Heritage Crafts Day at Van Cortlandt Manor

The rain couldn’t keep us from having a picnic by the river and then checking out the Heritage Crafts day at Van Cortlandt Manor. The event showcased crafts like dying wool, making butter, working with tin, blacksmithing, and open air cooking. It seems all we do each weekend is visit some sort of historic farm or museum! When you’ve got a toddler who gets excited about a haystack, and you’ve got a membership to Historic Hudson Valley, it’s really a no-brainer.

Walking down the hill to the picnic grounds.

Throwing stones into the river.

The blacksmith demonstration.

Was the sausage in the foreground there as decor or was it their lunch?

Playing the triangle.

Abercrombie & Fitch pose.

Jax interrupted his run to the hay to point out the “airplane sky” he probably thought didn’t fit in with the 17th-century surroundings.

New favorite game: jumping or falling down objects or stairs to be caught. He’s very trusting!

Sheep to Shawl Festival

Yesterday Jax and I went with friends Amanda and baby Grace to the annual Sheep to Shawl festival in Sleepy Hollow. It’s an event held at Philipsburg Manor, a 17th-century Dutch farm which now serves as a living museum, with a working mill, cows and sheep, and costumed tour guides who are actually really quite fun to speak with.

The first stop was the all-important sheering of the sheep demonstration. The 17th-century trimming scissors made us a little nervous, but this woolly sheep got his winter coat removed without any harm.

The last time we went to Philipsburg Manor the cows were all inside, so it was fun to see them grazing in the field.

The sheep herding demonstration was one of the most exciting for Jax.

“Dog. Doooooog.”

Next up was spinning: I learned in chatting with this guide that we’d only see knitting and weaving in the 17th century, as crochet hadn’t been invented yet: Crochet arrived in the States in the mid-19th-century and it had only been developed in late-18th-century France.

The dying of the wool was done in boiling water over this open flame.

On the left, onion skins are dying the wool a bright yellow. On the right is a deep red produced by tree bark.

We took a quick stop into the mill.

Weaving demonstration

The guests of honor! Jax was so excited to look into the barn and see these guys. He kept shouting “baaaa!”

Then one sheep stuck his head out and yelled “baaa!” back. I don’t know if Jax ever thought that would be coming.

A tour of the stable

The walk back

Recent Projects

The biggest accomplishment of the past weeks has been finishing the draft of my third chapter (only one more to go!), but I also found some time for a couple of craft breaks.

Remember that vintage sweater I framed last year? Since Jax has actually been wearing the thing, I thought it was time for a nursery decor overhaul. I have this lovely quilted doll blanket my Aunt Marge Ann made for me when I was little, and I’ve finally found the perfect use for it:

The new and improved reading corner: framed doll blanket hanging over the dog-bed-turned cozy corner. The alligator pillow is a TJ Maxx find (and Jax fell in love with the animal in Florida ‚?? “adiddle” he calls them), and the green velvet one is something I made and thought would add interesting texture. The big white pillow is a fuzzy quilted floor pillow.

I then took an idea from Purl Soho that I’ve been harboring for over two years and added some colorful interest to another blank wall:

Once I blogged about the DIY ribbon tag toys I was making, my friend Cecilia requested a couple – one for herself and one for a friend:

{That little donkey print gets around!}

Here are some in-progress pictures:

I also finished a knit bonnet ‚?? my first time trying this pattern and this yarn (big fan of both) ‚?? and sent it off to baby Tegan out in California.

Here’s a tip for gifting your yarn work: make a tag the same size as the yarn label and tie them together to the gift. That way, all the info about material content and washing instructions is all there.

Finally, for a totally random travel idea from the daughter of two scientists, you can make toddler snack packs with little test tubes. {Don’t worry, these were never used in any experiments!} My mom gave me a ton of these to organize craft supplies, but they worked wonders during our trip: not only are you only dealing with one serving of snacks at a time, but the twist-off cap can become an intriguing toy for the toddler.

O’s cereal, Cheddar crackers, and Dried Cranberries, ready for take-off

Similarly, if you need special laundry detergent on the go (if you are using cloth diapers or if your tot has sensitive skin), the tubes work well for that, too:

Just don’t try to get these guys through security…Who knows what they’ll think.

And voilà, my list of recent crafty randomness.

A little surprise from across the Atlantic

Every year for the past three years I’ve participated in an international ornament exchange. It’s mostly between expat women abroad, but some of us consider ourselves “international” even once we’ve moved back to the states. I’ll eventually post a picture of the hand-made one I sent out, but look what just arrived in the mail from Germany!

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The ornament is all lace, made by hand. It looks lovely on our tree, amongst the hand-made ornaments my (French) friend Julie made last year, and the snowflake topper I got last year from an expat in Denmark. Thank  you, secret elf!

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16 Weeks

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Sixteen weeks do not equal four months, as we found out yesterday at the peditrician’s office. We’ll go back in two weeks for Jax’s 4-month “calendar” birthday, and for his second round of shots. In the mean time, here are some exciting stats!

Age: 3 months, 19 days
Height: 25 inches (63.5 cm) ‚?? 66th percentile. This measurement is the same as five weeks ago…I think the height measuring is imperfect because Jax’s 6-month clothes barely fit anymore, and look at how much he gained in Lose Weight Exercise!
Weight: 14 lb 10 oz (6.6 kg) ‚?? 57th percentile ‚?? almost 2 pounds in a month.
Head circumference: 43 cm ‚?? 78th percentile. Quite the noggin… But not shocking in this family; we can never find hats big enough to fit.

Yesterday we had a wonderful surprise in the mail: a new year’s package from my first French host family and these beautiful knit socks made by my French host mom, Josiane! Josiane, si tu me lis en ce moment, je te remercie mille fois! Nous sommes vraiment touch√©s. Tu es vraiment dou√©e en tricot!

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Aren’t they adorable? They make me feel like we should take another ski vacation. Here’s a picture of Josiane and me, from our friend C√©cilia’s surprise birthday party last May 3rd.

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Yesterday we also received the new portacrib mattress: 100% organic, thick and comfy, and made in the USA.  It costs more than the crib itself, but Grandma Barb thinks this babe is worth it. Thanks, Mom!

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So, 16 weeks old, and the hair is longer than ever. But there is an abundance of smiles and expression, too:

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8 Weeks

It’s been an eventful couple of weeks. Our little Jax now weighs 11 pounds 12 ounces and is 24 inches long. That puts him in the 57th percentile for Lose Weight Exercise and the 90th for length! We were all surprised at those stats:

[It's hot in our radiator-heated pre-war apartment; shirtless babies are a common sight.]

This little climber likes to push himself onto his feet and “walk” with one foot in front of the other. It’s easier when he can climb onto Daddy’s chest.

The hairdo? We call it the Shark Fin.

He spent the morning of his 8-week birthday at the doctor’s, after which he mostly just wanted to do this:

But that evening he woke up to videochat with Grandma Barb:

and Grandpa Chuck:

Last week we finally got Jacob’s passport, but taking the photo for it was an event unto itself. Here are the outtakes from our photo session November 4:

As you can see, he couldn’t stop looking at Daddy, and the smiles just got bigger and bigger! I guess he didn’t get the memo about how you have to look serious in passport photos now. In any case, Seth’s visible hand probably wouldn’t have gone over well with the State Department. But Jax had his airplane outfit on! How could anyone resist?

It turns out it was too soon to get the passport anyway (you have to go in person within 2 weeks of departure), so we got a chance at take 2 on November 9:

The trick was to take the photo from above him while he was laying on a white sheet. My finger is still in the shot, and it’s overexposed, but the clerk at the Passport Agency let it pass. Whew! Not that he will look like this anymore in even a month’s time…

We had lots of visitors recently, too. I hosted craft night, which was especially fun because former Craftnight NYC and now Craftnight Paris member Lily was in town.


Lily and Laurie

Laurie crafted an awesome mask for a masquerade wedding she was going to that weekend. Lily made her a matching feather “necklace”:

Late that evening Aunt Monica arrived from St. Paul, bearing awesome hand-made gifts, including this beautiful blanket:

and hat:

Monica was in town for a perfect autumn weekend.

A walk in Union Square provided many photo op’s.

Let’s pose by the trash can.

I’ll leave you with my favorite shots from week 8:

Chunky legs!

Baby Mittens

Easiest, quickest project ever. I made up this pattern as I went along, using seed stitch for warmth. Of course, you can use any stitch pattern or just simply stockinette.

Seed-Stitch Baby Mittens

Materials:
Four size 3 double pointed needles
25 grams worsted Lose Weight Exercise yarn; I used Rowan’s Cashsoft Aran yarn (a wool, microfiber, and cashmere blend)

What to do:
Cast on 24 stitches and divide over 3 needles.
Rows 1-8: knit 2, purl 2
Row 9: work 11 stitches in seed stitch pattern (knit 1, purl 1), increase 1, pattern 2 sts, increase 1, pattern 11 stitches
Rows 10-32: work in seed stitch pattern
Row 33: knit 1, *decrease 1, pattern 3*, repeat between * to the end of the row.
Row 34: purl 1, *decrease 1, pattern 3*, repeat between * to the end of the row.
Row 35: knit 1, *decrease 1, pattern 2*, repeat between * to the end of the row.
Row 36: purl 1, decrease 1, *pattern 1, decrease 1*, repeat between * to the end of the row.
Row 37: knit 1, decrease 1, *pattern 1, decrease 1*, repeat between * to the end of the row.
Cut yarn leaving a 6-inch tail to loop through the remaining 6 stitches. Pull tight to cinch shut and weave remaining yarn into the inside of the mitten to secure.

Voilà!

Boat Button Baby Sweater

My last project before Jax was born was this nautical sweater. The size is around 6-9 months, filling the gap between the blue- and white- striped sweater I made (size 3 months, which fits him now) and his jacket (size 9-12 months).

Before getting to the details, take a look at the adorable “mon tr√©sor” bib my friend Julie made! I love its classic style. We are both fans of all things antique and “French country” and her gifts are always on target (she also gave us the “Chut…B√©b√© dort” hanging cushion to the right of the bib ‚?? translation: “Shhh… Baby’s sleeping”).

I had planned to make a sweater vest out of the navy Debbie Bliss Cashmerino yarn I picked up in London, but we found a vest on sale so it didn’t seem worth the time. I only had two skeins of the navy, but plenty of ivory, so I went for stripes. When I got to the end of the project, only 18 inches of navy yarn was left. What luck perfect planning!

The pattern is free and available here. The only adjustment I made was knitting it in stockinette. I love, love that it is knit without any seams and on circular and double-pointed needles. It was quick and I’d definitely use it again.

The buttons are from a craft fair Julie and I went to in Paris. A silver version is for sale here,