Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Read Along: Week Twenty-Seven - Indian Camp

This week pa takes Laura and Mary to the abandoned Indian camp. They find beautiful beads that they bring home and string necklaces. Laura is angry that Mary said baby Carrie could have hers-so angry that she wanted to slap her! But they combined their necklaces to make one long enough for baby Carrie. Even if she couldn’t even wear it yet!

To hunt for beads, take a large plastic storage bin, fill with uncooked rice. Sprinkle in beads or jewels and stir it up. Let the kids sift through the rice to find the beads. This is a great tactile experience!

Have the kids organize the beads/jewels by categories: size, shape, color. Cut lengths of yarn or string that will fit through the beads, tie one bead to one end of the string, and string away.

You can also make Torn Calico Pockets Wikipedia tells us that in the US, calico fabric is inexpensive printed cotton fabrics with a small, allover pattern, often floral.
The kids can also make bookmarks using string and beads. Imagine your paperback with beads hanging off the top and the bottom, plain string closed within the pages of the book. Perhaps a special ribbon instead, and a special charm or two. This can be made to match seasons, holidays, book themes (like knitting books!), birthdays, etc.

This link shows some Native American beadwork examples.
This link provides links to beading history, cultural values, bead types, and examples.
links to Indian beading

Pa also helps the girls read the footprints in the dry, dusty dirt around the camp. He is able to distinguish a spot where a woman bent down, the fringe of her dress sweeping the ground. Go outside and walk in puddles, or snow. Make footprints in one direction, then the other. How can you determine which way the person walked? Look here for pictures of animal tracks. How can you determine which way the animals walked?
Walk in paint, or trace on construction paper and make footprint reindeer.

by bethanyg

Fineandfancy says.....
I also thought I would post a link to my knitting/crochet stitch counter, also made of beads. I wear this as regular jewelery as well!

Read Along: Week 26- Texas Longhorns

This week’s chapter gives us a glimpse into the lives of other types of people who share the prairie with pioneering families like the Ingalls.
Learn more about the great cattle drives of the west. Pa mentions that they must be headed for Fort Dodge, so these cowboys must have been following one of the most famous of the trails, The Chisholm Trail
Explore this website and see how long a distance the cowboys had to travel, carefully driving the half-wild cattle over harsh, rocky land filled with dangers. At the end of the trail, you can read the stories of the cowboys and their adventures.
See some pictures taken around the turn of the (last) century of an actual cattle drive
Erwin E. Smith Collection
Listen to some of the music. The haunting, howling sounds of the cowboys singing to the cattle must have made a very strong impression on Laura. Many years later, as she writes this book, she seems to still remember every detail of those strange sounds carried across the prairie. Here is a link to music by the Sons of the Pioneers

When I was young, my Father had several tapes of old western music. I spent hours riding my stick pony around with a walkman playing that music, pretending to herd the cattle and head off stampeds. I’m sure I must have looked and sounded silly, but it was great fun.
I had intended to suggest some cowboy inspired embroidery for a project, but my google-fu seems to be failing me. I remember reading somewhere that many cowboys spent the long, lonely winters in the bunk-houses working on fine embroidery and braided leathers that they would sell for a bit of extra money. Unfortunately, I can’t find any reference to that or examples to show. So instead here is a list of cowboy related projects here on Ravelry:
Lizzy the Cow tea cozy
Child’s cowboy hat
Texas Longhorn dishcloth
cow skull

Discussion topic:
Imagine how wonderful being able to get a nice big piece of beef was after having nothing but wild game for months. Then add in the extra bonus of a cow to milk. I can’t even think of something to relate that to in our modern lives with provisions so readily at hand. Having a source of fresh milk, butter, and possibly even cheese must have been such a huge blessing to Ma, I bet she was overcome with joy & gratitude. For me, knowing that my pantry is well stocked and that I could still provide a good, filling meal for my family even if some disaster was to strike gives me such a feeling of satisfaction & contentment. I think that is close to the feeling Ma probably had. What sort of emergency preparations does your family do? What items are most important for you to keep stocked in your pantry?

by SarahJayne

From FineandFancy
Here is an old cowboy leather working “trick” if you can get a hold of a piece of leather. (or try using fabric backed vinyl) My brother had one of these bracelets when he was a kid. He un-worked it once and we had a dickens of a time figuring out how to fix it. We didn’t have internet!)

Read Along: Week Twenty-Five - Fresh Water to Drink

Wow, I’ve been out of commission a while…thanks for everyone patience and help on the forum over the weeks.
Here is “Fresh Water To Drink”
1: Anyone who has ever been under a boiled water advisory knows the value of fresh, clean water. But digging a well was dangerous business, besides a cave in there are gasses under the earth that could kill you, Mr Scott found out the hard way. Minors have the same problem, and was a common cause of death in many of the mineral mines (in my country, anyways) Here is a popular song in Canada called chemical workers song about mining. (Ignore the video images from Lord of the rings, but it was the best sounding recording!)
If you portion some of your paycheck for charities, consider choosing a charity this month that helps provide fresh water to underprivileged communities

2:Imagine feeling “sinful” on a straw tick bed!! I don’t feel like sleeping on a straw tick, let alone making one, but lets make aromatherapy pillows. Fill them with rose petals or lavender. Or add a touch of eucalyptus to sleep on when you have a cold. Here are some free ones posted here on Rav, but you could also use the filling directions and make a pillow from terry cloth towels, flannel or cotton.
Here are some sewing patterns if you prefer a pattern
Eye Pillow
Herb Pillows with “Recipes”
and one of my favorite tutorials, making a aromatherapy bag from a felted sweater (Her daughter was under the weather when she felted the sweaters and curled up on the warm sweaters for comfort. So she made a pillow for her form it, such a sweet story :o)

3: What do you do for your neighbors? Mr Scott and Pa shared well digging to help he job go faster. Are there skills you share with “Neighbors” (includes friends in other areas of your city/county )

by FineandFancy

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Read Along: Week 24- Indians in the House

This week, Laura, Mary, ma and baby Carrie encounter Indians in the house. They are scared stiff and overcome with the smell of skunk! The Indians wore skunk pelts. Read a bit about skunks, why they emit the smelly spray, why their pelts were used and the history of fur trade and it’s importance in North America.
Nat Geo
pelt info
pelt info
history of fur trade
Now that that smelly business is over, ma is grateful that the Indians did not take all of their cornmeal. She has to make more for supper that night, and this time, she puts molasses on it. Molasses can be made from sugar cane or sugar beets. I’m guessing they used molasses from sugar beets, and it was the third boiling, the blackstrap molasses that was used. Interesting, the significant amounts of vitamins and minerals-see here:
wiki Molasses link
This is likely closest to the recipe that ma used to make her cornbread, though she’d have done it over the open fire. LH cornbread recipe
For a bit of a change, try this Sassy Molasses Cornbread recipe: (
Of course, with the holiday season upon us, I feel that I can not overlook the classic gingerbread cookie with molasses! Now the question is, how do you like your gingerbread? With a snap, or soft and chewy?

By bethanyg

Read Along: Week 23: A Roof and a Floor

  • Family activity: If you and your kids made a log house back at the beginning of our read-a-long, they may enjoy making some furnature like a bead-stead or a table.
gathered twigs or popsicle sticks
strong string
white glue
small amount of scrap cloth
needle & thread, scissors
cut the twigs or popsicle sticks to size (I used pruning shears that were handy) and use strong string to bind the uprights to the cross-pieces as in these pictures:
activiy pt1
activity pt2
This may require cooperation (like neighbors helping each other): one person holding the pieces together while the other does the tying. Once the whole frame is together and can stand on it’s own, add a dab of glue to the joints to strengthen them & set it aside to dry.
When dry, glue other twigs/popsicle sticks across the frame lengthwise (on the lower cross-pieces) for the bed or the other direction ( on the upper cross-pieces) for a table.
activity pt3
While that is drying, make a small mattress for the bed out of scrap fabric and a little stuffing. Use another piece of scrap fabric for the blanket (or table-cloth if you’re making a table).
  • Activity: Nature Journaling
The Ingalls girls spend much of their free time exploring and observing the beautiful world around them. This is a wonderful activity for all ages and all seasons. Lets begin a nature Journal. This can be as simple or involved as you like. You can start with a spiral notebook or a fancy blank journal book. The journal can include anything from temperature & precipitation reports, sketches, found objects taped or glued in, to poems whether original or copied. Here are some links to give you some ideas and inspiration:
When I was young, my Mother took us on nature walks, pointing out flowers and birds along the way. Once we chose a small plot of ground and marked it out with some twine. We returned every few days to record what we saw in that little patch. This is another way to approach nature journaling.

By SarahJayne

Read Along: Week 21- Fire in the Hearth

This week Pa built an indoor fire place so Ma can cook away from the outside elements: We don’t often cook over an indoor fire these days but I love sitting by a fireplace. It’s so cozy!
This week activities:
1: Check out this fireplace safety site. If you have children there is also a childrens game section to this site that is a lot of fun.

2: Another great thing about a fire place (or any heating source) is that it helps dry out wet mitts and boots! But do you ever have trouble finding a place to hang them? Here is a neat string rack idea.
And here is an idea my grandmother used. When I was little, she made on for each of her childrens families.
alt text
  • One 3 foot tree branch with multiple branches hanging off of it and at least 1 inch diameter at it’s base.
  • Utility knife
  • Pruners
  • Wood glue
  • Clear varnish
  • finishing nails
  • 2 pieces of 1 inch thick(ply)wood 2 inches wide and 12 inches long
  • 2 pieces of 1 inch thick (ply)wood 2 inches wide and 3 inches long
With your pruners, prune back each stick branch to be about 6 inches long. Using your utility knife, carefully peel the bark off of you branches and your main branch.
Varnish the entire branch to water proof it and let dry.
Make your base. Glue the 1x2x3 pieces of wood to the ends of one of the 1x2x12. Clamp to dry. (this makes feet)
Cross the two pieces or 1x2x12 in the middle to make the stand. Glue and clamp to dry.
Place the branch in the center of your base and with a hammer, nail through all the layers of the base and into the branch to hold it in place. (Alternative, use a drill and a screw.)
Set beside a heat source and place your mittens on the branches to dry!

3: What do you like to do when you relax by a fire? Read a book, curl up under a blanket, roast marshmallows?

by FineandFancy

Read Along: Week 21- Two Stout Doors

After last weeks episode with the wolves, I would be kind of partial to a wooden door over a quilt as well!

This weeks activities:
Hand craftsmanship is now considered an art form. Shaker furniture is popular for being made without nails, just as Pa made his door. When possible they would opt to use a lot of traditional joints in furniture and other pieces and would use mortise & tenon and dovetail/finger joints.
Here is a link for making your own foot stool shaker style.

Most of us don’t have access to materials or time to build a door or furniture, but we sure can admire it!

2: Create a seasonal wreath to decorate you own door.

Ravelry has a list of free knitted and crochet patterns

And my favorite crafting blog One Pretty Thing has an entire list of beautiful wreaths with tutorials.

3: What kind of safety so you use on your own house doors. Do you like doors with windows or prefer a solid door for privacy? Do you use dead bolts or slide bolts for added home protection? Do you like the idea of security alarms?

by FineandFancy

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