I finished up Silas’ hat over the weekend.  This was a fun knit; the pattern was easy to memorize and quick to finish.  Silas really likes it, but as I type this it is occurring to me that I have no idea where it is now.  I guess I better start looking.  I am pleased with it because it fits Silas well and the folded brim in bulky weight wool (from Brambleberry Yarns) should keep his ears warm.  Somehow I have entered the land of brown hat knitting, having finished one for Jonny and one for Silas, and now Keats has requested one (in the brown yarn pictured above–tosh vintage in Fig) and I have plans to knit another for our priest (also in dark brown!)  I will have to break that up somehow with something bright!

Job is wearing all of the things that I knit for him and it makes me so happy.  The blue gown still has plenty of room, so it should fit for awhile.  I will echo what many of you said, thank goodness I knit things on the big side for him!

I added our Advent and Christmas reading list to the sidebar.  I can’t believe that Advent begins in less than a week!  Are you ready?  I’m not!  I received an email this week asking me what some of my favorite gift ideas are, things that we have that I would recommend.  Of course my mind went totally blank in the face of the question.  I’m trying though.  I may just have to post things as I think of them, but I’ll include a few ideas here:

I think that Keva maple planks are the single most played with toys that we own, and I say this having had them for over five years.  I can’t say enough good things about these very simple blocks that appeal to a very wide range of ages.  The ones that I linked to are actually made in the U.S. versus the pine planks that are imported.

A close second would be wooden train tracks and trains.  I don’t have the set that I linked to here, but they look like a really good value.  I bought all of ours about ten years ago when Seth was a toddler.  Now Silas is playing with them and the older boys will still sit down and build tracks as well.

Pattern blocks are really popular with my kids and have always been.  We recently bought this bamboo mosaic puzzle (in the photos above) and my kids are having a lot of fun with it.

If I had to name the item most played with by my girls it would have to be play silks.  They are always in use it seems.

For the knitter, I always recommend a Yarn swift (I have that one in walnut and like supporting this family business) and yarn ball winder (I don’t have this model, but I can’t recommend the one I have b/c Jonny has had to rebuild it several times.  Were I to buy a new one, I would purchase the one I have linked to here.)** updated to add:  This yarn ball winder is also available on Etsy here’s the link.

And finally, I have the midsize wooden drying rack from Homestead Drying Racks and absolutely love it.  Ours is in daily use, mainly for drying wool items and other things that don’t go in the dryer.  It is really well made and sturdy.  Silas climbs on it like a jungle gym.  My only problem is that even with the midsize rack, I don’t have a great place to store it, because it is really big!

I’ll list more at the end of posts over the next few weeks as I think of things….


  1. I echo play silks a million times over! BUT if you have a tight budget, I’d recommend buying blank silks from Dharma trading company and dying your own. MUCH cheaper but still quite nice. My oldest daughter is obsessed with play silks and I’m sure my youngest will be, too, once she is old enough to play with them!

    You can also never go wrong with books. My secret is buying second hand books, like at St. Vincent de Paul or Goodwill, where they usually have a large selection of children’s books, including some real gems, for super cheap!

    Thanks for your suggestions, Ginny. I’m so excited to see what else you suggest!

  2. Those planks have been a huge success with my little girl. We have European ones (’cause we live here) but same concept. I started a photo documentary of the things she builds with them (schoolhouse, theatre, farms, etc.). Too bad I don’t blog.

    Playsilks are also the number one toy for her. The things she does with those! It’s amazing, really. I dyed a bunch of them for her last Easter but should do it again. My Christmas list of handmades is fairly long already, though.

    She plays quite a bit with Playmobil people, too. I just get them in bags at charity shops. Just the people, mind you.

    Oh and Schleich animals. She recreates stories with them — like Little Grey Rabbit or The Animals of Farthing Wood. She really, really wants a mole. Why don’t they make cute little moles? I’ve told her I’ll write to Schleich about it, but haven’t yet!

    That’s all there is really. One rather large basket full of a bunch of playsilks, animals, Playmobil people and planks.

    • Oh, and by the way, I’m also going to knit a Lorne’s Hat for my husband this XMas. I am just horrible at 2X2 ribbing because I forget all the time what I just did, so getting through the first two rows or so with tiny yarn and tiny needles is sheer torture. I can’t imagine ever being done with the thing. I may die of ribbing too!

  3. Thanks for sharing your favourites. I love Silas’s brown hat! Hope you’ve found it already.
    Greetings from the land of knitting grey mittens 😉
    Take care, Katharina

  4. Thank you for the links, but what caught my eye was how combed the girls’ hair was! 😉 I immediately wondered if you were going somewhere, or if someone was visiting! That’s the only time my girls’ hair is that tidy… funny the little things you notice! Made me laugh. Here’s to a beautiful happy family no matter how their hair looks. Have a sweet Thanksgiving full of goodness.

    • Things feel so crazy here right now, and for some reason if I can get the girls’ hair brushed it makes me feel a little more in control, which I realize is silly 🙂

  5. http://www.etsy.com/listing/93827607/stanwood-needlecraft-large-metal-yarn?ref=sr_gallery_12&ga_search_query=stanwood+needlecraft&ga_view_type=gallery&ga_ship_to=US&ga_all=1&ga_search_type=all

    Here is the ball winder from StanwoodNeedlecraft etsy shop and it’s a bit less expensive than on Amazon. Wish I had checked etsy before I bought mine off Amazon. 🙁

    • Thanks Cheryl! I wouldn’t have thought to check Etsy for that!

      • Welcome…$20 bucks difference…that’s an awesome hank of yarn! 🙂

        • Oh man–twenty bucks!! That really does stink. Can’t you cancel your order? I have Amazon prime so I just see the “prime” price which with shipping is only about a five dollar difference. I’m going to update the post with the Etsy link!

          • I bought mine in early Oct. for the Amazon price of 59.99…this etsy shop has it for 39.99. I don’t have Amazon Prime…but maybe I should?! 🙂

          • Oh, Man, I just checked the shipping fee from that etsy shop…$14.00 for the ball winder…yikes! Comes out to $53.00 total…just under the regular Amazon price. Okay, off to begin cooking for tomorrow…Happy Thanksgiving to you! 🙂

  6. Love your photos, they’re so natural. Job looks so sweet in this beautiful gown.

  7. Funny that you linked to that ball winder, as I just received mine last week, and I did order from Amazon. It is amazing and very high quality. There’s really only one negative- it’s very loud. Hopefully that resolve after time or silicone lubricant on the plastic gears is my husband’s idea. I think it’s a huge step up from the starter ones, and not really much more money.
    My, Job is such a handsome baby! He seems really mellow too from the pictures.

  8. oh ginny, job is so gorgeous. just like all the rest of your babies. your knits look beautiful too. i hope you and jonny are enjoying these special (full) days.

  9. Hi Ginny,

    Where did you find the wooden beads that are in your last picture? I’ve been looking for a good set for a long time, and can’t seem to find one!

    Thanks so much

  10. I just went back to your Advent post from last year and ordered the bees wax candle kit! Very excited for it to arrive,( although it might be after this sunday. ) Thanks for the gift list!

  11. I just wanted to recommend a ball winder that I bought last year in case you need to replace yours. It’s a bit pricey, but super sturdy: Strauchfiber.com. They also have a floor swift that is well-made and gorgeous.

    Your knits are beautiful!

  12. Oh I just love that little gown on Job!

  13. Beautiful pictures as always. Larkspur looks like she’s practicing surfing or snowboarding with hot chocolate (or tea?) in her hands! It made me laugh.

    Oh man it’s already time to start buying presents?!?! Ahhhh!!

  14. Beautiful Ginny. but I just have to add from your post yesterday – I didn’t know what a selfie was until I heard the piece on NPR that day as it being word of the year and my older children could not believe it:)
    You look great and I hope you are feeling as good as you look.
    Blessings and love, Tonya

  15. I always know where to come to put a smile on my face, cannot get enough of your beautiful children, and oh my, ………Job, just gorgeous!

  16. I like the puzzle idea, I would have loved that as a child. The had is so beautiful on Silas. Love seeing your knits.

  17. Thanks for the list! I am thinking of getting my just turned 3 year old some trains and tracks. I have had those tracks in my amazon cart for awhile, just thinking. Can anyone tell me how their children play with trains? If it makes sense, I’m hoping to have the most minimalist train set up that is still enjoyable. I’m hoping to avoid tons of extras. Are just flat tracks and some trains enough? Any thoughts appreciated!

    • Yes, I think that tracks and trains would be enough. The part that my kids enjoy the most is building tracks. Fancy extras aren’t necessary, you might start with plain tracks and maybe add some bridges for fun later?

    • We have 8 children and they all have enjoyed the wooden trains and tracks. Some of the elaborate bridges look really nice when put together but at least for us they also fall over and get to be kind of a bother. There are some nice tunnels and fun train cars to add but I wouldn’t worry about the elaboate pieces for a few years. Hope that helps.

  18. Thank you so much for this post, Ginny! I’m the one who sent the email 🙂

  19. Wonderful post and beautiful baby boy! Love all the hand knits too! I do have the yarn swift and ball winder you linked to…awesome is the word for both…and very well built!

  20. Donna Boucher says:

    Hi! Thank you. I bought the pattern. You made it with Brambleberry yard. On the website I don’t see a bulky weight. Is it smaller because you used a regular worsted weight?

    • No, It’s just a one size sort of pattern, and I went down a needle size to make it snug. Silas has a big head though, so I didn’t really need to downsize much. It’s stretchy–so even my older son fits it. Brambleberry must be out of the bulky weight yarn!!

  21. I love the color of every piece of yarn in this post! 🙂

  22. thank you for this list xxxxx

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