14.2.18

happy valentines day



Who can take a rainbow,
Wrap it in a sigh,
Soak it in the sun 
and make a groovy lemon pie?
The Candy Man...

The Candy Man can
'Cause he mixes it with love
And makes the world taste good.
 
lyrics: Leslie Bricusse & Anthony Newley

12.2.18

valentine door mat

We are made for goodness. We are made for love. We are made for friendliness. We are made for togetherness. We are made for all of the beautiful things that you and I know. We are made to tell the world that there are no outsiders. All are welcome: black, white, red, yellow, rich, poor, educated, not educated, male, female, gay, straight, all, all, all. We all belong to this family, this human family, God's family.  (Desmond Tutu)


I originally made this door mat in 2011, and have made new ones since then, replacing the mats when they wear out. Is there any better way to create a welcome than with a big, bright symbol of openhearted love?

SUPPLIES
-- A coir fiber mat
-- A sheet of newspaper
-- Masking tape (optional)
-- Fabric paint (or other waterproof paint)
-- A paper plate or other disposable container
-- A foam paint brush/applicator


STEP 1 :: Use scissors to cut a heart shape out of the newspaper sheet.  Place the newspaper with the cut-out heart over your coir mat. Tape in place (optional).


STEP 2 :: Pour some paint onto a paper plate (or other disposable container), dip brush into paint and dab paint inside the newspaper heart stencil.

STEP 3 :: Allow paint to dry and...


STEP 4 :: Welcome all who cross your threshold with an open heart.

8.2.18

tutorial :: felt heart sachet

There is only one happiness 
in this life, to love and be loved.
-- George Sand


Not just on Valentine's Day, but every day, shouldn't our actions always come from a place of compassion and our words express what is good + true within our hearts? Perhaps this is why I have been stitching, sewing, knitting and felting heart shaped projects. Without stop. Without end.


SUPPLIES
-- Wool felt
-- Paper, pencil and scissors
-- Pinking shears + a pin
-- Embroidery floss + a neeedle
-- Dried camomile, rose petals + lavender
    (if you don't have dried herbs on hand,
     you can cut open a chamomile teabag
     and use the little flowers inside!)

STEP 1 ::  Use a pencil to draw a heart on your piece of paper, and cut it out with standard scissors. Note - the heart I cut out is 3 in. (approx. 7 1/2 cm) high, but you should feel free to make your heart pattern as small or large as you please.

STEP 2 :: Use pin to secure paper pattern to a single layer of felt. With pinking shears, cut around the outside of the pattern (i.e. do not cut the paper), leaving a 1/8 inch (3 mm) pinked perimeter. Then repeat and cut a second heart from your felt. Note - if you do not have pinking shears, don't let that stop you from making these little hearts... you can use a regular scissors to create hearts with smooth edges.

STEP 3 ::Thread a needle with embroidery floss in a color which contrasts with the color of your felt.  I used red felt and white embroidery floss, but you should use whichever colors make your heart happy!


STEP 4 :: Use a running stitch to sew the two felt hearts together, leaving approx. 1 inch (25 mm) open for filling.

STEP 5 :: Fill with dried flowers (and if you don't have dried flowers on hand, you can cut open an herbal teabag -- chamomile or peppermint teabags would be perfect for filling these little sachets).

STEP 6 :: Sew up the opening, add a loop of embroidery floss at the top (optional), and you're done.

There is only one happiness in this life, to love and be loved. George Sand
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/george_sand_383232?src=t_love

6.2.18

tutorial :: valentine velvet hearts

What the world needs now is love, sweet love,
It's the only thing that there's just too little of.
What the world needs now is love, sweet love,
No, not just for some, but for everyone...
 -- Dionne Warwick


These velvet hearts are so soft and simple.  I have given them as tokens of friendship and also offered them at times when friends or their children (or my children) needed comfort.  They are small enough to keep in a pocket or on a bedside table, and they feel lovely when rubbed between the fingers or against a cheek.


SUPPLIES
-- A small scrap of velvet or velour fabric
-- Paper, pencil and scissors
-- Needle and thread
-- Stuffing (wool or fiberfill)


STEP 1 :: Use a pencil to design a heart shape on your piece of paper and cut out with scissors to create a pattern. Note: my hearts are approx. 3 1/2 inches (9 cm) tall, and so, to account for seam allowance, my pattern is approx. 4 inches (10 cm) tall.

STEP 2 :: Fold your velvet with right sides together, pin your heart-shaped paper pattern to the fabric, and cut out velvet per the pattern.


STEP 3 :: Remove paper pattern and pin the velvet hearts with right-sides together. Thread your needle and use small stitches to sew around the edges, leaving approx. 11/2 inch (3 cm) open for stuffing.

STEP 4 :: Use the unsewn section to turn your heart right-side out, add stuffing and sew closed.

STEP 5 :: Give your heart, with love, to someone you care for.


5.2.18

tutorial :: peg doll valentine stamps

 

This little peg doll craft is a repeat from two years ago, but these sweeties are so perfect for creating peg doll gifts and Valentines, that I just can't help pulling them out of my hat again this year.


SUPPLIES FOR MAKING A PEG DOLL STAMP

-- 1 sheet of craft-foam (this stuff)

-- Larger size peg dolls, at least
    2 3/8 in tall (6 cm) like these

-- water color paint

-- beeswax polish (tutorial HERE)

-- Scissors + glue


INSTRUCTIONS FOR MAKING A PEG DOLL STAMP

STEP 1 ::Use watercolors to paint your peg doll, and allow to dry.

STEP 2 :: Cut a shape from craft foam.  The shape you cut should be smaller than the diameter of the peg doll base.

STEP 3 :: Glue your foam shape to the bottom of the peg doll and allow the glue to dry for at least an hour or two.

STEP 4 :: Have fun using your stamp!


Note: If you use water soluble glue, be careful washing your stamp.  I find it's best to clean these stamps by dampening a paper towel and gently wiping off ink residue.


4.2.18

tutorial :: a sweet valentine necklace

How many slams in an old screen door? 
Depends how loud you shut it. 
How many slices in a bread?  
Depends how thin you cut it. 
How much good inside a day? 
Depends how good you live 'em. 
How much love inside a friend? 
Depends how much you give 'em.
― Shel Silverstein


I adore Valentine's Day. Some people fuss that it's a holiday invented by greeting card and chocolate companies to part us from our money, but as far as I'm concerned... a holiday celebrating love + friendship? Hooray! When my older son started kindergarten and he had to make 20+ Valentine cards (one for each of his classmates), I was secretly thrilled.  The world can never have too many doily-bedecked, kindergartner-scrawled cards.  Now that my second son is in 2nd grade, we still go full-force into Valentine production every February, and this year we made the sweetest Valentine necklaces. Simple and perfect.  Just a small felt heart strung on a piece of embroidery floss -- "a heart on a string," if you will.



SUPPLIES
-- Wool felt
-- Embroidery floss
-- Fabric scissors
-- Needle which will accommodate embroidery floss

STEP 1 :: Use fabric scissors to cut small hearts from felt.  Our felt hearts are approx. 1 in. (25 mm) long, and we used traditional Valentine colors, but you could cut your hearts larger or smaller and in any rainbow of colors you please!


 STEP 2 :: Cut 15 in. (38 cm) lengths of embroidery floss.


STEP 3 :: Thread needle, string a heart onto each piece of floss, and pull through so that the ends of the floss are even.  Tie a knot just above the heart and then knot the ends of the floss together to create a necklace.


STEP 4 :: Try on a necklace and admire yourself in the mirror because you have good taste and are well accessorized. Keep one necklace for yourself and give the rest away so that everyone you know will be well accessorized, too.
xo mb


1.2.18

i carry your heart mitts :: knitting pattern



Dear Lovely Readers! It's finally February and time to re-post my favorite knitting pattern of all time (immodest to say, since I created the pattern, but I do love it so... hearts, valentines, soft colors, warm hands... love love love).

I have another knitting pattern to share with you very soon, plus a backlog of posts which will hopefully be rolling out like an avalanche over the course of this month.  Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy this pattern... And also, in case you missed it last week, I mentioned in a blog post that I am FINALLY on Instagram.  You can find me by name (Margaret Bloom) or my blog name (webloomhere).  See you there, or here, or someplace soon, I hope. xo


i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
-- ee cummings

The materials you need for these mitts are basic: worsted yarn plus some lace weight (or 2-3 plies separated from a length of 6-ply DMC embroidery floss).

Please note: for me, knitting is a calming meditation, but I don't find it relaxing to hold the tension between DPN's as I switch from needle to needle.  Hence these instructions are written for the mitts to be knit flat and then seamed up the side, however, this project may easily be converted to be knit in the round with DPN's.  Please feel free to convert it if that's your preference!



i carry your heart mitts

MATERIALS REQUIRED
For this project you will need worsted weight and lace weight yarn.  I knit two pairs of these mitts using Berrocco Ultra Alpaca and a third pair using Knit Picks Wool of the Andes (combined with a strand of Knit Picks Aloft for extra color and dimension).  For the embroidery, I combined one strand of Knit Picks Alpaca Cloud with a strand of Knit Picks Aloft.  If you don’t have lace weight yarn on hand, you might substitute 2-3 plies separated from a 6-ply strand of DMC embroidery floss.

NEEDLE SIZE
US size 7 (4.5mm)

STITCHES USED
Stockinette Stitch: knit (RS), purl (WS)
Ribbed Stitch 1: k3, p1 (RS)/ p3, k1 (WS)
Ribbed Stitch 2: k1, p1 (RS)/p1, k1 (WS)

GUAGE
9 st/14 rows = 2 in stockinette

FINISHED SIZE
3.25 (8 cm) wide (after seaming)
6.25 inches(16 cm)  long

NOTES
This pattern is designed to knit flat and seam up the side, however the pattern can easily be converted to knit with DPN’s in the round.  To knit in the round, CO 32 (to complete ribbing pattern) and proceed.



DIRECTIONS
CO 31 st (leave long tail for seaming)
Odd # rows 1-15: (k3, p1)* repeat until last 3 st, k3
Even # rows 2-16: (p3, k1)* repeat until last 3 st, p3

Odd # rows 17-35: k across row
Even # rows 18-36: p across row

Row 37: (k1, p1) repeat across row (ending on k st)
Row 38: (p1, k1) repeat across row (ending on p st)
Cast off in 1x1 ribbing pattern. Leave long tail for seaming.

placing markers to indicate the bottom tip of the heart


EMBROIDERY DIRECTIONS
First mitt: From left edge, count 8st. From bottom edge, count up 20 rows (or count up 4 rows from 1st row of stockinet section). Place a marker.  This marker indicates the bottom point of the heart.  You will find instructions for doing cross-stitch on hand knit fabric and a diagram for embroidering cross-stitch heart below.

Second mitt: From right edge, count 8st. From bottom edge, count up 20 rows (or count up 4 rows from 1st row of stockinet section). Place a marker.  This marker indicates the bottom point of the heart.  Use diagram for embroidering cross-stitch heart.  You will find instructions for doing cross-stitch on hand knit fabric and a diagram for embroidering cross-stitch heart below.

Note: if you are not sure regarding placement of markers to indicate bottom points of the hearts, please refer to above photo showing the markers.  

cross-stitch

CROSS STITCH 
Thread a tapestry needle with 2 strands of lace-weight yarn; you can use a strand of two different types of lace weight for various effects and texture, or two strands of the same type of yarn – you may also substitute 2-3 plies DMC embroidery floss.  Please refer to diagram for stitching the heart, plus instructions below and/or photo indicating method for cross-stitch on hand knit fabric.

The following instructions are from Knitted Embellishments by Nicky Epstein (Interweave Press, 1999):

For the best appearance, the top strand of all cross-stitches should be worked in the same direction.

Bring threaded needle out from back to front at lower left edge of the knitted stitch you want to cover.  Working from left to right, *insert the needle at the upper right edge of the same stitch and bring it back out at the lower edge of the adjacent stitch, directly below and in line with the insertion point.  Repeat from * to form one half of the X.  Then work from right to left in the same manner to work the other half of the cross-stitch.






SEAMING
Fold mitt in half so that 1x1 ribbing is across the top.  Thread tapestry needle with tail of yarn left over from binding off.  Sew edges together 1.5 inches (4 cm) using mattress stitch. Make a discreet knot and weave in end. Instructions for mattress stitch can be found here and here.

Thread tapestry needle with tail from casting on.  Sew up side of mitt from the bottom, until the opening for thumb is 1.75 inches (4.5 cm).  Make a discreet knot and weave in end.


* If you enjoyed this project, I hope you will post a photo of your own work on the Ravelry page here.

26.1.18

winter fruit

 

My mother died in June, and mostly I'm doing okay.  I miss her, but am happy she's no longer suffering.  And I feel strongly, in so many ways, that she's still with me.  When I encounter a dilemma, her voice emerges in my head offering sound suggestions.  Or I notice I'm doing something in a particular way, and remember that she is the one who taught me.

But there are hard days, too.

My mother loved fruit.  She always had a small container stashed in her bag full of grapes, watermelon cubes, an apple, an orange, a persimmon or bosc pear... These were her favorite snacks and she ate with great pleasure.  But no matter how much she relished every bite, she always offered to share...

Certain types of fruit are available all year round while others are available only for a few months during a particular season. One my mother's favorite fruits which first appeared in stores a few years ago was sumo-citrus -- a hybrid of satsuma tangerines and navel oranges.  The first year they appeared, this type of citrus could only be found in March + April; but now that the orchards have matured, sumos are available from January-May.  When they came back in season each year and I first spotted them, I would call my mother and tell her the happy news -- "they're back!" And so a few weeks ago, when sumos first appeared again, I reached for my phone...


There are stars up above,
so far away we only see their light
long, long after the star itself is gone.
And so it is with people that we loved --
their memories keep shining ever brightly
though their time with us is done.
But the stars that light up the darkest night,
these are the lights that guide us.
As we live our days, these are the ways we remember.

-- Hanah Senesh (translation by Jeffrey Klepper)

22.1.18

a new year


Hello! It's January 22rd, and I am finally managing to write a new year's post.  Every day I tell myself I will have time to sit down and write this post, but... you know... life.  Then there's the quandary.  Given the (ahem) fantastic time we've had here in the US in 2017, can I, with deepest sincerity, announce "Happy New Year"?  My inner Eeyore says, "nope."  The evil pestilence which has settled on this country doesn't seem to be going away anytime soon.  Midterm elections are coming up, and that may help mediate the situation, but my inner Eeyore is still feeling skeptical.  

Meanwhile, as balm for our souls, I greet you with a photo of Turkish Delight.  This is not Turkish Delight courtesy of the White Witch of Narnia... no!  It's from Miette, and the next time you're in San Francisco, I highly recommend you go there and buy some Turkish Delight for yourself (and caramels and sour grapefruit jellies and sweet little berry flavored lozenges from Italy... because that's what we bought). 


What else have we been up to since last we spoke?  The Winter Fairies! Have I not told you about the Winter Fairies?  When my older son was 3, he started a yearly winter solstice tradition of decorating the house with paper snowflakes, writing a note to the fairies, and setting it on the table with a plate of cookies, flowers and a candle.  In return, the fairies brought foil wrapped chocolates in the shape of ladybugs and a small toy.  When he was 10, my older son stopped writing notes to the fairies, but happily, at that point my younger son was ready to take up the task of welcoming the fairies into our home.  In years past, the fairies brought gifts such as carved wooden toys, books (about fairies, of course), and music boxes, but this year they outdid themselves -- they brought a magic wand which chimes when you tap it.  If the fairies didn't bring you a wand this year, don't fret because you can buy them HERE at Bella Luna Toys.

 

What else? I made a new years resolution which might interest you.  A few years ago I gave up making resolutions which fall into the category of self-improvement and resolved to watch more TV.  Really. I hardly watch TV at all, but was curious about particular shows on PBS and HBO, and that turned out to be a great resolution.  This year I resolved to become acquainted with and start using Instagram -- so there you go.  I've spent the past few days figuring out how it works, and think I'm finally ready to invite you to follow me (if you're inclined).  You can search for me by name (Margaret Bloom) or by my blog name (webloomhere).



And finally, hyacinths.  They are lined up along my kitchen window sill and my house smells sweet.

How has 2018 been so far for you?  Are you well?  I hope so. Maybe I will see you around Instagram.  Until next time... xo

18.12.17

paper gingerbread house


I promised my younger son that we would make a gingerbread house.  In anticipation, we got started on a less ambitious project -- a gingerbread house accordion book.


I've been wanting to try THIS tutorial on Susan Gaylord's book-craft blog for a long time; you can find it HERE.


NOTE: The link on Susan's blog to her printable candy-design sheet is broken, so I searched around and discovered coloring sheets with gingerbread house pieces on Jan Brett's blog. You can find them HERE.


We decided to add paper circle faces so our gingerbread folk look less like cookies and more like children who are dressed up as cookies... 


Then we doodled with a black sharpie to add more details, but I kept wishing we had one of THESE white, oil-based paint pens to add details which look like white sugar icing.

For more gingerbread fun, I highly recommend Elisa Kleven's Horribly Hungry Gingerbread Boy plus Jan Brett's Gingerbread Baby and Gingerbread Friends.  Are you planning to make a gingerbread house this winter?  Maybe you will make a paper one, too?!

15.12.17

holiday gift ideas 2017


I'm a little late posting a list of holiday gift ideas. Okay... very late. Hanukkah has already started and Christmas is only 10 days away, but if you're stuck in a fit of last-minute-desperation, maybe my ideas will be helpful (she announced optimistically).

As with last year's holiday gift list post, I have to do some disclaimer-ing; most of us will agree that the whole holiday gift-giving thing is overblown.  The omnipresent marketing and merchandising in our culture is dispiriting; additionally, many people (myself included) are focused on minimizing unnecessary possessions.  Still, it's fun to make or find the perfect gift for someone we love. And in my mind, giving or receiving books is never a bad thing; books are in a separate category i.e. you can never have too many of them, nor can they ever be considered clutter (the same goes for flowers, fun card games and craft projects).

So, here goes.

 

1) Instant DIY :: Are you looking for an instant DIY gift (and an especially perfect teacher gift)?  Grab some canning jars and some pebbles, then head to your local garden supply shop to buy narcissus, jonquil or hyacinth bulbs.  Put the pebbles in the jar, add a little bit of water, add a bulb to each jar and tie some festive cord or ribbon around the top. Done. (Just make sure to tell the recipient to put the jar on a windowsill and add some water when the level drops.)


2) Donations to Non-Profits :: As with last year, one of the most meaningful and important gifts you can give these days is a donation to a non-profit in the name of your favorite person.  My favorite non-profits are the ACLU, the Southern Poverty Law Center, Environmental Defense Fund, and the Violence Policy Center.

3) Tickets to a Performance or Membership to a Museum :: This year my older son wanted to continue our family tradition of seeing the San Francisco Ballet Nutcracker.  It's gorgeous (and if you cannot make it to San Francisco to see a performance, you can watch it on DVD). Maybe there's a concert, play or ballet performance you've been wanting to see?  A museum you've been wanting to visit? An ice-skating or hiking adventure? You get the idea...

4) For Teens and Grown-ups :: Paste Quarterly Magazine (in print!), Secret Marvels of the World (from Lonely Planet), A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms and The Hedge Knight (graphic novel), The Hound of Rowan: book one of the Tapestry Series (this is a recommendation courtesy of my older son -- he ADORES this series), The Encyclopedia of Early Earth (my favorite graphic novel ever), and Relish (another of my favorite graphic novels), Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout, Red Rising (What?! You haven't read it yet?), Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks (I read it this past summer while visiting friends on Martha's Vineyard), and The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater.  Also, if you happen to know anyone who likes to crochet, the book Lalylala's Beetles, Bugs and Butterflies is just a bit scrumptious.

Non-book items? Music by Carolina Chocolate Drops (they were awarded by the MacArthur Foundation this year!), Cards Against Humanity (Viewer Discretion is Advised), any coffee mug or teacup from Anthropologie (they're all gorgeous), and if you're looking for a nice gift for your favorite (but very particular) teenager -- my husband bought a really good set of headphones for our older son.  Also, I am rather jealous of anyone who might be receiving one of these kits from Purl -- especially this one and this one.

5) For Younger Children :: The toddler on my list is receiving a copy of Little Penguins by Cynthia Rylant/illustrated by Christian Robinson (for goodness sake, what's not to love?), and another delightful (if peculiar) toddler option is Kuma-Kuma Chan. We also adore Du Iz Tak.  


Non-book items? This Spirograph set, or this one, this Lego set, Kiwi Crate (my son is obsessed), Root & Star magazine, my son loves this craft-kit, these Pattern Play Blocks, the Crazy Faces card game, another card game called Set, Sleeping Queens, and anything by SmartGames.  Thanks to this book my son has become a master at origami, he is also a pro at cats-cradle, and he prefers this yo-yo for perfecting around-the-world (and every other yo-yo trick). 

6) When you are completely baffled and out of ideas :: Slippers.

For more ideas, I like Catherine Newman's suggestions on her blog Ben & Birdy, and Rachel Wolf's list on her blog Clean.

 

14.12.17

tutorial :: acorn necklace


A few weeks ago at a school craft fair, I saw people walking past wearing the sweetest necklaces -- acorns with golden caps.  I was trailing after my little son during the fair and so wasn't able to visit the table where students were proudly selling their work, but I was determined to create a few of these baubles at home with my son.


SUPPLIES
-- Acorns and caps
-- Gold paint & a paint brush
-- An electric drill and vise
-- Small screw-eyes
-- PVS glue
-- Yarn or string


 STEP 1 :: Remove caps from acorns, apply gold paint and allow to dry.


STEP 2 :: Glue the painted caps back onto the acorns and allow to dry.


STEP 3 :: Secure your acorns in a vise (please, please, please be careful of your fingers and secure your project in a vise when drilling) and use a very small bit to drill a hole down through the cap and into the acorn.

Note: I use vise jaw liner pads similar to these to protect the items I am securing -- otherwise, a tight vise will damage fragile items.  I have been told that, if you don't own vise jaw liner pads, you can use a washcloth to protect your work when using a vise.


STEP 4 :: Screw the screw-eyes into the drilled holes, cut lengths of cord, ribbon or yarn, and knot to desired length.


Longer pieces of yarn or ribbon will be good for wearing as necklaces, but tied on shorter pieces of cord, these acorns would look pretty on a Christmas tree.  And if you are as fond as I am of shiny gilded objects from nature, you might enjoy clicking HERE to have a look at my tutorial for golden walnut garlands.