Category Archives: Sewing

More Halloween!

A very enjoyable evening, indeed.

Presenting Baby Batman!

I love working with felt; there’s no hemming. That’s a onesie Ceri and Scott bought for her, a pair of black tights, a strip of yellow bias tape, a felt cowl, and a felt Batcape held on by arm straps. Easy-peasy and adorable!

We do Halloween over at HRH’s parents’ house, so the boy trick-or-treats through his dad’s old neighbourhood. The house is always wonderfully decorated with strings of orange LEDs, pumpkin lights, various scarecrows and skeletons, and jack o’lanterns. There are huge bowls of candy to hand out (lots of which mysteriously ends up in the boy’s bag), loot bags for all of us, and Grandma makes hot finger food for everyone both before and after the outing. I am also usually handed a glass of wine, which makes things very special! We look forward to it a lot.

I don’t know what the boy enjoys more, going out door to door, or staying home with his grandfather and giving out candy. He does a bit of each, and is very enthusiastic about both. We weren’t sure if all four of us would do the walkabout or not, as I enjoy going out with the boys, but Owlet was hungry after being stuck in traffic for over half an hour (who shuts one side of a major highway down for paving during rush hour on a weekday? and then reopens it two hours later, at night, when there is less volume?), and besides, if we took her out her costume would have to be covered by blankets. So she and I stayed behind, showing off her outfit to the trick or treaters; it was very well received, with kids cooing over her and calling their parents to see.

Last night when he got back from his round, he poured out his candy onto the couch next to me and declared, “I am going to share this with all of you!” And he picked out a treat to bring in for his teacher this morning, too. I think we’re doing an okay job at this parenting thing.


I have just sent Harry Potter off to school. I don’t know who’s more excited about this costume, the boy, HRH, or myself.

Oh, heck. We know it’s the boy.

HRH built that broom and wand from scraps of wood in his school workshop. Here’s a better photo:

I made the robes from scratch; I think the material cost me all of $15 (yay for the bargain shelves at the fabric store). We bought the glasses, but that’s the only thing we purchased for the outfit. The crest is an iron-on transfer we printed out from an Internet image. If we’d had time we would have made the gloves and shinpads, too.

(Personally, I think the argyle socks make the outfit.)

This was so much fun. There is, alas, a no brooms-no wands policy in effect at school (no accessories of any kind, it’s a safety thing) which was very upsetting to the boy, because he desperately wanted to show them off (and I cannot blame him, because just look at how awesomely cool they are!). So we did a photo shoot this morning and printed out a couple of the pictures for him to take to school to share instead.

The school is doing their annual costumed Halloween walk just before lunch today, a police-accompanied neighbourhood tour that allows the kids to show off their costumes to the other kids and get some fresh air before they settle down to an afternoon of parties and haunted house activities the older grades put together for the younger kids.

There will be more pictures taken tonight, of course. I hear a very tiny superhero will be making an appearance…

Owlet: Photo Post

A few notes first:

    Baby eyelashes have made an appearance. Yes, this is as adorable as it sounds. (If it doesn’t sound adorable to you, well, then, as you were.) Next up: Eyebrows. (Because people have asked: Those pink patches on her eyelids are temporary birthmarks called salmon patches, and they will fade. The red mark between her eyes is a stork bite; she has a matching one behind her neck. These ones are permanent, though they become less obvious as the skin darkens and becomes less translucent. I still have mine, as does the boy, and we both have them in the same place, too.)

    This child loves being on her stomach, and hates being on her back with a passion. It makes the whole Back to Sleep thing a real challenge.

    She has very long fingers and toes, and a lot of hair. It’s mostly at the back of her head, where it’s long enough to extend down past the back of her skull. It started off a dark brown, but has been lightening.

    She spends a lot of her time with a furrowed brow. This is, I freely admit, completely the fault of my genes.

    Things keep improving re. feeding. Last Friday’s weigh-in at the CLSC demonstrated that she’s gaining about 20 grams a day, which is right where she needs to be. All three nurses on duty made a point of coming over to me and saying “Good job, mama!”. Of course, she’s still about a week behind where she ought to be because of that insane first ten days, but they’re very pleased. Sleeping is going well too, especially at night, to the point where she nurses around eleven, sleeps for three hours, nurses, sleeps for another three hours, then gets up for the day. There was a crazy five or six-hour stretch the other day after a very unhappy, fussy evening when she didn’t nap at all between six and midnight, but that was freakish and while appreciated physically, is Not A Good Thing at the point in time. She’s too tiny to go for that long without a meal.

    We appear to have a pediatrician. I’m as stunned as the next person who exists in this awful doctor-shorted region. A new doctor who also sees kids started at my GP’s clinic the week Owlet had her two-week-old appointment, and my GP wrote a referral for both kids since she wanted them placed before she retired. If I like the new doctor I may ask to be placed with her as well, since my GP will be gone in a year. And let me tell you, while I will miss her dreadfully, no one deserves retirement more than she does.

    My mum was in town, spending a week with us to help out when HRH went back to work after his five days of compassionate leave. I loved every moment of it, and I miss her dreadfully already. And not just because she made me lunch every day, because this baby has an uncanny ability to sense exactly when we are sitting down to a meal, wakes up, and demands her own.

    Tamu, Pat, and Bébé Flora came to visit last weekend!

    Taking photos has been very annoying, because they all distort her face or head somehow, quite apart from the flattish first few days post-birth and the tendency of babies to contort their faces into hilarious and unflattering expressions.

Okay, you have been very good. Have some pictures.

The menagerie of toys the boy gave her. She lunged for the rattle bunny in the centre the day after he gave it to her, and stares at it often:

She also loves to look at the high-contrast cloth book Erin and her family sent to her, going to far as to carefully flip pages the other day, looking all the world like she was reading it:

Look what I made!

Babies sleep a lot once you get them to eat enough so that they’re not just dozing and awake every hour for a frustrating half-hour feeding session, and she sleeps best on or next to someone:

Yes, this set is pink, but the top is an adorable little swing top and I like the style enough to see past the base colour. Also, as I suspected, it turns out that when one only has a couple of pink things in a wardrobe instead of only pink to choose from, it’s a lot easier to take. (Someone who doesn’t know us very well gave us a tiny cotton-candy pink skirt. I am tempted to dye it black so she can wear it with her Batman onesie and look totally punk. Or hey, I can dig out the boy’s old Ramones onesie! That’s it, now I have to do it…)

And finally, the mobile the boy and I made, with support from HRH:

Friday Photo Post

I promised you pictures!

First of all, the ones everyone has asked for: the boy’s Halloween costume! (Better ones to come on Halloween itself, I promise.)

He thought this one up, I found the perfect fabric in the remnant bins, we looked at a bunch of patterns then sketched our own version, and then we — ahem, pardon the pun — winged it. This made for some stormy costuming sessions because I had to fit it and alter it a lot, and this was Not Fun At All for the boy. He was so whiny and uncooperative that I had to lay down the law and inform him that if he didn’t help by having fitting sessions, everything was going to be thrown out and he’d have no costume for Halloween. It reached its apex on Wednesday when I put it on him to mark the position for the Velcro and he looked at himself in the mirror and burst into tears because he didn’t look like an owl at all, he said. From experience I know how hard it is to let go and accept how good your costume looks even if it falls short of the perfect vision in your head; it’s not an easy lesson to learn. Yesterday I adjusted a few small things and made ear tufts to sew onto his hood. He tried it on when it was complete and he was absolutely delighted. “Mama, I love it! This is the best owl costume ever!” he said, and that made it all worthwhile. He put it on with great excitement this morning and off he went to school in it for a day of Halloween activities.

Lady Jane goes home tomorrow. Here she is with the pretty fluorite-coloured Projekt B BFL in progress:

Here’s the skein of heavy laceweight Shetland I spun from the three one-ounce batts Bonnie gave me when she dropped the wheel off. I plied it with silk thread:

A random picture of Gryff and Cricket enjoying the sun in one of the living room windows:

The artist at work:

He’s really getting good at writing and sounding things out. He’s also entering the “this doesn’t look like the vision in my head” stage of drawing (see also: Halloween costume not matching his vision exactly, above). And so when he has drawn something he’s unhappy with he sometimes crosses it out, but this one evidently needed a bit of extra definition because he wrote “Not Right” in the upper right corner:

Last week we needed to overhaul his weekly lunch menu, and he decided he was going to do it after I wrote out Monday’s sandwich. He needed me to spell some things (bologna, anyone?), but otherwise he sounded them out and wrote them down on his own after checking with me to make sure they were right:

Monday Thoughts

This round of fibro medication isn’t doing what I’d hoped it would do. I’m sleeping well, but I still have the low energy issue and difficulty focusing and concentrating. Now, I do remember that this medication wasn’t a universal panacea when I first took it, but the results were better than this. The only difference I’m seeing is that I sleep like a rock at night and am very groggy for the first four hours of my day. Perhaps not coincidentally, I forgot to take my medication last night, and while I woke up pretty much every hour and didn’t get any deep sleep, I feel better and more focused this morning than I have in a while. I recognise that a couple of weeks of bad sleep like this would lead to me feeling not-so-great-any-more in the mornings, but it does suggest to me that maybe the medication I used before is not quite right for me at this time.

We are not doing Halloween at the new house. We asked the neighbours next door what Halloween was like here and were informed that it was dead, and not in a fun-scary-Halloween-celebratory kind of way; last year they had about two kids stop by. This is, in actuality, a good thing for us, because we were trying to figure out who was going to stay home and hand out treats and who was going to walk around the new neighbourhood with the boy, as well as how to get him over to see his local grandparents to show off his costume like we’ve done every Halloween so far. So instead we will take the boy, his costume, and our pumpkin (about which we are very excited indeed, as it was grown at Rowan Tree Farm by Jan and t! and will make very good pie or soup afterwards) over to HRH’s parents’ house, carve it there, and then trick or treat around their neighbourhood as we’ve done in the past.

Speaking of costumes, the boy is very good at thinking them up, but not so good at being patient with the design and fitting part of it. I got half of it done yesterday, at least. The sewing machine was located, along with my boxes of sewing accessories, and the machine even worked with no problems. (Yes, I was concerned. I have had sewing machines conk out too often during costume construction.)

Saturday afternoon the boy had his follow-up appointment at the Talwar Research Institute. We really enjoy participating in these studies, and it’s always nice to have a researcher pop out for a moment to share a particularly interesting or amusing experience with the boy. It’s also nice to be told that one’s child has a really solid moral compass. It’s not like HRH or I go out of our way to talk to him about right vs wrong, but we do discuss it in relation to things he sees in movies or situations in books or daily life, and he’s sensitive enough to see that certain behaviours hurt other people’s feelings, too. One of the things he reports daily is who is “in the red” at school. His teacher has a traffic-light chart on the wall, and everyone’s name starts in the green zone each day. If a child receives a second warning regarding his or her behaviour their name gets moved into the yellow and they lose a certain number of playtime minutes which are instead spent in the Thinking Chair, and if a third warning is issued their name is moved into the red zone and they have to sit in the Thinking Chair during all of free play time. This fascinates the boy, and he is determined to stay “in the green.” It’s interesting to see how he responds to clearly defined social parameters and expectations in an environment that’s composed of people all his own age and roughly similar social skills, as opposed to preschool where ages ranged from eighteen months to four years and social skills were proportionally varied. And it’s also fascinating to observe his responses to disturbances within that social environment, particularly when they’re initiated by his peers, and to the consequences of those disturbances. School is, we often forget, about socializing people just as much as it’s about teaching them concepts and skills.

I was complimented on my knitting while the boy was in his research session, too. The researcher confessed that she’d tried knitting a couple of years earlier and been defeated by thin, thin yarn and tiny needles, and I told her my secret was bulky yarn and huge needle size. Because really, how else do you make garter stitch look impressive enough to compliment when you’re really not much of a knitter? I’m knitting a dense hood, because my ears are starting to ache from the cold wind at the boy’s bus stop. I’m going to graft it onto a scarf knit from the same yarn but more loosely so it actually wraps around my neck and shoulders (if I knit it at the same density as the hood it wouldn’t drape much). I should travel with a spindle and some dyed fibre to really freak people out in waiting rooms. Spinning that fluorite-coloured BFL on Lady Jane is going really well, too. I don’t know how long spinning 8oz would have taken me if I didn’t have a deadline by which I needed to return the wheel, but I can guarantee it would have been longer than three weeks. I am impressed with my spinning focus and output.

Speaking of knitting and spinning, something that I’ve been thinking about lately is an entry on the Sustainably Creative blog about learning not to hover between resting and doing. Nobbs is an artist with myalgic encephalopathy/chronic fatigue syndrome, and the post talks about wandering aimlessly through your tasks and getting not much of anything done as opposed to doing ten minutes of focused work and actually getting something done. This past week when I’ve found myself drifting in front of the computer and unable to focus on thinking through work I’ve stood up and walked away to do something concrete and tangible with my hands, like knitting for half an hour or spinning a half-ounce of fibre or baking something. I may not feel like I’m getting enough work done at my computer (and I’m not if I judge myself by my insane pre-fibro outputs of eight years ago, but it’s hard to shake that and work with a more practical and sensible set of expectations), but at least by the end of the day I can look at something else I’ve accomplished. The fibro is really doing a number on my self-confidence as related to my work output, and part of me is terrified that I’m just lazy. I know; if I’m worried about it, chances are good that I’m not, but you can’t reason away an illogical fear.

And in totally unrelated news, I promise you a photo post soonish, since the owlies have been lax on the photo front these past few months. The camera is frustrating and I’m taking fewer photos of shareable quality, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t post pictures at all.

Right. On to more laundry, and then some focused work. I’ll set the timer for ten minutes when I get back. The tea timer is my friend in regards to focused work. So is protein, I’m discovering. Cheese and crackers coming up!

Thanksgiving Roundup

We drove down to spend Thanksgiving weekend with my parents. It was simultaneously the best and the worst drive we’ve had. The worst, because it took us an hour and forty-five minutes to get to Kirkland. The best, because after that it was clear sailing. We left after HRH and the boy got home, which meant we hit the highway at about 4:15. Sure, that’s the beginning of rush hour, but we accounted for that and even so it should have been okay… except there was an accident on every single highway we took: on the bridge into town, on the 20 west, and on the 13 north. The 40 west was just slow.

Once in Kirkland we flew at our usual speed, though, and really enjoyed the deep colours of the trees lining the road. The boy got to watch a small light plane take off at the private airstrip, keeping pace with us as it taxied and lifted off. We picked up dinner and ate in the car, trying to catch up on some of the lost time. When night fell we pressed our heads against the passenger windows and watched the stars, tracing patterns in them and talking about constellations. The boy napped on and off, but didn’t actually sleep much. We arrived around 11:30, about an hour and a half after we’d planned thanks to the slow start. But everyone slept hard, and the next morning was bright and sunny and surprisingly warm for the season.

My parents took us up to the Halton Trolley Museum, and we spent hours there, riding all the operational trolleys, having a hot dog picnic, and strolling through two huge sheds of old trolleys and streetcars. It was the perfect day for an outdoor museum like this one. The sky was that perfect autumnal blue, the sun was golden, and the colours on the trees of the forest through which the tracks wound were quintessentially fall. Our last trolley ride was on the 327, an open trolley car from the late 1800s, and the motorman asked if it was our first visit. When told that it was, he told the boy he could ride up front with one adult, and that was such a treat. The sun and the smell of the leaves, the sound of the wheels on the rails and the soft grind of the pantograph on the wire above were wonderful. Trolleys are so relaxing. The older ones had exquisite stained glass accents, pendant lighting, glowing woodwork, and lovingly restored plush or leatherette seating. In the sheds we found an old green trolley that used to run through our own neighbourhood between downtown Montreal and Granby in the 1930s to the 1950s, a trip that would take about two hours.

The next day was just as beautiful as the day before. The boys washed the car, and my cousin and his family came over for Thanksgiving dinner, at which my mother excelled as usual: Beef Wellington (for ten!), roasted heirloom carrots, fennel, and potatoes, French beans, rolls, and for dessert there were butter tarts, pumpkin tarts, and a lemon pie. There’s nothing like seeing a huge roast wrapped in a crust come out of the oven like that. And for hors d’oeuvres before it all there were three cheeses, smoked salmon, and three pâtés, and there was a lovely Henry of Pelham red wine. Seriously, it was divine. And it was great family time, too. Mum had some leaf garland and ghost-making crafts lined up for the kids, bless her, and I love spending time with my cousin and his family. We washed all three kids in the tub together (we’ll have to stop that at some point, but right now they’re still young enough to think it’s a big treat and they look forward to it) and off they went home, and the day was over.

The drive home the next morning went really well, too, although it’s always harder going home because everyone’s had an intense couple of days and late nights. It felt wonderful to come home to the house after our first trip away.

Tuesday was a decent cello lesson, where we started working on my piece for the December recital. It was nice to hear my teacher say that it would be ready with no problem after a bit of a late start on it. I did work on it this past spring on my own thinking I’d play it at the spring recital, but we ended up not doing it because we missed a month of lessons due to various things.

It’s Halloween in two weeks and I have to finish designing the boy’s costume. The costuming was hidden behind We Are Going Away For Thanksgiving Weekend and The Wedding The Next Weekend, but once we’re past that it’s clear sailing. His school photos came in too, so we’ll have to sit down and go through the website to choose a background and order them. I’m personally leaning towards a traditional non-photo background, because I find the photo backgrounds really detract from the person in the picture.

Fibro-wise I am starting to settle with the meds again. It’s hard to get up in the mornings, a side effect I remember very clearly from last time. I need to adjust the time when I take the pills, otherwise I’m groggy for too much of the morning. Work is going well, too; I got a lot of writing done today on the sample entry for the proposal due next week, and it’s the best work day I’ve had since before we moved.

There you are. That’s about it so far.

The Pillow Covers That Will Be Pillow Covers

Although the finished fabric is very soft… no no no. Pillow covers. Not a scarf. I do not need any more scarves.

It took me about six hours over four days to warp the loom. I did a direct warp on it again, but it’s too unreliable and creates crossed threads. This is plain weave. I did consider trying twill for the first time, but I wanted to see what kind of a pattern the variegated yarn made on its own. It’s created a sort of mock plaid, very subtle and organic. I like it a lot.

I really, really enjoy weaving. It’s a pity that three-quarters of the time devoted to each project isn’t the actual weaving part.

Now I’ll wash and block it, then machine-sew two lines of running stitch down the middle right next to one another and cut the fabric between them so I have two squares, and cut the fringe off (that’s not true fringe, it’s loom waste left over from the warp tied onto the loom). Then I’ll need to decide if I want this to be one single cover with the woven fabric on both sides, or two covers with one woven panel for the front and and one solid fabric panel on the back of each. I think I’ll go with the latter.

Next, I think I’ll try weaving a stole or wrap the full width of the loom. I think it has about an eighteen to twenty-inch weaving width, but the problem will be missing heddles on the shafts; on a project twelve inches wide I had only five heddles left empty on the first and fourth shafts, although there were about ten to fifteen each on the middle two. I can order replacement heddles, but I’m trying to stay away from my credit card. Maybe there’s somewhere local that I don’t know about, despite thorough Googling. I think I’m finally going to have to contact the local guild for information.