archive for 'kidstuff'
very last day of the holidays today, so i’m really hoping i’ll have time for proper sketching from now on. but by way of celebration that we all survived unscathed i had to share some of M’s fantastic drawings she’s been doing lately. they crack me up. i particularly like the begging action-hands of the sister at left, and the evil naysaying mother (“can’t you tell she’s evil by her grin?”).
more of M’s stuff on my flickr
to be fair, yes, it’s just a toy, and i think it might be fine for short lengths – mats, pouches etc. – but the instruction book leads you to believe it’s possible to make a scarf, so that’s what we tried. the problem lies in the construction of the loom – putting tension on the warps pulls the bottom bar (cloth bar?) out of its slot. the problem got more pronounced as i wrapped more fabric around the bar, as i guess this angles both bar and warp threads so it’s more inclined to pull out. this was absolutely the longest length i could get before the loom became completely impossible to use. the system for tensioning the warps through little holes with pegs, whilst ingenious, is pretty fiddly to use too (although with the basic design flaw you really don’t want to be advancing very much anyway).
added to the problem of the loom itself was my choice of yarn. as with our previous weaving adventure i decided to use cotton as, basically, that’s all i have in any quantity. of course i soon found out why wool is suggested – the cotton is smooth and slippy and doesn’t want to hold in a balanced weave. i think we were actually okay for yarn weight/sett and something with more fuzz might have turned out quite acceptable. as it was the cotton really wanted to smoosh together a lot more, turning out more of a weft-faced fabric.women’s work: the first 20,000 years.
in between cursing the loom i had fun too, the basic process had just the right balance of repetition and concentration, and i like how quickly it comes together at the wefting stage. i didn’t find the warping too onerous and i liked the observation that what we think of as “weaving”, where you’re adding in the weft, is actually only half of the process, that warping is weaving too. i think i would thoroughly enjoy the process on the right loom. um, anyone know if the schacht flip loom is available in the uk?
edit: fibrecrafts will be stocking the flip in about a month’s time…
to that end i got her kids weaving by sarah swett for her birthday. to be fair i’ve seen it recommended as a great beginner’s guide for adults, with its design for a bargain loom made of plumbing pipes, so let’s call it a joint present (who was it doing all the hard work 4 years ago, eh?).
i was really impressed at how quickly she picked up the first project, weaving paper strips together, i only had to show her once and she was away. and while i knew she wouldn’t have anywhere near the patience for the little woven bag, made on a cardboard loom (hell, i barely had the patience to finish the thing… ), i was impressed at how she maintained her interest in the project as i worked it. she did manage to thread the needle through the warps, even though she found it really tricky, but it became her main job to flatten down the “hill” of yarn with a plastic fork. she got really into it, insisting she could do it without further direction “don’t tell me what to do mama!”. my willing assistant did tend to wander off at intervals taking her fork with her though, as the tale of mrs fork she was weaving concurrently with my efforts took her in other random directions
as for the finished article, i’m quite impressed. i remember rigging up similar cardboard looms as a kid, but not having any guidance i had no idea how to warp them to actually produce a useable item at the end. so i’d end up with a piece of cardboard with raggedy bits of wool attached that would eventually get binned. this on the other hand is a proper little baggie. not having a vast stash of wool yarn and not reading the directions to the end i used cotton yarn for the weft, not realising it was supposed to be fulled to hold it all together. as it is there are fewer holes than i expected and the only modification i would make for using cotton yarn is to knot in the ends of new threads rather than just overlapping. it’s supposed to have a drawstring that weaves through the little square sections (that have gaps between) but once it got to this stage we discovered it made a perfect sleeping bag for a gruffalo – his arms go out the side holes – so we never felt the need.
i decided to go overboard on the theme thing: i bought a couple of sticker/activity book versions of the two stories to go in it, hence the size of the bag, which is quite big for a kid’s bag, but i made the straps long enough for her to carry it over her shoulder, so hopefully it won’t be dragging on the ground!whipup recently and tracked it down to happythings.
i think the fact that i’ve never made a tote bag before and worked it out from scratch meant i chose prolly not the most efficient way of putting it together. it was the cutting and – most of all – fusing that seemed to take forever. i pieced each side of the outer bag and lining and then fused everything onto a stiff interfacing (so there are 2 layers of interfacing throughout). i like the fact that it’s sturdy enough to stand up on its own, although i’d expect it to soften gradually with use and eventual inevitable washing. if i ever made a bag like this again i’d without doubt use a sew-in interfacing to save time. the handles were made with a bias tape maker (prym beats hemline hands down, this one flattens the fabric sufficiently to actually work!), again outer fabric and lining both interfaced (slightly narrower than the tape) then topstitched together.pencil rolls i decided to include pencil pockets inside the bag. i interfaced one layer of the spotty lining fabric, then stitched the long edges right sides together with another layer, turned and topstitched one long edge (the top of the pocket). then topstitched the bottom edge onto the main lining piece and stitched in the pencil channels (1″ wide, marked with masking tape, which is conveniently 1″ wide). this was all done before the lining pieces were assembled.
the sewing everything together was nice and quick, but if there’s a trick to sewing the bottoms neatly – and if there is please someone tell me! – i didn’t get it. it probably doesn’t involve trying to sew a rectangular piece in for the base, which is what i did, and although i fudged the corners a bit it turned out a lot better than it could have donelined, there’s swanky ) came together so quickly and easily, and i even managed to catch the fact that the riding hood print is directional and so would need seaming before i cut the fabric! i just reversed the fabrics so the “lining” seam was on the outside rather than inside. it’s not the most elegant of solutions, especially given my rather wonky topstitching, but it was quick and dirty and didn’t require too much extra brainwork, since i was resizing the pattern so had to work out my own measurements for where to leave the casing gap anyway.
now i just have to figure out how to wrap it…
isn’t she a cutie? she’s actually my v2, as v1 is still in production. she’s a belated kinda-valentines pressie for M’s best friend. we’re a non-valentines household usually, but they made cards at school, M chose to give hers to us (as school intended, i presume) but T gave hers to M. cue T getting rather upset that no-one had given her a card. M made a card the next day, rather out-of-genre since it was of a tropical island (she thought it up and made the whole thing by tearing and sticking paper herself, it was fabby). but T had admired the octopus i was working on, so we thought she might like one of her very own, in pink, her favourite colour.
the pattern (here) was a joy to work, up to a point. there was no indication of the finished number of stitches per round, so when i thought i may have screwed up there was no way to check. the way the legs curl is just so damn cute, but the pattern was rather opaque when it came to the part where you attach the underside of the legs to the underside of the body. since each is done as the leg is worked, it’s not possible to just rip back the bits you realise are totally wrong without undoing the entire underside of the legs as well. i still haven’t figured a way of working them i’m totally happy with, and i got no reply to a plea for help from the pattern maker.
yay for working to the quality control standards of 4 year olds is all i can say. still, everyone who’s seen them wants one, so i’ll have plenty of time to practice and work out a method i’m happy with.
okay hands up who knew custard creams (the biscuits themselves, not the filling) are made with custard powder…
i swear this isn’t turning into a cooking blog, i mostly wanted to share my excitement at our latest purchase: 101 (really!) cookie cutters in every shape under the sun, from lakeland – i only slightly wanted to show off my biscuits
when the parcel arrived thismorning we played guessing games about what could be inside, M spent ages getting in through the tape and unpacking the box. we got every single cutter out and pondered over what it was supposed to be, we counted all the numbers and went through the whole alphabet, she spent half an hour or so acting out convoluted stories with them, we eventually made some biscuits. then she spent the rest of the evening occupying the
box boat they arrived in with an assortment of stuffed toys. tomorrow we may get round to decorating them. now that’s what i call play value
another simple but recommended project, especially for preschoolers who recognise some letters but aren’t yet reading. i wrote out the words we needed, we identified the letters together and went through a pile of catalogues from the recycling finding nice big colourful examples. placing each cut out letter in the appropriate spot on top of my written example made it easy to spot which ones we needed next.
it’s good for looking at different type styles and capital vs small letters. M loved spotting the different letters and felt very clever when she deduced a new one (she doesn’t know “r” yet, but could work out the sound because she knows “oo” and “m” and what the whole word said). it also introduced some new punctuation – she recognisies “explanation marks” and that question marks usually mean “what?” (thanks to asterix) – but this is the first time she’s encountered an “impostro-me”
we enjoyed finding the letters so much we decided to add an extra word, it was M’s suggestion to make it fantastic. i can’t claim originality for this idea, it comes from crafty ideas from junk, recently picked up in a charity shop.
oh and i get that this rather lets the cat out of the bag on M’s identity, but i figure that pictures aren’t searchable, so once this drops off the front page she can return to her shadowy secret life just out of the frame in my photos (lol, if photos had a soundtrack you’d certainly hear her singing in the background on most of mine).
i just couldn’t resist the ripple blanket craze that’s sweeping the planet (well, here and here). but having neither the patience nor the mighty stash with which to accomplish such a feat i’ll settle for a doll-sized one.
it’s around 4″ x 5″, 4-ply cashmere, 2.5mm hook. i was surprised to be unable to easily find simple instructions for the ripple pattern online, but crochet workshop came up trumps. the diagram that explains the structure of the pattern is worth a thousand sets of written instructions where the overall pattern is a mystery until at least 2 rows in. i can see i’m going to love this book.
i didn’t have enough colours to go for the random stripe effect, so i thought i’d do a coloured stripe on the blue. when it turned out the colours in the wallpaper were pink, orange and green on blue i thought i may as well chuck them all in. i’m enjoying working with this yarn in different combinations, i find it interesting how different they can look.
the above pic is after washing you can see how much it’s bloomed compared to the stringy pre-washed pic. seeing as my motto for the dollshouse turns out to be the same as my overall parenting motto (“good enough”) there was no way i was weaving all those ends. after another wash the clipped ends will have felted into the knots completely.
now i must go and investigate that annoying smudge which appears to be on the bottom of my lens.
we have a much-played-with but sadly rather tatty dolls’ house. admittedly i never expected it to be treasured and well cared for, seeing as she was only 2 when she got it. all the soft furnishings that came with it have been shredded and it’s been repeatedly defaced too (i say rather her dolls’ house than my walls and furniture).
i thought that now she’s older, perhaps a little tlc wouldn’t be wasted. when i can work out the best way to paint it i’ll do that, but once the idea had formed i couldn’t wait to conform to proper decorating sequence – i had to paper the walls.
the scale isn’t right, but all the specifically designated dollshouse wallpaper i could find was a) stupidly expensive and b) dull dull dull, so i used scrapbooking papers from twopeasinabucket. i chose the designs and M decided where each one should go. of course that was entirely different to what i’d had in mind when choosing. i would have put the spots in the living room, the yellow flowers in the kitchen, the atomic in the kids’ (attic) room, the crosses in the adults’ room and the starburst flowers in the bathroom.
now i find myself at once drawn and repelled by the notion of adult women doing out dolls’ houses. i can really see the attraction of having *total* control over a house space. of being able to decorate and furnish it at will – without real world price restrictions – and have everything remain where you put it when you close the door. i can also understand to an extent the joy of miniature (i was stupidly taken with the mini-mac – thread). i think i’m uneasy at the implications of arrested development and – much more significantly – the utterly depressing aesthetic that appears to prevail in the 1:12 scale world. now i have to add that i’ve not looked deeply into this, but what i’ve seen in my intermittent browsing of those ebay categories has scared me off pretty effectively.
now if there were more furnishings available along these lines i could easily become hooked:
see more amazing pics and read the shopping sherpa’s spot-on discussion here.
but this dolls’ house is most definitely M’s not mine. which thankfully relieves me of the pressure of having to get the whole thing right, and allows me to just have fun with it. which is a damn good job because the papering was about as tricky as real world papering. i used watered down pva and got bubbles and creases galore. mostly they don’t show too badly, but i see them and it grates (heh, i notice i picked the creasiest corner for the closeup ). gradually i’d like to add more furnishings, carpets, curtains, etc, but i’m happy with this as a start.
kid projects chez stitch usually go one of 2 ways:
1) the “can we make one of those?” project (usually a response to a telly make): give M a pile of supplies and the messy tablecloth, hide self behind lappie with a coffee, sum total of my involvement being an “oh yes lovely sweetheart” or perhaps some cutting out.
2) the mission critical project (e.g. xmas cards): hover over M with gritted teeth trying to explain medium-specific conventions e.g. inside and outside of a card, how it needs to fit in an envelope etc. failing dismally to balance artistic freedom with the production of a usable end product and everyone becoming more and more fraught.
happily this project was none of the above, perhaps heralding a new era of kid concentration/ability approaching a balance with mama perfectionism this was a true collaboration. we spotted the foil tray at nanny’s and i suggested cutting out the indentations and backing them with sweet papers (dada manfully helped out on the acquiring-sweet-wrappers front). i cut the windows and M directed me in cutting and placing the papers. trying to keep the glue out of the window spaces was beyond her and she shares some of my perfectionist traits and gets frustrated when she can’t get it how she thinks it should be and refuses to go on.
she was very specific about having one colour per window even though i tried to encourage her to see how the different colours interacted when they were overlapped. but once the windows were done she decided we had to use up the spare bits by cutting into thin strips. again she directed me with great precision in placing each piece. the glittery bows were just because