Saturday, December 28, 2013

Merry Christmas!

I don't feel at all late extending a Merry Christmas to you! After all, the 12 days of Christmas run from December 25 through January 6 (Epiphany). So that makes me right on time, for once! I hope you and yours enjoyed the holidays. Thanks so much for visiting me over here at The Domina. I love reading your comments - keep them coming!

I can't wait to share more of my art adventures with you next year! 

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Year in Socks

In case you didn't already know it, I'm a pretty dedicated knitter. Socks are my favorite things to knit. I always have a pair of socks in progess. I even knit socks in while in labor (until I couldn't hold my hands still enough!) So I guess I like to knit socks. A lot. Don't believe me? Take a look:

Not as many as some previous years, especially if you figure that two pairs were baby socks, but when you figure it's about 350 yards of yarn per adult-sized pair....that's about a mile of yarn! 

If you don't have a pair of hand knit socks, do whatever it takes to get some! They fit perfectly, are so warm and cozy, and wear like iron. My oldest pair is 10 years old, and have only been darned once. Wool is amazing stuff - it absorbs up to 30% of its weight in moisture without feeling damp, so it keeps you warm even when wet. It self-extinguishes if it catches fire. The natural crimp (or curliness) of the fibers create bulk and loft which trap air, making it an excellent insulator. Wool is elastic and resists wrinkles. It's 15x more durable than cotton. It's anti-microbial and hypoallergenic.

His sweater is waiting to become YOUR sweater!

And it felts....remember that sweater you threw in the washing machine and it shrunk into Barbie-sized apparel? Yeah, felting is simple the cuticles of the fibers locking onto each tighter and tighter as the wool is agitated. But this isn't a bad thing (unless you did it to your favorite sweater). Felted wool is very dense and warm - great for mittens, slippers, hot pads, and more. And because knitting that's been felted won't unravel, go ahead and cut up that mini-sweater and make something new and wonderful with it! I made some slippers from a thrifted sweater that I intentionally felted (just wash with HOT water with your next load of towels or jeans....and throw it in the dryer, too. The more abuse, the better it felts).


As much as I love wool, I usually choose "superwash" wools when I knit socks. This means the wool has been treated so it won't felt. I don't need to worry about my socks shrinking in the wash! 

And just how many socks have I knit?? I lost count, but I rounded up almost every pair I have in the house for you to see (I know 2 pairs are missing from this pic). About a dozen more have been given away as gifts. The center blue/gray striped pair is the first pair I ever knit, 10 years ago. 

(Before you go crazy, these aren't ALL mine. Five of these are my husband's. He loves hand knit socks, too!) 

Are you convinced hand knit socks are the way to go? Try making your own - it's really not that hard! Everything you need to know is online and FREE! Happy knitting!

Monday, December 9, 2013

I love Handel's "Messiah" (which I will forever pronounce "Mezziah," thank you, Dutch ancestors) - how can you listen to it and not be moved and inspired? 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Sharpie Sunday

Another drawing to go with the Song of Solomon series. Enjoy!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Praise God!

It's Friday! Thanking God today for warm weather, sunshine, a house full of music, great news from a friend, and a finished school week. The kids are excited about that, too!

I'm considering having this piece printed as notecards - what do you think?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Creating Art with Toddlers

I thought I'd talk a little bit more about making art with children, only this time focusing on the wee ones. I doubt there is anything more creative and energetic as a toddler! Their little minds are full of wonder and the excitement of discovering this wide world for the first time. My children are past this stage now, but I remember getting surprising questions like "Do fish have tongues?" And you know, I had to look that one up! ha! :)

Painting or drawing with a tot is a great way to help them learn colors and work on fine motor skills. But most importantly, the time spent having fun together is priceless. A good smock and some good supplies are all that's needed. Cheap supplies typically don't work well and end up in frustration for everyone. 

Encourage them to explore, if that means making different types of marks (loops, dashes, dots, squiggles) or creating fantasy animals (giraffes with wings!). They learn best from example, so try it yourself! Experiment with different methods of making a textured background - stamping is great for this and easy for little people to do. Bubble wrap is fun to stamp with, or roll a yarn-wrapped pencil through paint then across the page. When you're finished, save those painted papers!! They make great backgrounds for future drawings, or use them to cut up for crafts, cards, and more!

Recently while camping, I had my sketchbook and paints out, which drew the attention of two curious little boys, ages 4 and 2. I wasn't quite ready to let them play with my brushes and paints, but I could tell they wanted to be part of what I was doing. They told me what colors to use and pointed to where I should put them on the page. I made random shaped blobs. After a bit I switched to my trusty Sharpie and started doodling over their shapes. When they realized I was drawing flowers instead of trucks, they lost interest and moved on to other play. But that was fine - we had played with the paints for about 30 min, which is pretty long for a little tyke's attention span!

Here's the result of our work. I call it "Gabe's Garden." 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Painting with a 7 yr old

I confess, the cheery & chipper holiday spirit just wasn't in my heart today. It was a long day filled with many frustrations with the kids (kids doing kid-things), topped off with me not feeling the greatest. AND we had to make our weekly trek to the grocery store (nobody's favorite, but we like to eat, so.....)

After we returned and everyone got their schoolwork squared away, I stole some time to do a little painting. Dinner was in the crock pot (I love winter - soup season!), so my 7 yr old son and I collaborated. I figured working with him would loosen me up and be relaxing, if not entertaining. Oh, yes! It was just delightful. It reminded me that kids are kids, and that's part of why I love them so.

[Total side track: When I took my very first art class, my professor emphatically told me - in front of the entire class - that I had forgotten how to play! Ouch. His words stick with me to this day and inspire me to try new ideas without being so uptight. It's just paper, after all]

We started out painting a messy color background, then I asked him what it made him think of.

Spring. And whales.

So we dove in (ahem), passing the Sharpies and white Gel pens back and forth, occasionally turning the paper around so we could add to each other's doodles. He drew a tree - which eventually turned into a jellyfish. I drew some seaweed, which he later made into a dragon. We added loops and squiggles and bubbles and leaves....

And then he announced that the page was full - and we were done!

Whenever I flip through my sketchbook I will see this page and remember our mom-son time, and how mom needs to chill out and see the jellyfish in the trees.