Archive for the 'children' Category


Busy busy

Yup, I’m still here. Hope you are, too.

It’s been a busy autumn. I’ve done a lot of knitting. I made a new pair of socks for Sylvia (purple yarn with sparkles in it!), a wool pullover for myself (more on that in a future post), and one of these:


This is the Anouk pinafore from Knitty. I made it for a friend of mine whose daughter was born in late spring and knit it in a size that would fit her (I hope!) this winter.

Working on this filled me with all sorts of nostalgia, because I had made an Anouk for Sylvia when she was two. She wore it frequently until she outgrew it . . . and even then she continued to wear it a bit longer. It’s now safely stored away in our bin of “clothes to keep.”


Life update

Reading: The Plot Against America, by Philip Roth. A compelling narrative, well-drawn characters, and good writing. I liked this book very much, though reading it made me feel a bit paranoid: I saw in it echoes of the current neocon-driven discourse. Roth writes about Jews, but in many parts if you substitute “Muslims” you see glimpses of the prejudice and fear in our own society today.

Also reading: The Dark Is Rising sequence, by Susan Cooper. Actually, I’m listening to these: the three of us are listening to the audio books together (great for long car rides, and for evenings spent playing with Legos in the den after dinner). We’ve gotten through three of the five books, and Sylvia loves them. So much, in fact, that we started having “Wouldn’t it be nice to take a trip to Cornwall soon?” discussions before we realized that such a trip isn’t in our budget right now. Soon, I hope.

Mucking about with: Google Body.

Knitting: It’s been quite some time (months and months!) since I did a knitting update. Over the winter months I completed several small projects:

  • three sets of baby legwarmers (made from Baby Cashmerino) for three different new babies
  • five (!!!) Seven Circles scarves/necklaces (also from Baby Cashmerino); all but one were gifts for friends*
  • one pair of socks for a child (this isn’t quite finished but will be within a few days, I think); these were supposed to be for Sylvia but are turning out to be too small for her, so they’ll be a gift for someone else

I also knit a February Lady Sweater for myself. I cast on in January, but I did happen to knit most of it in February. Since I finished it, I’ve worn it at least three days each week—I really love it.

BONUS: All of this knitting was done with stash yarn. WOOT! Up next on my plate: a February Lady (Kid?) Sweater for Sylvia. I think I’ll just take the grown-up pattern and knit the smallest size in sportweight (instead of worsted). That ought to fit her, I think. Unfortunately, I don’t have suitable yarn for this (she wants blue, and I’m thinking of something that’s mostly cotton), so I’ll actually have to buy some for this project.

Watching: The Secret of Kells. One of the most visually stunning films I’ve seen in a long time.

* And one of those friends was the person who gave me some of that yarn about four years ago. She gave me three balls of Baby Cashmerino in a deep red color, and that turned out to be just the right amount to make one scarf for her and an identical one for myself.


Disney now marketing to newborns

Yes, that’s right. NEWBORNS. As in “just been born and still in the hospital.” This brings a whole new level of literalness to the concept of “cradle to grave” marketing.

You can read the New York Times article about it here.

You can read the Consumerist take on it here. The comments are pretty good. Some choice ones:

  • “It’s not a new practice for companies to give baby products to new parents, but to have a rep actually visit the hospital room is incredibly tacky and invasive. The mother is still exhausted and this is a time for her to recover and for family to visit, not to be subjected to a sales pitch.”
  • “‘To get that mom thinking about her family’s first park experience before her baby is even born is a home run.’ I’ll bet that smarmy bastard said those words without an ounce of guilt or shame. While it’s no surprise that Disney would sink low enough to want to manipulate children’s minds before they can even have HALF of a choice, it’s still disgusting.”
  • Well hell, maybe we should inject a Disney rep right into the Cervix for a cheery “Hello!” to the ABOUT to be born bambino.
  • Wow, I never realized the severe level of neglect taking place right here in the US. The possibility of children spending a good 4 years of their life not “consuming” Disney products? It’s the kind of thing I thought only happened in movies…

If you’re feeling unhappy about this news and feel like doing something, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood site is a great place to start, and they’ve already got a campaign up and running on this subject.


Just finished! Hot off the needles!

Sylvia wanted me to knit something for her that matched my green sweater. (I’ll post more about that sweater soon.) I showed her the pattern for the Cowgirl Butterfly Astronaut Vest, and she loved it. So I got to work and two weeks later had this:


I used Lamb’s Pride worsted for the contrast color–partly because it’s what I had on hand, partly because I thought the heathered brown would rein in the wild colors of the green yarn. The green and brown are a nice woodsy-fairy combination, especially with the leaf buttons (which were left over from her Anouk pinafore).

I sewed on the buttons last night, and Sylvia happily wore her new vest to school this morning. She came up with her own name for it, based on her own interests: the Fairy Acrobat Pirate Butterfly Cowgirl Vest.



Lucky again

Back in October I won a contest over on Largehearted Boy’s amazing music and literature blog. (Pop over there and take a quick look at it. Pretty amazing, isn’t it?) The prize package arrived recently and contained a whole bevy of stuff that’s sure to please any little kid (and any parents who seek fun, intelligent, and creative fare for their kids), including the new book (yes, you heard me correctly) by They Might Be Giants, called Kids Go!, along with their latest CD, Here Comes Science. (The timing for this arrival in our couldn’t be better, because Sylvia is currently obsessed with “doing science.”) There’s also For the Kids III, which we somehow managed to miss until now. Considering how much like its two predecessors, I’m sure this one will be a hit with my family, too.

Last week another prize box arrived in the mail, this one from Jen at Fashionably Late to the Party. For about three weeks starting in mid-November she ran a contest in which commenters won entries for a random drawing for what she described as “a box of random stuff.” (Her posts are always interesting, and I usually have something to say there anyway. So entering this contest actually required no extraordinary effort on my part.)

And random it was. The box contained some awesome salt-and-pepper shakers (which are so awesome that I think they deserve an entire blog post all to themselves some time), lots of cookies and snacks from Japan, a giant prescription bottle full of beads, and all sorts of odds and ends. My favorite item, though, was this one:



Two knitted gifts

After my last knitting-related post, I was still feeling pretty antsy to cast on for a non-sock knitting project. I started two and have already completed both of them.

p6108672bonnetftf.jpgFirst up: a bonnet based on the one Lyra wore in The Golden Compass. The story behind this yarn is a sad one. My friend Gina has a colleague whose mother died recently, and the colleague gave Gina her mother’s yarn. There were two balls of Lion Brand Jiffy Thick-and-Quick, and when Gina was at my house last week telling me the story, she asked if I wanted one. We both decided to knit charity hats with them (part of our admission to Knitters Day Out this fall), and I like to think that her friend’s mother would’ve have liked to see the yarn used this way. This was a very quick knit, done in maybe an hour and a half.

p6108673vestftf.jpgNext, I set out to knit something for Maggie, the daughter of one of my college friends. I’ve knit Maggie a few things already (a jester hat and a novelty-yarn scarf), both of which she’s appreciated. She just turned six in March, so I thought I’d make a foray into full-on garments this time. I started with the vest pattern in The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns: Basic Designs in Multiple Sizes & Gauges (a very excellent book that belongs in every knitter’s library) and tweaked it here and there. I opted for a button-front style (rather than a pullover) and knit it in the round out of yarn I’d gotten in Vermont over the past few years. This was a lot of fun to knit!

maggie1.jpgThe result? Apparently, it was a hit! It arrived on an 85-degree day, and Maggie insisted on wearing it anyway. As you can see, it mostly fits yet still has lots of growing room, so she should get to enjoy it for at least a couple of years!


Childhood toys

It’s interesting what parents save of their children’s things. My husband’s mom saved books; she was both an author and an editor of children’s books, so there are many interesting/rare/meaningful items in the collection that my daughter now enjoys.

My parents saved all of my (and my brother’s) Fisher-Price toys. There’s a wind-up television set that plays “Three Blind Mice,” has a rolling scene of drawn mice running across the front (think of a player piano’s roll), and has “Made in Japan” stamped on the back. (When did mass-produced American toys stop being made in Japan, anyway? At some point they moved to Taiwan, and thence to China, where most of them remain today.) And there are lots of Original Little People and their playsets (including the airport, the camper, the village, and parts of the farm).

pb275125fppeopleftf.jpgSylvia delights in playing with them when we visit. (The airplane has come home with us, but the rest of the toys remain at my parents’ house.) As we were planning our most recent trip out there, she was eager to play with “the people” again, especially “the woman in the purple dress” (which she hadn’t seen in over a year). It’s fascinating to see her childhood overlap with parts of mine.


My final FO of 2008

So here’s what I’ve done with the yarn I won at Knitters’ Day Out 2008. (Some of it, at least. There is a lot of it.)

After knitting the We Call Them Pirates hat last summer, I was eager to try my hand at more Fair Isle, and the Squirrel and Oak mittens had long been on my to-knit list. (Like the pirate hat, this pattern is a freebie from Hello Yarn. This site is where I also found the hat that inspired the Totoro hat I made for Jan’s Halloween costume.)

p1025583first.jpgI really wanted to make mittens for Sylvia, and I figured that subbing fingering-weight yarn for the sportweight called for in the pattern ought to yield something the right size for a three-year-old, as long as I chose the correct needle size. That seems logical, right?

So last September I picked up my #1.5 DPNs and knit away. The result was too small (just barely) for her hand.

p1025585second.jpgSo then I moved up to #3 needles and knit another one right away. This time I used the purple yarn for the dark spots on the chart and the green yarn for the light spots. (I had reversed them the first time around and ended up getting confused every once in a while, which required some tinking here and there.)

This time I ended up with a mitten that was too large. D’oh!

p1025588third.jpgAfter putting this project aside for a couple of months, I decided on December 20 that I really wanted to get them done by Christmas. So I tried again, this time with #2 needles.

And it worked! The mitten fit perfectly (with “perfectly” being defined as “there’s just enough extra room to insure that she won’t outgrow them this winter”). After trying on this mitten, Sylvia was so happy with it that she wore it (yes, just the one) around the house for half an hour.

p1025581front.jpgI finished the second one after Sylvia went to bed on Christmas night. I am thrilled with how they turned out.

I love this yarn. Linda at Bearlin Acres grows, spins, and dyes some mighty fine fiber. If you have a chance to throw some on your needles, go for it. This stuff didn’t split or snag or anything, and it flowed wonderfully as I knit.

I love this pattern, too. It’s very well written, and the result is something worthy of a post on Cute Overload.

p1025582back.jpgSee the fuzz on the palms? That’s the result of some post-Christmas snowman building. Sylvia loves her new mittens. That’s the best part of all.

p9133441sweaterftf.jpgLast spring, I set out to knit a pullover sweater for Sylvia. I had a few balls of Noro New Ruby in a vibrant (but not blinding) color, but the yarn had been discontinued years ago, and there was no way I’d have enough for the whole sweater. So I used the New Ruby for the sleeves and solicited advice for what to do about the body.

From the many very excellent suggestions I received I opted for Gina’s idea of using a solid Dale of Norway fingering-weight yarn. She even gave me the yarn for my birthday—two balls of purple, and two balls of light forest green. I finished up the sweater during the summer, opting for a simple boatneck at the top so the sweater would be reversible. (Aw, who am I kidding? Purple-crazy Sylvia will always choose to wear purple in the front…) Since it was high summer when the sweater was completed, it went right into a drawer. A few weeks ago it emerged as temperatures started to dip, though, and now it’s Sylvia’s sweater of choice.

A finished object? And one that a three-year-old actually chooses to wear? Wow.


Weekend fun

It’s been a busy weekend here.

On Friday, we celebrated our nation’s birthday by taking a trip to our nation’s first zoo. The Philadelphia Zoo doesn’t hold a candle to the zoo I grew up going to—both in terms of animal habitats and entrance fees (the St. Louis Zoo is free, whereas the Philly one is a whopping $18 for adults and $15 for kids 2-11)—but it’s what we’ve got. And Sylvia loves it, so there you go.

Yesterday morning my brother arrived for a two-day visit. He lives in Greenwich Village and almost always brings us a dozen fresh bagels that he picks up at the shop around the corner from him on his way to Penn Station. We’re so grateful for this gift, because even though it’s possible to get decent bagels where we live, nothing compares to New York bagels. (Seriously. They’re standing on the summit of Mount Everest, with all other bagels in the world stuck in the Mariana Trench. They’re that good. The other bagels aren’t jealous, though, because they’re in so much awe of New York bagels that they can’t help but admire them.)

p7051739.jpgThis time, in addition to bagels, he brought a special treat that I’d asked him to find: vegan marshmallows. (Real marshmallows contain gelatin, which is made from animal bones and pig and cow skin.)* A few days earlier, I’d told him that Whole Foods stores in NYC carry them (but not any stores in my area), and because they need to be refrigerated it’s very expensive to get them by mail-order during the summer. “Don’t go to any trouble, but if you can find some, that would be great,” I told him. He took it as his personal mission to find these for us, and after visiting a few stores, scored two boxes of them (each holding about a dozen marshmallows for $7, if you can believe it). Thanks to her uncle’s efforts, Sylvia got to enjoy her first backyard s’mores yesterday evening. Which she loved, of course!

Once Sylvia was in bed for the evening, a few friends came over for some serious geeking out. Nine of us played a board game until 2 a.m. Yeah, I’d say we had a good time.

I also managed to get a lot of knitting done. Last night I finished knitting one new piece, and this morning I seamed it; it just needs a few more embellishments. Right now, I’m blocking Sylvia’s new sweater and hope to finish it up (finally!) this evening. A more detailed knitting update—with pictures—will be forthcoming later this week (I hope!).

I hope all of you, too, had a great weekend!


*A few years ago, the excrement hit the fan in the vegetarian world when it was revealed the Emes Kosher Jel, which had marketed itself as a vegetarian gelatin substitute, actually contained animal gelatin. (CNBC did a story about this: part 1, part 2.) The few companies that made vegetarian marshmallows using Emes products went out of business, and since then only a handful of companies in the world have figured out how to make vegan marshmallows.

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