Monday, September 26, 2011

Summer sorting/sewing

My project this week is to put all the girls summer clothes into their drawers, and then do a little sewing for all of us.

Well actually, the sorting part is already done.  P asked if it was Spring, and when I said it was, she immediately (really the first thing out of her mouth) suggested that we change clothes over.  So we did that on the weekend.

I've mentioned before the generosity of people in my life, and I've never had to buy clothes for the girls.  We buy them things occasionally, but the vast majority of their clothes are hand me downs.  But we haven't received any this season, so I thought I might need to sew a few bits for them.  I needn't have worried.  They still have plenty of summer clothing.  But we did decide to sew an item for each of us this week.

 For P: A summer nightie

For J: A skirt (she really doesn't need anything, but a skirt seemed the easiest to make)

For Me: A sorbetto top

Fingers crossed these are three fast and easy projects, because P has already started asking to wear her nightie (I had to explain that it hadn't been made yet).

Smocks for Christmas

I finished two smocks for J for Christmas this week, and I'm really pleased with them.  Apologies for the poor photo quality, I had to take the photos at night with my not so fantastic digital camera.

I used this pattern, but again with seams, rather than all in one piece.  This was mostly because the fabric I used to make the smocks were all upcycled pillowcases, and so quite narrow.  As always, this is a really fast and easy sew, especially since I used my overlocker for all but the top stitching (that you can't see in my crappy photos anyway).  I am seriously considering worshipping my overlocker, I love it that much!

Smock one is a yellow flower print on one side

With white on the other (J looks great in white).

Close up of the yellow flowers.

The first smock I made exactly to the pattern, but once I had sewn it up, I realised that it was a little smaller than I wanted.  It will still fit J, but I don't think I'll get as much versatility out of it, so I lengthened the body of the pattern to make my second smock larger.  I am incredibly pleased with how this came out.

Smock two is also from a pillowcase, which had a lovely border pattern.  I really wanted it to go all the way around, but  there just wasn't enough width in the pillowcase.

Check out how well centred the pattern is (sorry you'll have to turn your heads).  I'm very pleased that I managed to get it so well (not always a given with me).

The other side is a plain apricot colour.
I really like it, but I am a bit worried that it will look a bit like a pillowcase once its on.  I hope it'll just look vintage and cool.  What do you think?

I also started knitting some toys for P for Christmas, so photos of those as I complete them.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Montessori activities

On our shelves this week are mostly activities that the girls have used before, with a couple of additions.  P kept asking to do some 'activities' so I think she is pleased her shelves are getting some good use again.  Once again Counting Coconuts provided a wealth of different and easy ideas.

Practical Life - Peg dinosaur
I found the instructions to make this Peg dinosaur and thought it would be exactly the kind of thing P would enjoy, since she loves dinosaurs.  However, we have recently started watching The Land before Time and P decided that actually she wanted a long necked dinosaur so she allowed me to give this activity to J.

The idea is to put all the pegs along the back of the dinosaur, making it a stegosaurus.  Its hard to see in the photos, but I durasealed over the top of the dinosaur to make it a bit more durable.

Sensorial - Felt shapes

 This is the same as last time.
Sensorial - Smelling bottles
When I went to get out some of the activities the girls had previously used, P asked for these specifically.  Both P and J love these smelling bottles, and this time when I showed P how they worked, she was able to match up the smells in the different bottles (she's nearly 3 1/2).  It was great to see the development in her abilities.

Language - 'P' basket

This contains all the things that were in it last time, all objects that start with the sound 'p'.  This time they are also joined by two lovely poi, made by my very good friend Kirsty for the girls.
Both P and J demanded that I show them how to use the poi (I am pretty useless at the poi, so I could only show them the very basics of how poi work, but they were satisfied enough to wander around the house randomly whacking themselves and other things with the poi).

Language - Dominoes
P has a beautiful set of dominoes that she got for her birthday, so I put them into a basket (for easy access), for her to use as a matching game, or to play with.

I've put these under language, because all the Montessori blogs I read have matching activities as a language one, although I'm not exactly sure why.

I really wanted to make some felt fractions, but I ran out of time, so maybe next time.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Wrap up of Montessori activites

I thought I would start out by going through the Montessori activities that I put out last time for the girls.

Sensorial - Smelling bottles
These were a hit, P and J carried them around all over the place saying 'smell' and opening and sniffing them.  I am so not a Montessori purist.  However, as I outlined initially, P couldn't differentiate between the smells, even though I thought they were all pretty distinctive.  This was also not helped by small people taking the peppermint lids off the peppermint bottles and putting them on the other ones, leaving everything smelling faintly of peppermint.

Math - Number wheel
This one was a non starter, P wasn't interested in matching the pegs to the wheel at all.

Practical life - open and close containers
The girls enjoyed this activity, but it didn't really hold their attention all that well.  But its definitely worth a revisit.

Practical life - sorting buttons
P enjoyed playing with the buttons, but wasn't so keen on the whole idea of sorting them into the right colours and into the containers.  She spent quite alot of time putting small stickers on the buttons and then decided that they were money and took them with her in a purse when she went out.  So as far as a Montessori activity goes, this one didn't really work.  As far as something that P enjoyed playing with, this was great.

As I've previously mentioned, although I enjoy the idea of the Montessori activities, I don't really like the underlying ethos.  Obviously this has an impact on what my girls enjoy and how they play with their activities.  Check out my Steiner posts to see a different perspective on toddler and preschooler play.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Good news, bad news

The good news is that I have finally finished the Awa Tunic which has been on my needles seemingly forever.  The bad news is that its not right.

So there will be no pattern published yet, and to be honest maybe not ever since I have seriously lost the love for this pattern after one size that was too small, and another that is too big.  At least it will fit her next year given that it took so long to knit.
I enjoy the challenge of creating my own patterns, but I find the test knitting more than a little tedious, especially when it doesn't go well.

Check out more creativity over at Natural Suburbia

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

More Montessori

My project this week is to get some more montessori style activities on the girls shelves.  Currently they are a bit empty (well actually they are the last repository of junk).  And it ties in well with the cultural swap that I have been busily working on for the last week (and which I haven't yet finished).

On the subject of the cultural swap, things are beginning to come together and I am feeling much better about the whole process.  Its just a matter of collecting, and then I will be able to send!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Christmas sewing

Well, I didn't complete as many things as I wanted to last week.  But I did manage to make a dress for P for Christmas.  And adapting the dress pattern was simple and there were hardly any problems.  I used the same pattern as for her birthday dress, in a size 3.  The dress is quite a loose fit, and I figured that the size 3 would still be fine for Christmas, and since I have done it in cotton, it won't matter if its a bit snugger, since she won't be wearing anything underneath it.  Rather than do the facings, I decided to line the dress.  It was all pretty straightforward until I overlocked the hem of the fabric and the lining together, and then couldn't turn the dress out the right way.  After a bit of unpicking I managed to turn the dress out the right way, and hem it correctly (even if its not the neatest hem in the world).

However, I didn't manage to sew up any of the smocks I intended to make.  We had a surprise visit from a friend, as well as a couple of other evening engagements which really ate up the time I would normally craft.  While finding the fabric for the smocks, I realised I was a bit short on solid colours.  But a quick trip to the Hospice Shop sorted that problem (4 pillowcases for 50c).

This post does have pictures to go with it, but I haven't had the opportunity to upload them.  So for the sake of moving forward, and actually posting the things I've done, I'll publish it as is, and hope for the chance to add photos later.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Cultural Swap package

My project this week is to send out my cultural swap packages.  I have all the ideas, but it is now a matter of putting them all together and sending them out.  I suspect it will take more than one week, but I'll do as much this week as I can.
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