A Surprise, A Sleepover and A Separation

The Surprise:

My finished secret project: A crochet Gromit for my Sweet Prince as an Anniversary gift (15 years married last Thursday!).

crochet gromit

He said he wanted it life-size (still not sure if he was joking) so I used super-bulky yarn and I think it turned out pretty close (used almost a full bag of stuffing!). He’s definitely bigger than our cats.

I got the free pattern here: http://amiamour.com/2010/05/gromit-amigurumi-pattern/ but I followed this Ravelry project notes to make the spherical eyes and longer nose and ears: http://www.ravelry.com/projects/Clelixedda/gromit-amigurumi

The Sleepover:

Our Chicken Integration Project is officially a success! Gloria wanted to go into the coop with Alberta and Frances the other night, and they didn’t seem too freaked out about it (they’ve been hanging out in very close proximity all week, and the rainy nights have been leaking into her little coop), so I thought we’d give it another try. Of course, once she realized she was locked in, she tried her best to get out, and paced around until almost dark, but I thought, hey, she is a chicken, let’s see if those roosting instincts kick in. And lo and behold, just before complete nightfall, she went up into the house and settled into the largest nesting box (the same size as her current one). Hooray! Then, the next day, I left her old coop closed up, hoping that she’d follow her habit she developed after Cleo’s passing (however annoying) of laying her egg where she’s been sleeping. And she did! Yay!


The next night, while the girls were all slightly mystified that this sleepover thing is turning into a permanent roommate situation, there were no serious complaints, and Gloria went right up into the house when it started to get dark.


Life is going to be so much simpler for all of us now, and so much better for Gloria. 🙂


The Separation:

Don’t worry, it’s a good one, if a little bitter sweet. While the chickens were moving in together, my kids were officially moving into their own bedrooms. They’ve been using the same room since Mae was born, and 7 years later, even though they are closer than ever, they have finally decided they would like their own spaces. So, our house has been in upheaval moving furniture around, building new furniture, reorganizing closets, etc… I’m very happy for them, and proud of their little independent spirits, but also a little sad that they are growing up so fast! The question now is… what are we going to do with all their door/hall decorations we’ve accumulated over the years?


touchet crochet! … and a death in the family

I was able to finish the Glaceon toy entirely in crochet! The craft gloves I purchased seemed to help my wrists, and I also gave up some of the tightness of the gauge to help my hands relax more. It’s not perfect, but I think it turned out pretty well, and Jonah is happy with it. (except for the curling of the ear flaps, but we are fixing that with blocking tonight.)

crochet glaceon

I also crocheted Mae’s Pokemon this weekend: Mew (pattern here). It went much faster, mostly because it’s all one color, and had less pieces to assemble. I think it turned out pretty cute, and the Suncatcher eyes I used really brought the face to life.

mew crochet

My biggest motivation for finishing these toys this weekend was as a comfort and distraction for my kids, because on Friday we discovered that one of our guinea pigs (Alice, the red and black one) was very sick. We took her to the vet and she was diagnosed with some sort of mass in her abdomen (possibly an ovarian cyst or a tumor). They couldn’t tell for sure without x-rays, but either case would require an operation, and guinea pigs don’t do well under anesthetic in general. The kids were very sad, Mae especially, since it’s her guinea pig, but she wasn’t ready to put her to sleep right away, so we brought her home to see how she would do. Guinea pigs can hide their illness for a long time, but once they start showing symptoms, and not eating, they deteriorate very quickly, so we hoped she wouldn’t suffer much longer, but pass away in peace at home. During the last couple of days it was hard to watch her grow weaker, but it seemed like a very sweet time for her and her sister, cuddling almost constantly, with Tornado grooming her and comforting her, so I’m not regretting the decision. She wasn’t acting like she was in pain, so I believe that this was the best, most natural process for them, and that it might also help Tornado understand the loss of her sister. Today, Alice left our lives in peace, laying down quietly most of the morning, and eventually slipping into to her final sleep. Tornado left her alone at the end, interestingly enough, as if she knew her time was close and she was ready to let her go, and now that Alice is gone, she seems much more active, wandering around and eating and drinking more normally than she had been the last couple of days as she spent most of her time with Alice. It’s as if she feels some relief after this watching and waiting time, or maybe I’m just projecting my own emotions on her. The kids, in their turn, were amazingly sweet and brave. Before, they had not wanted to talk about her dying, and said that they didn’t want to bury her, as they have sad memories of helping to bury our dog 2 years ago and sharing stories around her grave, so I wasn’t sure if I should wait until they got home to do it, but decided that I wanted to give them one last chance to say goodbye. So I put her body in a sweet little shoe box of Mae’s, and wrote her name in gold sharpie on it, and told the kids they could write things on it for her if they wanted to. I tried to tell them that they didn’t have to do any of this, but part of what it means to be a pet owner is being brave enough to talk about and think about what you’re going to do when they die. And they really rallied, even through their tears. They got excited about decorating her shoe box, and also a rock to put on top of her grave, and put all the effort they could into helping to bury her. I wasn’t going to push them to say anything after we buried her, but Jonah asked if they could, so we all talked about what we remembered about her. Once again, Mae got teary talking about Alice and Tornado playing tug-of-war with carrots, but she was so very brave to do it anyway.

guinea pig funeral

guinea pig funerl

I really have some pretty amazing kids, who are learning some tough things about life. Pets are really great to have around, but eventually you have to say goodbye. But they are still worth it for all the joy they bring to our lives and what they can teach us about life. Thank you for the lessons you taught me, Alice, including the true merit of a dandelion, and how to die gracefully with your loved ones. Rest in peace in fields of dandelions forever, sweet little guinea pig.


Chloe Hearts Pixie

My niece Chloe’s woodland birthday party was a great success! She absolutely loved her Pixie doll (now named Princess Sparkle) and the pink poodle (Princess Doggy), and she and Mae had a blast playing with their dollies together. They also looked adorable and cool and cozy in their matching hand-made dresses from my super-talented sister. They didn’t even plan to wear them on the same day!


girls-walking girls-in-netgirls-from-backknitted pixie dolls

And check out these gorgeous butterfly wings my sister made for all of the girls! (the boys got bat wings) She’s thinking of selling them someday soon… so patent pending 🙂 … they are so beautiful and comfy, the kids loved wearing them all day long!

girls butterfly wings costume girls butterfly wings costume

Mae’s 6th Birthday… and Pixie finally gets to come out of hiding…

It was an absolutely gorgeous day at our local amusement park, and I can’t believe my baby girl is 6 now! Every minute of all of my work on the Pixie Moon knitted doll was worth it the moment I saw the look on her face when she opened it. She was literally speechless for about 30 seconds, and I think she’s almost as in love with her as I am. It was so fun to tuck them into bed tonight together, instead of hiding Pixie under my bed once again.

My sweet delightful girl was also not to be left out of making and decorating her own cake. She’s been wanting to try making candied flowers for awhile, but the recipe we had sounded quite elaborate and time consuming, so we just picked and washed some rose petals, assembled them with frosting, and sprinkled them with sugar. I thought the other kids would think it was too weird to eat them, but they were quite the hit! Next time they want a snack, I can just send them outside to nibble on the roses. 🙂


Pixie’s birthday wardrobe is done!

I even did a little sewing, which I was very scared about, and had been putting off because of that. My last real sewing project was in high school home-ec when I made an apron. I learned to use a sewing machine then, although I don’t have one now, but I figured: “How hard can it be to sew these little outfits by hand?” I started with a simple skirt to go with her original outfit, and I had a bit of a rough go at first trying to sew in a straight line, but then I realized out I could draw the line first with a washable marker, and that helped a lot. It’s not perfect, but it looks like a real skirt! With real seams and hems! I’m so excited!

pixie knitted doll hand-sewn skirt image

Then, I used these patterns from Claire Garland:


pixie knitted doll with sundress, capri pants and mary jane shoes image

I made the sundress and the shoes from the patterns, but the capri pants are just a lengthened version of the original shorts pattern. I used Drops merino held double with a kid silk that Mae HAD to get at the yarn store because it was SO soft. It was very thin, I knew there was no way she would be able to work with it on her own, and I was right, so I took it over to work with on this project. But she was right also, it makes the pants SO much softer. And when I turned them inside out to sew in the ends, I liked the purl side a lot better. It looks a bit like “jeggings” this way. After finishing the dress and pants, I realized we had way too much purple going on, so she needed something very different for the shoes… green was the winner!

pixie knitted doll mary jane shoes image

I really wanted to make the cardigan too, and I will for my niece’s doll, but Mae refuses to wear sweaters, so in the spirit of mini-me, I made her a poncho instead, with the same yarn I used on Mae’s Christmas poncho. I LOVE how the stripes turned out so perfectly! I didn’t plan it that way, I swear, except to start with the purple, since her poncho has a purple collar.

pixie knitted doll with poncho, capri pants and mary jane shoes image

And then I made a simple flannel nightgown. I’m not sure it’s my best work, but it’ll do for now, and maybe I’ll make her something more sophisticated for Christmas (perhaps with a robe and slippers?)

pixie knitted doll with flannel pillowcase nightgown image

I recruited Jonah to try out dressing her. He had a lot of fun, and reported that he thought Mae would love her. He was also inspired to introduce Pixie and her cat to the Hobbes tiger I made for him 2 Christmases ago. It looks like they are all going to be great friends!

pixie knitted doll, cat, and hobbes tiger

pixie’s knitted heidi dress and cat

Mae’s surprise knitted birthday doll’s wardrobe is expanding. I absolutely LOVE this pattern: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/pixies-favourite-heidi-dress-and-little-red-winter-hood

Claire Garland is a knitting genius, even if she does have quite a few small errors in her patterns, I don’t care, geniuses are like that sometimes… they can’t be bothered with the details.

And now Pixie has a friend as well… modeled after our sweet Lola cat. This pattern can be found in this book (I borrowed it from the library) : Knit and Purl Pets

The cats love her too, and the white pillow they are sitting against in the photos was made by Mae. 🙂

In chicken land (was that what this blog was supposed to be all about?) we are all loving the warmer weather and longer days. It still surprises me how much the hens enjoy sitting with us on the hammock. They really can’t stand more than a quick pet when they’re running around the yard, but on the hammock they let us pet and hug them to the contentment of all. Cleo almost fell asleep the other evening while Mae was rocking us, cuddled up against my side. I wonder why the difference? Is it perhaps because we are at eye level, instead of descending from above… like a potential predator? And maybe because it feels like we are roosting with them, fellow chickens swaying together in the branches of a tree?

knitted birthday doll

I have been obsessed with this project the last two weeks… a knitted doll for my daughter’s birthday from this pattern,

Pixie – new knitted doll

: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/pixie—new-knitted-doll

I LOVE how she turned out, and I can’t wait to make a bunch of clothes for her wardrobe!

pixie moon new knitted doll from Claire Garland

Here’s a link to my Ravelry page for my notes about it:


free range easter eggs

This was our first year making Easter eggs from our backyard chicken eggs. Since they are fresh, we steam cooked them, hearing that this makes them easier to peel. We shall see.


I was also uncertain how their brown color would look with the Easter egg dyes applied. We totally LOVED the colors we got. Such rich jewel tones, I’m never going back to plain old pastel white eggs. The kids didn’t even want to add any extra decorations to them (ie. stickers) they liked how they turned out so much. We did get our colors leftover from our neighbors, who had put a bit of glitter in, and lot’s of vinegar, so that helped as well.

brown free range colored easter eggs

Then, while the kids weren’t watching, I sneaked all of the tiny knitted animals I made for them into the basket to see how they looked. I really like how they turned out. I made chickens and baby bunnies, but then I had to branch out to a few more exotic animals: a lion, penguin & polar bear.


Of course, Lola always gets a sneak peek of everything I make for the kids.

cat peeking in easter basket

It was such a gorgeous day today… 75 degrees, sunny and warm. This never happens here on Easter weekend. Usually it’s cold and rainy. So we had to celebrate by breaking out the hammock in the backyard. The hens even enjoyed sitting on it with us.


Happy Easter To All!!!

hexipuff madness

I went a little crazy designing and embroidering hexipuffs for my Beekeeper’s Quilt this week, so I wanted to add these patterns to my growing collection. Feel free to use them and customize them as desired! First off, the bees. I couldn’t decide which pattern I liked best, and the kids had differing opinions, so I did up both of them, and put them on my yummiest looking hand-painted lavender yarn puffs. These were inspired by Laura Rittenhouse’s bee photos, so there you go Laura.. your bees have now been immortalized into my quilt!

bee hexipuff pattern

Then I had to do our chickens how they looked as chicks:

hexipuff pattern chicks

Then I did one of our cockerels, how they would have looked as full grown barred rock roosters, and added him to my chicken collection. I used thinner black yarn on top of a white background to achieve the speckled look.

hexipuff patterns chickens

Then I did the guinea pigs:

guinea pigs hexipuff

and the kids:

kids hexipuff pattern

and our chocolate lab of 11 years:

hexipuff pattern dog chocolate lab puppy

and Mae really wanted me to do her hibernating wooly bear caterpillar (at least we hope it’s hibernating).


So here are all of the hexipuffs I’ve embroidered so far:


And when I tie them all together I’ll probably scatter them around like this. I’m up to 63 hexipuffs now!

beekeeper quilt hexipuffs

Here are the embroidery charts for anyone interested. Notes: I added my ideal Cleo chick pattern, with an additional medium brown shade, which I didn’t have at the time. And the larger bee should be embroidered with the hexipuff upside down if you want it to come out centered: