The mission continues…

It was precisely this time last year when I first learned to knit and purl…and I’ve been knitting and purling since! It has also been precisely 2 years and 2 months since I picked up my hooks again to start crocheting patterns. I just completed my first knitted hat for Noora. And it was a hat pattern that was my first crochet project as well.

But it was precisely 11 days ago when my beloved uncle, who was like a father to me, passed away from this world. I was working on a hat for him…and I didn’t finish in time. I put my sticks down for a while, traumatized by not being able to give him that last gift of the hands, but am now endeavoring to finish that hat. All the while wearing the many hats required of me from day to day…

Hats. And hands. Writing, crafting, mothering, mourning. I wrote an article about what my hands have been doing this past year, and it was published on the Islamic stationery company, Silver Envelope’s website. Do have a look and tell me what you think–my article is entitled “In Memory of Hands”. And another article that may be of interest to you, is from the UK for a new Muslim children’s magazine akin to Highlights, entitled Discover Magazine. The article is a tutorial for children on marbelizing paper, and is a flashback to my art teacher days, but as always, you can check out the Corpus page on The Sandal to see my published works. I’ve attached a picture of the latter article below for your viewing pleasure…I’m pretty excited about these new spaces for my words and hands–a combination of my loves for crafting and reflection. InshAllah there’s more to come from these hands in the new year, in both craft and word!

And now that I’ve honed my skills in knitting and crochet, in 2013, you can look forward to me engaging with a new craft on my mission to reclaim the crafts blast from the past: sewing (including quilting)! Of course, I’ll still be continuing to engage with more knit and crochet projects. I’d like to learn cabling, fair isle, and how to make socks in knitting, and I’d like to start designing crochet patterns. A premonition for 2014 is getting into embroidery techniques…but let’s take care of 2013 first inshAllah, shall we?

A blessed 2013/1434 to you all!


My article on marbelizing paper for Discover Magazine (2012): “Let’s Make Cloud Art!”

On the first days of Dhul Hijjah, my true love gave to me…

Okay, I know, I know. I’m totally (mis?)appropriating a Christmas song. Well, I have a past and some cultural baggage in the form of a love of all things Christmas-y that came with it. I was a Christmas-celebrationist for 16 years you know. But enough of the made up words. This year, I reappropriated some ideas to get Noora and myself in the mood for Dhul Hijjah. Because Noora heard that Eid was coming and automatically thought it was Ramadan. And when she found out that it wasn’t Ramadan or Eid yet, let’s just say that she wasn’t too happy. Thus, the need to teach her that there are two Eids and that they are different and come in different months. So the way I decided to excite her about Eid-ul-Kabir, which, unfortunately, I think is treated as the lesser Eid since it comes and goes so fast…is by borrowing an idea from my dear Sr. Amnah of Little Life of Mine…the traditional Christmas stocking stuffer idea, which I actually never participated in as a Christmas-celebrationist for all those years.

So for the past ten days of Dhul Hijjah, Noora woke up to one very bright yellow bag that I’d place in front of our fireplace and Eid lights (SIDENOTE–>The bag is bright with pictures of (Muslim) people and Arabic letters all over it…yeah, it’s such a cool bag that I kept it as souvenir from our trip to Palestine). Each day, I placed a number for the corresponding hijri date…and put one gift inside. One for each day…to remind her that these are the best ten days of the year, and that we’re giving up TV and other trivial things we do for much more important things. It worked like a charm. Not only did it help her countdown the days to Eid inshAllah…(she quickly learned that 10 signified Eid early on!), but it also helped her to not get overwhelmed by too many gifts at once. She was actually able to enjoy one gift fully each day, enjoying the specialness of that gift and that day. A lot of the gifts were items that she needed–tights, knee-highs, shoes, but there were also some fun inexpensive items in there too like glow sticks and stick-on earrings. But on the first day of Dhul Hijjah, she woke to…

The second book of the Noor Kids series

And I am absolutely smitten with this book. And so is Noora. I was actually asked to review the Noor Kids series a couple of months ago, but never quite got around to it. I was actually sent two other samples of this series, but today, I am reviewing the book that I personally purchased at ISNA. You didn’t think that Noora wouldn’t have a book on hajj with all this celebrate-holy-days-cheerleading I’ve been doing, did you?! Well, here it is! And let me tell you, if you have more than one child, you should have one for each of them because there are activities inside! .Noor Kids Go to Hajj! and the Noor Kids series in general, are a very inviting and interactive way to talk and teach about Islamic concepts and morals with children. When I first read that the books were for the ages 3 to 8, I wondered how could that be?! That’s such a big gap! But this series is actually everything you could want in a book really. Written in a comic-strip-style format, Noor Kids books are interactive, discussion-generating, and also great for independent play with the coloring, word and image search, unscrambling, etc. activities. Of course a lot of the activities are geared towards older children, but Noora was able to color, answer some questions and do a seek-and-find with images, and she’s a pretty new three-year-old. And who in that 3-8 age group doesn’t love listening to stories? One main concept is featured per book through two stories and a lot of activities. I especially loved the first story presented in this issue, “In Allah’s Orbit”. The authors had a unique way of talking about tawaf through the attraction of the planets to the sun. MashAllah, it was a unique way to introduce the solar system and the idea of centering and focusing ourselves and our attention on Allah–two things that I’ve been wanting to teach Noora–all the while presenting the concepts of hajj through tawaaf and sa’iee.

This series would be a great companion to academic study. Children learn about science, inventions, and history all the while connecting to their faith. There’s also a parent guide on the very first page that clues you into the issue’s theme and lists other resources for development of the concepts. If I were to sum up this series in one word, it would be resourceFULL. I love the illustrations and creativity–they are colorful and the renditions of actual places like the Mecca are true to life and inviting. The covers feature traditional Islamic art with mihrabs, and the characters are animals, but still look Muslim, and cute while at it! It’s soft acculturation in a very cutesy kid-friendly format, I mean what child doesn’t like animals?! Soft cuddly bears, rabbits, and lions? (Good thing they aren’t lions and tigers and bears–oh my! ;)). Moreover, having different kinds of animals as the characters solves the dilemma of being multicultural, which is always a must in my book!

Noora asked to read this book every day during the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah. She liked it so much that I had to give her one of the review copies as another gift during these first ten days (Noor Kids Discover Their Blessings). When she opened it and saw what it was, she said, “look, another book of Noor!”  Oh, and I forgot to tell you that when she saw the first book on hajj, she noticed her name on the cover and asked if it spelled her name. MashAllah. All in all, I think I will have to subscribe to this series and it’ll serve as her Muslim Highlights for Kids right now. Speaking of which, there is a Muslim Highlights of sorts that came out in the UK recently. It’s called Discover…and I’ll be published in the second issue inshAllah, so stay tuned! Meanwhile, you can get yourself a free sample of the Noor Kids series from their website.

As for other cheerleading feats, I thought I’d try to be a Cake Boss this Eid. I had the wonderful? idea of decorating cookies and brownies to make them look like Ka’abas this Eid. Yeah, I was on my feet for four hours and I’m not quite sure that they ever evolved into the wonderful pictures that I had in my head…they tasted good though! Hey, I never said I had mastered any cake decorating skills. I’ll leave my art to pencil, paper, and fibers for now! Mastering the art of cake decorating and cooking is not a part of my agenda on this blog…so I’ll focus my intentions of more-likely-to-be-achieved tasks like getting ready to make twenty gifts for the next year’s first ten days of Dhul Hijjah, since Safiyya will be old enough to kind of understand the gifting process. In the future, I’d like to put out ten bags all at once, incorporating math skills, so that Noora can tell me how many days we have left til Eid and how many Dhul Hijjah days have passed (though that may be biting off more than I can chew–can you imagine the control it would take to not try to open all those gifts at once when they are right there?!).

Whichever way, I think I’m starting a tradition that will need advance preparation in order for continuation. And maybe by then I can finish those old ka’abas that I made from paper last year and never finished. When I actually do get them hanging from the ceiling (inshAllah!), there will be a tutorial here for you. Meanwhile, I better finish this arts and crafts idea from Little Life of Mine that we started during these first ten days of Dhul Hijjah…and think of what cheerleading feat I’ll have to pull for next month–Muharram, the beginning of the Islamic calendar (<–I so need to get this girl a calendar)! Until then, Eid Mubarak!

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Book Review: Under the Ramadan Moon

It took a while to find this book. Last year, I checked out every children’s Ramadan book that my local library system had to offer to find *the* early childhood Ramadan book for Noora’s home library. There were more Ramadan books in the secular public library system than I thought! And they covered Ramadan traditions […]

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Must-Have Breastfeeding Tools of the Trade

Fellow blogger Latonia of Suckled Sunnah wrote in her post “National Breastfeeding Month 2012” that “August is National Breastfeeding Month and Surgeon General Regina Benjamin is promoting a social media campaign, [focused on the idea that] ‘Everyone can help make breastfeeding easier’, to support the removal of barriers to breastfeeding.” So in honor of the […]

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Bring it on! The Ravelympics…er Ravellenics! Yeah!

So, even though it’s Ramadan, I’ve decided to participate in a sport of sorts. But it’s probably not the kind of sport you’re thinking of. It’s my first time ever participating in the Ravellenic Games, which formerly were known as the Ravelympics. Basically, by whichever name you call the actual event, it’s a time when […]

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Interior decoration

As I begin putting up the Ramadan decorations, I wanted to pass along this link to this new website for Ramadan and Eid decorations, invitations, and placards called ModernEid. It’s pretty nifty, eh? I thought about getting this metallic garland from them, but I’ve decided to just stick with what I made last year. For […]

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2012 1/2: A Very Productive Year…so far

We are now past the midpoint of the year, and I’m proud to show you 14 projects that I’ve worked on since January. Only two are still works in progress (the last two photos), and they happen to be knitting projects! One of which (the Haruni leaf shawl) should be completed before the end of […]

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Welcome to the World, Baby!

This past Saturday was one of the best days that I’ve had in a long time. It was the aqiqa feast for baby #2. That’s right! She’s out(–she actually came out two days after the previous post!)…and it was pouring cats, dogs, elephants, coyotes, and every other animal at the zoo during her feast. This […]

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The Last Hurrah!

I only had one request before the birth of my second daughter. Two days away from my due date. I wanted to make it to The Textile Museum’s Celebration of Textiles 2012 Festival. And I wanted to be there by 11:15am…to see a Ms. Leanne Reuter… shear. a. sheep. Yes, it’s all coming full circle […]

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Me Handling Me…Amidst Teaching Crochet

Today I went into a community center to teach crochet. Three students awaited me with happy, smiling faces full of light on couches. I rushed to be on time for them–I only had a few minutes to spare and couldn’t be late after that post. You know the one. They followed me into the room. […]

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The Seventeen Benefits of Tribulation, Milk, or H.L.M.

I’ve been yearning to write this post all week to you, but alas, there was no time. I still needed a little self-help after last Saturday, so I started listening to Hamza Yusuf’s The Seventeen Benefits of Tribulation audio lecture. I believe I’ve actually heard this lecture before, but it all sounds new to me now, […]

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On Time

By (the Token of) Time (through the ages), Verily Man is in loss, Except such as have Faith, and do righteous deeds, and (join together) in the mutual teaching of Truth, and of Patience and Constancy.  (Qur’an Surah Al Asr 103:1-3) Today was the first day of my crochet class…a class I was asked to […]

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Today, we took a family field trip (as I like to call them) to Looped Yarn Works, the LYS nestled in D.C.’s Dupont Circle…precisely one block away from where I used to work back in my international development days…if you haven’t been to this store, you don’t know what you’re missing. The feeling is great, […]

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Knitting 101: “Purl towards Mecca”

Oh my goodness, I just learned to knit. Call me a crochet snob, but I never thought I’d enjoy using two needles to make stitches. I knew the day that I’d learn was coming soon, but I thought that it would feel more like a chore to achieve a certain goal rather than make me […]

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What’s up with the owls?

So, have you noticed all the owls floating around? They are everywhere! On fabric, jewelry, hats…it’s hard not to find them! But I wondered why they were popping up everywhere…so I googled the fashion trend and here’s what I found. Owls are flexible…adaptable, if you will, to many aesthetic tastes. For instance, they can be […]

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Crocheting a Beard?

I read about this phenomenon last May, but I was waiting for a time when I could intelligently respond…have you ever heard of a knit or crocheted beard? You don’t believe me? Just check out this site or this site! I first read about it on Green Prophet. Apparently, it was all the rage last […]

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The Official Launch of Good AfterNoora!

A year ago, I started this blog. And while it is still in development, I never dreamed that it would grow to be what it is today. Before my sights were just set on showcasing work for admirers who wanted to purchase it. But then something happened. I found that I wanted to learn more […]

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Cow’s Milk

Today was a bittersweet day. You know, I’ve been longing to get back on a farm…get closer to nature and all. And we found one! Right in our backyard! Literally! It’s walking distance from our house (though the sidewalk disappears for a few yards on the way…). Yup, it’s a farm complete with chickens, pigs, […]

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Book Review: At the Masjid Learning Series

A couple of months ago, I was asked to review a new children’s book series that took place at the masjid. So I checked out their website to make sure that I could review the books with justice. You see, a good number of books I’ve encountered at Muslim bookstores have issues to say the […]

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Eid-ul-Adha Ka’abas

Yeah…I was late with Eid-ul-Adha decorations this year. So late in fact, that the new ones will have to wait until next Eid-ul-Adha. See, I began making these 3-d ka’abas and fell asleep on them…I just couldn’t finish them…I was going to hang them in the hallway to greet our hajji upon his return. But […]

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