14.4.14

butterflies



A few weeks ago I made some butterfly brooches.  Looking at them, I kept thinking that the little felt wings would also make perfect finger puppets.  And so, of course, I had to make some. 


MATERIALS
Wool felt: green, tan and a pretty color for wings
Embroidery needle & floss: green, brown, red and floss to match the wings


To start, cut 2 pieces of wool felt, 1/4 inch wider than your finger all around. You will also need to cut a small oval for the face and a pair of wings.


Embroider eyes and mouth, then stitch the face to the body of your butterfly.


Sew the wings to the back of the butterfly, and if you wish, add some embroidery.  You can also make antennae from embroidery floss, knotted at the ends


A few years ago I made ladybug puppets and we had fun singing ladybug songs, so, after I finished sewing, I went in search of songs to sing with our new butterfly puppets.  Here's what I found:




I love this Spanish song.  The words translate to English as follows: Little butterfly is in the kitchen making hot chocolate for her Godmother. Poti-poti... Some little wooden legs, a glass eye and the beak of a macaw. (This is quite the recipe -- I wonder whether her Godmother appreciated her ingenuity?)




I'm not fond of the animation in this video, but the song is really sweet.



For more butterfly projects, you can have a look here to see how I made flutter-kites, or here to see how these children made fluttering marionettes.  Plus, over at Twig & Toadstool you can find tutorials for both this hanging mobile and this gorgeous finger puppet.

Do you have any favorite butterfly art projects?  Favorite butterfly songs?  If you do, I'd love to know!

11.4.14

japanese tea garden

























Some childhood friends of Mr. Bloom's blew into town yesterday for a whirlwind visit.  This morning, suddenly and unexpectedly, I found myself packed into the car with Mr. Bloom & wee Bloom on our way to the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park to meet up with our visitors from Ann Arbor.

The weather was foggy and cold, but the company was good.  The garden was beautiful, the cookies were sweet, the tea was hot and there were many paths down which little feet could run and explore...

A very happy adventure, all around.  Have you been on any unexpected adventures lately?

9.4.14

tiptoes finger puppets



Because my wee Bloom will soon be old enough to start enjoying stories from this book...


I made some finger puppets.


Using these wooden finger puppet bases (purchased here at A Child's Dream True)...


...I created finger puppet versions of Jeremy Mouse and Tiptoes Lightly to accompany us on our reading adventures.

(Sincere apologies to Reg Down. I know Tiptoes doesn't wear a wooly cap, however, my attempts at making a tiny wig for the finger puppet base were unsuccessful.  Attaching her hair beneath a cap was best solution!)


Do you and your children enjoy the stories about Tiptoes Lightly?  Which are your favorites?

P.S.  Speaking of small, wooden peg dollish things... Are y'all seriously interested in another peg doll swap?  I've had some emails plus a few comments on my previous blog post.  I'm thinking of launching in a week or two, because by next fall, I will hopefully be immersed in other busy-making projects.  So, a peg dollish swap launching by end of this month?  What do you think?

31.3.14

flat-item swap: my contributions



A month ago I launched a craft swap. Because the cost of sending items via post has been steadily climbing, participants were encouraged to create flat items which could be sent at the lowest postal rates.

For the people with whom I swapped, I stitched up brooches.  There is a safety-pin at the back of each brooch which lies flat to conform to the flat item swap criteria.


And in my parcels, I also included paper butterfly ornaments.  When devising these ornaments, I was excited to find tiny butterfly-shaped crystals to hang at the ends; however, because the crystals were made of glass & slightly bulky, they required a small bit of bubble wrap for safe shipment.  oops. I failed to adhere to my own flat-item swap criteria and had to pay slightly higher postal rates!


I've heard rumblings from participants that, although this flat-item swap has been an interesting challenge, what they are really hoping for is another peg doll swap.  I am taking this into consideration and will likely host another peg doll themed swap... sooner? later?  At this point I'm not sure when.  If you are interested in participating in another peg doll themed swap, please check in regularly via my blog or facebook so you don't miss the sign-up deadline. 

Or send me an email with 3 good reasons why I should host another swap and tell me when you would like me to launch it. I'm a sucker for good persuasion.


Another reason to keep your eyes on my blog: it looks like book #2 will be released in October.  This means a blog tour in November with book give-aways and a few other surprises.  I'm usually rotten at keeping quiet about about good surprises, but I've been sitting on some really special ones, brewing since late fall.  All the more reason to stay in touch around here!!


cheers!

27.3.14

holding hearts



Two weeks ago a friend and her family experienced a sudden, unexpected and devastating loss.  I wanted to reach out to her with words, but felt that anything I said would seem trite & meaningless in the wake of what she was experiencing.  There is always the impulse to want to DO something to help, when truly, there is not much to do beyond being present and giving time and space to grieve.  Friends set up a schedule to bring meals, and so I signed up; but my heart reached to do more.

Then I remembered an essay in a book by Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D. called My Grandfather's Blessings; in the essay, she discusses the work of an organization in Tacoma, Washington called BRIDGES which offers grief support for children.  As part of their programs, each child and adult who comes in contact with services at BRIDGES could receive a small velvet or velour heart as "something tangible and comforting to hold on to."  Dr. Remen describes the hand-sewn hearts in this way:

Small enough to be put in a little pocket and take to school to hold and rub, these soft little hearts give children permission to hold their own hearts tenderly and to grieve. Children carry them for as long as they need to, finding comfort in the softness when thoughts of their loss might otherwise overwhelm them.


And so I sewed three hearts -- one for my friend and one for each of her children.


If you would like to make a heart for someone you know, the instructions are simple: start by cutting a paper pattern in the shape of a heart, and then, using the pattern, cut out two hearts from a soft velvet or velour fabric.


Sew around the edges by hand or machine, leaving an opening of at least an inch. Use the opening to turn and stuff the heart, and then use small stitches to close.



i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)
-- e. e. cummings

24.3.14

knitting slippers



Because I was craving something warm for my feet, I made a January resolution to do more knitting. I spent time browsing slipper patterns on Ravelry & found a link to this pattern.  Simple.  Easy.  Love it.

 

The pattern calls for decorative buttons which sent me trawling through my button collection where I unearthed two small ceramic buttons made by Laura Sheppard.  This is a perfect use for beautiful buttons. (you can find Laura's etsy shop here.)


I knit the blue slippers from stash yarn, but what I really wanted was a pair in red.  Note: kitty photo-bomb.


And here is the photo I had intended to take.  This Malabrigo superwash is as soft as cashmere, and after this pair is done, I think I might knit an oversize pair (from non-superwash) to try felting them...


All this talk of knitting and slippers leads me to confess that what I'm really working towards is trying a pattern from this gorgeous book by Katie Startzman.


The designs in the book are fun & unique, and if you scroll to the end of this blog post, you will find a book-trailer which will make you smile.


Do you knit?  What are you working on right now?



20.3.14

making butterfly brooches



I had been wanting to make some small gifts, and after thinking about it for a few days, I started cutting circles and butterflies from felt... If you would like to make some butterfly brooches, too, please follow along!


Supplies

Small scraps of felt in at least three colors
Embroidery floss and a needle
Fabric scissors
Safety pins


To start, I cut the larger circles approx. 33 mm (1 1/4 inches) wide and the smaller circles approx. 27 mm (1 1/8 inches) wide.  The butterfly wings are 40 mm (1 1/2 inches) across.  Depending on your preference, you could cut your pieces slightly larger.


The butterflies are attached to the smaller felt circles by the stitches which form their bodies.  To embroider the bodies, I made one long stitch down the center of each butterfly, and then, on either side of the long stitches, I made stitches which were half the length (see photo above).

The heads are large French knots, and the antennae are stitched using a single strand separated from a piece of 6-strand embroidery floss.


After the heads & bodies were embroidered, I used an applique stitch to sew the smaller circles to the larger circles.


The final step is to carefully sew a safety pin to the back of the brooch; or if you are thinking ahead, you could sew the pin to the larger felt circle before you sew together the larger and smaller circles.


And that's it... you're done!  

Happy Spring!

17.3.14

a week in the woods



Anyone who was in touch with me last week knows that my big boy was away with his classmates for a week in the woods.  Our big boy had never been away from the two of us for more than one night, and so his father and I were a bit of an anxious mess.  I'm happy to report that we all survived!


My son and his classmates spent the week exploring beautiful coastal forests...

 

 And visiting groves of tall redwood trees.


They learned about wildlife (and met several creatures in person).


One of the favorite creatures around here is Ariolimax Columbianus, affectionately known as the banana slug.


He had a wonderful time and took many beautiful photos, but we're glad to have him home again!