i think i can i think i can

i can set pencil to paper and make a new world

it can be music, it can be drawn

and i believe i can learn something new

my second attempt to create a set of featured posts. 

(If you’re new to The Full Vine, welcome to the tail end of a blog-maintenance hiatus.  If you’re used to reading TFV, God bless you for your patience!  It’s almost done!)

Cuddle With the Color of the Ocean

Oh, the virtues of a brandy new bag of yarn, delivered effortlessly to your door in winter!

AAhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Plymouth Encore Light Blue Grey, welcome to the family!  You will become an afghan for my tired, cold Mommy bones and I will snuggle under you at the end of countless frigid days to come.

What do you think of the color, mateys?

I am in LOVE with blues and reds, which is no surprise, since these are the colors which create purple. 

Purple was my muse growing up.  I’ve since expanded my affections further into the rainbow…  But these have a special place in my heart. 

I can hardly wait to feel this project take shape in my fingers as I cuddle with the color of the ocean.

(p.s. Two Tuesdays from now I will post my February Centerpiece!  Working on yours yet?  Get on it!  Go out in your backyard and find something for your table!  Creativity is tested in winter, and you can do it.  Email me a picture or two and I’ll post yours alongside mine.  GO!)

Needles Gone Wild

Sunday morning I woke from a dream in which I was rescuing swimmers from sharp-toothed alligators.  No murky waters can stop ME!  Beware, dangerous creatures of the deep.

My life isn’t really THAT exciting.  I’ve only skinny dipped once.  Squirting Ready Whip directly into my mouth feels sinful and awesome.  And I’ve never rescued anyone from any dangerous animal, that I can remember.  Does squashing ants count?

I remember once, long ago, thinking, “Knitting is for wimps and little old ladies.”

I also remember thinking, “I’ll never like cooking.  And gardening’s right up there too.”

Ah, well…  I had some growing up to do.  I still do.  But now I at least give things a try before poo-pooing them.  Usually.  I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m not going to be Crocodile Dundee…but I am a knitter.

Funny.  I keep discovering things I once poo-pooed that are ENORMOUSLY fun!  There is a wide window for creativity with knitting, as I’m finding with a star pattern right now.

I made a Knit Star for my son Quinn to chew.  It’s a little more like a pillow than the Christmas ornament it was meant to be originally.  Heh heh.  Darn yarn weight…

I enjoyed working the pattern so much, I’m doing it again and making it into a wall hanging.  Each picture in this post is part of the process.  When I have a few free minutes, I sit with two double point needles, a pair of scissors and a crochet hook, and work a very light, thin yarn. 

One by one, star points come off my needles.  I’ve made so many now that I can start stitching them together into a radial design – sort of an expanding, exploding star.  I’ll update you as I go. 

My goal is to fill our home with beautiful handmade things that show my love for our family, and my absolute ADDICTION to creativity.

Just for the record, if I had to, I’d wrestle an alligator for anyone in my family.  I bet you would for yours, too.  And we’d give ’em a good poke in the eye with a needle, too.

Mick Dundee and the Pin Cushion.  Check your local movie theater listings.

Poppies For Jhesica

Remember the days of “pen pals” in elementary school?  I have a pen pal in Bolivia.  How cool is that?  

Jhesica is twelve years old, and although we’ve never met, we’ve been getting to know each other slowly over several years’ time. 

This week I’m sending her a small colored pencil drawing of one of my favorite flowers –

poppies.

If I can ever grow poppies in the back yard, I will.  Until then, I’ll draw them!  Here’s the process:

Pencils in the couch cushion (or under my tushy) are a must.  I generally pull out a limited palette to begin with – even fewer than these – and expand it only as I need to.  This gives my drawings unity.

The work space:

I have the world’s best husband.  Those Prismacolors are from him.  The brown cardstock notebook, however, was a lucky find at Building 19.  It was 99 cents, to be exact.  

What I’ve noticed about drawing is the demand it places on your patience.  Are you willing to let your work look like doo doo for a while?  If someone walks past your incomplete project, can you allow it to be what it is in front of them?

Not a bad beginning… but nothing to go ga-ga over.

I usually start with the low-lights.  I have no idea if this is “correct” but it works for me.  I have to see something stand out a little here and there.  Then I move to mid-levels, shading a little darker, blocking in reds and oranges – the bulk of the colors and where they’ll fall.

Here and there I touch on a highlight so that some form begins to rise from the paper.  When it starts to look 3D, I know I’m getting somewhere.  Super fun.  That’s all drawing is – variations in dark and light values, combined with a little line, a little creativity…

I keep moving forward through the drawing and retouching highs, mids, and lows, while adding texture and detail.  It’s ridiculously fun.  Time flies.  I love to draw.

Hope you enjoyed this sneak peek at my creative process. 

Mama needs color, and I sure love to share it.

Cozy Ears

Today I’ll share a link for my fellow knitters and a slew of ridiculously cute pictures for those who enjoy such things.  If you’re not into yarn, color, design, babies, or coziness, I’ll have some kitchen yummies for you tomorrow.  🙂

Quinn needed a hat.  His head is large, together with the rest of him, and he’s wearing clothes that his brother (15 months older than he) has just barely outgrown.  Yikes.

All sorts of leftover yarn lurks in my cubbies, and I chose two blues for this project.

This was a very simple pattern to follow, whipped out in two nights.  If I could stay awake longer, it could be a one-nighter.  I’ll include the link at the end of this post. 

The hat looked ADORABLE on him.  I’m prejudiced.  But you have to admit this is one cute chunker:

He’s a scrappy little fella and hardly ever stays still.  That, combined with his large noggin, makes it tough to keep his ears warm.  So I improvised. 

Tools:

See the ear flaps?  They’re simple triangles.  Here’s how it works:

Cast on 3, knit 3, and follow this sequence until they’re the size you desire:

P1, Increase 1 (make one by purling the front and the back of the same stitch), P to end of row (*If you’re new to making increases, look it up on YouTube – great tutorials*)

K1, Increase 1 (make one by knitting the front and the back of the same stitch), K to end of row

When you’ve created a triangle that’s large enough to cover your snuggle-bunny’s ears, continue to knit one row, purl one row a couple times without increasing.  This will give you room for sewing it on to the inside of the hat – just a little extra to play with.

Finished!

I may create an i-cord on each ear flap so it will stay in place even better.  But in the meantime, I think he’s pretty happy…

…and pretty cozy. 

If you’re looking for a cute, warm toddler hat, check out this link – and have a GREAT day!

http://knittingatlunch.blogspot.com/2011/09/basic-toddler-hat.html

January Centerpiece Challenge!

Here it is!  January’s centerpiece challenge, a dare to find anything creative and potentially attractive in the cold outdoors, is under way.

Kimberly from RI shared pictures of her center-masterpiece, focused around a log which her husband cut and drilled.  I love not only the main piece, but the bowls of red apple candles and pinecones on either end.  Ah, symmetry!  Love, love, love.

When I look at that picture, I can hear the chatter and giggles of my nieces and nephews!

See the scones in that shot?  Those are the Better-Than-Starbucks Scones.  Thanks for the recipe, Kimberly!

Here’s another angle, capturing her devotions in a cozy spot at the table:

I’ve decided that I may surprise her at breakfast one day – just show up with my napkin tucked in to my collarEverything she makes looks good! 

Kimberly did warn me that the log, which I believe is birch, burns very easily.  If you try this, keep an eye on the candles.  🙂

What a great idea, right?  So simple and really beautiful.  I visited her home while this was on the table, and it was inviting and gorgeous.  Nice work!

I’ll share mine with you also, although it looks a little bizarre for January.

Shells?  In January?

We live close enough to the New England coast that seagulls often fly over our backyard.  We used to have a tall clump of rabid lilac bushes which have been recently…er…put down.  Under the wreckage, we found LOTS of shells. 

The shells lived with golf balls, and old china, and metal pipes.  People are weird.

My January centerpiece contains items which transport me to summerland.  I need that now…

I kept the shells “moving” as they progress toward a wine bottle oil lamp.  There has to be light in there somewhere!

 

A hidden golf ball keeps people “behind” the piece involved, and no matter where you sit, you can see shells.

The wood was out in the yard, too.  Just showed up one day.  It smells like a campfire and makes me feel like we’re living in a lodge.  January?  SucCESS!  🙂

If you planned to submit your January pictures but missed the deadline, don’t worry!  There will be a February Challenge, too!  Get on it!

I Challenge You To a Duel

Reheated cup of coffee, steaming.  Open bag of chocolate chips (naughty, naughty).  Nikon D40 memory card.  Heating pad.  Time to blog.

Then I’m sprinting upstairs, taking the steps two at a time as quietly as I can.  My 6 month-old is screaming, less than 1/2 an hour into his nap.  I must try to get him resettled before he wakes my 21 month-old, who is sleeping peacefully across the hall.

And here I am again.  This will be a short post, and I thought you deserved to know why.

I got the big end of the stick on this one, folks.  Burying my face in the sweetly perfumed downy hair of my snoozing son, I remembered with delight: Blogging comes second to my offspring.  I love them so much. 

And my computer doesn’t giggle or smell nice.

Today’s post, therefore, is simply a challenge: Put me to shame!  It’s time for the January Centerpiece Challenge.  🙂

Go outside and find the fixin’s for an amazing winter centerpiece.  Mine is going to be pretty sweet.  However, I feel a little ashamed…  One of the key elements of my piece doesn’t seem like it should be outside during winter.

But it was.

Yours will be cooler – so please, send me an email with a photo of your creation!  I will post mine (and yours) next Tuesday, when you can kick me up and down the street with your creativity. 

If you missed the December Centerpiece Challenge, take a gander.  I had fun.  November wasn’t too shabby either.

I have now consumed an inordinate amount of chocolate chips and must go do housework to burn off the calories.  See you.

A Star To Chew

When we brought home a new ornament for Quinn’s first Christmas, I noticed something:

He’d rather chew it than watch it dangle somewhere above his head.  Surprise.

The store-bought, knit star had 3 glued-on wooden buttons.  Gorgeous touch.  Nice choking hazard.  Plan B.

I decided to knit a star for my little reindeer (here he is…)

…Dasher, Dancer, Prancer…and Cuteypie.

Anyway, I decided to knit a star for Cuteypie the Reindeer to chew to his heart’s content.  I found a very easy online pattern.  Here’s the link:

http://dutch-blue.blogspot.com/2008/02/knitted-star_07.html

If you’re a knitter, eat your heart out!  You can make this pattern any way you want, using any yarn weight and needle gauge to produce your desired size.  I made Quinn’s with left over worsted weight in three shades of blue:

The star tips and center are made with a mock bullion stitch, borrowed from crochet.  The stuffing is an old sweater, cut into small pieces.  If I make another one for a baby, I’ll use a lighter weight yarn.  But this one came out so beautiful, I have no regrets.

This, by the way, was made during our hurricane-inspired night-time reading sessions.  Yesterday’s post will tell you all about that if you missed it.

What could be better than a handmade gift?  But there’s no reason for putting away your crafting things just because Christmas is over…

The whole winter stretches out ahead of us, beckoning with hot chocolate fingers: make something new

I’ve already started making individual star pieces with fingering weight yarn, lace-like and delicate.  These will become a wall hanging for our bare, echo-ey dining room.  Something to warm it up and give it that homey, artsy touch I love so much.  I’m just making a bucket-full of them and seeing what comes out.

Do you have any interesting winter projects going on or coming up?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments! 

Have a wonderful, warm day.  🙂

December Centerpiece Challenge

Each cold month this year, I’m challenging myself (and YOU) to create a dining room table centerpiece using mainly natural objects from outside.  No cheating!  If it’s something you found outside in August, it doesn’t count.

Anything you find outside now can be used – from sticks to stones to pieces of yard waste!  This challenge is being issued because I am fighting with all my might against the grey, bleak, boring attitude I usually adopt toward winter.  It’s still a time of beauty, and I want to learn to recognize it.

Here is my December centerpiece:

My goal was to keep it Christmasy, thinking about Jesus as the Light of the World, but looking for something unlikely at the center. 

After all, a baby is an unlikely form for the Savior to come in, right?

I found dried echinacea blossoms right outside our window, still containing last season’s seeds.  Those will be getting scattered strategically outside later.  🙂 

The echinacea is tied with dried, wilted…something.  You know the papery green ornamental grasses that homeowners love to plant?  That stuff. 

There’s also some oak leaves in there (I LOVE rusty Fall colors).  And naturally, surrounding it all, is a big puff of white pine needles. 

These have been very carefully tucked in around the candles so that nothing ignites while we’re eating chicken.

The tea lights, looking very cool, are actually not the greatest idea I ever came up with.  Courting candles have this wood piece that you move up the spiral as the candles burn lower. 

That wood piece starts smoking when it gets too hot.  Oops.  The tea lights haven’t been lit in a while so that nothing ignites while we’re eating soup.

But there seemed to be plenty of light without those: The two long tapers which have been burning for meals all through the Christmas season; and three small candles in the middle, sitting in red and amber glass.

That’s it for me.  What can you find outside?  If you send me a picture, I’ll post it when I do my January Challenge.  Just watch out for flammable things if you’re using candles, so that nothing ignites while you’re eating oatmeal.

ps. I’ll include your name and city/state/country or any of those that you choose.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Stockings On a Stick

In the middle of the night on Christmas Eve, I’d wake with a start, and get a familiar warm feeling in my belly.  Sliding down a few inches under the covers, I searched until my toes hit something squishy.

*crinkle*

MY STOCKING!!!

The older I got, the bolder I got.  Sometimes I just sat up in bed and felt the wrapped packages for size, weight, shakeability, and sugar potential.  Sometimes I’d gingerly unwrap one or two before guilt consumed me and I’d flop back down on the pillow.

Ah, Christmas.

When we were done opening our stockings on Christmas morning, the sisters always made trips to each other’s rooms.  What did YOU get?  Look at THIS!!!

My older sister Kimberly had usually been up for a hour or so already, showered, made her bed, and had devotions.  I was still picking sleepies out of my eyes and trundling around in a bathrobe, mouth full of mini Reese’s peanut butter cups.  The bed could wait.

Nowadays, Kimberly still has it together.  She will laugh hysterically when she reads this, but it’s true.  I have the pictures to prove it!  If you’re looking for a creative way to display your stockings before Daddy Santa and Mommy Claus fill them, here you go:

What could be more graceful and simple than stockings on a stick?

These are attractively displayed over the wide downward staircase between her kitchen and living room.  The perfect spot: Every time the kiddos walk by it, they can do a little happy dance inside and count down the days again until Christmas.

Here’s another look:

Why all the commercial noise and confusion surrounding Christmas?  It’s meant to be a simple time of remembering Jesus and sharing our love with one another.  I felt drawn into the spirit of Christmas when I looked at the Family Stocking Stick.

I’m not sure they call it that.  But it seemed fitting.  Kimberly, you are so ridiculously creative, a wonderful Mom and a godly woman.  I’m inspired by you every time I come to your house.  Thanks for letting me share these photos.  You’re a good sport.  🙂

Merry Christmas, everyone!