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July 2010

toddler art experiences

Thank you all for your warm words of congratulations about our pregnancy! We really are thrilled to be adding another little one to our home, and I can't wait until the nausea passes so I can knit some woolly things for this little winter baby! With my creative efforts focused squarely on human-making, I thought you might enjoy a peek at the creative exploits of the littlest artist in the family ...

first crayon drawing

That's my little guy's first drawing! I made sure that his first series of drawings happened in the same blank book, for easy archiving. It's great to have all of them in one place.

For that first piece, I simply modeled how to use a crayon, and he was off. I'm sticking to just two crayons for a little while, so he doesn't get sidetracked by taking the crayons in and out of the container, which he is apt to do, being 14 months old. The crayons are Stockmar beeswax blocks - a truly quality, long-lasting, virtually unbreakable set that I've loved since my days in the classroom.

warm cornstarch fingerpainting

I know a few things as I start this art adventure with Finn: I want him to have positive, exploratory, process-based experiences with art. Also, I'd like for him to have a dedicated art space, where he can freely access age-appropriate materials. The space is being designed in my head as I lie here on the couch, feeling oh-so-less-than-100%. A fun mental project, and one that will likely stay in that heady realm for quite a while.

In the meantime, I've found a lot of inspiration from First Art : Art Experiences for Toddlers and Twos . I love that this book gets beyond crayons, markers, and construction paper, and has you making your own materials from scratch (although, I must say - I'm going to try to stick to natural dyes from now on, such as tumeric, beet juice, and juice from greens.) Chapters focus on different kinds of projects: paints, doughs, making marks, sticky projects, and printing.

cornstarch fingerpainting

Here's his first finger painting. Patrick made the warm cornstarch recipe from the book, and suggests that you make way less than the recipe calls for. We now have a mountain of the stuff occupying a very large corner of our fridge.

mounds of cornstarch

We also made Feely Goop, a simple mixture of cornstarch and water. Finn was enchanted.

feely green goop

But what, you ask, is that awful shirt he's wearing? Oh. That. That's the temporary art smock, made from Daddy's grungy undershirt, with the bottom eight inches cut off. I know, I know - I've even written a pattern for a children's art smock - it's in my book . It's not quite small enough for Mr. Teeny Artist, though, and I am not currently in a designing/sewing mood. The temporary smock will work for now, although don't be surprised if you see him wearing the same thing when he's four. I'm just sayin'.

feet washing

One of the funnest parts of art projects with a toddler is washing hands (or feet) after the artist is done. A tub of water and a towel at his level work wonders, and when they're placed just a few paces from the project location itself, it bypasses the frustration of having to remove him from the project space in order to wash his hands at a sink that wasn't built with a short fellow in mind. Plus, it's SO much more fun this way - especially in the heat of the summer.

feet washing 2

A few of my favorite resources for art with littles:

The Artful Parent: Jean chronicles her own art projects with her daughter and features great art supplies and interviews with artists. I can't wait to see what Jean does with her second daughter, still a baby, once she's ready for some art experiences!

Amy over at Angry Chicken offers so much inspiration for art projects with children under her "arty" category. I love that she doesn't balk at using quality materials with her girls.

Amanda wrote a great post about welcoming her youngest to the drawing table. Her book, The Creative Family , is also a very inspirational read on the subject.

What are your favorite art resources for little ones?

i give up, & some exciting news

monkey give up

Finn, doing his best impression of his mother.

I had every intention of having an adorable, finished knitting project to photograph for this post. I cast on for it a few weeks back, all vim and vigor. It's almost done. It's super tiny, so I have no excuses.

Well, I do have one. It's a little excuse. The kind of excuse that makes one very tired and queasy, but also very happy.

We're pregnant! Finn's little brother or sister will join us in mid- to late-February. They will be 21 months apart, which makes me both nervous and excited, considering they will be so close. I've started doing some research in those rare moments that I don't feel mildly icky. (You can see the new books I'm reading in the left side bar.)

So now you know why things have been a little on the quiet side around here. I'm operating in low gear, trying to get through the essential parenting and work activities of each day while still being mindful of my body and its new needs. My morning sickness isn't debilitating by any means - I have it pretty good compared to many women - but I still need to slow down. I'll be back in this place only from time to time until I feel my energy return in a few more weeks.

Hey, at least I am doing something creative, even if it has nothing to do with yarn, knitting needles, or a sewing machine. Making a human is plenty of work, after all!

to the river

the wind-up

Sometimes, when the nap was too short, the thermometer too hot, and even when it's the last thing an exhausted mama thinks she wants to do ...

finding treasures

... the best thing to do is to pack up a few essentials and go to the river. 

Even when you can feel the sticky blanket of a southern summer resting over the trees, just being able to wiggle your toes in the run-off from last night's thunderstorm is enough to turn up the corners of your mouth.

looking for the challenge

And for the little one, there's always something to explore. Ants, water skippers, a swimming dog, pebbles, and a perfect challenge in the form of a muddy bank.

a gift

What a gift this river gave us yesterday.

The boy even had a good snooze on the car ride home.

sunday picnic blouse pattern

sunday picnic blouse & dress pattern

It's been a long time in coming, but I'm really excited that my new pattern is now available! The Sunday Picnic Blouse & Dress comes in women's sizes 0-20, and it's super-flattering for all body types. It features a nifty faux-wrap construction that assures that you won't have any uncomfortable shifting of fabric, as is common with regular wraps. For more information, and to see the back of the pattern including yardage and materials requirements, check out my shop.

sunday picnic blouse & dress pattern

I'm in love with my chambray dress version, as it's the only nursing-friendly summer dress I have. The gingham blouse is also a favorite, although I miss it because it's currently on display at one of my distributor's booths. Either version would be lovely made up in one of Alexander Henry's new cotton lawn prints, or in Anna Maria Horner's cotton voile.

  sunday picnic blouse & dress pattern

This pattern also marks the first in a (hopefully) long line of collaborations with my friend and talented seamstress Kim Ventura. I really couldn't have done this pattern without her, as my deadline for my second book manuscript was taking up all of my work hours. For this pattern, I designed the blouse, sent Kim the pattern pieces and the construction notes, and she perfected the pattern, wrote the instructions, and drew the illustrations! What a help she was (and a pleasure to work with). I'm sure you'll really enjoy her thorough and detailed touch when working with the pattern. Thanks, Kim! And thanks, also, to my wonderful testers, Susan and Monique!

Happy Summer sewing, everyone!


knitting for a little bum

wool diaper cover1

I just finished a wool diaper cover for the little-bum-in-residence. The pattern is called "Vanilla", and it's available through Ravelry.

wool diaper cover 2

I adore it, even though it's too big. (I knit a large, and next time I'll stick to the medium.) I've been wanting to switch to wool covers for quite a while now, but I've only recently found myself motivated to pick up my sticks. It's like that with me and knitting - I knit like a maniac for a while, then I need a break. Now that I'm firmly ensconced in my knitting mania, I have plans for many more diaper covers. Just cast on for another one last night, in fact.

the skeptical banana swagger

My friend Grace wrote an excellent post about cloth diapering and wool covers a while back - it's a goldmine of useful information if you're curious.

eating a wool banana

So, why wool covers, especially for an EC baby? Well, as I mentioned before, Finn is currently much more interested in walking (and making banana something-rathers in his wooden kitchen) than in signaling his need to use the potty. We're very cool with it. He's actually begun to sign "potty" right after he goes, which is somewhat helpful. Although he still sits on the potty to do his thing several times a day, we're also spending more time out and about this summer, and we don't EC when we're out of the house yet. We also made the decision a long time ago to not EC at night. Pottying was too much of a disruption of my sleep in a way that breastfeeding while co-sleeping never was. As an added perk, once we stopped EC-ing at night, Finn started sleeping quite well. We use Mother-Ease Sandy's diapers with their stay-dry liners at night. I never loved the PUL covers, though - even though we don't get many leaks, they don't breathe very well, which I makes for an ammonia smell first thing in the morning. Eew.

Plus, did I mention that the PUL covers have four snaps? Not very easy-on, easy-off while getting dressed. My hope is that these wool covers will be easier for Finn to maneuver once he starts showing interest in dressing himself.

baking the banana

Oh. And they're cute. Reason enough to switch, right?

hosing off

4th of july neighborhood parade

Well, now. That was a whole load of fun. As you look at the following pictures, please imagine a chorus of high-pitched squeals emanating from the drenched kiddos. It will be as if you were right there with me, cautiously shielding your camera from vagrant drops.

fire engine hosing off

soaked and loving it

soaked and loving it 2

i'll watch from here

party in the park

Good feelings. Good times. Good neighbors. How did you celebrate the 4th?