NC Zoo, April 2013

We went to the North Carolina Zoo with our homeschool zoo club today.  The highlight for me was spending time watching the gorillas right when the zoo opened.  There are two babies who are now starting to walk and play — what a treat!


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Pottery, April 2013

Here are some recent pottery pieces — a hand-built alien coin bank (there’s a slot on the other side for inserting coins, and shaking them out later), and a bowl for my mother for Mother’s Day.  I have a lot of work at various stages at the pottery studio, so I should be posting more photos soon, and bringing more pottery (along with jewelry, photography, and felt/fiber crafts) to the Durham Craft Market in the next few weeks.

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Pottery, March 2013

I picked up a few new pieces of pottery from the studio in the last few weeks — an “under the sea” bowl, a “flower garden” bowl, a “space” bowl, two matching blue bowls, some pendants, and a couple of business card holders.

As always, click any image to see the larger version!

You can see more of my pottery, photography, felt and fiber handwork, and jewelry at

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Yarn Along for February 13, 2013

I’m still working on my husband’s reversibly-cabled scarf — perhaps I will finish it before the weather turns too much warmer!

Yarn Along Feb 13

I have finished a few more award-winning books in my chronological journey through the winners of the Newbery Medal.  I remembered reading The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin (1979) when it was a new book and I was nine or ten years old.  This book is a mystery in which the hand-picked residents of an apartment complex are drawn into a quest to figure out who killed Mr. Westing and who will inherit his fortune.  There are numerous characters to keep track of, which I remembered finding challenging as a child, but they are well-developed and the plot has enough twists and turns to keep even the most avid mystery fan happy.  Mystery isn’t my favorite genre, but this was a fun read and I’m glad to have had the chance to revisit a memorable book from my own childhood.

I also just finished A Gathering of Days: A New England Girl’s Journal, 1830-1832 by Joan W. Blos (1980), which I really enjoyed.  As the title suggests, this novel is written as if it were the diary of a young girl growing up in New Hampshire in the early 1830s.  Like a real diary, the entries vary from day to day, sometimes short and focused on daily minutiae and other times lengthy, introspective and delving into the big questions of life. Catherine, the focus of the story, is the eldest daughter of a widower who decides to help a runaway slave who has reached out to her in writing, but whom she never actually meets.  Through the journal, the reader glimpses into Catherine’s life as she comes to terms with her father’s remarriage and the death of someone she loves, all while she works to piece together a quilt, stitching together tiny pieces to make a carefully-constructed and beautiful whole — a metaphor for life.  The day to day life on a New England farming community in the early 19th century is thoughtfully brought to life in this book and I thoroughly enjoyed the gently unfolding pace and tenderness of the author’s storytelling.

I am currently reading Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson (1981), who also wrote Bridge to Terabithia.  The title alludes to the biblical story of Jacob and Esau, twins who are favored unequally by their father and this story, too, focuses on twins, taking the perspective of Louise whose fraternal twin sister, Caroline, has received special attention through most of their lives, both for being medically frail and for being musically gifted.  The book is set on a small island in Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay, reachable only by ferry, and the environment and the day to day life of the watermen and their families are captured with careful and loving detail.  I am only part-way through the book, but Paterson does a marvelous job so far of capturing the gnawing feeling of adolescent jealousy and the desire to feel special.  Marvelously written.

Next up will be a short one:  A Visit to William Blake’s Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers by Nancy Willard (1982).

Here’s my recap of the Newbery Medalists from the 1970s (these are my personal opinions and, of course, your mileage may vary):

Best of the 1970s:  Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Runner Up: Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien (tie)
Runner Up: Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George (tie)
I also especially enjoyed: The Grey King by Susan Cooper, and the entire Dark is Rising series, of which this book is the second to last volume.

This post is part of the weekly yarn along at the delightful blog Small Things.  Pop over there to see more posts about knitting, crocheting, and reading!

Posted in Knitting, Newbery Medalists, Reading, Yarn Along | 16 Comments

At the Wheel

A few months ago, when I had reached a point with pottery that I was starting to feel some confidence about it, I remembered a photo that I had seen at my grandparents’ house when I was a child.  It was my grandfather working at a potter’s wheel.  I remembered the details of the image itself in the gauzy way that we often remember things from early childhood — the way that confuses one Christmas or summer vacation with another and never feels quite solid.  But the feeling I recalled about the image did feel solid — I distinctly remembered feeling awed that my grandfather had been able to make things from clay with his own hands.  The idea of a potter’s wheel seemed so grand and special to me. I had never even seen one, let alone tried using one.  And I remember thinking, “One day, I want to do that, too.”  And I forgot all about that feeling — until I had done it.

My father found the photo for me this week and sent it to me.  My grandfather died about thirty years ago.  But I am glad to be following in his footsteps now.papaatthewheel

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Robots in Love

I made this plate for my husband for Valentine’s Day.  Hand-built with slip painting and carving, plus a blue glaze on the outside rim and clear glaze over the decoration.  Robots in love!


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Yarn Along for January 9, 2013

Leading up to Christmas, I did a lot of sewing instead of knitting.  I worked on a felt Advent calendar, felt food for my niece and nephews, and doll clothes for my daughter’s Waldorf-style doll.  My daughter received coupons for additional sewn doll clothes and some felt things in her Christmas stocking as well (a nice compromise between my ambitious desire to make her lots of things and my limited time in which to sew “surprise” items), so I have sewn a few more things for those cashed-in coupons since Christmas as well.  But now that I’m picking up needles again, I am continuing to knit my husband’s reversible cable scarf (from Debbie Stoller’s book Son of a Stitch ‘n Bitch: 45 Projects to Knit and Crochet for Men).  I had hoped to finish it up before Christmas, but didn’t quite get the chance.  I’m holding out hope for casting off before Valentine’s Day, though!

The Westing Game and "Swelligant" Scarf

The Westing Game and “Swelligant” Scarf

Since my last Yarn Along, I’ve read a few more Newbery Medalists as I continue reading through them chronologically:

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (1977) by Mildred D. Taylor was a captivating book focused on the Logan family, African American land-owners living in an area of the deep south dominated by share-cropping in the early 20th century.  The story is told from the point of view of young Cassie who is beginning to come to grips with the realities of racism in her community and what that means for her family.  Taylor does a great job of weaving the important broader context (which includes night riders and other examples of racial violence and intimidation) into the down-to-earth experiences of schoolkids and their families.  The Logan children’s young friend TJ, who is presented from the outset as a bit of a show-off, faces particularly harrowing consequences to his choices as the book moves forward.  The story is deeply sad, but also beautifully told — by the end of the book, you’ll feel like you know the Logans well, and will wish there was something you could do to help them.

Bridge to Terabithia (1978) by Katherine Paterson is, hands down, one of the best books I’ve read in this journey through the Newbery Medalists.  From the first sentence, I was hooked on her fluid, authentic style of writing — her eye for the details that will tell you all you need to know about a character in just a few words is just flawless.  The book follows Jess Aarons, a young boy who feels like a bit of an outsider in his farming community because of his deep love of art, and his new friend, Leslie, who moves into the neighboring farmhouse from the city.  The child of an author and an academic, Leslie is also labeled as different by a lot of the kids in school and quickly becomes friends with Jess.  The two create a magical land of Terabithia in the nearby woods, a secret place where they imagine themselves the king and queen of an enchanted kingdom, doing battle against evil forces and entering a sacred grove of pines when in need of courage or protection.  I can’t really tell you more about the book without giving away the ending, but I will say to have your tissues handy.  This is an intensely emotional book, but very much worth reading.

Next up is The Westing Game (1979) by Ellen Raskin.  This was a favorite of mine when I was a kid, so I’ll be interested to see how I like it, rereading it as an adult.  I’m just getting started, but when I finish it, I’ll post my recap list of the best Newbery winners of the 1970s!

Happy reading and knitting/crocheting.  And if you want to see what some other avid fiber artists and page-turners are up to, go over to Small Things and read more entries from participants in this week’s Yarn Along!

Posted in Knitting, Newbery Medalists, Reading | 5 Comments

Did somebody mention treats?

Sunny the Buff Orpington chicken

Sunny the Buff Orpington chicken




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Newbery Update: Best of the 1960s

I realized that I never posted my personal favorites from the decade of the 1960s, so here’s a recap of the ones I most enjoyed:

Best of the 1960s:  The High King by Lloyd Alexander — this is the final book in the Prydain Chronicles, and the whole series was outstanding for anyone who loves the fantasy genre!

Runner Up: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (tie)

Runner Up: From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg (tie)

I also especially enjoyed: Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell, The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare, and I, Juan de Pareja by Elizabeth Borton de Trevino.

I’m nearly through the 1970s now, so I’ll be posting another recap soon!

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Pottery, December 2012

Last night I was able to bring home several new pottery pieces:

1. A handbuilt candle holder that features three houses in winter, surrounded by evergreen trees.  The windows are cut out to let the candlelight shine through.

2. Another “Cookies for Santa” plate for the holidays, this one with a hearth, Christmas tree, poinsettias, and sleeping cat.

3. Several bowls, including one in a new purple glaze.  I wasn’t able to capture the color of the purple as well as I would have liked — it’s a very pretty color, but the flash didn’t really bring it out as I might have liked.  On the other bowls, I was experimenting with different glazes combined with blues.

4. A mug with a blue glaze dipped in eggshell.

I should have some Christmas ornaments and another plate ready to bring home before too long as well.  As always, click any image below to see the larger version of the photo.  I’d love to hear what catches your eye and what you think of my work!

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