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On another one of my blogs, I’ve posted a poll about my Very Bad Cat and her antics.  Readers are deciding which of these antics was worst. 

One of them involves uncerimoniously defacing my knitting bag while it was full of N’s Yummy New socks, before they were completely finished. 

Oh no, she didn’t!

Oh yes, sadly, she did.

Go vote right here–don’t let our craftiness be underrepresented!

This little bear and what he stands for is VERY important to anyone who values making handmade items, or even giving or selling vintage or resale items to children:

Save Handmade Children's Items

Save Handmade Children's Items

Link to Really Important Information About the Concerns Regarding the New Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act

I first heard of this pending legislation today and, let me tell you, I’m very concerned.  Kudos to Kari for finding this button and the site that explains in layman’s terms the new Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act, or HR4040, which is the cause of serious concern. 

This act, which takes effect on February 10, 2009, places tremendously prohibitive and punitive requirements on sellers and resellers of children’s goods, including, but not limited to handmade items.   In addition to toys, clothing, furniture and books may also be effected. 

In the words of the email I received today:

HR4040 is a retroactive rule mandating that all items sold for use by children under 12 must be tested by an independent party for lead and phthalates, which are chemicals used to make plastics more pliable.
 

All untested items, regardless of lead content, are to be declared “banned hazardous products.” The CPSC has already determined the law applies to every child’s item on shelves, not just to items made beginning Feb. 10.
 

The regulations could force thousands of businesses; especially smaller ones that cannot afford the cost of lead testing; to throw away tons upon tons of children’s clothing, books, toys, furniture and other children’s items and even force them to close their doors. All of these items ending up where; landfills!

The ban of these items appears to extend beyond the retailer and could be construed to include esty.com shops, ebay sales, resale shops, flea markets, garage sales, thrift stores, pregnancy assistance clinics, hospitals, and gifts. 

This is appalling on its face, of course, but as we consider the dire predictions our president-elect made about our economy today, thift store, resale and garage sale shopping, in addition to making and using or gifting children’s items, could be the only way that many “ordinary” families (like ours) are able to survive this challenging economic season for our country.

More from the same email regarding the penalty phase of this legislation:

However, the HR404 has taken measures to such extremities that its effects may be more horrendous than its “good intentions”.  Estimates testing for each clothing article can run between $300 and $1,500. The Consumer Product Safety Commission said it may consider exempting clothing and toys made from natural materials such as wool or wood, but paint and dyes on the products are still required to be tested.  But seriously, what and how many kids’ articles are made of 100% wool or wood?  What kind of kid is going to wear a super-itchy 100% wool sweater?  Due to such costly testing, shops that sell used books may be forced to close their doors.  Second-hand, consignment , and thrift stores may be forced to close their doors.  Folks with home and on-line businesses that make specialty kids products may have to close down.  The act’s broad wording could extend to children’s items sold on eBay, Craig’s List, Amazon and even garage sales; also sources of income for many families.  February 10th, 2009 will be “National Bankruptcy” day.
 
 
 
 

 

This is a very, very serious situation for crafters and families of young children alike.  The folks at this link  give some GREAT action steps that you can take to make a difference.  

In addition to giving resources for contacting your representatives, they also encourage us to “vote for amending the law on Change.org, digg style:If it makes the top ten proposals, it will be presented to President Obama in January!” I urge you to click through and do you 60-second part to help ensure that this abysmal and harmful piece of legislation is NOT signed into law. 

Here is a link to the actual legislation.  It is 62-pages and I must disclose that I did not read every bit of it before passing this information along.  I will be reading it thoroughly and if after doing so, I believe that anything I’ve written here is in error, I will update with a correction immediately. 

But for now, please act quickly.  Time is of the essence if you want to maintain your rights to craft for kids, resell your rocking horse, or even donate that lightly-used coat to a needy child who would otherwise freeze after February 10th.

Note:  The majority of the content of this blog post also can be found at my blog, What Matters Most.  Normally, I do not duplicate posts between blogs, but I considered this topic so vastly important to both the distinct and different readership, that I thought it merited appearing in both places.  Thanks for your understanding.
EDIT:  The Consumer Products Safety Commission has a link on their website that gives some clarification as to the intention and enforcement of the CPSIA.  The key, I think, especially important if you make a living selling crafts or resale items, would be to look to the actual language of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008.  If there was ever a question of interpretation, the Act would be looked to first.  Be informed of the whole picture–especially if this is part of the way you feed your family.
And Melissa, thanks so much for the update and the link!  🙂
And a link to an LA Times article discussing HR4040  (thanks Ann)–it seems there may be improvements for resellers, but I still can’t see how those who handcraft children’s items are protected with these revisions/clarifications.  I’m could be missing something.  Or it could just be that the resellers are screaming louder about the effects of this than the crafters.  Stay informed! 

In my last post before I went AWOL, I told you about the children’s play that my youngest daughter was in.  You know, the one where I found out AFTER she was cast in the role of her dreams that the PARENTS were responsible for the costumes.

Go on, laugh, you children’s theater veterans.  Of course, the parents make the costumes.  They also make the sets, the programs, the props and basically, everything else.  But I did not know this, stage-mom-rookie that I was, so I was just a teensy bit surprised.  (For the record–no complaints here–our children’s theater group and its parent team are Incredible!)

Anyway, as I pointed out in my earlier post, my mom was called upon to save the day.  I really enjoyed watching her fly out of retirement and into action in her role of Costume Maker and Creative Genius Extraordinaire. 

Anyway, months later, but as promised, here are some photos of the (in)famous Lion Cub costume:

lion-cub-costume

Lion Cub Costume

Even the tail had a cute little hot pink bow on it! 

m-roar

M: "ROAR!"

This was certainly one of those masterpieces that you would never want to examine from the inside.  For all you costume makers, the bare materials were two gold sweaters from the Good Will and some fringe from the local fabric store.  We also took a headband with cat ears and sewed the matching fabric around the ears and band.  Hot pink accents, because, after all, she is a girl lion cub.  And a tail long enough for her to swing around and be a ham on stage (made of extra sweater fabric). 

Also, this play called for LOTS of sick monkeys.  The costumes were simple, but these little guys needed tails.  Now, I’m no expert knitter, but I did know how to make an I-cord, and in my world, a long enough I-cord was a monkey tail just waiting to be pinned on the behind of a monkey costume. 

These looked very complicated to the non-knitters, but ooh, so easy, and gave me a great reason to use some of my stash.  Here are the super-simple monkey tails:

monkey-tail1
100_1987

I-cord detail of the monkey tail

monkey-tail-model4

Our monkey tail model

Tip:  if you know of a community theater where they need costumes, but don’t have a resident knitter, a few night’s worth of effort and the added benefit of de-stashing will make you a hero as you make simple things that are really appreciated! 

Okay, I know it’s been, well, months, since I’ve posted here, but believe me, I have some very good reasons.  Between hospitalizations, a vacation, the holiday frenzy, and lots of other assorted stuff, I’ve been well, Indisposed.  But now, we’re back and I’ll try to pick up (at least slightly) where I left off, craft-wise.  (I’d have to have gotten back to business eventually, as Kari has shamed me into writing again!)

One really big area where I was remiss in not posting was the incredible, awesome TOGA party that N and I went to back in October.  My friend Linda and her incredibly creative sister, Sharon, invited me to this gathering of sewing legends who are (seriously) experts in treadle and handcrank sewing machines.   Linda and Sharon’s sister, Frankie, was part of the party too, with her creative crocheting self.   Well, My daughter, N, and I went and we had a wonderful time! 

As you may recall, my daughter N, took a liking to sewing  and was sewing on a chainstitch TOY machine.  Enter, the Treadle-On Angels. 

We simply CANNOT have sweet little N sewing on that toy.  (Seriously, I knew no better, but N was happy, so who was I to interfere?)  Yet, these amazing men and women literally took us in, taught N to sew and (for real) gave, seriously GAVE,  N an antique hand-crank sewing machine.  (Very special thanks to Karen and her very special guest, Iz).

I cannot thank these incredible folks enough for the hospitality and generosity they showed us.  More importantly, as a mama, I can’t thank them enough for the huge round of applause they all gave N as she finished her very first real project!   WOO HOO!  Oh yes, she’s got the sewing bug now.   And even though our opportunities for any kind of new crafting have been minimal with our family’s recent illnesses, N’s still chomping at the bit to get back in there and crank that machine.

These people are the real deal.  They blessed my daughter and me more than they could possibly realize.  I am so grateful for the chance to attend their get-together.  Whether they knew it or not, it really was a life changing event for N.  Which always makes me happy.

Here are some neat pictures of the event:

 A quick PS to Karen:  if you’d like me to post the photo of Iz with the machine here, I would be happy to do so.  Just want to make sure it’s okay with you.  Also, if you would rather I’d just send the photo directly to you, just let me know.   🙂

(And I promise, more updates from other crafty-type things will follow soon!)

Well, I’m officially in Big Trouble.  My youngest daughter, M, has been witness to the excitement and enthusiasm surrounding N’s debut into the World of Sewing, and naturally, she will not be left behind.

So I dutifully drug myself to the nearest Hobby Lobby and purchased her a $15 Kids’ Singer (hot pink, of course) and some sale bin fabric.  She has announced to me her list of project goals and is more excited about learning to sew than eating or sleeping.  I’ll sneak some photos at least of the cute little machine (and my ever-expanding stack of sale fabric) tomorrow and get them online for ya.  But Big Trouble, with both girls wanting to sew now. 

Speaking of Trouble, the cute little LYS where the Yarn That Has Stolen My Heart is having a party/sale evening tomorrow and I’m being lured in that direction.  Don’t buy the yarn.  Don’t buy the yarn.  Don’t buy the yarn.  (I’ll have to let you know how this works out…)  Details about the object of my obession are here.

And then there’s Little Bit of Trouble:  M has the role of a cute little ornery lion cub in an upcoming children’s play in our area.  (Can you say typecasting?!)  And–Surprise!  Parents are responsible for the costumes.  Mom to the rescue (not ME, silly…MY MOM, the costume-maker and woman-who-can-create-anything, to the rescue!).  So the little trouble, is really trouble for which I have a partner in crime–team lion cub creators. 

I am also knitting monkey tails for the same play.  Really.  Monkey tails.  But seriously, once you learn to make an I-cord, you can’t really call making eight brown ones while destashing some of your old yarn trouble, can you?!

SO–I promise soon to post photos of:

1.  M’s new sewing machine, hopefully with her in action

2.  N’s latest sewing adventures

3.  The lion cub costume WIP

4.  The monkey tails

5.  Hopefully nothing from the yarn store–but if I break down, I’ll confess to it all here.  Seriously–I’m just going for a visit.

All it took is One Day of my Sewing Greatness, and N drug out her little old fashioned chain-stitch kids’ Singer machine.  The excitement was palpable:

“Will you teach me now, Mom?  Will you teach me now, Mom?  Will you teach me now, Mom?  How about now, Mom?” 

“N, honey, it’s bedtime.”  “It’s too early.  I haven’t even brushed my teeth.”   “I’m making dinner.”  “We’re getting ready to walk out the door.”

Undaunted and (amazingly, still) smiling, she approached The Meanest Mom in the World again today, machine in hand.  Finally, the result she was waiting for, “Sure.”

She got to know her machine by sewing stitches into rags.

N's First Sewing Lesson

N's First Sewing Lesson

And sewing, and sewing, and sewing:

A Proverbs 31 Woman in Training!

A Proverbs 31 Woman in Training

Then I cut her loose and she was on her own.  Left unchecked by my creatively-challenged self, she knew no bounds.  She made herself an emboidered vest. 

N's Vest

N's Vest

Of course she’s at her first day on the job, but really, how many of us grown-ups would have tried free-hand embroidery on our first day with a sewing machine?  You go, girl!
The B

The B

Ok, yes, this started out as a T-Shirt rag and first was envisioned as a vest for our dog, Belle.  (Which explains the bold letter “B” on the back.)  Belle was none-too-pleased with her new wardrobe, so N decided to keep her first creation for herself.  I told her the B should stand for Bold and Brave (thinking to myself that I never would have dared to create something with just a rag, some thread, a machine, and an idea). 

Her new career as a designer in full swing, N kept creating…

Behold, our cat, Cuddles, modeling her new vest (note the “C” emblazoned on the back):

Cuddles in her new vest

Cuddles in her new vest

 

Today at our house, we discovered that kids are amazingly creative and bold when adults can keep their instruction-reading, pattern-addicted, perfectionist-laden hands and minds at a safe distance. 

We also discovered that cats have more patience than dogs.

Good Kitty.

Good Kitty.

It’s definitely love.

Must Be Love

Must Be Love

 

Well, maybe not all cats. 

Pearl struggles to escape N's grip and her new outfit.

Pearl struggles to escape N's grip and her new outfit.

On that note: I hear the sewing machine running at the other end of the house.  Shhh….designer at work.  🙂

First excitement.  Squeals of excitement.  Shrill, little-girl shrieks of excitement.  Yes, I have finished the beautiful pink market bag for M.

I also have taken so many cute pictures of the market bags and their owners and friends. 

And now, the frustration.

I cannot stand Kodak Easyshare Software.  The camera works fine, I just can’t do anything with the photos trapped in there about a third of the time.  They won’t upload and the software just freezes up and sends me one of those polite “not responding” boxes. 

An hour after messing with the stuff (I just re-downloaded the software earlier this week, so that can’t be the problem), I finally decided to give it a rest for the night.

Anyone out there with some tips on handling easyshare upload?  Your advice would be greatly appreciated!

Hopefully tomorrow I’ll be able to get to the bottom of it and get you the pics of the new (did I mention pink?) market bag.  You’ll have to be in suspense another day!

Well, after N began using her market bag and getting all sort of neat comments about it, little M decided that she needed one–top priority!  I’ve been working on a pink one in Plymouth Fantasy Naturale #9992 to suit her princess personality.  Photos should be up tomorrow, as I’m expecting it to be finished then.  (So is M.)

This pic shows the Plymouth Yarn version.

 

(Photo credit and easy peasy pattern, free, from Plymouth Yarn.)

 

 

Nothing like a little sibling rivalry to re-prioritize your knitting agenda!

Woo Hoo!  At last N’s anklets are finished.  She is thrilled and to celebrate her latest handknit acquisition, she promptly put them on her little tootsies and slid across the floor. 

For any of you who need to see the before photos, click here.

Here are the sock pics, modeled by the one and only N:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And…(please pardon our dust, N was sliding across the floor that had missed its sweeping due to Ravelympics training!)

 

So proud of my little self.  Plus, N LOVES them–how great is that? 

Happy knitting!  🙂

This post will seal the deal regarding my amateur status in all things pertaining to thread, yarn, and other fiber. 

I know mending doesn’t really qualify as a craft, per se, and there is no Ravelympics event for it, but when your little girl brings you her most cherished, stuffed buddy-type critter, with yet another tear in its threadbare little body, then the practical, the creative, and the mama in you collide. 

Voila!  Buddy surgery.  The newest craft. 

M’s bestest buddy Ducky (also affectionately called Duck-Duck by M, and Stinky Potato by N) had a big hole in her chin.  This particular treasure has been with M for over eight years.  Ducky has been through a lot in her life, including having her beak chewed off years ago by our Boxer puppy.  M smuggles the potato-sized, rattling shred of cloth and stuffing wherever she can get away with smuggling it.  So when Ducky gets a(nother) hole in her disintegrating little body, it’s a highly serious matter.

Behold the seriousness of the problem.  See what I mean…

So, today Ducky’s surgery was on the schedule.  As you can see, Ducky has already been the beneficiary of multiple amateur surgeries, designed much more to extend her life than to enhance her beauty.  Today chin surgery was the project.

Caveat and note to self and all others who might seek to attempt the new craft of Buddy Surgery:  Do not attempt to use said stuffed buddy as a make-shift pin cushion while reaching for other supplies while said buddy’s mama is in the vicinity.  Such an effort is certain to result in wails of protest–not from the buddy, but from the buddy’s mama.  (Silly me.)

But I digress. 

It is difficult to find the appropriate shade of dingy light yellow thread for such a well-loved buddy.  I was somewhat comforted with the sad truth that the dinginess would surely appear on Ducky soon after the surgery as M loves on her. 

Here is Ducky after her chin surgery:

Yes, I know.  A face only a mother could love.

Suffice it to say, M was delighted.  Dr. Mom came through and saved the day.  Indeed, I’ve developed a reputation among stuffed buddies as one of the greatest surgeons around.  🙂

In fact, the waiting list of new patients has piled up, thanks to M’s (and Ducky’s) joyful recommendations!

Here are my Future Patients:

 

Being a hero to your kids.  Really, is there any better way to spend the day?

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