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Just one of those classic childhood moments. And since our two big maples have only just started dropping leaves, one that we’ll get to repeat several times more this year!

Hat: Vintage Pixie Cap by Hadley Fierlinger, project on Ravelry

Teeny-Tiny Rake: purchased at For Small Hands, a great resource if you have a little helper like mine!

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We went Smiling Hill this weekend, picked some pumpkins, petted a goat or two and took a ton of photos.  Beautiful fall day and adorable kid? It’s hard not to.

Since we last came in the spring, the petting zoo goats have gotten a lot chubbier and LMC’s gotten more independent. She wanted to be wherever the bigger kids (3-5 year-olds) were: climbing on the trains and planes, driving the John Deere-a-saurus, riding the mini tractors, going down from the top of the tall slides. She also wanted no help in carrying her pumpkins of choice. Is it any surprise that we’ve switched to the booster seat from the high chair at home? This girl is ready for her seat at the table.

With the pumpkins brought home and her costume finished last night (she’s gonna be so cute!!), we’re all ready for Halloween here. The only thing left to do is pick out the kind of takeout we want for Friday night (a Cleaver Halloween tradition).

Do you have a favorite pumpkin patch or Halloween tradition? When I was a kid in California it was Stanly Lane for pumpkins every year and my mom would sew whatever incredibly complex costume I desired that year (as chosen from the back of the Simplicity or McCall’s pattern book at JoAnn’s) including full renaissance dress. I figure this is probably my last year before LMC has an opinion about what she wants to be for Halloween (maybe one more?) so I’m trying to make it a good one.

Me-Mades: Minoru Jacket, Lamina Sweater

Devil Tube Monster

A Gathering of Monsters

Four-Legged Devil Tube Monster

Frankensteins Tube Monster

Tube Monsters

A Shelf Full of Monsters

Inspired by Pinterest, and in need of some Halloween decorations, Little Miss Cleaver and I got crafty this weekend and jointly made some little monsters to jazz up the jadeite shelf in the dining room.

As a wee toddler, there’s a limit to LMC’s crafting skills, but I couldn’t have made these guys without her, and I’ll admit to having way too much fun making these myself.

To make some monsters of your own you’ll need a few simple supplies:

  • Toilet paper and/or paper towel cardboard tubes
  • Finger or tempura/poster paints
  • Googly eyes
  • Hole Punch
  • Pipe Cleaners
  • Black makers
  • Big sheet of paper
  • Finger-painting Toddler

First, let your toddler go wild with finger painting on the big sheet of paper. When it’s good and goopy, take the tubes and roll across the finger paint for a fabulously mottled effect. If you have older kids (or are an adult), you can paint the tubes directly, but the finger-painting method is a lot more messy and fun!

Once the paint is dry, try to discern your monster’s personality. Are they scary or silly? Does it need multiple eyes? Does the top need to be smushed down into horns? Is there a smear or crease that would make a particularly good eyebrow or mouth?

Alternatively, let the toddler put stick-on googly eyes wherever they’d like and go from there. LMC preferred to put them on her chairs and clothes, so I had to improvise. Use the black marker to draw on eyebrows, teeth, scars, etc.

Using the hole punch, make a few armholes and thread a pipe cleaner through and bend into arms or legs.

Find a suitable display/play space and enjoy!

(Keep spare googly eyes on hand for when toddler inevitably rips them off to put on her shirt.)

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We Cleavers are creatures of habit, and this is never more true that when fall begins. As soon as the leaves begin to change color, you can bet there’s a good chance we’ll be hitting the fairgrounds, picking apples, baking pies, and hiking Bradbury Mountain.

Since Mr. Cleaver and I had our first date there back in 2005, we’ve made a point of returning each fall we’ve lived in Maine, and so this year, LMC got to take her second trip, having been carried up last year. And truth be told, I carried her about 90% of the way this time too, without the benefit of a carrier this go around. But this year my budding geoloist was enamored with all the rock and ledge, but perhaps even more enamored with all the dogs on the trail!

And LMC was quite the trooper, as she got carsick on the way up (fortunately primarily on a waterproof jacket). We were spectacularly ill prepared, having no extra clothes and having forgot her sippy cup (and Steinbeck’s doggy bags). But despite that early mishap, we had beautiful weather and a lovely hike. And LMC did look awfully cute in her new winter cap.

Following on my recent menswear design for Knitscene, I jumped into another menswear-inspired project, the Breakwater Pullover, for the Maine-based Swans Island company.

Swans Island specializes in heirloom blankets and organic yarns, dyed with all-natural dyes. The Breakwater Pullover is part of the All-American Collection, ten designs to highlight their all-new 100% American worsted weight wool yarn. I was pleased to be part of the collection alongside fellow Maine designers Bristol Ivy, Alicia Plummer, and the Swans Island team.

Breakwater was inspired by classic Aran sweaters, but distilled to it’s most essential elements. This project is a great introduction to cables, as the center panel keep things interesting, but never overwhelming. The menswear-inspired styling means there’s no side-shaping to worry about either (though it’d be easy enough to add if you wanted to). The loose gauge, slouchy fit, and raglan shaping make it a a quick knit and a great weekend sweater. With a size range from 35¾ to 50¾” – this one will work for the men too!

Not sure how to pull off the boyfriend sweater look? I’ve pulled together some styling inspiration here.

Pattern uses 6 (7, 7, 8, 8) skeins Swans Island All-American Collection, 75% USA Rambouillet wool, 25% USA alpaca; worsted weight (80 gms, 210 yds each) Color Shown: Newport #AAW416

Breakwater is available via Ravelry for $6.00 USD

All photos courtesy of Swans Island.

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Not gonna lie, of all the pies I make, apple pies are by far the the most time consuming with all the peeling, coring, chopping and mixing, it probably takes twice as long as a berry pie (even with a peeling machine, which I can’t recommend enough!). But all that work? So worth it!

My baking assistant certainly though the ribbons of peel were fun,and the cinnamon and sugar-covered apple-slices were A-OK by her. And truthfully, after eight years of annual apple pie-making, I’ve got my process down. And so we’ve already eaten one pie, and have the second in the freezer for later this winter.

Want a video of me walking through the pie-making process? Check! Or the recipe? Check!

Book Illustration:  Time for A Hug by Phillis Gershator, Mim Green, with Illustrations by David Walker, a new favorite in our house.

Interested in Children’s books? Me too! As the daughter of a former elementary-school librarian, who currently reads at least 5 new picture books a week (thanks local library!), I’ve started compiling a list our our household favorites with detailed reviews over on my Pinterest Page.

 

Coming soon to a newsstand near you, the Malaga Pullover in Knitscene – Winter 2014.

Malaga is my first sweater design for men, and I’m pretty proud of the way this one turned out. Inspired by a rather stylish co-worker of mine, Malaga is a simple, wearable raglan that shifts in both color and texture, but is easy to knit the whole way through. The instructions for this bottom-up raglan are written so there’s a minimal amount of purling (ribbing and short rows only) – so it’s a quick knit too – plenty of time to whip one out before the holidays and it’s available in sizes 37¾ (39½, 43¼, 47, 50¾, 54½)” chest circumference (shown in size 39½”).

What really makes this pattern work though, is the yarn selection – shown here in Harrisville Designs Shetland. The bottom half is knit holding two strands of the same color fingering weight yarn held together, and swapping one strand for a contrast color and marled effect for the sleeves and yoke. Harrisvile has a ton of wonderful earthy and saturated colors to choose from, and Brooklyn Tweed’s Loft would be another beautiful option for folks in the US. I’d recommend picking a dark and a light version of the same color family (i.e. a forest/pale green combo, or light blue/navy) for a similar effect.

While Malaga is the only men’s pattern in the issue, there are a ton of other great designs in there. I’m particularly fond of Kiyomi Burgin’s Tongshan Sweater and the Haubergeon Sweater by Featured Designer Emma Welford.

To purchase the Malaga pattern, visit your local yarn or book store for the latest Knitscene issue, or purchase a print or digital copy via Interweave.

Want some more men’s sweater inspiration? Check out my Pinterest Board!

All Photos © Knitscene/Harper Point

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