Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Now Starring...

Baby gifts!  A friend just hired me to make 4 different baby gifts for her 4 friends who are due at various times over the next 6 months.  It was so much fun going through the process of deciding what she wanted made for each one and tailoring the gift to their preferences!
The first of the four I finished in record time in order to make it before the baby arrived (I think yesterday was the due date).  The gift was another Chromium Star Blanket done up in the colors of the nursery:  brown, teal and white.  I love the way these turn out and have heard they're excellent for wrapping up a baby in.  Unfortunately I only got this one not so great shot of it before I sent it off to its new home.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

My Space

Slowly over the last few months the busyness of summer has worn away and the routine of the school year has returned, allowing me to take seriously the creative part of me that longs for experssion each morning.  Some day I hope to make Knits and Knots a full part-time job; that is I hope that when the kids are in school full-time that I can earn enough from doing what I love that I don't have to find work outside of the home, and that that can all happen in the time span the kids are gone so that when they're home, I'm available to them.  While I can't do that just yet, my "business" (I still can't quite bring myself to not use quotes when describing KAK) has started to take off in the last month or so.  Honestly I think a big impact on this is that about 2 months ago, my husband and I decided to create some space in our home - to make room for the things we love.

We live in a 4 bedroom home with 2 kids.  Our little guys share a room (by choice) and use another as a playroom (that will morph into a nursery when the adoption is finalized), but that left us with the final bedroom as our office.  Since it was full of things we didn't want the kids touching it became the room with the door always shut, and eventually the dumping ground for anything we didn't know what to do with.    It also meant that any time we wanted to use the computer we had to shut the door to keep the kids out.  Last spring we decided to change that and move the computer downstairs and to make some space for it, we moved the sewing machine upstairs.  For several months I would lock myself in that room whenever I wanted to craft, but it was so crowded and messy it definitely didn't provide a comfortable creative spot.

Two months ago I just couldn't take the mess and disarray of it all and at about 10 at night I suggested an all out clean-up and swap around with some furniture from our bedroom.  My sweet husband obliged and we spent the next 90 minutes switching and moving and stacking till we settled with the sewing machine next to the bed, our bedroom chairs moved to the office and a lovely little spot in our room that was just for me!  It was wonderful... until I tried to sleep.  I could hear all of the unfinished projects whispering at me from the table next to me and found it completely impossible to sleep.  First thing the next morning I told my husband I just couldn't stand it and that, with his permission, I would switch and swap all day till I got it right.   Which I did.  In the end, I pretty much settled back with everything the way it had started, except for switching some bookshelves from the office with the chairs from the bedroom.  I did a lot of organization and cleanup and ended up with this:

I love it!  I've got a whole side of a room for my things: a storage shelf to house all my yarn, books, and accessories; a board to keep all my current and future projects in mind; a large desk for all my sewing needs; and not pictured: crates for storing fabric and batting and even some chairs to sit in and knit or crochet, or read a story to the kids.  Now its still not perfectly clean, but it is a room the kids can enter.  They love to help me put pins back in the pincushion as I pull them out while sewing or look through my button stash while I search for the right one for a project.  Its a room that invites me to come, create, and leave a mess if I need to go be with my kids in the middle of a task.  I can still just close the door and clean up later.

This is the site I ran into yesterday morning when I entered what I have lovingly come to think of as "my space".  I left this quilt top partially finished yesterday because my little sweeties needed some time with mommy and it just couldn't wait.  This is proof - evidence that this crafting thing I do is no longer a hobby, but is actually forming into part of my daily life and someday maybe a sustainable living.  On the machine you can see one quilt top, and on the chair another.  These two will become baby quilts (like this one) to given by a friend to a lovely woman expecting twins.  On the little table to the right is my bluebird and one of the burp cloths from the matching set.  Under the chair is a bag of yarn waiting to be turned into another baby wrap sweater, this one being a commissioned baby gift.  On the chair is a box of yarn and patterns for Christmas presents.  

Now I said we decided to make room for the things WE love, not just me.  So the other side of this space is partially taken up with my hubby's hobby, home recording and music.  The rest of the space is for our books; we're a family that loves to read!  I hope as the kids age that this will become a special room for us - a place to create, to imagine, to express ourselves. (I also hope its a room I can figure out how to organize a little better as time goes on!)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Little Elephanty

This post will be a little elephanty today :)

The little elephant ami has a cat ball inside to give it that little tinkly sound all kids love. The blanket is all flannel with a silky red binding. By the end of the day I hope to have this set up on my Etsy store!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Book Review - North! Or Be Eaten

I'm going to take a total departure from the fiber world today, and instead explore probably my longest running and probably most beloved hobby - reading. I may try to do more book reviews if there's interest, so if you like what you read here today let me know!

My love for fantasy stories began early in life with Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia has continued on strongly into my adult years where I discovered Tolkein's Lord of the Rings. To my great delight, I recently was turned on another great, and I expect to be, classic series: Andrew Peterson's Wingfeather Saga.

Andrew Peterson is relatively new to the publishing scene, with his first book, The Ballad of Matthew’s Begats, published in 2007 and followed shortly after by book one of the Wingfeather Saga: On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness. While Peterson may be a new author, he is far from being new at storytelling. Andrew is an accomplished singer/songwriter who has recorded 10 albums. In the spring of 2001, my now husband and I saw Andrew perform for the first time at a small Christian camp. We both were immediately enamored with his ease, wit, and quirky storytelling. Since that concert we have seen Peterson in concert every possible chance and purchased every one of his albums. We are continually drawn to Peterson's music for his amazing ability to invoke emotion and image with his words.

As you can imagine, I was thrilled to learn that AP (as he is affectionately known in our home) was publishing a book. I was confident before purchasing On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness that it would be first-class, and I was not disappointed. This book follows Janner, Tink, and Leeli Igiby - three children who think they live in a normal town and are normal family, but who discover their true identities as the only living heirs to a lost nation. The latest installment in the series, North! Or Be Eaten follows the children's adventures after the discovery of their royal heritage. They travel through strange lands, face fearsome creatures and interact with dangerous folk. The story is one of love, faith, the importance of family, and the burdens of responsibility.

While this series is classified as children's fiction, I have no doubt that adults everywhere will be reading it for a long time to come. As with Peterson's music, this is a work that has enduring value – the ability to expand your mind and make your heart sing.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Autumn on the Horizon

Well it is almost fall here in central Indiana. The leaves are beginning to turn on the silver maples and the corn is drying on the stalks. Soon we'll go picking in the pumpkin patch and start planning our Halloween costumes! Autumn is also the return of evening tea and board games around our house. I recently finished this mug jacket to not only keep my favorite mug warmer longer for those late night game marathons, but make one more item in my house covered in a cozy yarn jacket!

We've had a wet and mild summer this year which has had many home gardeners producing bumper crops! My sister's garden was overrun with tomatoes, peppers, and pumpkins. She also has a crabapple tree that was almost falling over under the weight of the fruit on its branches. My neighbor had a pear tree overflowing with fruit, and didn't know what to do with it. So... my sister and I spent 12 hours Saturday night making cinnamon crabapple syrup, sugar free pear jelly, honey pumpkin butter, and corn and black bean salsa.

We had a ton of fun and put away lots of food for the winter: 12 quarts of salsa, 8 pints of crabapple syrup, 6 pints of pumpkin butter, and 10 pints of pear jelly. We'll be set in the sweet department for a while! I found out Monday that the salsa makes an excellent soup base for chicken tortilla soup - just added 2 cans of chicken broth and boiled chicken - delish!

One thing we did not can is my jellybean tomatoes, which are still coming in at about a quart or more a week. They don't last long enough in our house to have any leftover for canning. I will be so sad when they finally stop producing... what will I have to fill that early afternoon sweet craving?! Maybe the sugar free pear jelly on home made whole wheat toast or honey pumpkin butter on warm corn bread. Ok, so maybe moving on to fall and winter isn't such a bad thing!