Getting my granny on

In our family, there is a reverence around the art of crochet. It is a skill, a talent, a craft that has been passed down generation to generation to generation on our mother’s side. We grew up watching Memere, our mom’s mom, whip up blankets and granny squares and Barbie clothes and crazy quilts and baby clothes and pillow covers and decorative bed dolls and giant comforters and soft baby blankets and baptismal wraps and and and…she was a machine. And we all coveted what she had.

Draped over my couch, warmer of all my little family, made by my Memere.

Draped over my couch, warmer of all my little family, made by my Memere.

We’d all ask her, pleadingly, as her fingers whipped the yarn around her hook and magic transformed string into works of art, to teach us! The company line was, “When your fingers get bigger. They’re too small now, but I will teach you when they’re bigger.”

We all waited, with bated breath, for our fingers to grow to the perfect length, width, size to handle the hook and yarn and learn how to crochet like our Memere.

And then, finally, finally, we’d be her students and she our teacher, and we’d try so hard with tongues stuck out and fingers too rigid and nerves on edge as she taught us a chain, a single crochet, a double crochet, a triple crochet and then we’d finally have a wonky looking scarf and voila! We were magic too.

But time goes on. And perfect finger age turns into teenager age and then early 20s age, and then…you realize, you haven’t crocheted in eons. In fact…you may not even remember how. It’s a sin, considering how eager we all were to crochet, what a lasting gift it was from our grandmother, and what a handy skill it is to have some sort of craft under your belt.

Time marched me right into my hairdresser’s chair for my yearly hair cut (yes, really) and style, where I sit alone, with no babies around, and in the middle of my head massage (oh, yes, really), she asked me, “What do you do for you?”

I was pregnant with Isaac at this point, about ready to pop, and had Lillian running around and Sophie gearing up for school, and I had no idea. What did I do for me?

And then she told me what she did when her babies were young. She crocheted. She’d get everyone into bed, and then the hook would hit the yarn and she’d be off.

When she said that word, crocheted, filled with enchantment and childhood wonder, I got it. Instantly.

Crocheting is for adults. It is a ‘Mommy-only’ activity. It can only be done when little fingers aren’t trying to get all up in it. It can only be done by ME. AND?? It takes a tiny bit of brain power. In fact, it’s almost zen-like in its ability to make you focus on one thing and one thing only.

So, I went home and found all of my crocheting stuff. I had one hook and some sad yarn. I went to a crafting store and got a fancy set of hooks. I grabbed my sad yarn and thought about what I should make.

I settled on dishcloths, because they are USEFUL. And baby items. ALSO USEFUL. And after 5 dishcloths and 5 sets of misshapen booties, I decided maybe useful wasn’t the best idea.

And then, I let it drop again. Because BABIES EVERYWHERE.

But this Christmas, I really wanted to make stockings for our family. We don’t have uniform stockings. We have mismatched stockings that were free or purchased for other people (visiting family)…but no real stockings. I found a pattern online and planned to have all five of them whipped up over the month of December in time for Christmas. HA. It didn’t happen (clearly), but I did get the yarn at a killer price after Christmas, and have made it through 1 of 5 stockings.

The top's finished now...and I just have to get the rest of them going. I should be done by Christmas.

The top cuff…it’s finished now…and I just have to get the rest of them going. I should be done by Christmas.

And then my sister-in-law, the fifth sister, Kim, asked if someone could make this headband:

Photo and pattern by Tender Moments Crochet

Photo and pattern by Tender Moments Crochet

I told the sisters that I was planning on making it, and they wanted in! Yarn-shopping adventure was ON! And then, of course, a granny night, complete with Friends on Netflix and homemade cookies and a rekindling of everything good about crocheting.

Granny Dee and Granny T

Granny Dee and Granny T

Granny J and Granny JQ

Granny J and Granny JQ

The finished product was gorgeous! Everyone who made one and got one LOVED them…and Kim?? Looks SMASHING!

Hot mama!

Hot mama!

I’ve been crocheting pretty steadily now since the New Year, and currently I’m working on a super-secret mission (if I told you, I’d have to kill you), but I’m getting to be pretty good! So good, in fact, that yesterday morning, when we were getting ready for a nice leisurely day of lounging around (it was a holiday here), the girls asked me if I could make them clothes for their lovies. Sophie wanted a sweater for the puppy stuffie she had received from Aunt Toni for Valentine’s Day, and Lillian wanted a Spider-Man dress (she LOVES Spider-Man) for her Baby (her most prized possession). After some Pinterest hunting, I came up with two patterns and got to work. It took a couple of hours for each, but both girls LOVED the final results.

Sophie and her sweatered puppy! Pattern from Knot Your Nana's Crochet

Sophie and her sweatered puppy! Pattern from Knot Your Nana’s Crochet

Spiderman Baby with Spiderman Lillian! Pattern from Mamma That Makes

Spider-Man Baby with Spider-Man Lillian! Pattern from Mamma That Makes

It was fun, being able to say yes to something, having the tools and skill and supplies to fulfill requests on the spot, and of course, magic, watching the girls pick out their yarn colours and then help me do fittings and watch me with the same eager eyes that I had watching my Memere whip up yet another something.

The enchantment carries on here and I’m already getting bombarded by, “Can you teach me to do that?” and “I want to learn.” and “Can I try?”

And I’ve already delivered the line, one that is as generational as the crochet hooks and yarn – “Yes, when your fingers are big enough, I will teach you.”

~ Julia


Let it snow!

I love snow.

LOVE it.

I love how it looks. I love the season it kicks off (Christmas!!). I love how it sounds at night. I love how it makes everything perfect again, white and blanketed, mud and other flaws covered (at least until the plows and boots and dogs get to it). I LOVE SNOW.

And in my opinion, snowflakes are by far the prettiest element in holiday decorating. They’re sparkly. They can be formal. They can be hand-scrawled. They can be blue, white, red, green, or any other colour up there on that rainbow. They can be ornaments, they can make a wreath, they can be part of an outdoor scene, they can frost up  your indoor decor. They are fun to make and glitter just makes them better. And guys? Each one is different. Or, that’s what we’re believing. You are like a snowflake – unique until proven otherwise. 😉

I'm not the only one enamored by snowflakes. Sophie has been cutting them out and hanging them up around the house to "get ready for Christmas." How can I argue with that?

I’m not the only one enamored by snowflakes. Sophie has been cutting them out and hanging them up around the house to “get ready for Christmas.” How can I argue with that?

I also love crafting. I used to be a Sunday School teacher and one of my favourite parts was the craft – the glue, the glitter, the cutting, the creating, the colouring (remember colouring? Oh, the good old days.). I have a ton of craft stuff at home and most of it the babies can play with. But some of it? Some of it is all mine. ALL MINE. 

I’m a good sharer, but when it comes to Mommy’s grown-up craft stuff, back off. 

I have lots of fun things to make cards with – cardstock, stamps, ink, paper punches, markers, hole punches, adhesives (FANCY GLUE!!) – and I rarely have time to play with it.

But lately, I’ve been sneaking in time when I should be folding laundry to make a card. Or two. But usually just one because one card takes me so long. I want to get it right, get it perfect, get it so that it will look more like I made it and less like Sophie or Lillian made it. You know, like a grown-up made it. And that means I get muddled and mired and stuck.

This weekend, however, I found the time and space and inspiration to sit down and make four Christmas/winter cards, all featuring my favourite, the snowflake.

By space and time, I mean I found some stamps and markers for the girls so that they could have their own stamping/crafting fun.

"What are you doing, Mommy?" (Read: I'm completely innocent and purely curious...I won't get into anything...promise).

“What are you doing, Mommy?” (Read: I’m completely innocent and purely curious…I won’t get into anything…promise).

She might be a teeny, tiny bit excited by the new craft supplies - stamps and markers that aren't completely dried out?! HEAVEN.

She might be a teeny, tiny bit excited by the new craft supplies – stamps and markers that aren’t completely dried out?! HEAVEN.

And by inspiration, I mean I went on Pinterest and scoured other people’s genius for ideas so that I didn’t have to sit and muddle for hours…I got to craft for hours. It was dreamy.

The first card I wanted to attempt was something simple and streamlined. Something easy-peasy. Something elegant, like this one:

Here’s what I came up with, using a nice dark blue cardstock for the card, a snowflake stamp dipped in ink of the same colour, and accents drawn on with a silver marker:

My simple snowflake card

My simple snowflake card

My favourite part about this card, other than the fact that it’s so easy (just some cutting, gluing, and a stamp!), is that it is winter-themed, not necessarily Christmas-themed. You could give this to a Muslim or a Jew or a Buddhist or someone who loves the phrase “Happy Holidays” and is offended by “Merry Christmas.” It’s perfect for the awkward card-giving, where you want to give something, but you don’t want to put your foot in your mouth. (Note: I LOVE this chart for how to handle these uncomfortable social situations…it’s brilliant and simple like this card!)

The second one was going to be a bit more complicated. I saw this patchwork card and LOVED it. I wanted to recreate the same feeling and I’m excited to make other cards (non-Christmas ones, of course!) with paper scraps that I have lying around. I also love the idea of mixing patterns – I’m not brave enough to do it in my outfits, but darn it, I’m a freaking renegade with paper!

Created by the mastermind behind the Kifli és levendula Blog

Created by the mastermind behind the Kifli és levendula Blog

Here’s my version:

My take on the patchwork

My take on the patchwork style

I love how all of the patterns have some sort of snowflake element to them and that they’re all of the same colour families. This cardstock came in a pad of four different designs from Stampin’ Up, so I didn’t have to work too hard to make them co-ordinate. Regardless, I’m a pattern-mixing daredevil!

My third inspiration was a bit more complicated – repeat one shape to make another shape. In this case, I took my cue from this pretty card that used snowflakes to create a wreath:  

Created by Carol Longacre

Created by Carol Longacre

I don’t have a snowflake punch, but I do have a snowflake stamp. I also wanted to put the snowflakes in a different colour family – the traditional reds and greens of Christmas. Here is my snowflake wreath:

Voila! A little lopsided, but still the effect I wanted.

Voila! A little lopsided, but still the effect I wanted.

I used green and red ink to make the wreath, and used two different sizes of snowflake stamps – the bigger one for the greenery, and the smaller one for the berries. I added a line of washi tape along the left side and I put a stamped and punched element in the middle of the wreath because I felt it looked a little empty. I don’t know if I love the I ❤ Santa stamp with the wreath (I feel they are different pieces of the Christmas pie), but all in all it’s sweet and I do like the effect of the wreath. I also love that I had the forethought to draw a circle in light pencil before stamping so I was able to stamp a pretty-close-to-round shape. 😉 A light erase afterwards and y’all thought I was magic. (Note: I am.) (Second note: Clearly not infallibly magic – I still managed to put a dent in the top right of the circle…whatever.)

Sophie was so impressed by this, she made her own versions:

Created by my stamping prodigy, Sophie

Created by my stamping prodigy, Sophie

The final card that I was inspired by had snowflakes of a more rainbow variety:

Created by Karen Day

Created by Karen Day

I really like the snowflakes and the stark white background in this card. The effect is really lovely. This is what I came up with:

My snowflake rainbow

My snowflake rainbow

I LOVE how this card turned out and it is by far my favourite of the four. It’s hard to see here, but the card is a bright pink colour with a green outline. The snowflakes are pink, green, blue and yellow. The message is pink and blue. It’s so bright and cheery and I’m in love. It wasn’t hard to create at all. The trickiest piece was drawing a line from the left to the right edge on an angle so that I could control my snowflake fall. I knew without that guide, I’d be stamping all over the place. Again, I made the line in light pencil and erased it when I was done.

I had so much fun grown-up crafting during daylight hours with my girls. They seemed to love it as well, with both of them churning out some pretty impressive stamping for their first time.

Sophie was rather proud of this one.

Sophie was rather proud of this one.

This is what Lillian came up with once she stopped stamping on the stamp cleaning cloths...

This is what Lillian came up with once she stopped stamping on the stamp cleaning cloths…

We had Christmas music playing, all three of us took turns distracting and wrangling Isaac, and Ben was playing a video game. The perfect end to a busy weekend. Now, if we can just get the rain to stop here and bring back the snow, we’d be set for Christmas!

~ Julia