Sunday, November 28, 2010

Advent Angel


I decided it should be a special little angel who would guide us along the spiral path.

She greeted the girls this morning. Chessa as the youngest got to place her on the first star. Chloe is so looking forward to her turn tomorrow.

We had a simple dinner of stew and fresh baked bread. Afterward we gathered in the candlelight and read our first Advent story. Tiptoes Lightly of course, the Festival of Stones. I had a wooden bowl with some crystals in it and after the story we each chose a crystal and placed it around the Advent Spiral.

And the loveliest soft snow fell all day long.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Handmade Holiday ~ Wool Advent Calendar Tutorial


We have celebrated Advent for the past several years now, but I never think of making an Advent calendar until the last minute. This year I remembered in plenty of time though, if you can call one week plenty of time.

I spent most of this beautiful snowy day working on the calendar. I took pictures as I went along and am trying to get this posted right away, in case you want to make a last minute (I mean a well planned out, way ahead of time) Advent calendar too.

I had a felted wool sweater which I cut to use as a base. You could use a large sheet of felt as well. My piece is about 12 x 16 inches. I cut it kind of oval but with a flatter bottom and a rounder top. I like this dark blue, reminding me of a cold winter night sky.

I then took some yellow/gold wool roving, made a frame around my base, and gently needle felted it in place.

I made two star templates, a larger one for the Sundays in Advent, smaller stars for the days in between. I chose my colors of wool felt to make the stars.. a soft white, a beautiful turquoise, a bright yellow, and a darker gold for the bigger stars.

And then I cut out lots and lots of stars.

I decided to have 28 spaces on our Advent calendar. We will begin along the path on the first Sunday of Advent (November 28th this year) and we will reach the end of the path on Christmas. In years when the season is shorter we will just have to move along the path a bit more quickly during the last week. You could just do 24 or 25 spaces instead though and always start your calendar on December 1st.

Then I laid out the stars in a spiraling path.

Satisfied with their position I began needle felting them into place. I have done lots of needle felting but always with roving, not felt sheets.. it's lots of fun! Just hold the smaller stars very carefully as you try to get them secure with the first few pokes. At first they may want to lift right up, but they will soon start to hold. I went around the path getting each one at least a bit attached to begin with, then I didn't have to worry about them shifting as I went back around and made them more secure. As with most needle felting projects how much or how little you want to felt them is up to you. I liked my stars best needle felted well down onto my base. I am not even really quite done yet, and I may felt the border some more also.

I have not yet decided who or what will be traveling along the path. I thought perhaps Mary, but I think she will be waiting until the last Sunday of Advent to make her appearance.

The first week we will bring our crystals and stones to our Advent spiral.

The second week we will add plants. I hope to make some wool trees and I will share this part of the project too as soon as I get to it. Another idea would be to just add pine cones, or some small evergreen stems. These will have to go somewhere around the outer edge of the calendar.

The third week we will add animals, maybe a little sheep and some birds. (Thinking out loud here, I'm glad I will have some time each week to work on this rather than having to do it all at once.)

And then on the fourth Sunday we will be greeted by Mary. She will then continue along the path and be joined by her Child of Light on Christmas day. (And possibly Joseph too, but he might have to wait until next year...)

You could leave your Advent calendar much more simple though. Just the spiral star path with a special little something to move along the path.. acorn, a crabapple, an angel, a little shepherd boy, some of the ideas I have had so far...

I will continue to share my progress as the rest of the details come along. I sure am looking forward to this cozy season of creating!


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Yarn Along, WIP, Handmade Holiday


Really, this post is all of those things in the title. I am especially excited to be joining sweet Ginny for the Yarn Along posts that she has been doing. (Except for I just realized I may be breaking the rules by posting more than one photo...)

So the girls and I have been reading these Caroline Years books by Maria D. Wilkes. Caroline as in Little House on the Prairie, Laura's Ma. Between our two nearby towns libraries they have the whole series, five books. This is good because it can be so hard to find good books at the library. And also super good because it's almost like having more Laura, we read through those nine Little House books so fast. Chloe reads them all the time still. She just chooses a certain book or certain chapters that she wants to read. And yesterday she was reading Farmer Boy out loud to her daddy :)

We have had these books out on the table a few times lately. Planning some of our holiday baking. It makes us happy to include traditions from Tasha Tudor's cookbook. And I have decided that Baking Bread with Children is one of the very best Waldorf early years books. Full of not just bread baking and love, but so many wonderful stories, songs, blessings too!

If you asked the girls what their favorite picture from the Tasha Tudor cookbook is then they would probably say this one. I sure do love it also.

And now I realize I almost forgot to tell you about my knitting. These are the legwarmers I am knitting for Chessa for Christmas. And they just happen to be a pattern from Ginny. I am using size 8 needles, but for a 6 year old, and will probably do the same for Chloe's but longer. These pink ones are about 12 inches long. I am trying to make them so that they can pull them up above their knees or fold them down below. The first legwarmer has quite a few mistakes, but somewhere along the way I started learning how to fix my mistakes. That is good. Making a mistake in knitting often causes me to panic. I am feeling a little bit better about it now though.

So that's a little start to my handmade holiday making. I hope to have both sets of legwarmers done soon so I can move on to sewing. I have been doing some dress pondering, which then turns into pinafore pondering, and then I think maybe just simple blouses and skirts. Indecisive, and limited in fabric options, but excited to make something...

And now to get some more knitting done...


Sunday, November 14, 2010

the light of faithful knowing


Hello dear friends! I do hope everyone has been enjoying beautiful days, with a lovely Martinmas festival if you celebrate it.

Ours was a nice and simple day. Pretty exciting that I was finally able to make one of these star lanterns. I tried two years in a row and this is my first successful one, though far from perfect. I actually gave up twice during the day, but as the late afternoon was growing darker I became once again determined, and suddenly I had it. The watercolor painting I used was one I painted when Chloe was in Kindergarten. The girls took the scrap pieces and decided to cut out a bunch of little stockings to be holiday decorations. Chloe had earlier in the week made such a nice centerpiece with apples and an orange candle on a little tree round, we didn't want to take away the apples so we gathered them around the lantern.

We also brought out our lanterns from last year.

And we read magical stories from Tiptoes Lightly. June Berry and Tom Nutcracker have their lantern festival at school, an angel leads the children on their lantern walk and then tells the the story of St. Martin's Light.

The light of faithful knowing. Such a wonderful thing to celebrate!


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

WIP and Handmade Holiday


Yes, more granny square happiness. This is my little sampler project, another autumn garland. I was going to hang it above the nature table to add some color to our very white walls, but now we have the felted leaf garland there instead. So I'm still deciding where it will go. I do need to decide soon though, since it won't be autumn for too much longer. I also don't know if I will put it away when the season changes, or if I might find a place where it can brighten up the house all year long.

I also just finished a big sewing project. A blog friend who is taking part in a Handmade Holiday had asked me if I would make some prairie style nightgowns for her two daughters. Long and pink and with ruffles and matching was the request. I was super happy to oblige. I love too this post she wrote about her thoughts and family's traditions for gift giving at holiday times. They do much the same as we do. Though as to what we do, I will save that for another post, becasue this one is really about "the list".

It seems like so long ago now that Tonya began her wonderful Handmade Holiday project. And perhaps I thought that she was just a bit too far ahead at the time. I should have known though, she is such a wise friend, I should have listened... Now here it is November, and I am of course just beginning. (In my defense though, remember I had to finsih the nightgowns first, and there was autumn crafting to do. It seems like autumn crafting should come before Christmas making.)

Well, looking back to last year, my timing is just about the same. Really I did look back at my gift ideas post from last November. And no, I did not at all get everything made. I never intended to. My lists will go on forever.

So, I think my list this year is something like...

Dresses, of course, like every year, to be given on winter solstice. But if I don't have enough fabric to make dresses, especially for tall tall Chloe, then I may have to make skirts instead.

I want to knit something warm and cozy for them. I think legwarmers. I need a project I can easily work on in the evenings. This would be it.

I am considering making them little granny square afghans for their dolls. Or maybe extra tiny ones for their dollhouse dolls.

From my list last year, I still want/need to make them needle books. Because it concerns me sometimes, all those sewing needles lying about! So I will really try to do this. And I would love to be working on an embroidery project so maybe a little something on their needle books.

And we will make them some kind of plaything but I haven't thought about that yet. Perhaps a little dollhouse doll, or wool animals, or wool playscape! I will start thinking of ideas, while I knit...

It's a vague list, but it's a start, and I'm feeling more productive already.

Happy creating and handmade holiday to you!


Monday, November 1, 2010

Celebrating Autumn


Welcome November! Here we are, right in the middle of this autumn season. Though in some ways it feels like it only just recently began. Such a warm September, no frost, gardens growing until late October! Cosmos towering above our heads. And then finally the cold came. And we have had some days that were not much above 40 degrees. And I am not really sure how I feel about this coldness. (Actually I totally do not like it, I am just pretending I am okay with it.) Mostly though we are happily celebrating all the warm cozy feelings that this beautiful season brings.

There has been lots of apple picking, the start of seasonal baking, and yesterday the making of pumpkin moonshines and roasting pumpkin seeds.

We have done a few little autumn crafts, one day a couple weeks making this autumn leaf garland. We laid out wisps of autumn colored wool and gently needle felted them into leaf shapes, then added on the the veins of the leaves. The girls each made several themselves, this was one of Chessa's first needle felting projects. (Six years old with a felting needle?) (Does this count as a tutorial, since I kinda told you how to make it? I guess probably not, since no photos...) We just strung the leaves on thread and hung them above our nature table. Oh, I have a clever little tip for you... you can use beeswax to hang things up. Sticks to walls really well. It is surprisingly strong, though of course things do have to be somewhat light. I learned this from the girls. They use beeswax for everything. It is everywhere. That's a whole other story though...

So, I hope you have all been having many wonderful autumn days. Now we continue celebrating lantern season!

p.s. I just remembered.. do you see that little acorn autumn fairy on the right corner of our nature table? This was a gift last year from my sweetheart friend Rachel (who you might know as Rae) and she is giving one away at Morning Sun Rae. She is great. If you have something made by her in your home then that is a very special thing. I love having this bit of love from her on our autumn nature table :)