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We’ve got quite a bit going on behind the scenes in the Quiet Hours’ nursery.  After many requests, we will be expanding our baby offerings to include a few select necessities and indulgences for your favorite babe. The image above is a little preview of what is on the way – Ginger Warden’s beautiful hand-embroidered fabric blocks.

More about Ginger and her fellow Moms in Toyland coming soon…. 

Stroller Derby

April 11, 2007

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Thanks to Rachael Brownell for the fine post over at Stroller Derby! Rachael is one of the sharp and witty parenting bloggers posting over at Babble.com. I highly recommend checking out her personal blog Crank Mama which is written for “good parents with bad attitudes”. If you love being a parent but have had just about enough of pretending that life with children is a joy ride all day every day, you will find yourself identifying and laughing right along with just about everything she says. 

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Now Nelly Noble has made a sock monkey or two in her day. Being the crafty woman she is, however, she wasn’t content stitching up just any old run-of-the-mill sock critter. Instead, she set her imagination and talents to creating her own miniature wild kingdom, and has since transformed countless socks into uncommon soft toys. (She’s even made a sock zebra.) Nelly presides over her menagerie from her studio in Washington state, where she dispatches her animals to deserving children who will give them good homes and take them on pretend safaris.

We’re pleased as can be to be offering a selection of giraffes, sock-a-phants and little bears over in the shop. Each is a one-of-a-kind piece, so once it is gone we will have to wait and see what she comes up with next. 

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A friend tipped me off to Small magazine, a new online venture dedicated to supporting grass-roots creativity, independent artisans, and those who “make and find joy and fun in things small”. They recently launched their inaugural issue, and it is a lovely and inspiring glimpse of work by people who make things for children or who design on a small scale. You can find a sampling of its pages here and here, plus a recipe for the scrumptious “yo yo” (or “melting moments”) biscuits from soft toymaker extraordinaire Fiona Dalton of Hop, Skip Jump. Also new to me is Naomi Zouwer’s charming artwork. She hand draws each illustration then digitally manipulates and colors each image to give it a delightful storybook quality. The following pieces and more are available in her shop.

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I signed myself up for a subscription and received a lovely note from editor Olivia Pintos-Lopez complimenting some of the wonderful toymakers in our shop. She informed me that she and co-editor Christine Visneau are already planning the next quarterly issue which will appear this summer. They are on the lookout for new work to showcase, and are accepting submissions for possible inclusion in upcoming issues. “All interested fashion designers, artists, graphic designers, illustrators and photographers, furniture and toy makers are invited to submit. So for all you talented artists and crafters out there, check out their “Contribution” guidelines and consider sharing your work!

I’m really looking forward to the next issue appearing in my in-box, and seeing what turns up next. You can get your own free subscription here.

Brown Paper Packages

April 8, 2007

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Here are the two fellows who turned up in the boys’ Easter baskets this year. They are marvelously squashy stuffed bunnies – better known as “Oobee Cottontails” – made by Leslie Keating of Onegirl Designwrks in Australia. Leslie is a one-woman band of crafting-designing-photographing talent, and she is the maker of the cult favorite “Oobee” soft toys that I have been stalking for months, just looking for any old excuse to buy. Besides the fact that “oobee” is the cutest name for a stuffed toy ever, each piece a is one-of-a-kind creation stitched up in yummy fabric and pattern combinations, with the sweetest embroidered faces you ever could see.

The Oobee Cottontails are limited releases that come only once a year, so I made sure to contact Leslie when the first two appeared in her shop. It was such a pleasure to finally make her acquaintance, and to discover what a genuinely nice person she is. For those of you who might like an Oobee of your own, there are still a few Cottontails left, along with some of her standard designs like these:

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I was excited to get our box of Cottontails just in time for the holiday, but things got even better when I opened the package and discovered Leslie had sent along a few surprises for mom as well. Take a look at this lovely sewn card:

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It is a vintage dictionary illustration printed on hand-dyed linen and sewn across textured cardstock. This and other styles are available in singles or packs, and are just the kind of small indulgence we all love to treat ourselves to every now and then. What a treat to get in the mail! I can’t tell you how fun it is to open packages around here… 

So I’d like to say “Cheers,” Leslie! To you and all those people who make such happy things, let me extend a big warm “thank you”!

Happy Easter and Passover to all.

Piratical Hares

April 5, 2007

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Leave it to the fabulous Cool Moms – Kristen, Liz & Co. – to celebrate spring with wit and dash. Instead of fluffy white bunnies for Easter, they have singled out Cheryl A. Smith’s cotton-tail rogue of a pirate bunny (and all his companions in our Strange Bedfellows Finger Puppet Set) as a fellow children might like to spend some serious play time with. They do so with their trademark humor and cheek in a delightful post titled “Getting All Felt Up”.  I opened the review with my 7-year-old peering, unsuspectingly, over my shoulder. Well, he’s growing up and can read and spell now, lest I forget, and didn’t I have a fine time of it trying to dodge the question, “What does that mean?” whilst maintaining a straight face?

Thank you for the laugh ladies, and for the great mention of Cheryl’s felt menagerie! We’ve said it before but it bears mentioning again that not only are her puppet critters adorable but each and every one is hand-stitched with beautiful attention to detail. That alone impresses me when she could so easily whip them through the sewing machine. You can see more examples of Cheryl’s work over in the shop.