So this happened yesterday…

My Girl Guide unit was featured in the Girl Guides of Canada blog! I love working with my fellow Guiders and the girls week after week. I learn so much, and have so much fun, too!

Why letting girls lead was the best thing to happen to our Guide unit

 

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Mariposa damaged and repaired

I honestly had thought that the first thing to go on the wonderful Mariposa throw would be that green border around the edge. I was so convinced of this that I hummed and hawed for days about whether or not to attach the border the way it was written.

In the end, the border has held up just fine. No toes have gotten stuck (nor little fingers) despite much use for such elegant and esteemed purposes as television watching, book reading, hammock swinging, teddy bear wrestling, and pillow fort building.

One might chalk it up to the fact that my kids are taller than I am now and know to be gentle with handcrafted goods, but there are toddlers and preschoolers who visit regularly enough for that not to be true. They gravitate to the Mariposa throw for the bright colours, I think.

When they aren’t going after the tiger print Minky that’s so soft and so fierce all at once, that is.

With all the loving the various blankets get, it’s a wonder they hold up as well as they do.

A few weeks ago, B came to me with a mournful look on her face. “Mama, the flower blanket is coming apart,” she announced.  A mournful event indeed! I hurried over to have a look, fully expecting to see a trailing fuzz of green yarn ends somewhere around the perimeter, but it was perfect. So perfect, I couldn’t tell where, if anywhere, it was coming undone until B showed me: one of the mariposa flowers had just sort of unzipped itself from its surrounding white bed of clustered stitches. A few quick repair stitches later and you can’t tell there was ever anything amiss, but now I catch myself running my gaze over the cheerful rows of flowers every time the blanket comes out, just waiting for another sneaky mariposa to try to escape its bed of white.

As for the green border, it’s as perfect as the day it was added and I now suspect it will be for a very long time to come.

Getting ready for February

As I have mentioned before, I don’t suffer from a case of January start-itis when it comes to crafting. Instead, I take January to breathe in all I have finished in the preceding year and finish up a few odds and ends I didn’t quite manage to get done the year before.

And then, in February, I find myself admiring this and ooh-ing over that and before I know it, I’ve started half a dozen projects and have my eye on half a dozen more.

But this year, I found myself selling far more pieces than in previous years and I had almost more work than I could handle in the lead-up to Christmas. So much so that crafting for family was put on the back burner and crafting for myself hasn’t happened at all for almost half the year.

It’s hard to fathom.

As 2016 wrapped up, I started taking a mental inventory of all the things I want to finish, or at least make more progress on. And then I went digging through my shelves to see what I had meant to start but not gotten around to in a while, and found all sorts of buried treasures. I suspect I have enough to carry me through the entire year if not longer, especially given that I am still getting commissions for other things and will be devoting time each week to those items and have less time than usual for my own crafting. So I am determined to at least make a little progress on some projects–some that have not been touched in quite a long time now.

The first of which is a fire truck that I thought a certain young man had long outgrown a fascination for, but it turns out he remembers that I had started stitching a piece for him and he has decided he wants me to finish it for him after all.

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Working on this piece, even for a little while, made me recall a few other cross stitched pieces half done and sitting in the cupboard, so progress on those would be lovely, too. A Christmas sampler:

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A lovely witch/wizardess/goddess piece that was gifted to me partially done and our girl B instantly claimed (so I could finish it on her behalf, of course. She’s generous like that). I think it was the fact that the lady in question is reading a book that caught her eye.

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And a gorgeous Teresa Wentzler that I started many years ago and had completely forgotten about.wentzler

Of course, before I get to those, I have a mermaid tail to finish up – it’s almost done, just weaving in the ends to do. Approximately 6 bazillion ends, and you know how very much I love weaving in ends. (I don’t. At all. Why I keep taking on crochet projects built from blocks is beyond me. Remind me, would you please, to stop doing that?)

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This mermaid tail is from a pattern by The Felted Button. She has the most colourful, textural, gorgeous crochet patterns – check out her site if you never have. Here a closeup of the tail so you can get a better idea of what the triangular blocks look like:

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The tail is done in sock-weight yarn (it’s skinny!) and the yarns all have either a strand of glittery metallic thread or sequins or both woven in to them. It makes for a lovely, shimmery, fish-scale effect that’s missing from the photos above.

Another crochet pattern I want to finish up is this:

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It’s a lovely lace-weight shawl that I started on the plane to Cuba and then never found the time to get back to. As it’s for me, it’s easy to put it aside for other people, but when I look at it, it has been over a year now since I set it down. The pattern is lovely and intricate with bands of colourful lacework in various stitches in the centre and a wide strip of Bruges lacework on either edge.

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It’s going to be a couple of months at least before I get my hands back into this one, but I’m hoping to finish it by summer. Then, maybe I’ll find the perfect pattern for this lovely yarn:

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It has been sitting in my “wishful yarn bliss” pile for a few months now. I’m not yet sure what it will look like, but it will be either a scarf or a hat to keep me warm in winter.

On the embroidery front, I’ve been working on another tree skirt project. This one is from a kit, but I will be embellishing heavily with embroidery, as I did with the Peace Joy Noel wall hanging a few years ago. You can see how thoroughly embroidery-encrusted I plan to make it in the Love Letters piece I did after taking Sharon Boggon’s class.

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Last, but certainly not least, I hope to get another 2 blocks finished on my crazy quilted and embroidered wall hanging.

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The currently finished blocks are on the right in the picture above.

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The two empty blocks on the left are pieced, but not yet embroidered.

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The blocks are 10-inch squares and I think the finished piece will end up being 3×3 blocks with a border of some sort.

So, an ambitious plan for 2017, but one of progress, not necessarily completion, given how many other things are in the works both with myself and for the kids.

What do you have planned for this bright and shiny new year?

Happy Samhain

Last night was Hallowe’en and I have to say, it was the most fun I’ve had on Halloween in a while. K is now officially “too old” to dress up (says him! “Never!” says I!).  B went as a ninja (and was out the door to meet her friends so fast, I never got a photo). She debated adding an onion and a kitchen knife to her costume (in tribute to those onion-chopping ninjas who sneak up on you during certain episodes of Gray’s Anatomy just to make you cry), but after discovering we were out of onions and pondering the wisdom of bringing an 8″ long blade to a party, decided a plain ninja would have to do.  I was a witch, as I often am–when I’m not wearing a hazmat suit and handing out terribly “toxic” candy with BBQ tongs that is. This year, I added battery-powered copper stringed fairy lights wrapped around my pointy witch hat for good measure and I quite liked the effect.

But the house…

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The house was done up in fine style with a graveyard on the lawn, a Harry Potter-esque dementor hovering just below the tree branches, and a quirky magic shop set up beside the porch. (I apologize for the terribly blurry picture).

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I had, as I often do, left the garden to grow wild and unkempt and suitably spooky for the season.

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And of course, as I do every year, I had the fog machine going with its sound effects, strobe light, and smoke.

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So what did my magic shop sell? I had candy galore, of course, and stickers promoting Girl Guides of Canada, and books.

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A whole table full of children’s books, plus an extra bin under the table with more. All for free.

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The reactions of the kids when they realized I was giving out books was fantastic. It truly was amazing.

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One little boy said “Oh! It’s a shop! A book shop! How much are the books?” When I told him they were free, he could pick one to keep, he turned around and ran over to his parents, yelling “Mom! Dad! Books! She has books!”

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Many of the kids expressed how much they like to read. Some shyly, some loudly, but all with sparkling eyes and absolute sincerity.

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Those who chose to take a book often lingered over the table while making their choice. Some lingered so long it prompted their parents to come closer to see what, exactly, was going on at that spooky house with the witch behind the table and a lovely set of Griffindor robes hanging off a dressmaker’s dummy.

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Another group of tall teenaged boys in various gruesome costumes all took some candy and laughed at the kids’ books on offer until one of the boys reached for the pinkest, prettiest, girliest book on the pile. His friends started teasing him, but he ignored them and asked me “Is it okay if I take this one? I have a little sister who would love it.”

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Suddenly their teasing turned to “Oh yeah! Great idea! Way to go, man, she’ll love that. That’s really awesome of you!” and I thought to myself, yup, they’ll turn out just fine, those boys.

All in all, 65 books and 175 snack-sized pieces of chocolate later, it was a very fun night for me and probably the best Samhain celebration I’ve had in a long time.

After all, books really are the very best sort of magic.

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Pride and Joy

There are few things in life that inspire pride and joy more than the people you bring into the world. Sometimes you are proud of their academic achievements. Sometimes it’s their musical talents that trigger that rush of warmth and joy. Sometimes, it’s the kindness and generosity with which they treat others both larger and smaller than themselves.

Mostly you’re proud of the sheer focus, determination, and hours of hard work they throw at whatever they’re trying to accomplish at the moment.

Lately, it’s been so many things. It’s been a teenaged girl working with tremendous dedication and attention to detail on a project for a well-loved science teacher. It’s been a teenaged boy happily entertaining his very much younger cousin with endless patience and much 3-year-old giggling.

It’s been this small group of girls taking over the sunroom with copious amounts of cardboard and duct tape and paint, all in the name of charity.

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It’s been our young man joining a group of kids on the ski hills week after week, stretching his comfort zone and building new friendships. And coping admirably well when a moment’s poor judgement by one of his peers coupled with spectacularly icy roads led to a ski patrol rescue, an ambulance in the ditch, a second (and quite spectacular) rescue involving ropes and crampons and I’m sure more than a few hearts in throats, and 2 bus loads of teenagers (including mine) stuck at the bottom of the hill an hour from home until the wee hours of the morning.

It’s been our boy and a bunch of his friends and classmates walking for hour upon hour and raising many, many thousands of dollars for Relay for Life.

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It’s been a whole group of girls, none of them not mine, who are so willing to strike off on an adventure without the slightest clue what we’re going to be asking them to do, merely because we ask them to trust us week after week and they do.

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We have a serious amount of fun together, these girls and my fellow Guiders and I, trying our hands at circus school, glass mosaics, obstacle courses, computer programming, shoreline cleanups, all the hijinks and fun at camp, and more than a few community service projects. It’s a beautiful thing.

But mostly what’s filling my heart with pride these days is the sight of these:

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Both kids are playing in the ball hockey leagues again this year and come home red faced and drenched with sweat, happy they won or dissappointed they lost, but always playing hard, having fun, and congratulating teammates and opponents alike on great plays or fantastic saves.

Of course, it could just be that these shirts are making me happy simply because with 2 kids in 2 different leagues, we’re spending so very much time at the arena. I’m either cheering those shirts on, washing them, hanging them to dry, or asking if you’re SURE they’re in the bag and ready to go because we really do have to leave 3 minutes ago if we want to be on time for the pre-game warmup…hockey is sort of our life right now and these shirts seem to be everywhere I look, making me proud.

Maybe it’s because I’ve reached a certain age, or maybe because I’ve been investing so much of myself in 30 girls not my own week after week, or maybe just because I’ve been thinking about it a lot and therefore noticing it more, but everywhere I look these days, I see kids and teens doing great things, having fun, giving back to their communities, and making me proud of the world we live in. How about you?

Here comes the sun…

We have definitely turned the corner from Winter and begun Spring in earnest. Oh, there’s still a pile of snow on the front lawn that’s now as high as my chest, but the days have been warm, the ground wet more than cold, and the air ripe with the promise of green growing things to come.

This morning, I woke early and made my way downstairs to make muffins, and this is the sight that greeted me out the patio door:

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Clear blue skies and a gorgeous ball of light making everything bright. The kitchen and the attached eating area we call the sun room were filled with sunshine (the sun room is aptly named, after all) and my heart hummed with happiness while I made up the batter and popped trays of muffins into the oven.

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Soon, the muffin jar was filled to overflowing and the house was filled with the most delicious aroma. It was so tempting, that smell. And that sunshine, too.

Who could resist all that goodness in one place? Not me!

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A cup of tea, some organic cane sugar flavoured with little bits of lemon, and mini muffins in three varieties. It was a most delicious way to start the day.

 

I have a crush

It’s true. I have a crush on someone. He knows it, too, and it makes him grin every time he looks at me.

One might wonder what, exactly, it takes for me to start crushing on someone. (Hint: it involves yarn.)

You see, for Christmas, a certain man we call Dad gifted me some yarn. A whole bunch of yarn. Skeins and skeins of it. A dozen, at least, in all different colours, weights, and fibres. One in particular was so wonderfully bright and cheerful and soft and lofty with just the most perfect amount of haze that it started making me smile before I even got it out of the package.

And then I cast on with it last week, on a gray and dull day, and my entire day was vastly improved within seconds.

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Seriously. Look at those colours. How can anyone not end up totally crushing on a man who brings you yarn in those colours?

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It’s Isaac Mizrahi Craft Sutton, and the colorway is Amsterdam. I love it. It’s amazing. Especially when modeled by The World’s Giggliest Knitwear Model while wearing a shirt that couldn’t clash more if it tried:

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Isn’t she beautiful? I love that dimple. And that yarn. Ohhhh, that yarn!

I’ve been wearing the scarf all week. It’s just a simple little garter stitch scarf where you cast on until it looks wide enough and then knit row after row until you run out of yarn (I only had 2 skeins of it, after all), and then you wrap it around your neck and remember how very, very much you are in love with the man who gave you the yarn that is brightening your days as March rolls in.