peg doll protest

Although the peg dolls in this video have smiles on their faces, reveling in the companionship of sisterhood and the freedom to raise their voices, inside they are angry and scared.

Foolishness aside, of course you understand that underlying my peg doll protest is the anger, horror and dread I feel when I think about the man who will assume highest office in this country within a matter of days.  And so in my own way, I speak out (or allow my dolls to speak for me). 

The little video my husband and I created was inspired by the artwork over at join the UpRoar -- a group of artists who "want to provide passionate Americans with signs to help express how they feel. To take to the streets. To hang in our windows. To share in our feeds. To hold high."  Thank you Ingrid Chang, Jeremy Wirth, Laura Drayton & Mindy Benner for kindly granting us permission to use your work in our photos and video. And also, thank you to my 6 year old for helping me paint dolls.

I am further inspired by the recent work of Salley Mavor, the Pussyhat Project and other protest art such as these statues (nudity warning), and this recent Time Magazine cover.  No one should be silent at a time like this.  Not even peg dolls.


hans my hedgehog :: new enlarged knitting pattern

On November 25th, 2013 I published a knitting pattern titled Hans my Hedgehog.  It's a simple pattern which has become fairly popular; the page where it's posted on my blog receives approx. 100 views every day, and I love looking at photos of completed projects over on Ravelry (each little hedgehog has such unique character). The pattern has been used by the Wildlife Trust, UK to promote the need for environmental conservation on behalf of local hedgehog populations, and people have also used the pattern to create key-chains, luggage tags, cat toys stuffed with catnip, Christmas decorations, and in classrooms/libraries as a character to dramatize The HatThe Mitten, and The Bear's Winter House. It's also been translated into French and Hebrew!

Every so often I get emails asking whether I might consider creating a pattern for larger hedgehogs. I had hoped to fulfill this wish for my readers this past autumn so holiday gift making could ensue.  However, now that it's January, you have 11 months to get started on gifts for next December (or you could make Valentine gifts... that would be nice, too).

For this project you will need two shades of earth-tone, worsted weight yarn. I used Berroco Ultra Alpaca in Buckwheat (6204) and Moonshadow (6209).  Additionally, you will need a tapestry needle, a small scrap of brown wool felt for ears plus 1/2 yard black worsted yarn for embroidering the eyes & nose. Black beads would work nicely for eyes, too.

I used size US 5 (3.75 mm) needles, which is smaller than this yarn would normally require.  You can see here that I like to knit tiny animals using small needles -- it keeps my stitches tight so the stuffing doesn't peek through.  And I don't enjoy knitting in the round with DPNS, so this pattern is knit flat then seamed up at the end, but you are welcome to adjust my pattern for DPNS if you prefer.


Stockinette Stitch: knit on RS, purl on WS
Seed (or Moss) Stitch: Work rows as follows:  (k1, p1), repeat to end.  On the next row, you will continue the pattern of (k1, p1) always making sure to knit into the purl stitches and purl into the knit stitches. 

My gauge was approx. 5 stitches/6 rows = 1 inch in stockinette

After being stuffed, my large hedgehog turned out 9 inches (23 cm) long from nose-end to tail-end.


CO 20 st using darker brown yarn
Rows 1-2 k all st
Row 3 (k2, kFB) 6 times, k2 (26 st)
Row 4-5 k all st across row
Row 6 (k2, kFB) 8 times, k2 (34 st)
Rows 7-8 k all st
Row 9 (k2, kFB) 11 times, k1 (45 st)
Rows10-48  Seed stitch (k1, p1). Continue until you end on a knit stitch. Every subsequent seed stitch row will start with a knit stitch.  Measure your work.  Proceed below when work is approx. 4 3/4 in (12 cm)

Switch to lighter yarn color.
Row 49 k across row
Row 50 p across row
Row 51 (k2, k2tog) 11 times, k1 (34 st)
Row 52 p across row
Row 53 (k2, k2tog) 8 times, k2 (26 st)
Row 54 p across row
Row 55 (k2, k2tog) 6 times, k2 (20 st)
Row 56 p across row
Row 57 (k2, k2tog) 5 times (15 st)
Row 58 p across row
Row 59 (k2, k2tog) 3 times, k3 (12 st)
Row 60 p across row
Row 61 (k2, k2tog) 3 times (9 st)
Row 62 p across row
Row 63 (k2, k2tog) 2 times, k1 (7 st)


Cut yarn and thread the end into a tapestry needle.  Run your needle through remaining stitches and pull tight.  Use tail end of yarn to seam closed front/face portion of the hedgehog and knot off or weave in end.  Use yarn tail where color was joined to sew up body portion of hedgehog. *Be sure not to sew up CO edge.*  Knot off or weave in end. 

Note: I used an overcast stitch (and did a rather untidy job – I’m sure you will do better).  You could also use an invisible/mattress stitch.  Instructions for stitching can be found here.


Lightly stuff the hedgehog through opening along CO edge, then thread a tapestry needle with tail from CO.  Create a running stitch along CO edge, pull tight and knot end to secure.

If you would like the nose on your hedgehog to turn up, position your hedgehog so that the seam is along the top (i.e. running along the back of your hedgehog – not on the underside). 


Use black yarn to embroider eyes & nose (you can use black ball-head pins to help with eye placement).  Cut ears from brown felt and sew on with thread, or you can add knitted ears.





hanukkah collage craft

Yesterday morning, two other moms and I spent some time in my younger son's classroom sharing Hanukkah traditions, eating latkes & doing an art project. The idea for this project was shamelessly borrowed from the blog Dim Sum, Bagels, and Crawfish -- and the artwork created by these kindergartners & first graders was so gorgeous that I had to share it.


--  Large paper (12 in. x 18 in. was available in
     the classroom)

-- Colorful scrapbook or origami paper

-- Orange & yellow paper

-- A paper cutter (essential if prepping this craft for
    a classroom of 22 small children -- not essential
    if doing this craft at home).

-- Scissor

-- Glue stick

STEP 1 :: Cut strips of paper as follows: 2 in. x 14 in. for each hannukiah base, 2 in. x 2 in. for the shammash candle holder, 1 in. x 5 in. for candles (you will need 9 candles for each child's project).

STEP 2 :: Cut 1 inch strips of yellow & orange paper.  Then use a scissors to snip the strips into diamond & triangle shapes for the candle flames.

STEP 3 :: Set out the large sheets of paper, strips of colorful paper, and glue stick then stand back and watch as gorgeous collages are created.

NOTE: I was facilitating this project in a classroom of 5-7 year olds and we allotted approx. 20 minutes for the craft.  If we had had more time for the project, giving the children scissors to cut out their own candles would have been an option.  And certainly, if doing this project with older children, there is no need at all to pre-cut the paper into strips and they can cut the paper into strips themselves.


tutorial :: acorn dreidels

Originally posted December 9th, 2015

I spotted this tutorial for acorn dreidels on the blog Growing up Creative.  Brilliant!  These are not traditional dreidels because they don't have Hebrew letters on them, but when it's Hanukkah, every sort of spinning top is referred to as a dreidel in my house.


-- Acorn caps (note: we tried out a few different
    types of acorn caps and liked the way these
    ones spun best, but any sort will work.)

-- A small amount of clay (we used Sculpy, but
    again, there's no need to be fussy -- any sort
    will work.)

-- Wooden matches

STEP 1 :: Roll a small amount of clay into an egg-shape and stuff one end of it inside an acorn cap.

STEP 2 :: Shape the top of the clay into an acorn-ish shape.


STEP 3 :: Insert the salt-peter end of your match into the center of the clay and push it down until it hits the inside of the acorn cap...

Like so.

Now your dreidel is done and ready to...


And because you can never have too many peg dolls, I thought I'd mention that there are instructions for creating peg doll dreidels in my second book.  For more dreidel fun, you can find edible dreidels here (made them today with my children and they really work). We've also made super fun perler-bead tops according to the instructions HERE at Babble Dabble Do.

Happy (almost) Hanukkah