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BTRT Patterns (on Etsy)

Monday, 29 June 2009
A little bit crazy quilt, a whole lot of felt....

I have been trying to come up with a way to do something like the laptop sleeve I made for myself in a smaller (therefore affordable based on time to make) format~ I have a few ideas, but the first out of the gate are some fun little needle books. The textures, colours and whimsy make me happy and in the 4" square size they are large enough to hold needles, threads and other notions yet small enough to carry any where.

The very best part (for me as a felter!) is that the front of the wallet is suitable for transporting needlefelting needles without breaking the delicate tips as happens in more flexible needle cases.

Each needle book is made with a combination of upcycled wool (sweaters etc.) and wet and needlefelted new fiber. All stitching is done by hand with cotton floss. The button is vintage (from my grandmother's button jar) and the tie is handspun yarn.

One of the first designs is now available in our Etsy shop.
Saturday, 27 June 2009
We have been enjoying working through the Yoga Kids (Marsha Wenig) DVDS # 2 & 3 (ABCs and Silly to Calm).

If you are like me, and your knowledge of Yoga is more theoretical than practical, you will love these DVDS not only for the kids, but for yourself. I often find myself doing 'butterfly breaths' to release anxiety!

Rowan is 3.5 and she is able to follow along. She follows with interest, although many of the moves require more time for her to accomplish than is allotted, so we make good use of the pause button to feel comfortable with the positions before moving on. All of them are physically possible for most 3 year olds, they may just need a little help organizing their limbs!

We have watched each DVD multiple times (they each run 30-40 min.) and Rowan happily stays engaged throughout as they do move through the exercises briskly, but with a combination of children, animated images and songs in an outdoor setting to keep up the interest. Silly to Calm is best watched in one go, while the ABCS can be started and stopped, if one fast forwards and finishes each session with the 'Zig Zag Breathing at the end.

As a child educator in faith I particularly appreciate that these DVDs easily move across all faiths and teach children important concepts like 'om' (oneness) and 'namaste' (greeting the sacred in others and in self) through the movements. Focus on breath and being grounded are excellent skills for all of us.

The 'Silly to Calm' DVD has a number of movements and sequences we have used to work with strong emotions as a family~ a volcano releasing anger and frustration, breathing to calm, gross and fine motor movements to work out fatigue or anxieties.

For our independent preschooler who likes to rush through everything, these DVDs are a wonderful exercise in the importance of slowing down, doing things right and well and being focused on one task at a time. Wait a minute... that is also good for her rushing mother, too!
Friday, 26 June 2009
Today we picked up our adorable, nose nibbling bundle of puppy fur and everyone is in love, even, shockingly, our 11 year old senior dog who has a history of being terrified of puppies.

Archie brings back all those simple joys~ rolling in the long grass, puppy kisses, watching a child and puppy bond over a love of racing with the wind downhill and together.

He also brings back that 'gotta get this done while the baby naps' and 'who is getting up at 5 am when the baby cries feeling', too!

Some preliminary pics of arriving home~

Meeting The Boo on neutral ground:
Bonding with his girl (the sweetest part of the day was when Rowan sung him to sleep this evening after calming him down in his crate saying "Big Sister is here, now" awww):
A little bit of heaven right here on earth:
Thursday, 25 June 2009
This has been the chant all day long (except 'breath' is 'breaf'). We are on our way to pick up our new baby! Yay!

Before marriage and child I was a 'dog person' ~ like obedience trainer, competitor, president of the local Kennel Club sort of dog person. Marriage, ageing dogs and child all slowed that down to a quiet appreciation of the joys of the older dog and a mouldering mountain of doggie knowledge tucked away in the stacks of my brain.

I haven't had a puppy in over ten years (except litters of rescue pups raised) and find myself hopping with anticipation of picking up our new baby boy in the morning (and I'll admit the passion for puppy breath is all mine~ Rowan has never smelled it, but it is like catnip for me, that and those sweet puppy grunts!).

After years of dreaming about our next dog, we settled on a breed that still surprises us! I am a sporting dog kind of gal, and love them big~ my puppy dreams run along the lines of lanky pointers and gigantic sighthounds! But tomorrow we pick up our sweet little Shetland Sheepdog in a move that would shock the Kennel Club set of yore (who often heard me complain about 'Sheltie mouth'), they would only be more stunned, I imagine, if I were bringing home a *pfft* (spits) Terrier! LOL

So be prepared for puppy pictures as we bring home Beautiful Archie (the name is another story).
Wednesday, 24 June 2009
Sunday, June 21st marked National Aboriginal Day in Canada and we were honoured to attend and enjoy a PowWow in a nearby community.

It has been one year since the Canadian government made its apology to the native communities for the tragedy of the residential school system and as we gathered with the leadership and participants for the Grand Entry of Eagle Staffs, flags, veterans, dignitaries and dancers we were particularly aware of the history behind us and the need for change before us as communities.

Opening speakers spoke of us all as treaty peoples which is such a meaningful way to bring us all to the circle. And as they spoke I could not help but recall the words of the Nippising First Nation Chief from several weeks earlier, anticipating the first anniversary of the apology, when she said she would be wearing her shirt with the number '73' on it~ to honour her father who was taken to residential school, head shaved, punished if he spoke his language and relieved of his name in favour of the number he was called for all his years there, '73'.

We enjoyed sitting in dancing area and watching the grandmothers dress their grandsons in the traditional garb and little girls with gorgeous butterfly outfits and leather wrapped braids practice their steps (not to mention the crafter's awe for the gorgeous beadwork!). Such positive images of healing as generations gather together and share their culture left me with admiration and hope and a lot of awe for the skill and stamina of dancers from 2 -82!

Note the toddler in his dad's arms as dad is drumming!

Sunday, 21 June 2009
We enjoyed a sunny day at our local airport for the celebration of 100 years of flight in Canada.

A real highlight for the whole family was the viewing of the replica of the original Silver Dart which flew on February 23, 1909 over the Bras D'ors Lakes in Nova Scotia. A glorified bicycle with wings, this piece of history is truly amazing and the work and passion of the re-creators made it a real delight to see and feel (and yes, sit in, for some!).

The plane will be touring various air shows throughout Canada this year, and is definitely worth the visit!
Saturday, 20 June 2009
I'm done!
Did I mention I hate hand stitching?!
Since my sewing machine was broken and I had to ride the momentum, this whole piece is hand done.

Measures 15 x 12".
100% wool~ wet felted and pieced top, embellished with needlefelting (and a little tussah silk)
Recycled sweater back.
Stitched with cotton floss.
Vintage (from my Grandma's button jar) Button with handpsun tie (by me).

I love the finished effect~ it pleases my need for COLOUR and texture in a big way. I'd like to play with the concept a little more towards offering some pieces in this style in the shop... we'll see!
Every once in a while I get a crazy idea~ crazy in that I have no iea what I am doing, but I know what I want to make.

I envisioned a sleeve for my new laptop made of felt~ cushy, protective, natural, breathable...
I am *not* a wet felter, but this was a great chance to try again.
So I did!
I wet felted panels of 'fabric', cut them to fit and sewed them up by hand.
This is the front panel before finishing:I am almost done~ having done some needlefelted details and a recycled sweater back. I will put up some pics as soon as I get the button sewn on!

I think, with a lining, these would make awesome shoulder bags, so I am working with a bag maker to collaborate!
Thanks to Nishale for a wonderful treasury that made the Etsy front page on June 17th (click to see larger) and included our Beaver Dam Natural Play Set!
Thursday, 18 June 2009
Rowan will (all things being equal) start Juniour Kindergarten this fall.

I have grave reservations about the whole process, mommy anxieties aside~ these babies are well, babies. Rowan will be 4 the week before school begins and they take the bus, stay all day and work, in a group of 17 in this case, with ONE adult primary teacher (day care ratios would be 5:1 with an Early Childhood Educator). It *is* optional, in theory, but to a almost-4 year old with budding social needs and little friends all heading to school, it isn't really. So we are starting out with good intentions and reserving the right to change our minds as we see how it goes for our precocious, independent and sensitive daughter (all traits we'd like to honour!).

With this in mind, and having a child who insists that she makes her OWN letters and numbers HER way, I have been browsing through my long held, little read copy of Mommy, Teach Me to Read by Barbara Curtis (very helpful technical program, easy to implement, phonics based~ be aware the book is written from a Christian faith perspective, not overwhelming, and cool for us, but some may be taken aback). Not so much to learn to read, as to work on the idea of following directions within a set of parameters not open to adaptation (ie letters!).

To this end, we created a set of Montessori style sandpaper letters (lower case template) for practicing phonics and yes, following directions! So far, so good.

The textural letters make it clear that there is one way to draw the letter, as we practice its sound, as well. And the pre-writing skill of tracing the letters seems much less frustrating than trying to write them at this stage. It also engages multiple senses. Combined with the Three Period teaching model and lower-case only, we are doing well with our goal of staying focused and following the directions. And it can't hurt the reading skills either!

We used (less than $4!):
  • Bristol Board/ Poster Board: 1 each White and Red (any two colors will do~ one for vowels, one for consonants)~ cut 3 x 4" tiles, enough for each group.
  • Glue Stick
  • Fine sandpaper (1 sheet was plenty)
  • Sharp scissors
  • black and red pencils
  • template
First, I cut the bristol board into 3 x 4" tiles
(or you could enlarge the template and make larger tiles).

Then, I cut out the letters from the sandpaper and glued each to the appropriate colour card as I went (OK, I glued my vowels on wrong and had to re-do them...)~ this was helpful as 'p', 'd' and 'b' are identical! Place the letter to the right side of the card and on the lower half to allow the left hand to stabilize the card without blocking the letter, as in writing.

Using the black pencil, I followed the stroke template found in Barbara Curtis' book, but lots are available online to indicate which way to draw the letters. A red dot was placed at the starting point for creating each letter.

Simple, affordable and an excellent teaching tool for whatever your goals may be!
Moveable Alphabet cut-out letter cards will also come in handy for playing with phonics!

Now to find the teaching tool to get Rowan to say her name is Rowan and not 'Baby Horse', 'Diplodicus' etc.!
Monday, 15 June 2009
I always figured drama queens were created not born.
Apparently not.

Rowan is turning four and I don't know where she gets it from.
One day while in a public washroom she got her leg caught in a cart.
She wailed, "I wish I never woke up this day!".
Seriously. At age 3.
I should have such problems!

The ladies in the various stalls tried to muffle their giggles.

So today, tired, hungry, thirsty, an hour before bedtime we slip over to the hardware store for a few things, including a new mat for the front step.

Last time we were there Rowan noted a fish mat.
Not just any fish mat~ this one was large, covered in sport fish with the bold claim of "Canada's Most Wanted'. (Note mat at right is *not* the mat in question!)
Seeing it again, she wanted me to get it.
I said no, and picked a more suitable one.

At this point, she marched up to the fish mat and licked the filthy tag, declaring "THERE. Now no one else will buy it". (Just what does one do in that scenario? I sure wasn't paying $30 for it 'cause she licked the tag!!).

So we finish our shopping and on the way to the van she starts sobbing.

I'm thinking, who is 'Matty'?

"My fish mat, I love it SOOOO much!"
All the way home, the lament for Matty was peppered with claims of "I am going to cry and cry and never ever stop!". And to add to it, when her nose started dripping down her face and I offered her a tissue... "no, I want it there! It's for Matty!".

Once home, we walked into the house and the dog had peed in the entry way (where we need the mat because he ruined the last one) and Rowan slips and falls in the pee. She hates to be wet at the best of times this brings on fits of temper... and what with her recent seperation from her beloved Matty, her concentration on keeping her snot strings intact and her commitment to crying and crying and never stopping... the screeches of 'new clothes! new clothes!' fit right in.

The drama.
Thankfully a warm bath, a band aid on her skinned knee from the pee slide, a cool supper and a snuggle restored her equilibrium.

So far tonight she has only fallen out of bed once.
Sunday, 14 June 2009
Every once in a while I have the need to work out something new. To start with raw materials and let them call me to create... this time the end result is a series of spiral studies for hair pins and ponytails (and brooches and... I am not done yet!).

Each spiral is made from yarn handspun by me (some hand dyed by me, too!) and then needlefelted firmly into place. Each is roughly 1" wide. I am listing them as I get the chance in our Etsy shop.
Friday, 12 June 2009
Remember how many times you got asked that question as a child?
"What do you want to be when you grow up?"

For myself, from the time I could say the word, the answer was a veterinarian. However a distinct ineptitude in the maths and sciences finally terminated that dream and I ended up somewhere I could not have imagined as a child (ordained minister).

Rowan has one clear and consistent dream: to be a mommy. A mommy of SEVEN children. Her original plan to have them all at once and put the extra cribs in the back yard shifted when I finally explained how one would have to deliver seven children. The next day, she informed me that her 7 children would be borne by her 7 friends. Great friends!

Most often she is going to be a mommy and a doctor, but lately it is a mommy farmer. She has taken to gathering up her chicks in the morning (those pesky little birds hide EVERYWHERE!), feeding her horses (nuts, I admit I giggle every time she says 'horse nuts' I am such a child ~ my favourite was the day she was BEING a horse and we were going through a drive through and she called ut from the back, very loudly, to tell daddy to ask the lady at the window if they have horse nuts) and milking the cows.

Generally, Daddy is the cow and if he gets ornery about being milked, I have taught her just to kick his leg aside and say "Stand still Bessie!". The man doesn't stand a chance around here. Yesterday morning was a particularly good morning for milk and Rowan danced about with her bucket crowing about milking Daddy. The man *really* doesn't stand a chance.

I find it fascinating to see the potential in every child, who knows what the future will bring?
Tuesday, 9 June 2009
Rudolf Steiner (he of the Waldorf educational philosophy) called rhythm the 'carrier of life' and encouraged the marking and celebration of the round of days and seasons for children.

In Waldorf philosophy, each day of the week is given a rhythm and character of its own, aided by the assignment of a colour to each day. Incorporating that colour into the day through crafts, clothing and other means, helps create the rhythm of a week for young children.

These needlefelted 'Day of the Week' gnomes are approx. 3" tall~ one for each day of the week. Each is made in a variety of shades of the colour of the day and between them there are seven different skin tones and beard colours for diversity. These little fellows can be helpful signs for each day, displaying or playing with the gnome on his particular day to help create a rhythm ~ children will become familiar with the ordering of the week as they choose the gnome for the day and build him into their routine.

Completely needlefelted, 100% wool. Best suited for children over 3, although younger children will enjoy these little guys with close supervision (due to size).

Currently available in our Etsy shop.
Wednesday, 3 June 2009
This sculpture was created as a Father's Day gift for a dad whose end of the work day ritual with his young son is to fly him up in the air (with their faithful pooch looking on).

Made completely of wool, no inner armature. All needlefelted.
Approx. 5" long.
Monday, 1 June 2009
I was just doing a little browsing around Etsy and firmly holding on to my resolve not to buy~ so instead, I share with you, perhaps getting YOU to buy and living vicariously through you... pretty sad, huh?

These items come from around the world: South Africa, China, the USA and Australia.

A new toy shop~ Down in the Meadow
Oh, how I want in each colour!
This is calling to me~it is WAY too cool for me, but even so...This, I also adore, and I love that she makes it plus size!And finally, a cutie from Oz (mae by rosieok)
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