to encourage myself to make choices that make me feel good—whether that means sitting and knitting on something that may or may not turn into something productive, taking a walk in the woods, doing the dishes or just moodling.  I'm not saying that I want to be an enabler of my own lethargy—after all sometimes what makes me feel good and able to be happy is getting things done and living in an orderly space, but sometimes, in those in-between, not-so-sure times a I might want to try a little tenderness.

Here's wishing you a little tenderness this weekend wherever your path may lead...Alison

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Show and tell...

Oh my!  Things really are getting away from me!...

I just realized that I never posted about the trunk show and Fairy Tale Knits book signing that the lovely ladies at Yarns Unlimited in Bloomington, Indiana are hosting this Saturday, October 10th from 1-3 pm.

I am so honored to be participating in this event, doubly so since it is the 30th anniversary of the shop.  Yes, you read right...Yarns has been helping spinners, weavers, dyers and knitters for thirty years.  Needless to say, this shop is a very special place, full of inspirational staff, positive energy and support for fiber enthusiasts from all walks of life and all levels of expertise.  When I moved to this area 13 years ago it meant leaving a town that I loved and a community of talented and supportive friends.  Yarns Unlimited made that transition a little easier for me (as they have for so many others) welcoming me with open arms and providing a warm and instructive environment.  Honestly, I can't say enough about this wonderful place.

So please, if you are in the area, come by and celebrate with us!...there will be food, fun, and, of course, lots of yarn.  I will be signing books and will have all of the samples from Fairy Tale Knits with me.  If you are unfamiliar with the book, you can read a review here.  I will also bring the Ladybug Coat (Fall Issue of Petite Purls) for show and tellI'd love to meet you if you can make it!...I'll be the one behind a big pile of little kid knits!...xoxo—Alison

Just for fun...

Too busy for words today, but I thought I'd share this little bit of silliness with you.  My husband introduced me to this game last night and it had us guessing and laughing for a good while.  The whole family got in on this ridiculous and oddly fun diversion...another way to waste time?...maybe...but at least you'll laugh while doing it!

Hope your day is happy!...Alison

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Weather report

Sunny...Perfect day for picking apples


Cool and Cloudy...

My little guy learns to shine shoes...and loves it!...Lucky me!!!

Rainy and cold...A day specially made for...

Working on the mystery sock knit along

Sitting with a friend and planning my stockings for the mini-stocking knit along

Curling up with some inspirational reads—loving all of these—

Hope your day is full of goodness and contentment, rain or shine... Alison

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Sock it to me October...

Yay!...October!  I am so happy to greet this new month!  I love September, but to be honest, it is often an odd month for me.  The end of summer and the beginning of fall always makes me feel a bit unmoored.  Fall is actually my favorite season, so you would think that September would be a walk in the park, but it's almost like my blood slows for those warm months and it just resists getting going, while in the brain, my thoughts are flitty and flighty.

Cue Socktober!...having spent the last month in a bit of a knitting funk, with lots of false starts and frogging I am turning over a new leaf and am embracing some of the sock love out there this month!... 

First, Kirsten Kapur's Mystery Sock Knit-Along.  This is too much fun!  This is my first ever knit along and I am really enjoying it.  She gives you the directions for one new section of the sock each week and at the end of the knit along you have the entire sock pattern and presumably a completed sock.  It is really fun knitting this, not really knowing where it's heading and being surprised all along the way—a great exercise on so many levels. 
And second, is this mini stocking knit along on Ravelry started by Annri over at the woolnest.  Okay, here is the spooky part...see these guys...

I started these little stockings last fall.  They were to be made into a holiday advent garland inspired by some of the links this post, much like the Advent garland in this post, but alas, I only made it to about twenty little stockings (some were used to adorn gift packaging)—these are what I had left over.  What I love about this is that my long lost friend (recently found—thank you blogosphere!), was doing the same thing in her living room several states away.  Given my history with this woman, this fact doesn't surprise me in the least.  It does make me so happy and it gives me a moment to think about how many of us are on this journey of creating, parenting, trying to work a little beauty and joy into our days.  I love thinking about how many others there are out there quietly making, putting a personal spin on old crafts.  This thought brings me joy and comfort and so much inspiration.

I started these stockings way to late last year to realistically get them done before December 1st, and I have to tell you I got some raised eyebrows from the non-knitters in the peanut gallery when I  was working so obsessively on these little stockings (you know who you are :)).  Now, I have a second chance.  I think that I might scrap these little guys and start afresh—I have some new ideas for the pattern, and I'm sure I can come up with something to do with these.  I am really looking forward to this—it will be so much fun and so inspiring to do this along side other knitters.  You should come play too!

It is rainy and cold here—perfect for getting cozy, knitting and baking....this is shaping up to be a very good weekend.  Hope yours is happy!...alison  

Thursday, October 1, 2009

And the winner be...

Today is the day!...It's time to pick a winner, and as predicted this was just way more fun than anyone should be allowed to have on a rainy Thursday afternoon!  It started with the cabin boy coming home from school and immediately beginning a search for socks with holes in them, because as I was reminded, "All pirates wear socks with holes in them, Mom."  Alas, none were to be found—I did away with them in a back-to-school pitching  frenzy.  But undaunted, the lad donned his pirate kit and forged on...

Who will it be mateys?  Aaarrr...let me reach into me bag here....


Aye, we've got a winner here and her name be...

Joyce Anna!  Congratulations!  I'll be contacting you via Ravelry and sending this off to you soon! 


Woohoo!  If you'd like to see the exciting video footage of the actual drawing, here it is!

And now because I am so happy that you stopped and because I don't like to think of anyone going away empty handed, I present you with yet another cookie recipe.  These are the lad's favorite...Pumpkin Chocolate Chip!  He doesn't look too happy to share, does he?...he is a pirate after all...


Aaahh...the joys of virtual get to share your cookies and eat them too...

The recipe for these cookies is written on a piece of notebook paper that is tattered and stained and well worn—my favorite kind of recipe.  It was given to me by a friend, back in the dark ages when I was still in college.  I don't know where Thor got the recipe, but it is definitely a keeper, and as you can see we love it around here.

Thor's Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup pureed pumkin
1 beaten egg
1/2 cup veg oil (we use canola)
1 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups all unbleached all purpose flour
1 tsp cinamon
1 tsp milk (yes, 1 teaspoon—weird I know)
1 tsp vanilla
1 pkg chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

There are no other specifications for this recipe—you just dump everything in the bowl and mix until smooth.  I usually add the ingredients in the order given in the recipe, but it doesn't really seem to matter how you do it as long as it all goes in and gets incorporated.  Scoop rounded spoonfuls onto a parchment-lined baking sheet (you can use a greased baking sheet and eliminate the parchment paper, but I am lazy and am a firm believer in the virtues of parchment paper—you can even reuse it if you want).  Bake cookies for 10 to 12 minutes.  Cool and devour.

These cookies have a soft, cake-like crumb and are positively sublime when they are warm from the oven and the chocolate is still soft.  Pair them with a cup of coffee or a cold glass of milk and it's perfection....mmmmm....

Thanks again to all of you who commented and entered the contest!  What a fun and nice bunch you all are!  xoxox—Alison