Thursday 26 April 2007

Little Kid LegCozys (Shhhhh They're Legwarmers!)

It's spring here, but hey, it's still pretty cold in places, so here's my offering for this month's Whip-lash on Whip-up!

Being urban baby-wearing parents in a frigid winter climate, we were often just going out for a quick walk to the corner store or braving the 2 minute walk to the mall from our condo just for a change of scenery and some sanity. If you've ever noticed, when a little one is in a sling or baby-carrier, very often their pants ride up and their poor little ankles are exposed, which is a problem not only in winter but in spring and fall with unpredictable weather and wind and such.

What to do? Donning the full gear was a hassle because when we got to our destination there were often no lockers and we'd have to lug everything around. Leggings underneath her pants were out as well, because then she'd boil in the mall (why do malls do that?).

Out of frustration one day I whipped these up. Yes, they're "just" legwarmers, but I still think they're brilliant because the felted wool kept her really cozy, you could keep her in the sling and just pull the legwarmers off when you got to where you were going (I wore her under my coat most of the winter, but that doesn't really help ankles), they were a cinch (ha ha) to put back on again, and the drawstrings kept them up when you needed to pull the bottom end down over her shoes to keep her warm. All good!

And since I made them to go all the way up to her little chubby baby thighs, they're still long enough to fit her now, at 2-and-a-half years old. There have been so many compliments, that I thought I'd share. They're fast to make (even if you include the felting), useful, and cute to boot!

Step One: Obtain felted sweater (a big baggy sweater with cuffs like this one makes great legwarmers for babes) and lop off the arms:

Step Two: Using a straight stitch and a fairly loose tension (and a knits needle!), hem all the way around, leaving enough of a "pocket" that you'll be able to put elastic cord through it when you're done. You don't have to worry about finishing the edge because it's felt (yay!).

Step Three: Snip a very small hole through the outer layer of the"pocket" and finish off with a blanket stitch or some such. On the original pair I didn't finish the hole and all the tugging and wear stretched it out a bit, so this prevents that a bit.

Step Four: Thread elasticised cord through (I just use a large safety pin to pull it through) and put on toggle. Leave ends plain with a knot if you're in a hurry (they'll fray) or finish off with pom-poms or ribbon tags - get creative!

The Finished Project:

And as a tribute, a picture of the originals, still going strong:

Obviously there are many ways to make these, and for older kids I skip the cord all together:

depending on how thick the wool felts. If you try these, hope you have fun :-)

and if there are any questions, please don't hesitate to email me! Thanks!


Wednesday 25 April 2007

At the Day's End

Like many, I adore the experience of movies. Lately Mr. S. and I haven't been able to get out to see many, nor have we had time to watch DVD's, but there's always soundtracks. I love when you peel the layers of certain movies and sometimes, like a pomegranate, the music gets everywhere. Right now, at the end of a day that started out a bit shaky but ended up really wonderful with good friends visiting and good food and lots of laughing and stories, Safiya fell asleep in my arms, as she often does, to the music of Amelie. I wish I could figure out how to stream it for you, because it's some of my favourite music.

If you have it, please join us - it's a perfect end for today...

Friday 20 April 2007


If anyone has some advice about any craft fair-ish stuff, or any anecdotes about what not to do , please feel free to comment! It would be greatly appreciated, because as previously mentioned, I have only a vague idea (o.k., none, actually)....


Again the word bliss. These kind of sunny days really truly bliss me out. We've been out in the backyard, gardening. In bare feet. Waking up from naps to go right outside, still snuggling under the blanket ("it's too sunny, Mama!" oh yay to hear those words)...

If we're inside, Safiya finds sunny spots like a happy kitten, murmuring little girl murmurs about the warmth.

We moved to a house basically because we only ever got light from the west in our condo, and there was no green space. I'm a sun and dirt person in a serious-joyful-just-lay-there-with-ants-crawling-over-my-arms smelling-the-earth-warming way. So right now....bliss.

'Course now the problem is, what about the crafting? We have grand plans for building a little strawbale studio/greenhouse at the back of our small lot some year, but until then....

Because, you know, I've been thinking.

About the Leslieville Tree Festival, for which I registered an "artisan" table and it's on May 12, which is coming up (eek!). But what are you making? you say.... We haven't really seen anything? you say..... That's because I've actually been busy crafting, which feels wonderful, and I'm so excited (I've just deleted a whole bunch of "but....and....time...but.....whine...." - whew! that feels better!). So, I'm soooo excited. It's my first craft show ever, I have no idea what I'm doing, but hey? What's the worst that can happen? Besides Safiya ending up with 30 pairs of legwarmers and a bunch of blankets and....oh, the last bit I'm saving 'cause I'm having so much fun making them. I promise pictures very soon.

So in the next few weeks, happy Mama will choose to let some things go. Happy Mama chooses to sometimes groove to homemade Indian food, sometimes scrambled eggs for dinner (thank goodness for eggs!). Happy Mama chooses to tolerate a few dust bunnies (do you hear me? bunnies? a few - I see you...) Happy Mama will still go to bed at 10-ish and wake up at 7-ish (because she's not Martha and actually needs to sleep). Happy Mama chooses to not have the computer on at all times. Happy Mama chooses to craft when she can and recognize when to breathe and put it down and not push it, even if there's a deadline. Why? Because it's my deadline and I'm really doing it just for me.

May sound a bit selfish, but it feels so right and so good.

Pictures soon, I promise...

Tuesday 17 April 2007

In Which There is a Happy Dance

You know those times when the universe seems to actually be smiling on you? (Yes I know, now that I've said it the universe heard me and will promptly withdraw all of said benevolence, but you know what else? I'm figuring out the world is not a fifth-grade schoolyard, so pbthththth and I say yay! sometimes the universe is a lovely lovely lady :-)

We got home from a weekend at the grandparents to find a package on our doorstep (how exciting!). Safiya ran around the house yelling "A package!? I'm soooo happy! I'm soooo excited!" And indeed, there was reason to celebrate:

The lovely Sarah had sent me goodies in return for the package I sent her! And it was a package of awesomeness. Look at the ribbon! fabric! and the wool is sooo soft! and thrifted craft books! And for Safiya, this adorable reversible smock (it's green gingham on the other side, and the little button applique has a tree on the other side - oh good golly)!

All lovingly wrapped with little notes sprinkled throughout and did you see? did you see? my very own bookplates, which I know she gocco-ed herself, because I saw a sneak peek on her website a ways back (at the time I had no idea and was thinking - soooo cool - hee hee!).

But to top it all off? The awesomeness of this:

To match Mr. S.'s vest, of course.

Dear Sarah: to sum it all up; genius, sheer genius.

Friday 13 April 2007

Hens and Chicks and a Little Crazy

Sun! I think I see sun! Nope...

The bleh weather's been affecting both Safiya (who's been feeling a little under the weather, actually) and I (who is just crazy sun-deprived), and although there was some adorable-ness this morning:

we had to resort to playing the song Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (I spelled that right on the first try - the day is looking up!) over and over on high volume in the playroom, dancing like maniacs. Then we squeezed some fresh orange juice and ate pickles and mashed potatoes for lunch. We're feeling much better.

In case you're wondering, there's a mama, a granny, and a baby hens-and-chicks up there (plucked from the everything-else-still-dormant garden outside), each on their respective colours. When I asked about the green plate, Safiya said matter-of-factly "oh, the Babo hens-and-chicks is at work. Don't worry, he'll come home soon...and then he'll be soooo happy to see his baby!"

We like the ends of days around here too...

Now for the present time, if I can just get the sewing machine fixed while she naps...or maybe I'll just sit here waiting for bits of sun...


Just a quick celebratory post to say that I actually finished the baby blanket and it got safe to its new home last night to an simply adorable one-year-old!

Sorry, no "finished" picture, but I ended up backing it with a pale blue and white flowered flannel and putting a piece of white flannel in-between for some added weight (still too chicken to work with batting, and I'm having a hard time sourcing 100% cotton batting or wool anyway, but maybe I'm not looking too hard either...hee hee).

I ended up keeping the top just as it was in the previous post. Simple.

Feeling pretty good about this and am already thinking about the next one...

Thursday 12 April 2007


Cleaning out the cedar chest today, going through the spring clothes, I came upon this at the very bottom, nestled in some tissue:

It is an apron done by my mother's great-great grandmother, when she was a young woman, passed on to me by my Grammy. This reminded me of another piece stowed away carefully:

A top crocheted by my Mom when she was a young woman.

What had been bothering me today and what had prompted the flurry of spring organising was my attempt this morning to quickly try a new idea. It was fun, Safiya was "helping", but then something didn't quite go right, I had to stop and start again, I sewed wrong sides together, and machine broke. Well, something's not right anyway - I think it's just the bobbin tension, but still...


The work above required patience and sticking-with-it. People who know me would not, I think, peg me as an impatient person, and I'm not....with others (although that's taken me a while, true enough - not really driving anymore helps, as does getting a bit older :-) What's surprising is that I'm still impatient with myself. I shortchange myself in my work by rushing...maybe it's because I'm still learning that my time and the craft I do is valuable to myself, if that makes any sense?

A lot of the craft I do is winging it, not really planning, nothing too intricate, something I can pick up and put down really easily or finish fairly quickly. What's been helping lately is a sketch book I got just for ideas. Now things are being mulled over instead of just launched into, but still...I'd like to go there, to really be dedicated to a piece because I can see from others the satisfaction it could bring.

Patience. Kind of appropriate that what went awry this morning had to do with tension...

Tuesday 10 April 2007

Sweet Inheritance

Outside the long weekend was mostly waiting, spring paused, everything quiet as it snowed softly...even the sun was just a suggestion of itself...

However, inside, at my parents' house, my mother and I did the miraculous, the unheard was quite the moment.

We cleaned out her stash - you know, the boxes and boxes of fabric in the basement, in the office, accumulated by the sewing machine...There was fabric in there that I remember picking out for clothes at the beginning of highschool! (That was...ahem...a while ago.) There was stuff that she had inherited. It was a riot. Of colour, of laughter, of memories. Hands a-flurry as we chatted:

"Do you remember the curtains I made with this?"
"Do you remember when I picked this to match with that other fabric?"
"I can't believe you still have this!"
"No, you are not allowed to make yourself a skirt with that..." (says me to Mom)
"What am I going to do with this?"
"Remember when such-and-such fabric store went out of business and the sales!"
"Oh, my aunt gave me that piece..."

There were a couple of rules:

1. If Mom had already made something out of it, she wasn't allowed to play with it again.
2. If she hesitated, even for a second, I got first dibs or I moved it to the donation pile.
3. Only one selection out of multiples allowed. (I mean really, how many different kinds of black wool do you need? Don't answer that, I already know...)

In the end, we pared it down to a mere three and a half large toteboxes (including home dec) for her, about 5 large garbage bags to donation and - sweet! - two toteboxes of fabric that I inherited (yay! Thanks Mom!). It's all cottons and corduroy and silks and wools - lovely lovely stuff. I am sooooo excited.

This is only half - we couldn't fit the other totebox in the rental car for on the way home. I seriously considered leaving Mr. S. there (he could take a bus!)...

My Dad laughed as he saw my husband loading the car up with all the fabric...

He laughed for a while...

Wednesday 4 April 2007

The Next Few Steps

Involve things like these:

and these:

Hmmmm. Am I brave enough?
More about this in the next couple of days...

Yummy Evening

Tonight there was the smell of cardamom, coriander, and toasting naan bread in the house. Yum. We keep already made naan from the store in the freezer and just pop it in the toaster when a craving for Indian food hits.

The recipe is based on one from Madhur Jaffrey Indian Cooking, an excellent Indian cookbook in that it has lots of veggie dishes, the pictures are scrumptious, and the recipes are easy to modify if you don't have all the ingredients. Just really really good food - who would have thought that chickpeas and mushrooms go together, but oh, they do - in very good ways...

And then quite possibly the yummiest hardly any fat cookies ever, from The Vegan Chef. I need my chocolate fix, and these are perfect (sorry, couldn't get a good enough picture to do them justice in this light). They're called "Brownie Bites", 'cause they're kind of a cross between a brownie and a cookie - they're made with dried prunes! (can't taste that bit) and the only fat comes from the bit of cocoa power...I'll cheerfully devour these over the next couple of days....

Windy Day Thinking

Old Man Winter is rattling the bars of his pussywillow prison...
Thinking about going to get some colours I'd seen earlier in the day
Stepping out with coattails wild in the wind

neighbours chiming

rustling rustling

thinking about slow growth life

crunch splash gravel water, wondering about the next few steps...

Sunday 1 April 2007

Bliss Mama (always returning to Fabricland)

Today there were a couple of blissful free Mama hours during which I sauntered when I wanted to and hurried when I needed to (I even ran down the subway stairs, just because). The extra thirty pounds was hanging out with her Babo and the first thing I did (beside ordering peonies from La Pivoinerie D'Aoust - they have ones called "Zuzu", which is one of Safiya's nicknames, so there was no question...I've never grown peonies before, but they are one of my true flower loves, so I'm very excited!) now, where was I? Ah yes, Fabricland.

Fabricland is the mainstream fabric store (and the only fabric store in a lot of places) in Canada. It's dependable, affordable (good sales), and accessible. It's got lots of staples, usually has some nicer stuff in the current line, but it's also usually at least two or three years behind in terms of trends or current colours.

However, I grew up in Fabricland, so I always return. In an earlier post I alluded to the fact that my Mom sews...I remember wandering between the bolts as a child, and I've inherited that pure love of colour, of possibility, and the feel of fabric on my fingers (thanks Mom!). She is far more talented than I can hope to be (when I was in highschool she saw a ski-jacket that I liked and so she sewed it, but with better colours!), but I'm starting to look at clothes and think Mom's famous phrase "but I could just sew that..." Still not there yet, really, but it's fun to think it!

As for fabric, now there's the goodness of places like Superbuzzy, Reprodepot, SewZanne's, purlsoho, Sew, Mama, Sew!, and Cia's Palette and lots more, I'm sure. One of my favourite recent purchases was from Peach Berserk here in Toronto, because the fabric is printed here by local designers which is just too cool.

Now I have to make sure I don't go and look at all those links, because I really don't need any more fabric.

Use what you have, use what you have, use what you have...