If every finger had ten fingers of its own.

Surprise! December is a busy time for crafters. Right now just the thought of blogging kind of stresses me out – that’s time that could be spent playing with string! I’m not doing very many presents this year – maybe 3 or 4 total – but I’m  up to my ears in commissions. So, I’m spending my days crocheting snowflakes, knitting mittens (oh, so many mittens), crocheting garlands, embroidering everything, knitting a blanket, and retreating into some simple brioche stitch when I need a break from projects with a deadline.

Anyway, a few days ago I committed an entire day to dyeing with a friend, and this is the embroidery thread I dyed. Quite lovely, no? Eliza taught me a great trick for getting a lovely variegation – just tie your skein in a knot and toss it in the pot for a couple minutes. But don’t tie it too tight! The plate of blues was in the dyebath for a bit too long, I think – the variegation is much too subtle. Also, a couple more discoveries:

  • Tulip dye powder (usually found in the crafts section) isn’t so great for clothes or anything with even slightly non-cotton fabric composition, but it’s great for dip-dyeing plain white cotton and for dyeing embroidery floss. And often comes in more interesting colors than Rit.
  • Don’t try dyeing evenweave. It gets weird.
  • But DO try dyeing aida cloth. I was afraid the acidity of the dye would ruin the structure of the fabric and render it pretty useless – but actually it took to the dye beautifully. I’m still not sure how to work ombre aida cloth into a project design, but it’s going to happen.
  • Be so careful when dyeing on the stove – I burnt a hole in my evenweave (good riddance! That nasty stuff!) and burnt the straps off of one of my favorite vintage slips just while putting it in the pot.
  • Dyeing goes better when you have a friend to supervise. After Eliza left a whole slew of bad things happened.
  • Salt and vinegar. Salt and vinegar. Seriously.

My favorite time of day

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Little Bit has finally remembered that taking a bath isn’t so bad, so now we can finally relax in the tub without tantrums. It’s become an amalgamation of all my favorite things: sitting in a rare warm room in the winter, watching my favorite person play, and knitting. One of the best parts of my day, it always makes me feel peaceful & happy & maternal.

(Note: This picture is in black & white to save your innocent eyes from the insane neon pinkness of the hat I’m knitting. It’s an in-between project while my other more substantial pieces are waiting to dry or for necessary materials to arrive, and like most of my in-between projects it’s turning out to be hideous.)

Pretty Pages, v.7

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You would not think that plants like meat.
Well, some plants do. They catch and eat
Small insects, such as flies and ants,
And they are called CARNIVOROUS PLANTS.

One of them came to world-wide fame;
Elizabite, that was her name.

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“Elizabite,” published in 1942 and written by H.A. Rey (of “Curious George” fame), is about a small carnivorous plant who gets examined, tested, studied, and eventually imprisoned in hopes of controlling her appetite. Taking this all in stride, she eventually gains respect and love when she catches a criminal.

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This book is simple, sweet, and totally twisted. I love it, but that’s pretty predictable. I love any children’s book with a kind and unexpected approach to a traditional antagonist. Sure, Elizabite wants to eat people. But, you know, you gotta love her. It’s also just more fun to read children’s books that rhyme, even when the rhyming is crude.

I dont’ know why, but it’s difficult to find a decently priced version of this book, but the Kindle edition is at least affordable. I found my copy at the thrift store.

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Do you have any recommendations for books to highlight in Pretty Pages? Would you like to write a post as a guest? Let me know in the comments!

10 cool homey things

Curbly posted this great DIY that is super easy and doesn’t make any holes in your wall. I looooove it, and if I ever get the motivation to re-decorate the living room (which will be a huge task because it shares a very distinct rust-colored (YUCK) wall with the kitchen so I’d have to attack both of them at the same time) I will almost definitely do this.

Lace + table + spray paint = adorable. Great tutorial over at A Beautiful Mess.

I love this felt garland tutorial from pam garrison. The colors she chose are so perfect.

Windchimes! Have I mentioned how much I adore windchimes? This tutorial from michele made me is definitely worth a look. I think these would be so pretty painted in a simple ombre with white or blue at the bottom fading up to the natural bamboo.

This DIY hanger would be great for an etsy shop, I think. The perfect way to show off handmade clothes.

Something like this is definitely a part of my dream kitchen.

I’ve been looking for cute cheap pom poms for months to do this, but the only pom poms I can find are expensive and ugly. The search continues.

Love, love, love this. We use something like it as a thyme bed to protect the old lemon balm bed from dogs (which we no longer have …) but the way apartment therapy did it is so much more aesthetically appealing.

Gasp! A wreath I don’t hate!

 

I want this in my life. The window I’m imagining it on gets a ton of light in the mornings, and that light would be so lovely shining through the flowers.

 

 

 

You get a hat and you get a hat!

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The problem with hats is that I really can’t make just one. If I start making a hat, several more have to immediately follow it to get the hat-making-bug out of my system. There are a lot of people out there who categorize knitters – lace knitters, sock knitters, sweater knitters. While I really enjoy knitting every type of thing, I guess if you had to categorize me I’d be a hat knitter.

Anyway, at the beginning of the summer a friend asked me to knit two cotton hats for her, and I happily obliged. She wanted something large enough to contain her crazy-thick hair, and she liked lace. The first hat flew off the needles happily, but then the second just wouldn’t start. I cast on and ripped maybe a dozen hats, each completely unusable. Eventually I decided that the yarn I was using just didn’t work for a hat, so I bought new cotton yarn for this green beret and went with a dearly-loved technique instead of someone else’s pattern.

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Because when in doubt, I always start my hats with a circular crocheted motif. It’s the easiest and most fun way to make a pretty beret if the recipient doesn’t like plain stitches. So I whipped out my handy dandy* motif book, knowing I wouldn’t be able to put it back on the shelf until several hats were done.

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So then I made this out of a wool/acrylic blend (sorry, I only keep track of what yarn I’m knitting with if it’s something interesting. These hats were all made with very run-of-the-mill yarn.) for a new friend, as a, um, gesture of my friendly intentions? I’m not great at making friends, and my only tools are basically saying “Let’s be friends now thank you,” or gifts of food or woolens.

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Then I crocheted this lovely delicate thing for myself, because my only white hat was recently ruined by an anonymous toddler, and I think I look quite fetching in white hats.

Uh-oh. Looking at all these motif-based hats is making me itchy to make more. I have to stick to the list! I’ve been keeping my focus so well!

 

*Let me hear it from the other babysitters of the early 2000’s – we will never escape Blues Clues. Ten years later Steve’s lingo still peppers my vernacular.

Pretty Pages, v. 6

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Princess Miserella was a beautiful princess if you counted her eyes and nose and mouth and all the way down to her toes. But inside, where it was hard to see, she was the meanesst, wickedest, and most worthless princess around. She liked stepping on dogs. She kicked kittens. She threw pies in the cook’s face. And she never — not even once — said thank you or please. And besides, she told lies.

In that very same kingdom, in the middle of the woods, lived a poor orphan named Plain Jane. She certainly was. Her hair was short and turned down. Her nose was long and turned up. And even if they had been the other way ’round,  the would not have been a great beauty. But she loved animals, and she was always kind to strange old ladies.

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In this re-telling of the classic story of “Sleeping Beauty,” a beautiful but mean princess, a disguised fairy and a plan but kind commoner are all put under a sleeping spell. A prince (by title only – he has no money or land or power) finds them by accident after 100 years, and kisses the fairy and Plain Jane as practice for the princess. Just before awakening the princess, he remembers that the princesses he knows who look as beautiful as her were ugly on the inside. So he realizes (quite suddenly and inexplicably, but that’s part of the deal in children’s books) that he loves Jane. They live happily ever after because they are plain and devoid of wealth, not in spite of it. “Sleeping Ugly” was written by Diane Stanley and published in 1981.

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It pretty much goes without saying that I adore this book, right? I mean, the tagline for this blog is “a rich heart may be under a poor coat.” I was absolutely thrilled when I found it at the thrift store; finding any book that doesn’t end with the beautiful princess getting everything she wants after learning absolutely nothing is really fantastic. Also, it’s one of the only good children’s books I’ve ever read that passes the Bechdel test.

The prose of the book is also just really sweet. I love reading it aloud.

You can find this book on amazon; it looks like in the newer printings the illustrations have been updated and fanci-fied, but I really recommend trying to get an old copy. Mine is from the original printing, I’m pretty sure, and the illustrations are so great.

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Do you have any recommendations for books to highlight in Pretty Pages? Would you like to write a post as a guest? Let me know in the comments!