Search results for 'penguin and pinecone'

Imperfect Gifts for Thanksgiving

21 Nov

Last July, my mother took a bad fall from the top of the staircase. She spent her birthday in the hospital. Luckily no bones were broken, but she had severe cuts and bruises and her dementia worsened significantly. Mom had to give up her license and her home. This has been an emotional ride for the whole family. Thankfully, mom doesn’t need to be alone through this, she has children and grandchildren and great grandchildren who love her dearly. Mom is living with my sister and brother-in-law who have made her feel welcome and needed. She spends many hours a week watching a digital picture frame of photos from her past and retelling those memories to everyone who stops in for a visit. In cleaning out her house, I passed heirlooms on to the family. One thing I kept for myself was her set of knitting needles. There are many things mom can’t do anymore, but knitting is something she can do. And teaching me to knit is one of her new tasks.

22291344_2014584645484208_4380399781917116534_oIn September, I was thrilled to meet funny man and Caledecott Award winner, Dan Santat. I was moved to tears hearing the back story behind his newest picture book, which he authorstrated.  In addition to getting my copy signed by the legendary surly asian guy, I also got a beautiful tote bag. That bag has become my knitting bag. I’m proud and happy to have a reminder that mom can still teach me something new literally ‘after the fall’. Like Humpty Dumpty, mom was able to pick herself back up (with lots of help and support) and move forward in her life. She is an inspiration to me and I know I’ll never read this story without thinking about her. IMG_7800

AFTER THE FALL written and illustrated by Dan Santat (Roaring Brook Press, 2017) That famous egg Humpty Dumpty takes the famous fall. But what happens when all the king’s horses and all the king’s men put him back together again? He’s patched up but not quite the same. Not only can’t he climb back up the wall to sit and do his favorite thing, bird watching, he can’t even climb up to the top bunk and ends up sleeping on the floor. The wall haunts him. Now even bird watching mocks him. He faces the wall every day. And little by little he works up the courage to climb back up. What happens when he does? Humpty Dumpty cracks again… and he flies away. Humpty Dumpty is the most beautiful bird in the sky.

So fast forward to today, two days before Thanksgiving and I count my blessings, always counting my family first. With mom’s help I have knit four scarves and one baby blanket to give my grandchildren for Thanksgiving. Today was such a gorgeous sunny day, I took pictures of everything outside to show off the rich colors.




If you look closely, you’ll see all the imperfections. But I hope you also see the love. The first two scarves have the most mistakes. Each one was ‘ripped’ and restarted more than once. There were a lot of dropped stitches and uneven edges. But I eventually mastered the simple garter stitch, casting on, binding off, and adding a new skein of yarn to a working project.  I finished them both off with pom-poms using up the leftover yarn and adding a bit of both colors mixed with white so each granddaughter would have a piece of her cousin’s scarf in her own. The next two multicolored pastel scarves are for the two older granddaughters’ younger sisters. The yarn was dyed like this and I bought a giant skein so I didn’t even have to add another ball to finish each one. By now, I was able to whip these up in a couple of days. Then the big challenge came. I learned to combine the knit stitch with the purl stitch and a slip stitch and followed a simple herring bone pattern using two different balls of yarn at the same time to make a car seat/stroller blanket for my youngest grandchild and first grandson… the little prince. Wow, after the scarves I thought I was up for something different. This was a little more than I had bargained for. Not only was I losing track of the pattern, I had trouble keeping my tension even, so one end of the blanket is much wider than the other end.

The scarves and blanket are ready to give my precious grandchildren. They’re not perfect, but then neither am I . So when my little ones are wrapped up in soft colorful yarn, they’re also wrapped up in my love. And because I am who I am, no gift is complete without a book. No, no one got my signed copy of AFTER THE FALL. But I did find three books featuring knitting to give each family.  Sadly, I mailed off the baby blanket this morning without a book picture, but you get the idea.





EXTRA YARN written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen (Balzer and Bray, 2012) In a black and white world Annabelle finds a box of colorful yarn. After knitting a sweater for herself, she uses   some of the extra yarn to knit a sweater for her dog, then her neighbor, and his dog, and her classmates, and her teacher but she still had extra yarn. It seems that tiny box had an endless supply of colorful yarn, so Annabelle knits sweaters for her mom and dad, and all the people (except Mr. Crabtree), and all the animals in her neighborhood. Then she goes around the world knitting and spreading bright colors over the otherwise drab scenery. An evil archduke offers Annabelle a million dollars for her box of yarn but she refuses to sell it, so he sends robbers into her room to steal the box. Unfortunately, when he gets the box it is empty. He curses her and throws the box out the window. The box finds its way back to Annabelle who still had enough extra yarn to knit a sweater for her tree.

LOST. FOUND written by Marsha Diane Arnold and illustrated by Matthew Cordell (Roaring Brook Press, 2015) Bear loses his long red scarf in the woods. It is alternately found and then repeatedly lost again by each animal who finds it. Eventually they all find it again in a clearing and in a struggle to claim the scarf for themselves they destroy it. But Bear has an idea, taking up all the loose yarn he teaches the forest animals to knit one extra long scarf that they all share around a campfire.

PENGUIN AND PINECONE written and illustrated by Salina Yoon (Bloomsbury, 2012) Penguin loves his new friend Pinecone and thinking he might be cold, Penguin knits him a scarf to match his own. Pinecone is still cold, so Penguin does the hardest thing… he helps him return home to the pine tree forest and leaves him in a pine nest to keep him warm. When Penguin returns he finds his friend has grown into something even greater.

Another great picture book is KNIT TOGETHER written and illustrated by Angela Dominguez (Dial Books, 2015). I wrote a post about it a few years ago. Follow this link for a quick review and some fun yarn activities you can do with your little ones too.

There’s more fun with LOST. FOUND and PENGUIN AND PINECONE on these pages.

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November 23 – Fibonacci Number Day

25 Nov

Happy Fibonacci Number Day!

Scientists and Mathematicians celebrate this day today because of the first four numbers in the Fibonacci sequence, 1-1-2-3, or 11-23, November 23rd. This is a pattern which begins with either a 0 or 1 and adds the last two number to get the next number in the sequence. 0-1-1-2-3-5-8-13-21-34-55-89-144…

You can figure this out for yourself: 0+1=1   1+1=2   1+2=3    2+3=5    3+5=8

It is also said that these number come up in nature. Some examples being the branches of a tree, the arrangements of leaves on a stem, the fruit sprouts of a pineapple, the flowering of an artichoke, the uncurling of a fern, and the arrangement of a pine cone.

(Source: Wikipedia

And so today, in celebration of the Fibonacci Number Sequence, I bring you: a pinecone, a tree, and an artichoke.


Penguin and Pinecone written and illustrated by Salina Yoon (2012)

One day Penguin found something. It was too hard to be food and too prickly to be an egg. It wasn’t a snowball but it was cold. So Penguin got busy and knit his new friend a beautiful orange scarf to match his own. But his friend was still cold. Grandpa told Penguin that his friend was a pinecone and that it belonged in a forest far away. So Penguin packed his sled and pulled Pinecone all the way home. He made a soft nest for his friend and set stones in the shape of a heart around pinecone. Then he went back to his own home and thought about Pinecone growing bigger and stronger. Penguin packed his sled again and returned to the forest. There growing with the tall pine trees was one wearing an orange scarf just like his, surrounded by stones in the shape of a heart. Penguin and Pinecone played and played. And although Penguin eventually had to go home and leave Pinecone behind, he knew they would always be close in each other’s hearts.


This Tree Counts! written by Alison Formento and illustrated by Sarah Snow (2010)

Mr. Tate teaches his class about the importance of trees before each student plants his or her tree in the school yard. From the one large tree in the yard, Mr. Tate has the children count one owl, two spider webs, etc. Then he talks about how trees clean the air for us to breathe, gives us shade on a hot day, and provide wood for homes, guitars, furniture, paper etc. Then Mr. Tates counts as ten children plant new trees in a straight line. Before the class leaves, one students says goodbye to the old oak tree and tells it to have fun with its new friends. The big tree waved, and the ten small trees waved also.

6255360Artichoke Boy written and illustrated by Scott Mickelson (2009)

Artichoke boy loves artichokes. He has artichoke eyes, nose, hair, ears, elbow, knees. He takes artichoke baths, eats artichoke dinners, rides artichoke sleds, and has artichoke ice cream. He has an artichoke mother, father, and sister. But as much as he loves artichokes, he loves his family best.

April 8 – Draw a Picture of a Bird Day

2 Apr

Draw a Picture of a Bird Day

If you are more of an appreciator of art than an artist, like I am, you’ll appreciate these picture books with pictures of birds today.  Enjoy Draw a Picture of a Bird Day with some of my bird-favorites.


Lois Ehlert not only wrote several beautiful picture books, she also illustrated them.  In Feathers for Lunch, Lois Ehlert  tells the story of a cat trying to catch his own lunch.  Her unique illustrations, show twelve different birds that got away from the cat, leaving him only feathers for lunch.

Two other picture books written and illustrated by the same person are Salina Yoon’s Penguin and the Pinecone and Oliver Dunrea’s Gossie.   13513416Penguine and Pinecone is a sweet story about a penguin who finds a pinecone in the snow and tries to keep him.  But he soon realizes that the pinecone cannot live on the ice, so he takes him to the forest so he can grow.  Penguin goes back to the forest later and visit his friend pinecone and finds that pinecone has grown into a beautiful tree.  Salina Yoon’s illustrations are so simple and perfect for her story.


Gossie, written and illustrated by Oliver Dunrea, is also a sweet and perfect picture book for little ones.  Gossie has a pair of bright red boots that she wears everyday.  That is, until they are lost.  She looks and looks for her boots and finally finds them on another gosling.  The two become friends and Gossie shares her boots with her new friend, Gertie.  It’s a lovely story and one of my new favorites.


Owl Babies is a gorgeous picture book.  It’s everything I look for personally in a picture book.  It has simply enchanting pictures of three little owl babies perched on a branch waiting for their mother to get home.  Martin Waddell wrote this tale of worry, anticipation, and reunion in 1996, and it is still a favorite among children and parents alike.  But today, I chose this book for it’s illustrations.  Patrick Benson brought those little owl babies to live with his soft illustrations.

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