Monthly Archives: March 2010

Toy Crafting Bug

Even though my daughter is not even 1 1/2 years old yet, even though she goes to a rather corporate daycare for 9+hours/workday, even though I’m working full time until mat. leave #2 (after that, who knows?!?), I’ve been finding more an more homeschooling blogs being added to my Google Reader lately. And with these for inspiration, I’ve been completely bitten by the toy-crafting bug!

Of course, Ive got nothing much to show for this than a pile of bookmarked links and a few squares of not-yet-used craft felt*, but I hope there will be some finished toys soon enough! Maybe they’ll even get played with…

I really, really want to make one of these Waldorf-style silk “Cuddle dolls”. So much that I even bought a silk scarf — and forgot to check the dimensions (it’s a long rectangle, but oh well, I’ll just turn it into a play silk instead). This “doll” may be incredibly simple, but I love the idea of really open-ended playthings to encourage growing imaginations, and appreciate the all-natural-materials aspect. I think I need to read more about Waldorf-style learning, it seems really interesting to me.

I also have been wanting to make a “quiet book”. There’s a lot of resources online, this one and this one seem like great starting points. I like the idea that you can make ones with different themes (like “the seasons”, or “letters and numbers”), or with various levels of difficulty to interest different ages. I might start small, and make something with only a few pages that has everything attached somehow, with a tether for a stroller-toy…

I would love to make her some soft toys, too, but there’s not a lot of point. She just doesn’t really care for them! Blocks, books, and noisy musical toys are her favorites these days. Too bad I don’t have a basement or garage, I bet I could have fun making her wooden toys!

* the “felt” squares I’ve found don’t feel like they’re actually made of wool to me (I’ll have to try a burn test). Do I have to order online to get real-wool crafting felt?

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Ada Lovelace Day

Ada Lovelace Day badge
image (C)Sidney Padua at 2D Goggles

I took the pledge over at http://findingada.com/ to blog about Women in Science on March 24th. I think this is a fabulous venture to raise awareness for just how much women have contributed to the pursuit of knowledge.

And just who was Ada Lovelace? Not only the daughter of the infamous Romantic poet Lord Byron, but a very interesting woman in her own right! Many credit her as being the first author of a computer program. She was a good friend and close collaborator with Charles Babbage, inventor of computer-precursors the Analytical Engine and Difference Engine — he thought them up, but it was Ada’s keen mathematical mind that went about the task of making these machines programmable. (They also fought crime, according to this reputable source.)

Ada also had style — check out her enigmatic calling card left once for Babbage over here: Very Interesting indeed! I wish I warranted stationary like that, but am sadly not of the aristocracy. Nor, I suppose, of the Victorian era…

As a woman with a Humanities background, I am well aware of how under-represented women’s contributions are in the face of standard Western history. More frequently, though, more attention is being drawn to the disparities and to the women who have made valuable contributions to art, music, literature, war, medicine, natural history, and so on. This academic trend needs to continue, and to work its way into the daily mindset of Western culture. Blogs can help with this!

Do you know of a woman who is a “hero” to science or knowledge? Blog about her today!

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Homemade Fail: Yogurt

All the other knitbloggers are doing it. Urban homesteaders all over are doing it.

Considering we’ve got a teething toddler who has only 2 foods she’s guaranteed to eat at any given time (bananas and, you guessed it, yogurt), a dairy-crazy pregnant lady, and a health-conscious yogi/husband/daddy in our house, having a cheaper, reliable, and ready source of more yogurt would be a great thing for us. It really doesn’t look that hard, so I thought I’d give it a try.

Ok, so we don’t have a crock-pot. We certainly don’t have a fancy (or even thrifted) yogurt-making device. We don’t even have a cooler (a la the Urban Homestead book). But I have a stove and decent pots and bathtowels for insulation, so I figured I was good to go. I heated up 1 bag’s worth of milk (for you Americans, that’s 1/3 gallon) to the right temp (used the meat thermometer), and then let it cool down sufficiently. I mixed in about 1/3c. plain yogurt as the “starter” and wrapped the pot up in a big towel and stuck it in the pre-warmed stove. And waited.

And waited.

And checked it, 2.5 hours later, found it was very runny but smelled kind-of yogurtly, so I let it go.

And waited.

And waited.

And… you get the picture. More that 8 hours later, it still wasn’t very thick at all, by most yogurt standards — and I prefer my yogurt “Balkan style”, very thick. But it was bedtime, and I figured I could try draining some.

So yeah, not as successful as I hoped. The draining went awfully — I had to pitch that part. The rest of the batch will probably get thrown in to the blender for smoothies — it has a very mild, yogurty-like flavour, but not much body at all.

I will try this again, but next time I will use: a) organic yogurt for the starter and v) organic whole milk for the base.

Oh, and there’s no pictures, not because of the lack-of-camera (yay, it has been unearthed!) but because who wants to see photos of runny yogurt? Eww.

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Scattered

I think one of the reasons I don’t blog half as often as I used to it because my thoughts/interests are incredibly scattered these days. There are so many diverse and not-immediately-relevant-to-each-other things that are dividing my time and mental energy.

Among these are:
– Parenting and Pregnancy
Between raising a toddler (!) and preparing for a 2nd child, I’m bouncing between everything from cloth-diaper sewing to feeding nutritious things to picky 16-month-olds to birth preparation. There are several parenting blogs in my Google Reader, and I follow multiple Ravelry theme-groups along these lines.

– Sustainable Living / Intentional Community-Building / Frugal Living /etc.
Dusting ourselves off from a failed community-living venture has been rough on Dru & I lately, but it hasn’t changed our fundamental belief in these things. Now that we’re back as apartment dwellers, fatiguing out what sorts of “urban homesteading” projects we can undertake (in the heart of the city; in an 800sq. ft. apt; while paying for daycare) has come to the fore. So has financial planning — figuring out how to build and save at the same time (better spending; meal planning), how to foster community now, and looking ahead to how to build an intentional community in the future.

– Yoga
I’m currently taking an wonderful, intense Yoga Teacher Training program through a great studio downtown. This program has been incredibly transformative so far, both physically (as any serious increase in physical regime would) and mentally/spiritually. I lost all the previous baby-weight, and then a bit more. I’m stronger, and more flexible (even now that pregnancy has me having to “back off” in my practice). I’ve had to learn anatomy, and despite my dislike have really taken in a lot. I’ve become a huge fan of kirtan chanting (check out this fab podcast!), am internalizing some new perspectives from yoga philosophy, and as a literature geek am really interested in learning more about Hindu mythologies. I even had the disorienting moment of realizing that when this is completed I could call myself a “fitness instructor”, and boy did that ever shift my self-view!

Compared with this stuff, some days fibercrafts seem like a drop in a bucket. But of course, knitting and spinning are still on my mind! I just can’t seem to think of what to post about them lately. Also, my camera has been missing since January, which makes craft-blogging a lot less interesting for you readers!

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In Progress

WIPs. “Works In Progress.” I really do have some!

I’ve been knitting, a little. The double-knitting “potholder” swatch from EZ’s Almanac has made me definitely want to knit up a baby-blanket in this technique. So yay, I’ve officially started the Miko Challenge!

I’ve also got most of a Koolhaus hat worked up for my Yukon-dwelling brother, but ran out of yarn 1 pattern repeat before the crown, boo. Do I buy another skein (Berocco’s Ultra Alpaca, pretty awesome) or fake it with some basic black merino?

Many false starts on other hats for myself have been made, and frogged, and tried again, and frogged again. I think I’ve given up for now, but will hopefully get a hat or two for my own head when I work up some of the EZ patterns.

And there’s been genuine spinning! I finally broke out the Joy wheel, and have spun up some lovely Enchanted Knoll batts in “Chai” (a decent, if ‘wobbly’ 2-ply) and some CopperPot Woolies batts in an indigo/blue/orange colourway called “Summer Iris” or something like that (DK/worsted singles, yay me!). It’s been fun getting back to spinning, and I think I need to make more time to sit in front of the wheel.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find my digital camera since we moved (in January, arrgh), so photographic evidence of all these things I’ve been working on has been nil. *sigh*

But I can leave you with one photo of another project I’ve been working on lately…

ultrasound.12weeks.Feb2010.2

Baby #2, due sometime in August. Better get knitting on “some baby’s things” from the Almanac!

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