cocoa purl

Chocolate Covered Misadventures (knitting, childrearing, surviving) of a Passable Mind

A Burst of…Something August 17, 2009

Filed under: crafts,Eco-friendly,kid's stuff — cocoapurl @ 3:07 am

So I had started out writing a long post about how ECSTATIC I was about how my baby girl is suddenly, inexplicably, sleeping through the night. I am not unaware of my extreme good fortune in this matter, nor do I wish to draw the ire of all those parents who are, at this moment, subsisting on three hours of sweet sleep at a time for months and months. So to those folks, I say, Sorry, Thanks, and Hang in There. And please don’t hate me, though I totally understand if you do.

Anyhoo, with this newfound sleep time I find my brain is working ever so much better. I’m experiencing sort of a craft renaissance with all my rediscovered energy. Strangely, though, I seem to be more attracted to my sewing machine than my knitting needles at the moment. (Or the laundry.)

I had been wanting to try to make the n0-pattern kid pants as described by soulemama in her book The Creative Family. I love this book – she makes it all look and sound so easy. And by it,  I mean be a wonderful and natural mama to her gorgeous brood, all while creating and sewing and cooking and looking beautiful in skirts she made herself. Meanwhile, I’m still wearing my PJs (its late enough to be drinking, let’s just leave it at that), my shirt has spit-up on it that I can smell but not find, and the TV is most assuredly on. Oh well.

In the case of the pants, it was remarkably easy – I’ve made four pairs of pants for Evie (mostly from my old pajama pants and maternity tees) and they are flipping adorable on her, if I do say so myself. Of course, she’d be flipping adorable in a flour sack. Besides the point.

It turns out that I like sewing a lot, certainly a lot more than I used to. I think I’ve only recently (like, yesterday) realized why – I like sewing without a pattern. More specifically, I hate sewing with a pattern. This would be fine, except I don’t really know how to sew without one – I’m not gifted with a spatial superpower of how things should be put together (unlike my hubby, who uses this talent on things like automobiles.Pfff. What a waste.) So I’m stumbling through, and practicing on sacrificial material (i.e. maternity tees, old ripped PJ pants) as I fly, quite literally, by the seat of my pants.

Sorry. Couldn’t help it.

I also made the felt toy cube from the book. I used regular craft felt (labeled as recycled from soda bottles – even polyester is ECO) and put a bell inside. I also used bamboo fiber to stuff – it has a bit more heft to it than the regular poly stuff, and makes me feel even more virtuously ECO. However, I do realize that the likelihood of this thing breaking down in a landfill is pretty much zero – oh, well. At least its not plastic/made in china/toxic. Evie’s not much interested yet, but I sure like it.

We went on a little road trip to Grandma’s last week, which inspired me to make a felt board for the Little Guy. I loved these when I was a kid – it was always the most fought over toy in kindergarten, and time won on it was precious. It could be my nostalgia talking, but I love this thing. LG is not as interested, but again, I like it. (I’m noticing a trend here.)

Making it was super easy – I bought an inexpensive canvas at the craft store, a yard of blue felt, and a bunch of different colors of foot square felt. I stretched the blue over the canvas and glued and stapled it in place on the back of the frame. We went about cutting out basic shapes from the felt, but there are some more fancy pieces that the hubby cut out (he’s generally talented in just about every manner artistic) like trucks, cars, and even a shark. That last one sort of eclipses my meager trapezoids and pedestrian rhombuses (rhombi?).

I was inspired by blynkenandnod on Etsy to create shapes to make letters, instead of the letters themselves – so clever. Mine aren’t nearly as pretty as hers, but they work.

I finished Evie’s Magic Slippers, just in time for her to outgrow them. Serves me right for making booties in August. They’re still adorable.

I also used my newfound sewing prowess to make my big guy a pair of pajama pants. Unfortunately, the only material I could find with sharks on it was flannel, but he loves them anyway (he’s gaga for sharks at the moment). Hopefully he won’t hulk out between now and, well a month from now (this is western NY, after all). I did manage to score some awesome universe material that was pricey, but I was sure send him over the moon. (Sorry again).  Turns out – meh – not so much. These days, if its not about, pertaining to, or related to sharks, its not on the radar. They’re still cute, and he wears them willingly – more than enough for me.

Next on the agenda: more pants for the munchkins, and perhaps a pair for myself. I also started some gift knitting on the QT, so no pictures on that. Suffice it to say, its from a CHART. Amazing what a few more hours of sleep can do for you.

Pictures to come!



I’m BACK March 10, 2009

Filed under: blog,crafts,knitting — cocoapurl @ 3:37 pm

My poor, poor blog. Its been highly neglected. In fact, I can’t think of a thing that’s been more ignored by me in recent weeks months, except for maybe the laundry. To its credit, the blog doesn’t make things stinky when ignored.

I’ve made more than my share of excuses, mostly to myself, as to why I haven’t been blogging. I could go through them, but methinks its sort of like beating a dead, boring horse. Let me just say SORRY, and we can close this boring chapter in the life of a blog and move on to more important interesting things like:


Or more specifically, baby (sorry to freak you out, Mom). This one is 7 months along (hmm, duration strangely similar to absence of blogging), and kicking like a soccer champ. She’s a she, and somehow I thought She would be quiet and gentle compared to LG. Oh, so wrong. The upside is that I haven’t eaten my way to a Tom Wahl’s (local burger joint) customer appreciation plaque, as I almost did last time round. She just doesn’t seem as HUNGRY/RAVENOUS, and I am therefore not nearly as keen on eating every hour and a half.

Everything is going swimmingly (knock wood) and I’m just passing the cute pregnant lady phase and entering into the nervous-glances (as in “My God – she could deliver any minute!”) phase. And I’m nesting. In a HUGE way. Which leads me to my next segue:


My knitting mojo is back with a vengeance. Thanks to my lovely chiropractor, my hands are fully functional and not numb this time around, and I’ve had a full outlet for my nesting tendencies. In fact, I think knitting is a much better alternative to, say, washing the kitchen cabinets. Or scrubbing the bathroom floor. Though the bathroom actually needed it, making a baby sweater is WAY more satisfying.

First, I made this:

Easy Baby Hoodie

Easy Baby Hoodie

  • Pattern: Easy Baby Cardigan, by Diane Soucy (link to Ravelry)
  • Yarn: Gedifra Florida, pink and purple
  • Needles: KnitPicks size 5

Thanks so much to Denise for getting me past the DUH! moment of how to make just the sleeves striped, where to start, and not laughing at me for being a dummy.

I also made this:

Hooded Baby Blanket

Hooded Baby Blanket

Pattern: Hooded Baby Blanket by Nikol Lohr, The Thrifty Knitter

Yarn: Mission Falls 1824 Superwash Wool, 7 skeins

Needles: Maybe 8’s? Can’t remember…

For my new cutie-patootie nephew Maximo Wilbia Sisson! Now, if I can just find thier address…or phone number…maybe poor Max will have his blanket before summer. (more…)


Those Lazy, Crazy, Hazy, Days… July 29, 2008

Filed under: adventures,crafts,knitting,LG — cocoapurl @ 8:06 pm

Emphasis on LAZY. Not that we haven’t done a lot, but apparently, blogging isn’t part of what I call our newfound “lifestyle productivity”. You know -knitting, spinning, swimming, watching fireflies and hummingbirds, going ’round the house naked (LG, who quite enjoys it). Nothing productive in the true sense – we haven’t been fretting over the state of the economy, doing much housework, or even much real cooking (unless baking counts). We may be kicked out of the adult club for this summer, truly. Especially if there are any surprise house inspections.

Let me ‘splain. ….No, no – there is too much – let me sum up. (We just watched the Princess Bride again for the zilliionth time. Love that movie.)

  • I got a wheel.
My new Lovely Lendrum

My new Lovely Lendrum

And many ibuprofen later, I’m coming up for air. Seriously. I’m not sure I even showered those first few days. What sort of fiber freak gets so sore from spinning she actually ices her wrist?

YO! That would be me.

I’m figuring things out, little by little (namely, DON’T buy felted merino, no matter how pretty it is, and DON’T spin for two days straight unless you’ve trained for it) and am actually making something that looks like yarn – how about that?

This is a Lendrum DT (stands for double treadle) – its an upright wheel, as opposed to the Cinderella-style saxony wheel that most people think of. And not only does it fold, but it fits just nicely in this little corner next to the window. And the air conditioner (hey, if I’m crazy enough to work with wool in July, then I plan accordingly).

After much hemming and hawing and driving all over to try every flavor of wheel I could think of, I bought this one from the lovely Louise from the Marion Sheep and Wool shop (not ten minutes away from my house, I kid you not).

I’ve spun a LOT. At least, to me…

  • LG went to his first 4th of July Parade/fireworks.

He didn’t much care for the parade at first.

And then…the folks on the floats started to throw candy.



Instant convert.

  • LG got a big boy bed.

And since we’ve been talking a lot about how big boys also go on the potty, and have heard this is the best way to get them to learn:

The Pants-less days of Summer

The Pants-less days of Summer

It hasn’t worked yet, but we’ll keep on trying until A) He’s potty-trained, B) it gets too cold, or C) the neighbors start to complain.

  • We went to the Air Show.

BG was VERY excited. LG was game to go along, as long as he had earplugs. (We also may or may not have bribed him with a toy plane.)

And this was the helicopter used in the series Airwolf...

"And this was the helicopter used in the series "Airwolf"..."

Oooh, look! A tiny sliver of plane!

Oooh, look! A tiny sliver of plane!

Commiserating on who can make the best plane noises

Commiserating on who can make the best plane noises

My boys on the big plane - my photomerge experiment

My boys on the big plane - my photomerge experiment

Stick a fork in him...

Stick a fork in him

  • We’ve also been learning all about expressing our emotions.

  • I’ve been doing some knitting.

The hat is the Republic Hat (free pattern on Ravelry), made with my first ever handspun. Spindle spun, no less. I can’t quite decide if I love it or if it looks like a Redskin’s mascot threw up. On my head.

The dinosaur is Norbert from – I made this for my dinosaur-lovin’ nephew for his birthday. Knit up two weeks in advance, check. Assembled, check. Double-check on his birthdate…


Sorry DW – this one’s going to be late. Your Aunt C has a mental deficit when it comes to dates.

The end.



File Under: What Was I Thinking? June 9, 2008

Filed under: adventures,crafts,knitting,LG — cocoapurl @ 9:21 pm

Ever get caught up in the moment? Your heart pounds with anticipation, excitement, and a touch of fear, and that inner voice tells you, “Go for it! What have you got to lose?”

I’m old enough that I ought to take this voice as a warning. Otherwise, I end up with this:

What Was I Thinking?

Maybe it was a reaction to the giddiness of the summer’s first pedicure. Maybe it was the acetone fumes. It seemed so cute and summery in the bottle, and yet somehow, on me, it’s like I have caution cones on my feet. The photo doesn’t do it justice. They glow in the dark, or it sure seems that way.

Other than my personal fashion setbacks, I’ve had a fabulous week in knitting news. I FINALLY finished the Central Park Hoodie for Tori:

Central Park Hoodie

Needles: US 7 / 4.5 mm
Yarn: Cascade Ecological Wool
How much? 2.5 skeins = 1195.0 yards (1092.7m)
Colorway = 8063 (“Latte”)

I was pretty darn proud of myself. My first REAL sweater (not counting Green Gables, or the Baby Kimono Sweater, or Dean’s Sweater that Shall not Be Named. Okay, maybe not my FIRST FIRST sweater, but first fully successful sweater), with set-in sleeves (not fun), picked up button band (not fun until I found out the whole 3 out of 4 rule, then it was a snap!), and its not gimoungous. Its a little small for me, but that’s okay, because its for Tori, who is about half my size. I sure hope it fits her, or maybe it could be a cozy, lounge-about sweater. How’s that for rationalization?

A bit part of the CPH’s success was the pattern itself – it was so well-written, even I could follow it. The only modifications I made were to make it a couple of inches longer in both the body and the sleeves, and no buttonholes – I’ll add loops if she wants some, but am just praying she doesn’t want a zipper. I don’t want to push my luck.

Central Park Hoodie

In other knitting/fiber news, I took my first spinning class last Saturday, at Village Yarn and Fiber Shop in East Rochester. I was ridiculously excited to go, so much so that I was EARLY (and I’m NEVER early. Ask anyone). I’ve been thinking about it ever since going to my first Finger Lakes Fiber Festival last fall and seeing all that glorious roving and the resulting handspun. It wasn’t so much that I was interested in the process, in all honestly, as the product – sooo pretty. Not only that, but its an economical way to feed a yarn habit – you can get a pound of gorgeous handpainted roving for 30 bucks. That’s nearly a sweater!

There is a catch, though – I’ve never been one known for my coordination. I can hardly carry on a conversation and drive a car, much less treadle with my feet while my hands are supposed to be doing something different. And if I’m expected to talk and behave like a normal social creature all the while – invitation to disaster.

So it was a mix of excitement and trepidation that I went to my first class, and sure enough, my hands and feet steadfastly refused to listen to instruction (Deb’s or mine) for the first hour or so. The Louet wheel I was using was cooperative enough, but I couldn’t seem to avoid the mega-twisties (for lack of a better description), in which the yarn formed little twists that stuck out like dreadlocks all over the bobbin. So while most everyone else had lovely, delicately twisted yarn with just enough variation to look organic and homey, and I had dread yarn. NOT the goal.

I’ve come to terms with my lack of coordination many many moons ago (somewhere about the time when, despite my best efforts, I couldn’t hit the damn baseball even though it was sitting motionless on top of the T) but this was upsetting, as I started to get the feeling that I could REALLY like spinning. I LIKED feeling the wool in my fingers, treadling barefoot (Deb assured me that it counted as aerobic exercise, and politely ignored my garish toenails) and watching it literally and magically transform into yarn.

Just about the point where I resigned myself to the fact that it was going to take me a LOT longer than my classmates to get it (“Do you have a remedial spinning class?”), Deb told me to adjust my tension a bit (the little doojiggy in front of the orifice).

{Cue Hallelujah chorus}

Suddenly, wonderful, thin, even yarn started coming out of my hands. I can’t describe how cool it was – clearly, I’m easily amused, but it was just so ….COOL. I had a few hiccups whenever I stopped to get more roving, and had to remind myself to breathe, but I DID it. The downside is that when I went to ply, it meant I had to ply my Bob Marley single with my heavenly, even single, but that’s okay. I like to think its organic.

My first handspun!

So I’m now thinking about a wheel of my own. Ahh, but money is always the issue – these things are NOT cheap, unfortunately (how do I always DO this? Why can’t I come up with cheap hobbies?). Since bake sales or a “Buy Christye a Wheel” walk-a-thon are probably out of the question, I started to eyeball the giant kitty litter bucket full of change we have in our closet. I was thinking MAYBE fifty bucks out of it, and that would be a great start, like found money, right? Nick and I took two coffee cans worth to Wegmans this morning (they have one of those Coinstar machines that you just dump it into) and we walked out with $150. Dollars. I guess its a good thing I never tried to guess the M&Ms in the jar or anything, because I’m apparently lousy at it. But free money! Its a sign – the wheel will be mine.

The Louet is okay, but I’ve read that you should try as many wheels as you can before you buy. I’ve been scouting eBay and craigslist too, just in case I can score a bargain.

I’ve also been threatening to have a yard sale for awhile – this seems as worthy a goal to clean out my clutter, and our Scoop Away bucket of change, as any.

Cursed Koigu

My precious Koigu yarn, so pretty and yet so cursed, has finally agreed to be knitted into a sock pattern. One that fits my foot. I must have started and ripped and started again 6 times. First with one pattern – didn’t like it with the yarn. Then with another, and another. Then finally a good pattern (Jaywalker)- but I got all the way to the heel flap before I realized it was TOO SMALL – I couldn’t even get it over my foot. Finally the right pattern/needle combo: There’s a reason why Jaywalker is such a hit. It really shows the colors to their advantage, but is simple enough to warrant not-too-much concentration. Good for watching “Lost” or to distract from “War“.

In Nick news, he finally worked up the courage to go through the sprinkler.

Nick and the Sprinkler

Nick and the Sprinkler

Wet Boy

I miss the elbow dimples, but what a little man he is. A cheeky monkey, too.



Procrastination+Desperation = Craft! November 29, 2007

Filed under: crafts,kid's stuff — cocoapurl @ 6:55 pm

I did it again. Instead of working on the three web sites I should be working on, I’m goofing off. Seriously, this has to stop. I’m on a canvas moratorium for the foreseeable future. Really.

Nick the Race Car Driver

Nick the Racecar Driver. He’s not three yet, but I thought 2.6 would look weird.

This was another test, this one with a coat of black paint on the canvas that I let dry for about 24 hours before painting over it. I was originally going to sand it after it dried to give it a neat color/texture. I still might, but only in the background. I like the way the red didn’t quite cover the black (though the blue did – I SHOULD have known that. Damn color theory.) The only bummer is that it really doesn’t “go” with the other one I did because the colors are so much more muted. The boy likes them, though. He keeps asking when we are going to hang his paintings.

Maybe we should do an opening. LG loves to serve hors’devours – he’s always bringing me “cheese” (refrigerator magnets) on “crackers” (potholders).

(Sorry about butchering the spelling of the small snack foods served before meals – apparently WordPress doesn’t know how to spell it either.)



A Great Excuse November 27, 2007

Filed under: crafts,kid's stuff — cocoapurl @ 5:19 pm

Christmas, and surrounding holidays, are a terrific excuse to justify all sorts of craft projects that ordinarily my inner voice would be all over me for:

IV: It’s yet ANOTHER project, don’t you have enough started ALREADY? Besides, isn’t there dishes/laundry/grading to be done?

Me: Quiet, you – It’s for a Christmas present.

IV: Noooooooo…..

My inner voice fades out in a Wizard of Oz “I’m melting” sort of way – gifting is my guilty concsience’s kryptonite.

I’ve had it in my head for awhile that I wanted to try and paint something for Nick’s room – originally, it was going to be a mural, but the thought of painting over it eventually was not compelling. So I decided instead to do an actual PAINTING, on canvas and everything. BG, ever the voice of reason, suggested I get some “practice” in first – a couple small canvases, a few tubes of acrylic and moi.

Five hours later:

Nick’s Construction

Once it dries, I’ll paint “Nick’s Construction” on the door. He told me once that he was going to work – when I asked what his job was, he said, “Dump Truck”.

Disclaimer: I completely ripped off the wonderful artist that does the Big/Little, Yummy/Yucky books – I haven’t really found a style of my own yet, and after all, this was just practice….Shut UP, conscience!

You know where this is going: I could make gifts with this new trick I can do! To the art store!



Off the Sugar Wagon November 9, 2007

Filed under: adventures,crafts,kid's stuff,LG — cocoapurl @ 10:38 pm

Or is it on? I can never remember.

Even though there was a distinct possibility of refusal, I was determined to make LG’s Halloween costume again this year. There was a tiny snag, in that every time I asked him what he wanted to be, he replied, firmly, “A pumpkin”. Not that I have anything against pumpkins, but part of me was hoping for something, well, a little more fun. Besides, I had no illusions that he would keep a pumpkin costume (you know, the ones that basically turn you into a giant beanbag) on for more than 30 seconds.

So LG and I were off to the fabric store to buy supplies. After browsing through pattern catalogs, I became aware of the fact that only two sets of people are apparently supposed to wear pumpkin costumes: toddlers and adults. This presented a problem for my guy – as he is currently wearing a 5/6, there were no sizes for KIDS. What’s a parent of a monster-sized toddler to do? All the kids costumes were all wrong – he doesn’t care about Superman or Spiderman – his interests range more along the lines of Elmo and Thomas the Train. But those don’t come in 5/6.

As I began to resign myself to a “Bob the Builder” plan B (overalls, plaid shirt, a hard hat and we’re done!) that I knew he wouldn’t really be into, we came across costumes for dogs. Specifically, a hot dog. Eureka!

A few yards of yellow, red and tan polartec later:

Hot Dog Bite

Mmm, hot dog boy.
In typical fashion, I completely winged the entire thing – I made a tube for the body, basically like a hot dog tube dress. To this, I attached a stuffed “mustard” section through a whole bunch of hook and eye’s (turns out iron on velcro – or iron on anything – and polartec is not a good idea. It returns to its plastic origins from whence it came.) Then I made two buns that attached to his back with velcro (this I could actually sew on). The flaw in my plan is evidenced by the oh so subtle string that’s tied around his waist – the “buns” were too big and too heavy and flopped around enough to actually throw him off balance. This is what I get for putting the thing together without my structural engineer/consultant (BG).

Suprisingly, he not only wore it, he kept it on for the whole block – the string self-destructed, and one bun, then another, eventually came off (actually, I took off the second one as he was decidedly off balance – a big problem with the steep neighborhood driveways). Turns out, he really likes trick-or-treating; I had thought we would visit our closest neighbors, say hi, and then head back home to hand out candy, as we did last year. Instead, after each house, he would say, “a couple more houses” – we even went to the resident scary house, complete with music, black lights, skeletons, and various spectres peeking out from the bushes and windows. LG was not fazed in his quest for candy.

We eventually arrived home, at which point he could have one piece of candy. Of course, his choices were sort of limited, being lactose intolerant (though we did give him one tiny candy bar earlier in the evening, and paid for it later). The lollipops, luckily, were the most fascinating, so we let him have one. Being his first, he didn’t really get the idea of sucking on it – he’s more of an instant gratification eater. Before we knew it, he had sucked on it hard enough and long enough that the whole thing ended up in his mouth, soggy stick end and all. BG did some extraction before it got out of hand.

First Lollipop Lolly Consult

First lollipop…Daddy gives a needed lollipop consultation.

Suprisingly (given his family history), he didn’t ask for his basket of candy again – maybe he will get the “I’ll eat it if its there, but otherwise no thanks” approach to sugar that his father has, rather than the “Give me the sugar NOW before you get hurt” problem that I seem to have. I’ve gotten a lot better over the years – I try desperately to avoid refined sugar, but definitely partake of pretty much all other kinds. Luckily, candy has never really been my thing, but it helps to not be able to eat 90% of it.

I know, I’m a mean mother, depriving my son of the sugar legacy he is entitled to. Maybe at least I can postpone it for a little while longer – at least, until next Halloween.