A Foray into Fair Isle

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One of my inspirations in learning how to knit stemmed from my admiration of the fair isle pattern. I’m sure that many of you are familiar with this pattern I knitting. I didn’t know it’s name until I stumbled across a great free pattern for a knit child’s hat with a fair isle pattern. This was one of the many projects I was secretly coveting and wishing I had the skills to accomplish.  Once I got the proper tools and found that knitting in the round isn’t such a terrible mystery, I felt confident enough to try this pattern out.

I didn’t have time to run to my usual yarn shop as I’ve been particularly busy at work, so I was fortunate enough to squeeze a quick run to Michael’s one week-end when we visited the grandparents.  I was a little nervous about the sizing of this hat, not using the yarn that was called for in the pattern.  I’ve found in my crocheting forays that sometimes the gauges of yards, depending on the manufacturers, don’t necessarily align.  Reading the labels on the yarn don’t necessarily yield what you expect, if you would use another manufacturer’s yarn that has the same information.  Well, I decided to give it a go and see what happened.

IMG_5119I ended up using Paton’s Lace Yarn, which was the closest thing I could find to what the pattern called for.  I found the yarn to be light, and easy to work with and the result is a beautifully delicate looking hat.  I slightly modified the beginning edge of the hat to emphasize the ribbing a little more and I couldn’t find enough colors in the Paton’s lace yarn line to provide this effect so I ended up using the pattern in a monochromatic fashion.  I am very pleased with the end result.  I think that it ended up beautifully delicate and that the yarn is light and airy but will still keep a head nice and warm.  The pattern itself was exteremely easy to follow and I found that having a pattern as distinct as this made keeping count of my stitches extremely easy.  I loved watching the pattern unfold as I knit away!

However, as I had originally feared, despite making the “child” size, it ended up being just the perfect fit for my daughter’s 2-year old noggin, and certainly not able to fit my daughter for the next winter season.  Sadly, I guess this just gives me an excuse to make another in a larger size, yes?

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A Kitchen Extravaganza – Part 1

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Kid-O Cutting Fruit

Ever since my daughter was small, my husband and I would try and include her in the preparation of our meals. We would hold her as we stir-fried simple foods for dinner, have her stand on a stool by the sink and help us to clean vegetables, have her stand on a stool and watch us chop vegetables, wash rice, or have her help hold the mixer as we made batter for cookies and cakes. She absolutely loves helping in the kitchen, and while sometimes it is more of a chore to have her underfoot, we love that she is interested and engaged and wanting to help.

Perhaps due to this, my daughter has been enamored with kitchens. She LOVES the play kitchen at her daycare and can spend hours prepping food, having the other children “try” her concoctions, and cleaning up. I started to get an inkling of how much she enjoyed them at home when she would play with her stir-fry kit from Melissa & Doug and add her crayons into the bowl to make a “soup”. I find it so interesting to see her make her imaginary food and then have us all try it. It’s incredibly cute and I want to promote her imaginary play as much as possible.

A couple of weeks ago, we went to a friends birthday party and they had the most compact and adorable play kitchen that I’ve seen to date. I loved it immediately because it was simple and compact, but didn’t impede a child’s personality. My daughter was stuck on this thing like a no other. We couldn’t even get her to leave to come out and sing happy birthday to her friend! Instead, she sang as she “cooked” up a concoction. It was ridiculous yet so cute. What really sealed the deal is that shortly after, my daughter had a birthday party and got this great cutting fruit set (shown above) that she kept playing with but had nowhere to put it. I resolved to myself to look for play kitchens for her. The only problem, which is so familiar to anyone living in NYC, is that everything boils down to space. We just didn’t have room for anything very large. While I could have purchased her friend’s kitchen, I just couldn’t bring myself to spring that much money on a play kitchen that I don’t know will get that much use. Also, I just kept looking online and thinking “I could make one of these, why should I buy one?”

So, from my various pinterest and online forays, here are my three favorite play kitchens for compact spaces.  Plenty of inspiration to get me started!

brio play kitchen

Brio Play Kitchen$120.06

Alex Toys Play KitchenAlex Toys Play Kitchen – $88.00

Cocorino KitchenCorcorico Cardboard Play Kitchen$27.00

To Infinity… And Beyond!

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My eldest nephew recently turned four. While I wasn’t able to be there to celebrate with him, I wanted to make something very special for him. He has been a great lover of the Toy Story movies and especially Buzz Lightyear. He has everything Buzz: blanket, pajamas, action figures, you name it!

In one of my previous posts I had illustrated my daughter with some of her friends in the vein of A.A. Milne and I thought that it would be nice if I could do something memorable and meaningful like that for my nephew. I thought that an illustration that built on his affinity for Buzz as more of a friendship as opposed to Buzz being a toy would be a really interesting study. I thought of the Calvin and Hobbes comics and the idea solidified in my mind on what I wanted to do.

untitledThis gift actually took me a while to complete. I had mocked up the image right when I had the thought, but it took time find time to gather all the materials (paper, frame) since I had a very particular idea in my mind. I used regular art sketch pad paper from my large spiral sketch pad and an Ikea Ribba frame. I love these frames because the are affordable and are a great design. They are simple, frame items beautifully, and I like that the depth of the frame seems to elevate the design of even the simplest piece of art that it is framing.  What do you think?

A 2-year old Affair

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This past week-end we celebrated my daughter’s second birthday. This was an especially festive occasion as both sets of grandparents would be present, as well as two of the three uncles and aunts, and the newest addition to our family!  My husband and I unwittingly made a bold decision to go bigger this year. We ended up having about 30 people in total (children, parents and grandparents) and the party was a blast!

My daughter was so excited for her party.  Even though she is only two, she understood that she was having a birthday party and was singing happy birthday to herself and all of her friends (many of whom have birthdays in very close proximity to hers).  We practiced blowing out candles, baking fake cupcakes with her toy cupcake set, and looking at her party dress that was saved for this special occasion.  When today finally came, she was so excited she could barely nap and squealed at the opportunity to change to her party clothes.  It is amazing to see how much she has grown and what she can comprehend, all at the tender age of two.

IMG_5181I had gotten it into my head a while back that this birthday party would be a dinosaur theme. My daughter seemed to really love dinosaurs and while her attentions have waxed and waned, I couldn’t help but stick to this theme. Part of the reason was that on my trip home back in June, I had dug up these really great dinosaur cookie cutters that my mom had used at one of my brother’s birthday parties when we were kids, and I always thought they were the coolest things in the world. I couldn’t pass up a chance to use them myself!

I used a very basic sugar cookie recipe for the base cookie and a royal icing recipe for the coloring.  My mom had bought these cutters from Wilton’s years ago, but had held onto them.  My mom was a great help in lending her hands to aid in the icing of these guys.  I think that they turned out great and we individually packaged each one and put them in a goody bag full of fun things for the kiddies.

IMG_5173Of course, I didn’t stop there.  We also had cupcakes.  I ended up using Magnolia Bakery’s devil’s food cake recipe for the cupcakes and a very simply cream cheese frosting for the decorations.  I added a little bit of sparkle by dipping the top tips of the cupcakes into silver dragees (which, by the way, were a huge hit with the kiddies – sparkly and sweet?  What’s not to love!?!)

All in all, it was a great party.  It’s amazing to reflect upon the last two years and marvel at how life changes in the blink of an eye.  I have to thank my husband for his foresight in ordering platters of food as well as for the grandparents for bringing other yummy snacks while I concentrated on the sweets and baking.  It was a wonderful concerted effort.  Happy birthday to my little honey!