A life of health and wellness…with kids!


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Projects in progress

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I have started a few bits and pieces of knitting this past week – mainly because we have had a week of unseasonably cold weather in Canberra and going outdoors is just plain unpleasant. Also I have been feeling like getting on with making some winter woolens now so that when the weather really does turn cold I am well on the way to being ready. The kids have outgrown their hats and gloves and I like to have a new hat and scarf for the winter.

The above pic is a second pair of Wabi mitts that I started while watching season 4 of Downton Abbey last weekend. I am using the Amuiri Possum Merino again but this time the second yarn is King Cole Mirage in the Helsinki colourway. It has created a really pretty effect. These ones will most likely be a gift.
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These are some socks that I have had the yarn sitting there gathering dust for a few years (It is Moda vera Sock yarn from Spotlight) – somehow socks always just seemed to be in the too hard basket – the yarn is so fine and there was always the mysterious talk of ‘turning the heel’. Now I haven’t gotten up to the heel turning part yet but I am quite enjoying the process so far. There was the small problem of the 3 year old pulling out a needle when I was about 3 inches in and I tried to salvage it but just couldn’t. So I pulled it out and started over. I find the sock  just so easy – there is no pattern so it is basically just knit knit knit  – so when I don’t want to think – this is the knitting I pick up.

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This is the beginning of a Yowza Weigh it Shawl 2 – I decided to join the Susan B Anderson shawl knit-a-long and this yarn has been sitting around my house for ever. It is Cleckheaton California 8 Ply in the ocean colourway- although it is a very thick 8 ply. I have to say that i’m not loving it – I think it is mostly the way that the colour development in the yarn is working with this pattern. I’m a bit dissapointed about that because I thought that this would be the project for this particular yarn. This is the second time I have tried to knit it up into something when it hasn’t really worked.- so perhaps I need to give up on this yarn!

What are you working on at the moment?

Andjxx

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Wabi Mitts for me

Wabi Mitts

I have been looking for a great fingerless mitts pattern for sometime now and when I found the Wabi Mitts pattern by Karen Templar on Ravelry over the weekend I cast on right away. I have been knitting things lately that take some time on the one project so I was glad to have something to knit that would work up fast – a little bit of instant gratification.

I have had two balls of Naturally Amuri DK Possum Merino blend sitting in my stash, waiting for the perfect project for some time.  While the project notes suggest using a fingering weight yarn, this Amuri is more of a light DK weight so I thought I would give it a go. It wasn’t long into the knitting process that I decided these gloves were quickly going to become my very favourite things. As the fabric was created, the soft, cozyness of the yarn appeared and I fell in love. So much in love that I cast on a second pair almost immediately – these ones as a gift for a friend though. I just can’t tell you how much I love wearing htese mitts – but to give you an idea – I have been wearing them and it is still summer here….

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Knitting has become my most used craft skill over the christmas holiday period as I can knit at the same time as supervising two boisterous boys who are on school holidays…although I have to make sure that I hide the project away from the littlest ones inquiring mind and he can unravel knitting project faster that you could possibly imagine…I know this from experience.

xx Andj


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Art at Home with Kids

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When the kids were little I really struggled with the idea of letting them do art at home. It was one of those things (like playdoh and collage) that these things just create so much mess …and work..for me to clean up after 10 minutes worth of painting. However over the years I have come to find little ways to work with the messy creative arts process that allows them to have the experience of painting at home – to create that mess – and for me to stay relatively sane in the process. However, occasionally I do some painting – and whenever I have my painting things out, the boys also want to join in and create alongside me. My big boy in particular absolutely loves to be doing whatever it is that I am doing that is crafty.

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Smocks are the absolute first essential – especially because i often let the kids paint using high quality acrylic paints – which just don’t come off as easily as other paints might.

My second big essential is a large piece of clear plastic (which I originally bought for a sewing project)  that I drape over the table – you can just see it in the picture above. This way they can be messy with less stress.

Thirdly – Lots of paint brushes, rollers, scrapers and other painting implements.

Four – Good quality painting materials and mediums – Artist paints, Canvas, watercolour paper etc – when the kids paint on good quality mediums, they get a better result, they can put lots of paint down and the canvas or the heavy paper can cope with it. I also let them go back to the paintings and work on them a second and third time – helping them to see the artistic effects that can be created through layering and pulling back colours to reveal those underneath. I often buy a few canvases when they are on sale in Lincraft or Riot and tuck them away. I think that it is important to use high quality paints (though not necessarily expensive paints) when the kids are painting. This allows them to experience the way that colours blend and the speed at which  acrylic paints dry. When using watercolours it allows them to experience the different effects that you can achieve with watercolour paints.

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I personally find it hard to just let them paint without interrupting their creative process, especially when I know that if they put two (or four or six)  particular colours together that they will get mud…or when one is intent on using the sponge roller to apply every colour and they just all blend into each other. The appease my own sense of wanting to jump in and ‘help’ them I will generally only offer them a specific colour palette – or if they want a particular colour I try and steer them in the direction of a colour that might work a little better. The two of them have such different personalities when it comes to artistic expression, the little one just puts the paint down and has fun, not worrying what then end outcome will be. The big one has intent and gets very cross if something happens that doesn’t match his intent – but it is all part of the learning process and I think (and I hope) that these things help him in learning that not everything works out the way we plan it too in this life.

So as to not ‘waste’ the canvas, if I am feeling inspired, I will sometimes go in afterwards an alter their painting – probably not the best things to do with the big one’s paintings but with the little one I can get away with it.

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So this is after a few layers of paint put on by the little one, I went in with some moulding paste and a stencil and added some texture, lifted some colours back and used some alcohol inks. It’s still not finished but I have lost the inspiration for it right now, but when it is done we will have a lovely collaborative art piece. Really for them it is all about the process…and memory creation. That’s the most important thing.

Andjxx


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How extraordinarily Adult of me…

Mitette Cardigan

Miette Cardigan

On the eve of my 35th Birthday, I spend the night knitting and watching the 1999 movie Election- I think that is an exceptionally adult thing to be doing. No alcohol or parties here….not through lack of desire for such things…simply because now those things make me tired. But hey – the knitting WAS exciting because this is the first Adult sized garment that I have managed to pull together on the knitting front. I’ll grant that it’s not finshed yet but it is about half way there and I am making good progress.

It is the Miette pattern by Andi Satterlund and I have been really impressed by how relatively easy it has been to knit up. So far the hardest thing was finding some Aran weight yarn that I liked. It appears to be very difficult to buy Aran weight yarn in Australia in real life. Well at least in Canberra. I was nervous about buying yarn on the internet because I am a very tactile person and I like to touch these things before buying them. There are only two physical Yarn stores in the ACT that are a giant chain store (and they don’t have aran/worsted weight yarn anyway) – so that left me a little limited in  choice. I went with a Naturally Loyal 100% Machine Washable Wool in Red. I am really happy with how it is knitting up as well – although I think that I would like something softer next time.  I have been using this handy ipad app to keep track of my notes and where I am up to – It looks like a real mess but it has been really helpful (Excuse the extra colouring – my children find this app particularly fun).

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On the who I am really enjoying knitting my Miette and hopefully I will have a new Cardigan before the cool weather really hits in Canberra.

 


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Artistically Welcoming Autumn

Tree painting

Gouache on Dictionary paper

I joined a facebook group recently curated by Tania McCartney – a local Children’s book author in Canberra with the hope of extending myself in my art a little. I find that I tend to do the same thing over and over and that the only way I was going to try something new was to be challenged to do so.

This is my contribution for Week 9 – the theme was Tree. Some of the other people participating are quite spectacular. You can see a selection of the participants work on the 52 Week Illustration Challenge Blog.

I am a completely self taught artist and mainly dabble in art for the sake of therapy. The majority of what I do lives in my art journal and doesn’t come out for others to see.

The first week I participated in the challenge, the theme was Crosshatching – an area where I have zero confidence and experience. This was my effort for week 8:

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Pitt markers on Watercolour paper

I was well out of my comfort zone with the crosshatching – but by participating and having a go I was doing exactly what I set out to do – challenge myself.

Here’s to many more challenges throughout the year.


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February Art Week 4

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Acrylic Abstract in Art Jounral

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Acrylic in Art Journal

 

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Acrylic in Art Journal

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Cup of Tea? Biro on Notepaper

Art from throughout the week. I was having a rather artful week last week – this is only about half of it as I didn’t take pictures of the rest.


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HappyMamaMade – my Etsy store

shop sign

About a month ago I created a small Etsy store to sell a few small Waldorf inspired items. Some lovely wooden Buses and Tractors (yet to be added).

Waldorf inspired wooden bus

My good friend Kelly over at Happy Whimsical Hearts has one of our lovely wooden buses to give away this week on her blog. Click on over there if you would like a chance to win  one. If you have no luck in winning one – just pop over to Etsy and buy one for $15 Australian dollars. It would be a perfect gift for a small boy in your life!


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Simple Homemade Baby Toys

Simple home made shakers using pasta and craft supplies and cheap plastic containers are perfect to keep things interesting for the little monkey!
To make these, all I did was take some clear plastic screw top containers purchased at a $2 shop and filled them with different sounding objects.
In this picture, the first contains some metallic bells, the second contains some puff pom poms and sequins for a very small soft sound and the third contains an assortment of macaroni, buttons and novelty buttons in different animal shapes – to give the baby something to search for in the jar.
To make it safe for baby to play with, I affixed the jar lid using some 2 part epoxy glue on the inside of the screw top lid – that way the lid can’t be pried open by little hands.
These toys are probably appropriate from 3 months upwards – however once your baby learns that jar’s such as these can be opened it is probably best that they are used under supervision – just in-case they manage to get past the glue!
This is H-Boy’s  very first attempt at painting  – he actually wanted to eat the paint brush more than paint with it – and it was rather messy – but fun all the same!

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** This post originally appeared on one of my blogs from well back in the day – this week I am doing a retrospective of some past writing – I hope you enjoy!**


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The Slippers that nearly Weren’t.

My Big Boy

Tomorrow marks the Big Boy’s first day at preschool and yes – I am still frantically running around trying to organise things. Yesterday the classroom teacher hosted a meet and greet morning tea for the parents and children. Even though not all of those children will be there on the same day as H Boy, it was good to see who else was in his classroom. Some of the parents I already knew from playgroup – some I did not.

One of the requirements of the school is that the children have a pair of soft soled shoes to wear indoors while in the classroom. I have ummed and ahhed about what I would do in the way of shoes for at least the past 2 months. I have searched Pinterest, Ravelry and the net in general for a pattern that wasn’t too hard and spoke to my creative soul. The other requirement – the pattern had to be freely available on the interweb.

I did find quite a few links to really cute indoor shoes but you see I had one other requirement – they had to be minimal fuss. I just couldn’t handle anything too fussy right now. So yesterday I had decided to just buy some from the school shop. However, as it wold happen, the school shop was right out of H Boy’s size! Of course they were – there is 5 classes of kids who are 4 starting at the school this week!

I was being too fussy.

When it came to the crunch and I was forced to craft a pair of slippers I just got in and did it.

Waldorf Indoor shoes

They are 100% wool, crochet with a double strand of worsted weight (8 ply) yarn. The pattern I used was actually a tutorial on You Tube. It can be found at this link . The pattern was really simple and fast to work up and because it was so fast I am not really worried about him damaging or wearing through his indoor shoes – because I can just whip up another pair.

As there are wooden floors in the classroom, I wanted to put something on the base of the slippers to reduce the amount of slip and to also give them a bit more wear time before they become threadbare. So this is what I did:

Waldorf Indoor Shoes

With grippy soles

I cut down some patches that I purchased in the local sewing store that are designed to be elbow patches for mens jackets. I then used a Tailors Awl to punch some more holes in the parts where I had cut. I then sewed the pates onto the base of the slippers – instant grip.

Funny thing is he loves them and has hardly taken them off since they were finished. I can see that I am going to have to make another pair for home.

Baby B also want’s a pair now – he thew a tantrum saying “Slipper…Slipper…Slipper” over and over. His are in the process of being made now – Orange and Blue.


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An Artful Week

Hi – I hope everyone has had a great week. It was my first week back at work after the christmas break and getting back into it was hard. Made harder by the fact that my brain seems to be a creative pool at the moment and I can’t stop seeing inspiration in everything I look at. I have been doing some Art Journalling this week. This is something I dabbled with last year but never really let myself go free with it and just create. In trying to displace limitations I put on myself – I am working through art to overcome this thinking. Here are a few of my pages from this week:

Jan 1 Art Journal

JAn 2 Art Journal

Jan 3 Art Journal

This week I discovered a little thing called a Smash Book  and I fell in love with the idea. I have never really gotten into scrapbooking but I love the concept of memory keeping. I keep allsorts of little things and this smashbook concept fits that perfectly. I can’t wait for it to arrive!