Sewing together

Ella and I have embarked on a slightly more structured homeschooling journey this year.  While I’ve always had a Waldorf-inspired home, with lots of song, outdoor time, natural materials, open ended creative play, and child involvement in homemaking, this year we’ve been making time to do more formal Waldorf “school” which usually involves circle time, a story, and crafting or handwork.

Last week, I came home from the library with Amy Karol’s book Bend the Rules Sewing, and flipped through the pages with Ella, who instantly wanted to create something.  Napkins seemed like the easiest idea until I realized that the hem would provide a challenge to me (I am really quite new to sewing and don’t like anything smaller than a 1/2″ seam allowance!).  So we decided to create a place mat together.  Nothing is more fun to this five year old than to be let loose in mama’s fabric bin.  She held up endless combinations of background and accent material, until we narrowed it down to a purple plaid and turquoise floral!

It was Ella’s first time using an iron, and she was somewhat hypnotized by the process.  Over and over the fabric she would go, smoothing it out just so, and then flipping it over and doing it all over again.  I cut the pieces to size, she ironed and ironed and ironed.

Ella sews2

Piecing the place mat together was relatively simple, so she and I worked the sewing machine together, with her on my lap.  After an hour or so, we had it finished!

Ella sews

It’s a tiny bit crooked, the seams are definitely not even, and heck, it’s not even centered!  But we created it together, it looks beautiful on our table, and I didn’t even let my creative control freak side get the best of me!

What are your favorite crafts to do with kids?

 

** Joining Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm Craft On today.  Head on over there for more crafty fun!

Creating.

In the wake of the Newtown, CT tragedy, it has felt somewhat trivial to imagine sitting down at this computer to share crafts or stories about my children; like everyone else, I’m just trying to make sense of this senseless tragedy.  Yet when I think about the ways in which I bring peace and joy and love into the world, it is through creativity.  I love to create, to share my love of the arts with children, and to teach others how to engage with their creativity.

These days, it seems like I am doing nothing but creating.  We are blessed with a Winter Solstice baby; on Friday, Ella will celebrate the return of the light AND her fifth birthday!  I’ve been hard at work on her handmade birthday gifts and also a few Christmas gifts  (which I know I will not finish in time – the sweet Little Oak knit sweater, for instance.)

After making a birthday crown for Everett, I was really inspired to do the same for Ella.  I roughly followed this tutorial for sewing guidance, and did a lot of hand stitching and free-form cutting.  I’ll share a better photo on her birthday, but here are a few details:

Crown1 Crown2

Ella has some very clear ideas about her birthday party, for instance, she wants 5 kids to attend since she is turning 5, but my own parameters are this: simple and sweet.  I’m imagining a craft, a story, cake, and a very short treasure hunt.  Weather permitting, I think these little gnomes will be hiding outside, waiting for their new human friends!

Gnomes1 Gnomes2

(If you’re interested in a little tutorial on how to make these little gnomes, let me know.  They are really fun and easy to make!)

What kinds of crafting are you up to this week?

 

***Joining the fine crafty folks at Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm Craft On!

Girls and Dolls

There has been a lot of crafting going on this week, as Ella and I decided to make some dolls.  I took a great introductory dollmaking class last year at the Eugene Waldorf School, and used my notes from that class, and the book Making Waldorf Dolls by Maricristin Sealey to guide us.

Ella was able to stuff, sew, and embroider the face of her doll (the red one) by herself, and the hair style is all her doing!  She also really enjoyed stuffing the body and arms.  I helped out with the rest of the body and all over stitching.

Can you tell how much she loves these dolls!

Dollmaking1 Dollmaking2

What kind of crafting have you been up to this week?

*Joining the fine crafty folks at Frontier Dreams!

Finger knitting with children

Monday was an adventure day, as the kids and I joined a good friend and her children on a trip to the coast.  The whole day was so much fun – mamas chatting in the front seat, kids piled into the back of her minivan, picnic lunch on the sand, hunting for treasure, climbing sand dunes, and eating ice cream. It was such a necessary recharge for me; a chance to spend hours connecting with another women, another mother, who faces many of the same joys and challenges as I do.

Her 5 year old daughter, C spent much of the car ride finger knitting.  I had been taught a version of finger knitting by one of Ella’s Waldorf school teachers, but it was way too complicated for Ella – wrapping around 4 fingers, going over and under – too much.  But the method that C was using was so simple – just a single chain created on one finger.  Ella and I both wanted to learn!

So I found this Waldorf-inspired video on YouTube, that teaches finger knitting through a story about a fence, sheep jumping over the fence, and slipping a collar on the sheep.  With that story, and this verse:

Finger ring, finger ring
How many stitches can I bring?
Wrap around once, then jump over
Roll around in sweet green clover!

we began.  And within minutes she was finger knitting!  Every few moments she’d say, with amazement in her voice, “Mama, look at how long my finger knitting is now!”  And then she proceeded to finger knit for over two hours.  Parked on the sofa with blankets on our laps, and a few balls of wool, we sat together and finger knit.  And I cannot even tell you how happy this made me, to sit peacefully next to my almost 5-year old daughter, and knit.

Thank you so much to S, C, and C for inspiring us!

 

Super simple felt balls

Today was a gorgeous sunny day.  The kind of day that just makes you want to throw a big blanket down on the grass and take a nap.  The kind of day that inspired Ella to say, “Let’s do a special craft today.  Let’s make felt balls!”

Felt balls are awesome!  They are great for throwing practice (soft – nothing gets broken!) or for open ended play. (They’re round bales of hay! No wait, they’re freshly baked rolls!)  And they are the kind of craft that is great to make outdoors on a warm sunny day.

So here’s how to do it:

1. Get yourself a nice wad of carded, clean wool.

2. Loosely form the wool into a ball.  It will shrink down, so make a bigger ball than you’d like of your finished product.

3.  Fill a bowl with the hottest soapy water that you can stand to put your hand into and roll that wool into a soapy round messy ball!

See that ball forming!  Keep rolling!

4. Now, get another bowl of very cold water.  Squeeze out the hot water and soap and immerse your ball into the cold.  Keep forming it into a ball as you go.  Alternating between the hot and cold will make your wool ball shrink and tighten.

Look!  Easy enough for an 18 month to try!

5.  Keep alternating back and forth between your hot and cold until your ball is tightly bound together.  Let dry in the sun or inside for a few days until it is completely dry.  Sometimes I like to affix loose parts of the ball with a felting needle.

Voila!

Now go throw that ball around!

Hand sewing

There is something so sweet and satisfying about hand-sewing.  I am a very beginning sewer (like, I still need the instruction manual to operate my sewing machine). But somehow the idea of stitching something by hand seems infinitely more do-able. I can pick it up here and there, it makes no noise, and it is something I can do with two kiddos underfoot. Perfect!

So this week, in the spirit of keeping calm, crafting on, I worked on two little handsewn projects.

The first was from a sweet little tutorial over at Clean.  Ella was excited about the idea of a treasure hunt, and these little pocket eggs can be filled with whatever kind of treasure you wish!  She created the adorable triangles and cut out the hot pink egg herself!

The second project was for a new baby friend of ours.  A lovely little baby sister for Ella’s best friend.  I tried my hand at my second Waldorf baby doll, using an upcycled t-shirt for the body and hat.  She is so soft and squeezable!  I would add a bit more wool to the head next time, so the chin skin doesn’t pucker so, but I’m totally in love with making these little dolls.

Happy Crafting!

Fun with sharp needles

With all of the seeds to sow, beds to prep, potatoes to plant, and snow to play in, there has been a shortage of crafting here at the homestead.  But I love that my involvement in the Tuesday Craft On over at Frontier Dreams keeps me motivated to create and share. I found time to have a craft date with a dear friend, who was kind enough to introduce me to the super fun art of needle felting!

I can’t tell you how fulfilling it is to repeatedly jab a sharp needle into a clump of wool and somehow come away with this…

A sheep!  A real, honest to goodness fuzzy wooly sheep.  (And in the background, my friend’s super adorable creation).  I’m so hooked. Fun, quick crafts are where I’m at these days.

What are you creating these days?