Crafting with & for family

I’m a lucky lady who lives only 3 miles from my sister. Add to that, her craft skills are different than my own, and we’re a mighty team!

So when our ballet instructor (we both have preschool girls) requested crafting help for the “Nutcracker Sweet” production, we stepped up. The instructor wanted a corsage. At first she suggested knitting…but seriously, 16 knit corsages in under a month? I’m crazy, but not that crazy!

We started with some random color test pieces, though I love the penguin background and the stark contrast of the two colors.


And our beautiful finished corsages.



There are a lot of really great kumihimo tutorials and videos on-line. Unfortunately, as my husband says, Pinterest has ruined the internet. And I sort of agree with him. As much as I like my digital boards, trying to run a Google search and getting hit after hit on Pinterest instead of the actual page is annoying.

So, here’s a quick reference on the kumihimo boards I made for the kids. I’ve been keeping one of the basic ones in my purse for my kids or bored kids I run across.


The basic board is a circle (of any size, but kids tend to like them about 5″ diameter) with eight slits. My husband used a compass and a protractor and got the slits exact. I started with 4 at each of the 90 degree angles, and then roughly cut another four in between them. You use 7 strands, leaving a blank slot.

  1. Hold the blank slot at your belly button.
  2. Count strands counter clockwise from the blank slot – 1,2,3. Move that third strand in to the blank slot.
  3. Turn the board counter clockwise so the blank slot is at your belly button.
  4. Repeat step 2.

Ta Da! I’ve had kids as young as 3-1/2 grasp this and make some headway.

Our second attempt stepped up the game.


This one requires a cheat sheet for a bit until you get the hang of it. And initial set-up requires the two pink (or whatever color you choose) be at slots d & k (where I put the hearts).


Then you go to town!


If they kids love this, I may look up a few more, but right now, this is complicated enough for our busy lives!

Kumi-what now

Kumihimo has become quite the thing round these parts. And now that we’re all stuck inside thanks to the Thomas Fire here in Santa Barbara, we’ve been upping the game.

We’ve moved from the basic circle of cardboard with 8 slots and 7 strings to a square with 12 slots and 8 strings. This makes a half round braid with a “heart” in the center. Maybe next time we’ll add beads!

So glad my sister loves doing these, too! Next year I’m dragging her to the Griffin Dyeworks Fiber Frolic!

I can make that…

Have you gotten caught in the “I could make that” trap?

I totally do. All the time. Funnily enough, the last time this came up, a videocast by Margaret Olander popped up discussing the issue 🙂

Here’s how I look at the problem:

  • Do I actually want the thing or is it just a cool challenge?
  • Am I actually going to make the thing?
  • Why am I doing it?
    • Save Money
    • I can do it better/more to my liking
    • build skills

When I attended the 2017 Griffin Dyeworks Fall Fiber Frolic, I took a class on art loom weaving. We got to borrow some of the hand looms from her booth. They’re made of wood. Which I do sometimes work with 😉 There were also some fun tools, weaving needles and beaters. I also took a kumihimo class. Several booths sold kits and pieces for making your own weaving circle.

I’d admired the looms at last year’s event, but talked myself out of them. This year, taking the class and getting a 20% discount, couldn’t say no. But! While the loom might be a little out of my depth, both my husband and neighbor are better wordworkers. But would I get around to asking, arranging time, setting up tools? Nope. So I bought the loom. The beater and the needles looked more do-able. But the beater is maybe just a little longer project than I’m going to address right now (what with gift knitting, crochet, kumihimo, embroidery, oh not to mention kids and life). The needles, though. The needles were both within my scope and my ability.

I even had scrap wood! And I only broke one of the proposed needles. They’re not perfect. They need some fine tuning, sanding, maybe just some playing in my hand to really make them nice. But they are totally functional and I get to try several different lengths to see what I like or what I need per situation. Total love.

Kumihimo, on the other hand. Different story. The disc we used in class (lower right & lower middle) was paper. The kits for sale (at a very reasonable $15) were foam, as were the single foam you could buy ($3). I wanted to make it, though. So today at Michael’s I got a thick piece of foam & a thinner piece with one sticky side for $2. I should be able to make two pieces out of it of roughly the size. And maybe a smaller one. Plus, new skills and I get to play around.

Anything you’ve said “I could make that” and actually went home to make?

On fashion

I thought I had written this post before. If I have, apologies. It’s still rumbling around in my brain.

A few months ago I checked out a library book (we love libraries!) about wardrobe and curating your closet.


I’ve tended to make sweaters, shirts, dresses, pants based on really loving the fabric/color/design.

Except you know what I don’t wear? Design and Color. There’s a really lovely part of the book that asks you to narrow down your color choices as far as what you wear.


You pick three colors, two coordinating neutrals, and then some accent colors. This is what you wear, not what your house is, not what you like to see. What you wear.

Here’s my pass.


And can I tell you, finding non-neutrals was hard. I didn’t have to, of course. And really, I didn’t succeed. But these are the colors I feel most comfortable and confident in. Black, light black, lightest black. With Mid-black and Navy as my neutrals. Dude, inner goth, could you hold it down in there, I can’t hear myself above the bad poetry.

And actually, I don’t look that great in lightest grey.

But I’ll take the pops of maroon, grey green, turquoise green.

It’s really made me slow down and think about what I’m sewing. And buying. No more cutesy fabrics that are just too adorable in dress quantities. No more sweater quantities of variegated yarns. I’ll limit myself to smaller quantities to make accessories.

It means my crafting has slowed a bit, but I think that’s a good thing. No sense in putting massive amounts of un-wearble things in my closet.

Gifting, further thoughts

I did a gifting post awhile ago. Knitters are notorious gift givers. Even the most hard core selfish crafter among us occasionally gets overtaken with the desire to give away some of our carefully made goodies.

But sometimes that doesn’t cut it. Not only is not everyone knit worthy, some are not knit receptive (Thank you, Rox! She did a fantastic video about gift knitting). My father falls into a blurry area of not quite knit receptive. He is, but he also lives in a place where wearing wool isn’t entirely necessary, and he doesn’t run cold. I also have a girlfriend who is knit worthy but is reluctantly knit receptive; I always check with her before I knit her something.

So my sister and I have been racking our brains for upcoming birthdays. While not minimalists, we are both struggling with an overabundance of stuff. Stuff for us, stuff for the kids, stuff for the dogs, even stuff for our crafts. It’s just everywhere. And while we want to honor and celebrate our loved ones far away, we didn’t really want to burden them with more un-needed, un-wanted stuff.

So we narrowed the field to food. Then to subscriptions, ruled out “fix your own” meals as they put a burden on the receiver, and came across…Love with Food. (This is informational only, these guys don’t even know me, but if you click the link and subscribe, I do get points, for what it’s worth).

We decided on a monthly delivery of snacks, and the company, in turn, donates to several organizations working to end hunger nationally & internationally. Snacks for me at my door and a donation for a hungry person?! I’m in.


Crafting with Kids

If you’ve been reading awhile, you know that I feel about crafting with kids a bit like I do about poetry (I think everyone should write poetry, I think no one should read poetry!). Crafting with kids is exhausting and you better plan ahead carefully for the skill level and, under no circumstances, have any expectations of your or the children’s work.

So of course I’m now the “craft mom” in my daughter’s first grade classroom. And boy, howdy! are there a range of skill levels amongst 6 & 7 year olds. But we’ve tackled spool knitting, sewing felt, and tomorrow we’re going to try sewing buttons.


Major shout-out to the teachers of the world. I spend an hour a week with these kids and I lay awake the night before trying to plan for eventualities of what could happen while they craft. I can’t ever imagine doing it 8 hours a day 5 days a week. You all totally need a bucket button!