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Honour the Child

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BTRT Patterns (on Etsy)

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

I am still not quite sure what these will become, but they are fun to make and very cute! I am thinking hairpins and pony holders for little girls!
They are all needle felted and less than one inch long.
and more...!
Coming soon :)
Tuesday, 29 April 2008
Rowan is 2.5.
I just had surgery and can't lift her up.
She knows this and is using it against me.
No, I am not paranoid, or projecting things on to her.
She has me over a barrel right now.

We practice, as much as we are able, Unconditional Parenting. We don't use punishments or rewards. We try to work with our daughter rather than do things to her. We don't spank, do timeouts, or count to three to get her to move. Combined with a healthy does of playful parenting, we usually chug along just fine. But there are times when our chosen tools don't work!

Lately, Rowan has been tuning us out. Last week I said "You're not listening to me, are you?" She smiled and said "nope.". This weekend I told he I had the remote and was turning on her listening ears. I pressed my button and she promptly reached up to each ear and said 'click, I turned them off again." (she is *very* verbal kid). Argh.

Last night I was in pain (infected incisions), hungry, tired and my husband was still at work. I needed to get Rowan to her bath and bed. She didn't want to come (transitions are tough at this age) so I went up and ran the tub and told her to come along (she generally does). She didn't. I went back down and she laid on the floor and ignored me. In this case I would usually give her a chance to move before picking her up. Not an option, and she darn well knew it.

I had nothing. I wasn't going to bribe or beg or cajole. I should have gone to the playful parenting mode, but I was too miserable. I got angry. I told her I was starting to get angry (we try to own our emotions!) and she said, very understandingly "That's ok mommy, it's ok to get angry. It's a feeling". AHHHHH!

I muttered to myself something about wishing spanking was an option (while realizing it wasn't, because, well, we don't hit, but also because it was totally anger driven!) and Rowan perked up. "What's that?"
"Ya, what it is?"
"Well, it is when someone hits your bum and it hurts."
And at this she promptly jumped up, grabbed her puppy/lovey and ran upstairs and into her room, all cooperative sweetness!

I did explain that I would not spank her, that we don't hit each other. She hugged me with a 'gently hug' as she calls it since my surgery and went off to bed without a hitch.

While I achieved my ends that time, I didn't feel good about it and it made clear to me the need to be prepared for next time with more effective tools and options! It also made very clear to me what the next, oh, 16 years might be like ~ somehow i don't think my remote for the listening ears is going to be very effective!
Monday, 28 April 2008
As a follow up to yesterday's post about Clover the needle felted cow, I give you Farmer Brown.

Also modelled after the 'Click Clack Moo' books, Farmer Brown stands about 5" tall and has arms that are poseable. He has no frame or wires and his fishstick shape enables him to stand sturdily and freely for toddler play. He is 100% wool (Corriedale and Merino).

The slideshow below captures some of farmer Brown's development~ from fishstick to man with freakishly long arms, to Farmer Brown:
Sunday, 27 April 2008
As the mother of a 2.5 year old I know that sometimes you just have to have a cow and get it out your system!
Here is a bit of a glimpse of a cow that I recently finished for a custom felted play set. I should have taken a few more process pictures, but I always forget! The slideshow below shows the progress I did capture.
The cow (Clover) stands about 3.5-4" tall and is about the same length. She has no wires or frame and her joints have some mobility making her easy to stand on various surfaces. She is modelled after the cows in the book 'Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type'. She is toddler tough and ready to play! Here is how she got this way:
  • I started with a palm sized ball of natural corriedale. I punched it with a 36 star needle into a roughly egg shaped piece and then began to give it some more definition~ cows have such prominent hip bones, so I worked those, and a bit of a ridge down the back to the tail end. I left this piece spongy so that I could continue to shape it as pieces were added.
  • I took a 4" long piece of roving and made an oblong ball for the head, fairly firm. Using some soft pink merino, I needle on the muzzle, punched in some nostrils with repeated jabs on the nostril spots (very technical huh?). Then I shaped it a wee bit more and added eyes (just a teeny ball of black merino). The ears were felted separately on my foam pad ~ leaf shapes and a dab of pink merino was added into each. These were attached to the skull, pinched and shaped and needled until they hung just so.
  • When I went to needle the head on, I realized it needed a neck. Sousing the fibers left loose at the back of the head for attachment, I built up a neck and attached the head to the torso.
  • Still using my trusty 36 star, I measured out 4 lengths (approx. 6" long, 2" wide) for the legs. Rolled them like cigars and punched away. At one point I had a leg about twice as long as it needed to be~ punching in the bottom shrunk it quickly! When the legs were VERY firm (this cow needs to stand without a frame or wires) I felted on hooves in black merino and a few spots. The legs were then very firmly and deeply attached to the torso from every direction, with adjustments as I went to help her stand.
  • Clover's tail was a bit of a guess~ I laid black and natural wool together, twisted it and squeezed and needled it, leaving some fuzzies at the end. Interesting effect, but more marbled than I wanted. Tail was attached in the spinal ridge and the bottom shaped up.
  • At this point I was admiring my cow... and realized she had no udder! It would have been best to add the udder before the legs (note to self!). I firmly felted some corriedale and covered it with pink merino ~ since this cow is more cartoon than real, I just defined her teats with some needling. I attached the udder and adjusted the legs as needed.
  • Finally, Clover got her spots (aside from those built into the legs and head). I used black merino to make her Holstein pattern and used the spots as extra security for all the added pieces~ needling black over all the joints to ensure their security.
  • A last going over with a finer 40 guage triangle needle finished Clover and she is ready to join her sisters in the barn.
Clover will be joined by Farmer Brown, Tippy & Trotter, a duck and a cow sister. I plan to post some o the process for the Farmer ASAP.

Thanks to Pumpkin Pie Baby for her winning name choice for my little whimsies! She wins a HeartFelt of her very own!

I did take into consideration the other businesses using the word (as someone had mentioned in the comments of the previous post), and as there are 2 pages of businesses using some variation of 'heartfelt' at Etsy alone, it doesn't seem to be too exclusive to any one business. Add that this is for a small product line, not a business and it doesn't seem to infringe. If anyone feels it does, please let me know! It is important to be respectful in this handmade world!
Friday, 25 April 2008
After a wee break to let my body start to heal, I am able to do a bit of needle felting again, yay! And I have an idea but I need a name!

Before I went into surgery I made Rowan a little needle felted apple. She rarely gets anything I make, so I made the apple just for her and placed it by her bed with a note for the morning of my surgery. It was the first time we have been apart for more than a day and *I* was having a hard time leaving her for 3 days! She loved her little treat, and the note I left instructed her to give it a squeeze whenever she felt lonely for mama, because I had filled it with love... awwwwww!

I'd like to make more little whimsies for special times (various shapes and forms)~ soft little gifts that fit in a child's hand or pocket to help them with a rough day, a separation or other stressful moments. Little things that can be given by a loved one and offer a connection.

But *what* to call them?! Something that evokes the feeling and the use... but Love Squeezers... well, um, no.

Please leave your suggestion in the comments for this post as well as a way to contact you (email, blog etc.) so I can send you a little lovey if I choose your name!
Wednesday, 23 April 2008
We didn't really plan to start a small home based business.

A year ago I bought some dyes and blanks to make some clothing for my daughter (very first shirt pictured). I needed some spring/summer stuff that would fit over her cloth diapers and I was feeling like I had the first free time since her birth to do something creative again.
And I had a few revelations once I got started.

First of all, I found out that professional dyes make a world of difference over my camp days with Tintex for tie dyeing LOL Secondly, I found that my mediocre painting ability on wood and other materials was actually much finer on fabric (wow!). And thirdly, it felt great to be doing something creative again.

I had recently heard of Etsy and on a complete whim, decided to open a shop for a few playsilks and shirts to see what happened~ hoping to sell a bit to raise some funds for our adoption then in progress. Things sold, I got hooked!

In the year since, we have experimented and expanded our business as I have honed and developed my skills and learned some new ones, too (online marketing, felting, graphic design...). We have grown beyond Etsy to our own website, a congo on Hyena Cart and an HC shop.

What started out as a need and then a whim has grown to be a part of our lives!

Our adoption plans changed and are on hold for now, and our daughter has been out of cloth diapers, ironically, since the business took off~ we couldn't keep up with diapers and dye in the machine! LOL

To celebrate our one year since falling into business we are having a week long bash at our Hyena Cart from May 29 - June 4. Lots of guest artists, giveaways, contests and fresh items every day for a week!
Sunday, 20 April 2008
I am still laid up and limited in my activities by my surgery a week ago, but all about me is pushing hungrily towards spring.

You know, that first burst of spring-ish weather that brings people out in shorts and tank tops, on bicycles and into the water... that first heedless claiming of the potential for spring to come.

It isn't spring. We *know* it will SNOW again. The ice is on the lake. But we do it anyway. With abandon. With delight uncharacteristic.

Every year. Bubbles and rubber boots, skipping ropes, rakes and bulbs. Young and old we force ourselves on spring with such fervour that it retreats to come in again more quietly, less noticeably, a little shyly, a few weeks later.

And we all sheepishly put our mitts and our restraint back on for those few more weeks to greet real spring with more decorum. But we still go to bed with the window open, the sidewalk chalk on the porch and the rake leaning against the shed. We dream of trilliums and rainy days, soil under our nails and colour.

For winter is long. And everything within us awakens to spring.
Saturday, 12 April 2008 that Blogrush doesn't run my previous post for the next ten days LOL
How about Tippy & Trotter.
They are playing leap frog.
Get your mind out of the gutter.
With surgery scheduled for Monday morning (needed but elective~ reduction mammoplasty~ so termed to avoid icky blog searches!), I won't be blogging for a bit~ so I thought I'd leave a quick note so that no one thinks *gasp* that I have abandoned my blog. I'll be back minus a few bits.
Thursday, 10 April 2008
Twins~ Lunar and Solar...Needle felted fellows :)
I'd like you to meet a fellow Canadian~ one I feel connected to because we have pretty much traded places on the map of Canada! Gen is the busy mom behind The Cloth Canoe.
I have also had the pleasure of working with Genvieve on a collaboration and she is a real gem.

What is The Cloth Canoe (very evocative name, isn't it?)? ~ it is a home based business featuring fantastic and lovely natural products for diapering (4 styles of diapers, organic materials) and moms (menstrual cloth, family wipes)~ the name stems from the family's Acadian heritage. You can read more about this here. And see some gorgeous photos, too! Also be sure to snoop around her shop and read up about what makes her cloth diapers so special!

Gen is driven by her desire to provide long lasting, quality items that mothers will love for their little ones and themselves. She is very personable and enjoys chatting with her customers and making items for them from her own patterns. Doing advocacy work for natural living, babywearing and cloth is also a passion. Like most moms, she struggles with balance, limited time for her work and self-care.

's work all looks so touchable and soft. She has a great eye for colour and texture and she would love to apply these skills to patterning children's clothing at some point. For now she continues to develop diapers you'd almost hate to have used they are so pretty!

Please take a moment to visit Gen's shop and see her gallery of work. You can also check out her blog for many more amazing items and details!

Tuesday, 8 April 2008 needle felting.
I was going to post a shop feature tonight but I seem to be having issues accessing my file with the info, so instead I am going to show off my very first needle felted bowl.
First, let me say, holy needle jabs! This baby was one heck of a lot of work!
I made the bowl (the natural colour) with corriedale and I really like the way it works. It is felted tightly but with a bit of spongy softness so that you just want to touch it! The embellishments are made with a combo of merino and other wools. I also played around with needle gauges and star/ triangle points to get a feel for the various tools.
I hadn't planned to make a rowan bowl, but it begged me! I am still uindecided if I will list it or keep it. I really love it.
I am so glad all of my little felties went to a nice shop this past weekend so Andy will stop looking at me with that 'you should be painting something' look when I felt instead of work on new clothing designs!
The bowl is approximately 2" high and 3" in diameter at the base, 4" at the top.
Monday, 7 April 2008
Who knew?
I was preparing my listings for our 'Barefoot Through the Universe' stocking at Take Off Your Shoes this week (Thursday at 9 pm, since you asked!) and trying to find some space themed names for some new silkies.
Vulcan Blood was easy LOL...
Europa was a revelation about the ice covered sixth largest moon in the solar system (also Jupiter's sixth moon)...And who knew that this pretty pink silkie was a wonderful representation of an Emission Nebula?Now you do ~ and so do I!
is there anything playsilks *can't* do?!
Saturday, 5 April 2008
The 'F' word?
Our sitter told me this week that Rowan has been tossing around the f-shots.
I didn't really buy it. I mean it could be 'frog' (months ago she sounded like the was cursing everytime she said FROG) or some other innocent word, right?
I mean, she used to ask to be carried by saying 'I carry you' which sounded like a death threat from a character in a kung fu movie~ "I keel you!".
The word isn't part of our vernacular and the sitter says it dates before a recent visit to my mom's (not that Grandma curses like a sailor, either).
We don't have adult tv on when she is around.
So tonight when Rowan was asked to pick up her shoes and she CLEARLY said "F _ _ _" I was taken aback.
I asked her what she said.
Oh, what does that mean? I asked.
It means F!#@, she says.
Oh, says I. Determined not to react.
I don't know if that is really what she is saying, but it sounds close enough. I'd love to know where that came from.

I am still hoping it is just one of her 'words' like 'flugger blugger' or 'plip' that she likes to play with.
And I am really hoping she doesn't decide to play with it in church tomorrow!
I had the privilege today of meeting a very sweet woman at a sale for kid's stuff in the neighbouring community. Liz has many talents including painting and photography and I am loving her porcelain pendants and philosophy. It is nice to meet 'like-minds' and encouraging/ inspiring to see how other people are doing the eco-friendly thing in their daily and business life.
You can find out more about Liz Lott on her website and get the dirt on the very hip Hibou Boutique (North Bay, ON). I know my next trip to North Bay will include a stop at the shop!
Thursday, 3 April 2008
I met yesterday with the local small business resource person and had a good meeting about how to maximize my business within my time constraints (having a full time job, child, husband etc) and goals (not to lose money! OK, maybe to make some, too!).

A few things emerged:
1) I need to do my book-keeping, or pay someone else to do it. I think she thinks I am an artsy type absorbed in my art, but in fact I am a super Type A procrastinator perfectionist who has made a very conscious choice to *be* artsy-fartsy for this part of my life. To move where the spirit blows and to do what makes me happy. So I think I'll pay a bookkeeper for all that I'll need because I am enjoying being a free spirit LOL.
2) I should meet with a shipping specialist (who knew there were shipping specialists?!)
3) I should explore printing processes which may allow me to print reproductions of my painted work on clothing for a lower price point product which may open up wholesale opportunities. Meanwhile, continue to sell 'originals' as such. Bears looking into ~ I just have a hard time seeing the work as real art when I know it is going to a toddler to smear cupcakes and snot all over it (which is cool with me, I love that!).

The discussion also made me more aware of needing to manage better: online time; new product/ vs. order filling time; and to return to the practice of goal setting.

Gosh, that all seems, so, well, me.
And I am kind of enjoying the vacation from all that organization!
Wednesday, 2 April 2008
Mr. Dressup~ that silly, gentle man with his Tickle Trunk and collection of crazy puppets ~if you grew up in Canada, you know who I mean!
I have been thinking about him lately. As I scan through unwatchable television for children, I long for the slow paced, frugal crafting, dress up and imagine play of Mr. Dressup~ a staple of my childhood, and given its running time, of many children in several generations in Canada. I think I may have to hook myself up with some DVDs. Or, er, my daughter!
Comedian Jeremy Hotz does a hilarious bit about Mr. Dressup and the Friendly Giant (another staple!) which comments on the weirdness of Casey never moving his mouth but talking non-stop, while Finnegan moves his mouth without ever uttering a sound. I couldn't find it online, so you'll just have to believe me LOL. His comment on the giraffe continually sticking his head in Friendly's window? Get a screen!
Don't know what on earth I am talking about?!
Here is a sample of Mr. Dressup ~ with his Wise Old Owl painting which helpfully wakes up to answer his questions with a sleepy 'To wit! To woo!'
My new little owl is named 'To Woo' in honour of this gentle man and many happy memories.
Tuesday, 1 April 2008
I just love that feeling when you follow a hunch, a thread of an idea and allow it to play itself out in your hands. When it all comes together and whichever way you turn it under your self-critical lens you are happy with the execution of that whisper of an idea.
I recently had that experience with a new project. While my needle skills have room for improvement, the idea itself just feels right in this incarnation.
Meet the Counting Fishies (for lack of a better name, suggestions welcome).
I like toys that are:
a) natural
b) multi purpose
c) open ended and child lead and
d) multi age (grow with your child)
And the Counting Fishies fit the bill.
They are needle felted and sturdy enough for toddler play.
All natural (100% wool) and have endless possibilities!
Learning colours, learning numerals, counting amounts, pairing numerals with their amounts, simple math (ie pink fish + blue fish = orange fish PLEASE don't check my math!), imaginative play, active games, props for songs and finger plays, textures... and they come with their own all natural (silk) accessories (pouch and Fairy Silkie(tm)) making them easy to tote for quiet times, the car and so on.
They are suitable for kids from 2 - school age (felt is a concern for little ones who chew their toys, I wouldn't want them to get a mouth full of fiber as it could be a choking hazard~ yes I am a freaky safety mom). Everything is hand dyed with food grade dyes and non-toxic.
I can certainly see things I want to improve upon (and welcome ideas, too~ creative bliss doesn't mean finality to me!), but on the whole I feel pretty blissed out creatively about these little guys!
You can see the complete description/ listing here.
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