Friday, October 30, 2009

Third Gnome Sighting!

Another gnome sighting! I was close to getting a good picture of the gnome's face, but some leaves are in the way. Maybe tomorrow!

How to Play Muggle Quidditch

This is the logo for the Intercollegiate Quidditch Association. There are over 60 teams in the association.

Middlebury students invented Muggle Quidditch a few years ago, a game which is a combination of dodgeball and tag, with goal-scoring, and some tackling thrown in, played on broomsticks. It is funny and entertaining to watch.

The 2009 Quidditch World Cup took place last weekend in Middlebury, Vermont.

As the competition began, the announcers called the names of the Middlebury team members.

Below is a picture of Middlebury's pre-game huddle.

Below is a group of golden snitches. Their job is to run off the field into the campus for a while, and then return to the game and evade capture by the seeker.

The Middlebury team is readying itself on the endline in the picture below. Once the two snitches take off, the game begins.

Here are the three hoops for scoring, and the goalie.

You score by throwing the quaffle through a hoop. The quaffle is the white ball.

Players throw bludgers, the red dodge balls, when attacking the other team. There are two bludgers. When a player is hit by a bludger, she must drop the quaffle and run to touch her team's end line.

Since you have to hold your broomstick with one hand, all catching and throwing is done with the free hand.

There are frequent crashes and tumbles and rough play is prevalent.

The player below actually took flight for a moment.

Suddenly, the snitch reappears and sprints onto the field, (or crosses it on a bicycle.)

There is one seeker on each team. The seeker can earn 30 points for her team if she grabs the tennis-ball which the snitch wears in a sock hanging from the back of his pants.

Children, work hard at your educations, so that you too can grow up and play collegiate Quidditch.

For a Vermont Public Radio podcast of the Quidditch World Cup, go to

To see a CBS report about Muggle Quidditch, go to

For your own Quidditch broomsticks, try googling Alivan's.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Another Gnome Sighting!

One of my motion-triggered cameras caught this scene today in the forest. I can't believe how lucky I have been to get a picture of the gnome again already. This picture is still a little blurry, but we can see the whole figure now. I can't tell what the gnome's pants are made of, but his shirt and hat seem to be wool. I think I also see leather shoes and striped socks. He is dragging a little stick. I hope I will be lucky enough to get a picture of his face soon. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

My First Gnome Sighting

I am thrilled to announce that I have had my first gnome sighting, and have this photograph taken with my cell to prove it. The North American Gnome, which was thought to be extinct by 1873, has been sighted with increasing frequency in pristine Canadian and New England wilderness areas in recent years. As far as I know, this is the first sighting in my area, which shows that the population of this beloved little being is rebounding all over our region.

I will be setting up some motion-triggered photographic equipment in the gnome's habitat this week in hopes of giving Acorn Pies' readers a close look at the elusive North American Gnome.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

How to Make a Handkerchief Doll

I have been trying to figure out how to make a handkerchief doll for a while. When reading directions for them, I never could get good looking results. I'm happy with this interpretation, which I figured out last night.

If you don't have your grandmother's handkerchief handy, you could use a square piece of very thin fabric measuring 15" square. That is how I made the handkerchief doll you see above. She is stuffed with a plain handkerchief, and I left the edges raw. Or you could collect some vintage handkerchiefs. Some of them have beautiful color patterns on them.

Fold your handkerchief in half diagonally and tie little knots in the ends of the arms for hands.

Grab something handy for stuffing. I used some tissue, but best of all would be some wool roving. I formed a head shape in one end, and let the rest of the tissue flare out into a rough body shape.

Flop the handkerchief back down and give the head a neck with a little twist.

Cross the arms in front of the doll.

Turn the doll over.

Tie the arms together on this side with an overhand knot. You could stop now. This doll looks like she is wearing a nightgown or a ballgown. Keep going if you want a little doll in a bunting.

Fold the long dress up and tuck the corner into the knot under the neck. You may have to loosen the knot a little bit.

This is what it looks like now.

Flop it back over. I like this side to be the front because it has a little more form.

Next time you have a restless child sitting in your lap in the doctor's waiting room, whip out your handy handkerchief, and make a toy for her. She'll think you are magic!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Recycled Sweater Pocketbook

This cheerful pocketbook is made of a recycled felted sweater. I made it using a combination of machine and hand sewing.

First I made gauntlets by cutting off the ends of the sleeves. I have been wanting to try this for a while now. The finished edge of the sleeve comes to the base of the fingers. I trimmed thumb holes into the sleeve seams. Cut the thumb holes with caution. You can always make them a little bigger if necessary. I'm not sure yet whether the hole and the unfinished edge at the wrist will need a binding. If so, I will lightly tack on some pink cotton velour.

Then I had almost an entire sweater left. I used the whole bottom of the body of the sweater for the main part of the pocketbook. You can see below that the bottom edge of the sweater is the finished top edge of the pocketbook. I seamed a curve on the other end using my machine. I used bright pink thread throughout.

I used an old place mat remnant to reinforce the inside and outside of the fabric where I attached the handles. The handles are made of a tube of scraps which have been pieced by machine and sewn onto the pocketbook by hand. My machine had a problem with more than a couple of thicknesses of the sweater fabric and I broke a few needles.

I seamed and finished all the unfinished edges, even though, in theory, the felted wool should not unravel.

The picture below shows the inside of the pocketbook, with the reinforcement for the handles, and one of the two inside pockets which I made out of the large sweater collar. One is for my cell phone, and one is for my keys. No more rummaging in a dark and cluttered pit. However, I find that my cell phone and keys slide out when I place my pocketbook on its side. Next time I will make the pockets a little deeper and place them lower on the insides of the pocketbook.

I lined the inside of the pockets with some brown checked cotton flannel.

I loved getting to use some of my vintage button collection.

I usually wear a backpack so I don't have to bother holding my pocketbook on my shoulder. But the wool handles of my new pocketbook are soft and don't slide off my shoulder very easily. I think I am going to love my unique new pocketbook.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Kulturun Museum, Lund, Sweden

It is getting cold now, and it is time to begin to hunker down into our cozy homes. If you are Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, or farmers from Old Sweden, your house might have looked like this. You grew grass on your roof to keep warm.

You wore clogs to keep your feet dry in the mud and wet.

You churned the butter every day, and swung the baby in the wooden swing while you cooked at the open hearth.

Perhaps in the dim candlelight of the long, dark winter days, you carved something special for the children.

You lived in one or maybe two rooms with the whole family. It was crowded and the winters were long and snowy. But there was one place where you could keep something of your own, and lock it with a key. What would you put in this cabinet?

At night, as the embers dimmed, the warmth would ebb out of the house and the cold would penetrate. But you were cuddled with your child or spouse in a little bed with drawn curtains, a nightcap on your head, the air warmed by your breath. Only your nose would get a little pink and cold.

The coziest time of year is well on its way.