Saturday, April 30, 2016

Family History for Kids: Historical Paper (Felt) Doll

Paper dolls were a favorite toy in times past. Talking to children about old fashioned toys and telling stories as you play is another way to connect young children to family memories. Other toys like jacks and marbles or card games, etc. also work in the same way to start a conversation with children.

Story: When I was nine years old (in about 1969) my best friend's mother helped us make what she called a "Clorox" doll. Sister Wright cut up an old Clorox bottle and cut a doll shape out of the plastic - one for Jody and one for me. She helped us cut and glue flesh colored felt to the plastic body and a colored felt swimsuit on top so that they were modest! She helped us make and attach yarn hair and draw a face. Then she demonstrated how to trace around the doll shape to make simple clothing out of felt. If not too heavy, the felt clothing clings to the body of the doll and you don't have to worry about tabs on the clothing. She gave us more colored felt, Elmer's paste, bits of lace and ribbon, sequins (for buttons) and turned us loose. We had a grand afternoon and I had a lovely toy to take home.

The doll could be made as a regular paper doll as well, using cardboard instead of plastic and the beautiful printed scrap booking paper for the paper clothing. Just don't forget to add tabs to the shoulders to hold the paper to the body of the doll. For our doll, Miss Abigail and I made felt clothing that would be historical and/or ethnic to further connect to ancestors and memories.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Family History for Kids: Seek and Find Photo Book

The Seek and Find Photo Book is also a fun project. I wanted a way to help my young grandchildren interact with our historical family photos. Just looking at pictures and scrapbooks can be fun for older kids and adults, but the little ones are not as interested unless they have some guidance. That's where the concept of seek and find comes into play.

I chose several historical photos that had a lot going on or those that featured subjects that would be interesting to children. Then, I studied the photos and tried to find details that were repeated or otherwise engaging. For example, in the picture above, there are 8 children in a parade, 2 white socks, 3 cowboy hats, 1 clown, a hobo stick and only two smiles among the bunch! Other pictures in the book include finding the number ten on my dad's basketball jersey, counting buttons or pockets in a portrait of grandparents, etc. Just look for the details and make a list. After finding all the details, one can still visit about the picture for as long as attention allows.

I used a word processing document to build the pages and then printed them out and put the pages in sheet protectors. I actually want to investigate making a board book with these pictures so that the book is a little more sturdy.

The Family Story Swap game comes from the July 2013 issue of The Friend magazine. It is a game with simple interview questions or story prompts to answer by turns. The purpose is to help family members get to know each other through conversation and memories.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Family History for Kids: Object/Story Match

This is my favorite game of all. It is pretty simple, but young children like simple! I've started with just my husband and me, but the "game" can be expanded later to include our parents and grandparents on back. I merely have to collect more stories, objects and pictures. The point is to listen to very short stories and then find a simple object that matches the story and place it on the correct picture.

I began by brainstorming stories for both of us. I included a story of my husband working in a gas station in high school, another of my husband's love of spooky ghost stories, a story of when I stepped on a nail and one of how I came to love geology and rocks, etc. Just really simple memories. Stories can be short or long, depending on the age and interest of the children. I wrote these stories on slips of paper and folded them. Then I located a little object to represent each story. For example, the fish represents a story of a fishing trip my husband remembers with his grandfather. Because I have to multiply the game for each of my children, these objects have to be very simple and inexpensive. With just the two pictures, the family would divide into teams. With additional pictures and objects, each person might have a picture of their own to tend.

So you play the game in turns with someone picking up a paper and reading the story. Then everyone can decide which object goes with that story and the person with the correct picture collects the object and places it on their picture. Play continues until all the stories, objects and pictures are matched. If you have a lot of time and interest, more stories can be included. If time is short or the children have limited attention, just decrease the number of stories, saving the others for another time.

I like the aspect of being able to add to the game, sending additional stories, objects, and pictures of other family members as I get them finished.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Family History for Kids: Grandma's Treasure Box

This activity actually won't go into the hope chest or be sent off in the mail. Grandma's Treasure Box is just a box of keepsakes that I can pull out on a Sunday afternoon and paw through with my children or grandchildren. This box will just stay at my house to be pulled out when the grandchildren come to visit me. Hopefully I will manage to collect enough little treasures that they can be split up later.

Everyone has keepsakes from times past. Some of them might be valuable and some are just silly or sentimental. The point is that an object sparks a memory or story that you can share with someone in your family. The items I have in this treasure box include a few things that I've collected in my own life and a few additional things that came from my father's things after he passed away. For instance, I have an old wristwatch from his dresser drawer. When we were little children and got sick my mother would make us a bed on the couch so that she could care for us without having to climb the stairs to our bedroom. When dad came home and could see that we were sick, he would take his watch off (or his pocket watch if he were working on the farm) and put it under our cheek where we could hear the ticking of the watch. I guess he thought it might take our mind off being sick and bring a bit of comfort. It worked! Dad did that every time one of the children was sick and, to this day, I love to hear a ticking clock.

There are other things in the box that belonged to his parents and grandparents - a silver spoon with my great grandmother's monogram, a boot hook, a pair of old-fashioned sock garter's that belonged to my grandfather, an FFA ribbon from my father's prized cow, handmade toys, a fountain pen. Just some interesting things that happened to fall to me. I would emphasize that these items don't have to be valuable. These are not necessarily heirlooms, though they could be. They are just a few things that connect to memories and stories to share with other members of the family. They are simply a way to connect to the names and faces in the photos.

Do any of you have these simple family treasures in a box or drawer? What can you share with your children or grandchildren?

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Family History for Kids: "I Mustache You a Question"

Interviewing is a technique family historians use to collect oral history. I've seen the "I Mustache You a Question" all over the internet on t-shirts, greeting cards, notepads, etc. What a fun idea for children to use to interview family members to learn about events and stories from the family's past. For the display, I found these mustache shapes and sticks in the party favor aisle at Hobby Lobby and used them as a favor for those who came to the display. It would be easy enough to make one that is a little more sturdy to use in an activity with children at home. Just take turns holding the mustache and ask another family member an interview question. If the children are very young you'll need to prompt them to ask a question. I've included some ideas, but there are more questions in published lists on the internet.

"What is your very first memory?"
"What do you like about Christmas?"
"Tell me something about your best friend?"
"What did you like about school?"
"Who is your hero?"
"What is your favorite song?"

You get the idea. Here are some links:

50 Questions for Family History Interviews
150 Questions to Ask Family Members
 Interview Questions for Family History
Good Questions for Family Interviews

Monday, April 25, 2016

Family History for Kids

I mentioned that I've been working hard on an assignment for a Family Discovery Day hosted by our local Family History Center. The point of a Family Discovery Day is to help people learn how to research and build a family tree and to discover, document and share family stories. My assignment was to make a display about involving children in family history. I came up with 9 different activities to share family history with children. Over this next week, I'm going to post one each day. This was a lot of work at a really busy time of year, but I'm so glad to have these games and activities ready to share with my own children and grandchildren. And I now have several items to add to Miss Abigail's hope chest. What does family history have to do with a hope chest?

Well, I think family records and stories are a vital part of a hope chest. If your family is or was Christian, a family Bible was probably part of someone's hope chest. Other religions have similar items, relics and documents. Most families had at least a box with old pictures and documents in an attic or basement. The box got passed along from generation to generation.

I want Miss Abigail to know who she is and where she came from. I want her to know the stories that were told to me when I was young and to be able to share those stories with her children. So, as I mentioned in this post, I've made scrapbooks for her early childhood and she has learned to do that for herself now. I've worked hard to collect pictures and stories of our ancestors and have them in computer files and hopefully will find the time to create a book someday. My goal in this area has been to create some activities for my young grandchildren that will help them learn about our family. Young mothers don't often have the time to create these kinds of activities and my daughters-in-law are as busy as most. Abigail will have the same challenge. If I can create these books and games to include in her hope chest, it will make her life easier when she has young children. My plan through the upcoming year is to multiply these activities by four, include one in the hope chest and send the others in the mail for our sons to use in a family home evening. No preparation for them, all they have to do is follow the instructions. I've sent one so far and it was a success. I'm excited to send these others.

The first of the activities is pretty easy - family photo coloring pages. Just choose family pictures that feature subjects that are interesting to children. The first example above is a picture of my mom as a child in front of her school in Wells, Nevada. She was a bluebird in a school play. My grandmother spent quite a lot of time making the costume out of crepe paper and poster board, including a little hat with a beak. Miss Abigail looks a lot like my mom in this picture. The picture below is of my father and his brother sawing a log for their winter woodpile. with interesting subjects work best. Scan the picture with a high "dpi." Then use photo editing software to create a "pencil sketch" of the photo. Print it out and you have a great coloring page. Then you can visit with your children or grandchildren as you color together, telling the story of the picture.

I mentioned that my grandchildren were visiting. I had printed several coloring pages for the display and my little 4-yr old grandson colored them all. He listened to the stories and wanted to take them home to Arizona and put them on the wall in his bedroom. His interest in the pictures was piqued - mission accomplished! (BTW - for the pictures that I put in the hope chest and the pictures that get sent in the mail to our daughters-in-law, I will have to write the story and include it on the back of the photo to remind Abigail after some years, in case she doesn't remember the details of the picture.

You may never have thought of your own family's history. I hope these upcoming posts will inspire you to put together a project for your children or grandchildren. Learn about and then share your family history! If you need help, just contact a local Family History Center at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It will be in the yellow pages and the help and instruction is always free.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Pattern: Crocheted Rose Scarf Slide

I'm experimenting with patterns for crocheted flowers and thought I would share this one. While I don't have time to make a tutorial, I can share the pattern for this pretty gathered rose. Those of you with some crochet experience will find it pretty easy. A number of patterns for this kind of "rolled" crocheted rose are all over the internet. Here is one to add to the mix. I've also included the directions for how to make a chained back to turn this project into a scarf slider, but you could leave that off and use the crocheted rose for any kind of embellishment from hats to headbands to hair clips, pins and even tote bags. Just use your imagination.

Crocheted Rose Scarf Slider

worsted weight yarn (I used a lovely acrylic/wool blend)
size "I" hook

Note: After the first row, and again after the second row, the crochet will begin to twist a little from the increase in stitches. Just let that happen naturally. It is this twist that allows the rose to gather around itself and form the petals.

Foundation: Chain 34. Turn.

Row 1: Make 2dc in the 4th chain from the hook. (ch-3 counts as dc) Skip next chain. *(3 dc in next chain, skip next ch). Repeat from * across the foundation chain, ending with the 3dc group in the last chain. Chain 2 and turn.

Row 2: Put a dc in first dc stitch, 2 dc in next dc stitch, dc in next dc stitch. Ch 2, sc in ch-1 space, ch 2. ** (dc in next stitch, 2 dc in next stitch, dc in next stitch. Ch 2, sc in ch-1 space, ch 2. Repeat from ** across to the last three stitches. Dc in next stitch, 2 dc in next stitch, dc in last stitch (which is the original ch-3). Ch 2 and slip stitch at bottom of the last stitch. Leave a 6-inch tail and fasten off.

Finishing: Use a yarn needle and thread on the tail. Weave the yarn tail through the foundation chain across to the opposite end. Twist and roll while gathering up the tail to form the rose. Arrange the petals and then use the remaining yarn tail to tack the crocheted rose petals gently and securely in place. Fasten off and weave in the yarn ends.

Slider back: Leaving a 4-inch yarn tail (on both ends) chain 12. With the loop on the hook, attach the chain to the back of the crocheted rose with a single crochet stitch. Turn and slip stitch along the chain to the other end. Fasten off. Use the yarn ends to fasten the loose end of the chain slider to the crocheted rose opposite it's other end. Weave in and clip any remaining yarn ends.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

In My Workbasket: Wool Crafting

I'm pretty sure you all don't like these update posts nearly as much as, say, a new crochet tutorial or project idea. But, the truth is, I'm pretty swamped right now trying to finish Miss Abigail's school year and prepare for a number of events. You may remember how the end of the school year is! If you have children you may even be living it along with me. It seems like everyone wants a piece of you at this time of year, and even organizations that are not related to school like to get that last event planned before families take off for the summer. So, just as an explanation as to why you won't be seeing a lot of new project posts, I'll let you know what is in my workbasket.

My husband and I recently took a bunch of raw wool fleeces from our sheep to the woolen mill to be processed into roving to spin for yarn. This, of course, saves me much time in the processing of it myself. But, it is much more expensive to out-source that labor. So, in an attempt to recover some of the cost of processing, we are signed up for a couple of spring craft fairs to sell the roving, along with other wool and spinning and sheep related crafts. So I am very busy trying to create inventory for these fairs. This last week, as I waited in the car for Abigail, I worked on some of my fabulous felted (fulled, actually) hot pads along with the pretty crocheted wrist distaffs used in spindle spinning. I'm also sewing some very pretty fabric collage kitchen hand towels and have a number of other plans.

In the corners of my time, I have three workshops to prepare in the next month: one on home canning, one on family history activities/resources for children, and the third is a combined workshop with my husband on sheep shearing through to preparing the wool and spinning. I'm actually starting to panic just a bit, but so far I have things under control. BTW, the craft room is just getting worse and worse...serious piles on the bed that upcoming house guests need to use...

So, I'll try to share some pictures here and there as we go along, but I hope you'll understand if I take a break from tutorials for the next month or so...

Friday, April 1, 2016

How to Wind a Ball of Wool

Okay, I admit some of you may already know just how to wind a ball of yarn. But, surprisingly, not everyone does. I've had a lot of down time this week as I've been waiting in the car for Miss Abigail. Winding wool is not something I usually get around to until it is necessary and then it seems like such an interruption of my work. Because I have several wool projects coming up, I've taken the opportunity this week to wind many of my purchased hanks and skeins into balls. I thought I would take pictures of the process and share my tips.

First an answer to the question "Why wind a ball?" Why would one not just pull it from the middle of the skein and not worry about this extra step. The following is a two part answer.

Actually, you may not want to wind the wool into a ball until you are reasonably ready to use it because winding the yarn might affect its elasticity, drape and gauge. If you buy a skein or hank of yarn and plan on storing it for a long period of time, just store it "as is" and wind when you are closer to the time to use it. However, there is a way to make a loose ball that keeps the yarn soft and not stretched. This is the method to use to wind a ball of wool and I'm going to show you how.

Some might not want to wind at all. That's okay, unless you buy the wool in a hank. If it is in a twisted hank, you'll have to wind it into a ball before you can work with it. Otherwise, it ends up being a tangled mess! If you buy yarn in a skein, you can pull it from the middle, BUT - the pulling of it often tangles as well, depending on the quality of the yarn and especially with pure wool yarn. I also find that, because I have to pull on the yarn to release it from the skein, it affects the tension of the yarn coming through my fingers. This is more of a problem at the beginning of a skein of yarn, when it is harder to pull. So the tension at the beginning of a project may be slightly different than further along when the yarn pulls easier. As you begin a new skein it changes again. I just wind all the yarn into balls at the beginning of the project and then don't have to worry about it.

If you regularly use acrylic or cotton yarn stretching isn't as much of an issue. But if there are tangles in the skein, I would rather deal with them at once rather than when I am in the middle of a project. And I like how the yarn just rolls so much more easily off the ball. It saves a bit of time as well, not having to stop and tug and pull (and possibly untangle) every few seconds. And, I often take projects with me in the car or to a meeting and balls are much easier to manage in a small project bag.

Anyway, here is the method to make a beautiful, loose ball. Begin by loosely wrapping the wool yarn several times around three fingers.

Slip the yarn off and gently twist it into a figure eight. Fold the yarn back on itself and gently hold it between your thumb and index finger.

Loosely wrap the yarn several times around your thumb and finger. The initial yarn is in between and the wrap will be around the middle of the pinch.

Slip your fingers out of the wrapped yarn and you can see the beginning of your ball. It should be very loose and feel a little spongy. Turn the ball and gently hold it again between your thumb and index finger so that you wrap the yarn in a different direction this time. Loosely wrap the yarn around your fingers.

The wraps of yarn form an X as you turn the ball each time. If you wrap around your thumb and finger each time, the yarn should stay loose and the ball continues to feel spongy. This means that you aren't stretching the yarn. If your strands are tight and the ball feels firm or even tight, you need to relax your winding and make it more loose.

You can see in this picture that the yarn continues to be loosely wound.

Turn the ball and wrap the yarn again. How much to wrap on each turn is up to you. I like to put a good amount on and then stop and turn. I like how the yarn looks on a ball like this. Other people like it more smooth, but that means you are turning and readjusting your fingers more often. You can see the X in the following picture.

As the ball gets bigger, it will become more awkward to hold. You need to be particularly careful at this point NOT to squeeze or pinch the ball. Hold it loosely and always wrap around at least two fingers so that any stretch that may happen in the winding will relax as you remove your fingers. This keeps the ball spongy and not firm.

Finally, the ball becomes too big to hold loosely. Now I just wrap around a couple of fingers on top and the ball "hangs" from them as I wrap.

The ball is finished. Isn't it pretty! I love the way it looks.

To finish it off, I tuck a loop under the final round of winding and slip the end of the yarn through the loop. This just holds the end and keeps the ball from unraveling until I'm ready to use it.

Do any of you have an opinion about winding versus not winding? Any tips from the experts out there?

And don't miss the recent post on yarn addiction at Taffeta Dreams. I loved it.
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