Monday, December 31, 2007

The rest of Christmas revealed.....

This present was a hit!

The quilted piece I did for my daughter and son-in-law as seen in a picture my daughter took of the front window of their place.

They really liked it, and I'm thrilled that they did!!

since this yarn could not be felted for the project I intended to use it for, I knit it up into a hat that will go to a charity knitters group

at least this way it is going to a good cause

meantime, I'm redesigning the project I originally wanted the felt for

This is the camera case I made for my sister

It was just the right size and she liked it

This was fun, I used fabrics that had scenic prints and clipped out pieces that I then "framed" like a photo on the front and back

The inside has a bright colored, quilted lining to protect the camera, then because we're talking electronics here and a magnetic clasp seemed like a bad idea, I used a velcro dot instead

I also made her a beaded cord for her glasses

leg warmers (2 bright colorful pairs) for my brother in law to help keep his legs from cramping

I'm hoping even the colors will help keep him warm

These are Tabi. They are the traditional style of sock worn in Japan with the shoes that have the strap that goes between the toes (thong sandle style)

I made these for my nephew. The grey and beige pairs are made of a fabric that reminds me of lightweight sweatshirt material.

The dark blue pair is a cotton fabric that I did traditional Japanese embroidery on "for dress"

And so now its on to new projects for a brand new year!

Hope you all have a safe celebration -- see ya next year!!!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Ok, maybe NOT felt

once again I have run up against the DUH! factor.

This (as usual) is based on my assuming that because something is wool yarn it will behave like wool yarn did back in the day (you know, horse & buggy day) when I first did a lot of knitting


nowdays they do some special incantation over the wool yarn, make it "MACHINE WASHABLE", and thereby render it useless to those of us that would make felt from it

nowdays you must buy the special "feltable" yarn to do this ---- AAAARRRRGGGGHHHHH!!!

ok, rant over, I unraveled my carefully knit block of pink goodness and returned it to the pile of yarn to be knit into charity hats

and its back to the drawing board on the camera case (sorry kid!) .... I have some other ideas to try out

Meantime, I have been living in "the belly of the hog" (or more likely on his shoulder) since yesterday afternoon when we began boiling the ham for today's dinner. Its making the dog nuts as she doesn't understand why she can't have whatever it is I'm cooking, and frankly, I'm already tired of the smell.....makes me wonder how our grandma's (or great grandma's) could handle it......

We're off to my mother's house to have our Christmas celebration......

time to go pack stuff up

Friday, December 28, 2007

paper dolls and ham and knitting for felt

and wrapping presents and crocheting beaded strawberries and encircling glass cabs

and all manner of other odds and ends of things

such are the days between Christmas and New Year's as I'm wrapping up old projects and beginning others

Before long I'll be deeply into the tax season (BLEAH!), but for a week or so I'm just "foolin' 'round" with all kinds of things

At the family Christmas gathering we're having tomorrow at my mother's we'll be having Country Ham. For those of you that have no clue about country ham, let me tell you it has been ever present on our minds for the last 24 hours and we have another 24 hours to go to complete the process. Yesterday morning I scrubbed it with a stiff brush and put it to soak. Later today we will begin the boiling (it takes 25 minutes of simmering per pound, and this one weighs 17.9 pounds --- that's nigh unto 8 hours by my calculations, so we'll be enjoying the scent for a while here today!)

During the day yesterday I started knitting up some wool into a piece to be felted for a camera case I'm making for my daughter. This was the only present this year that was presented as an IOU because I needed to have the camera's measurements before I could make it and I just didn't feel right about saying to her "measure your camera so I can make you a case for Christmas" (she already knew what 2 presents under the tree for her were, and I figured that was enough already!). Anyway, I'm just about finished with the knitting deal, so I'm hoping today to felt it and get on with the next step.

Finished the paperdolls for my mom. They came out really well. This morning I printed them out, having spent some time in PrintShop creating backgrounds and arranging the costumes artfully on the pages. I printed the "cover" with the dolls and their names on cardstock then the pages on high quality white paper. Today I will put them all together in a book and stitch the spine so it looks like the real thing. I sure hope she likes them.

All of the other presents for tomorrow are all wrapped, waiting for me to drag out the curly ribbon (better for items that are going to be put into a box to be transported) and finish them all up.

I don't do much crocheting any more as after a very brief time my hand goes numb, but I did have a go at making a little bead crochet strawberry yesterday. Actually I made 2 -- on the first one I followed the instructions I had found in a magazine article, and I wasn't all that thrilled with it.

So, I decided to have a go at making it up as I went along and I was much more pleased with the second one. These are to be used as an accessory with a new bear I'm working on.

Finished encircling a glass cab and started on the right angle weave strip that will become the "chain" for this. Actualling got 6 inches of that done, so its moving right along.

So today I'll be doing a bit of this and a bit of that.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

A day to rest and play

I have finished 5 more costumes for the paper dolls I'll be giving my mother on Saturday when we have our Christmas gathering.

It actually was a lot of fun creating these, so now I just have to do a couple more background drawings and put the whole packet together.

I'm hoping to have all of that done today.

Meantime, yesterday I was resting my back, and finished up this wool hat that will be the first of my pieces to be sent off to a charity group for 2008.

This is knit of a double strand of homespun, and it was actually very easy once I got through the "how do I do garter stitch in the round" stupidity -- its nice that I could call our family knitting expert (my sister) and have her 'splain it to me!

And under the catagory of "out of site, out of mind", you may recall way last June I was talking about working on an art doll. (If you want to refresh your memory, here's a link to that post.)

At the time I was thinking about entering it in a competition, but I just never got it done for that, and frankly I sometimes (ok, MOST of the time) have a hard time making something for some pre-stated theme, and if I'm going to enter something somewhere, I need to have something in process already that will just (by magic?) fit the theme. But I digress.....

Anyway, one of my Christmas presents was the Winter 2008 Art Doll Quarterly (and if you haven't seen this publication, you really should take a look), which got me excited about finishing this doll project with a theme of my very own.

Soooooo, this is the completed face .... the base is made of a cotton blend fabric, filled with polyfill and the entire face covered with size 15 seed beads (size 11s didn't allow for enough detail to get this look). So now I can sew the head onto the body (which has been sitting headless since June), and I'm thinking about wigging.

My new idea about this has to do with a twist on an old theme. For ages there has been a tradition of Peddlar Dolls which usually are depicted as an elderly lady accompanied with all of the sewing notions she is "peddling".

I'm thinking about using the idea of the multi-media artist as the theme, and including items that reflect all of the many materials and techniques that I use to create all of the pieces I do. We'll see how this all comes together.

So today there will be wrapping of presents for Saturday's gathering, and finishing of paperdolls and scrubbing and soaking a dry cure ham (which will be Saturday's dinner) and along the way some work on some other projects too....

time to get moving

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Christmas Hang Over

We had a wonderful Christmas.

A lovely dinner on Christmas Eve with our daughter and son-in-law. Followed by a low key Christmas morning with presents and an easy to do luncheon tray before they headed out into the ugly weather to go home.

As I have been saying during the month of December, I had been finishing projects at a good clip, but a good many of them could not be detailed for fear of spoiling the surprise on Christmas morning.

Now at least part of them can be revealed.

As you may recall, I had knit up 3 turtles -- 2 that were toys for a friend's children and one as a stocking stuffer for my son-in-law.

This is the rabbit I knit for my daughter. For years she has had a collection of rabbits, and this was just too cute to pass up.

(and so we had from the top of the Christmas socks "the tortoise and the hare")

This is the sweater for my daughter.

The picture does not do it justice, and I am particularly proud of the appearance of the zipper in the front since I had to "wing it" putting that in -- the original pattern did not call for that (or for the decorative cable around the bottom edge either!)

The yarn I used has a lovely soft feel, and I think she will enjoy it.

(So now I'm planning the next sweater adventure!)

This is a piece I did for my son-in-law.

His dog is about the same color as this, and has one brown eye and one blue eye.

Earlier in the year I had made one of these for a show, thinking it would never sell and I would end up giving it to him for Christmas. Wouldn't you know it, it sold at the first show I took it to!

So, I made this one just for him. Hand painted eyes, suede mouth and foot pads and inner ears. And may I say, this fur is not fun to work on in this size -- but the results were spectacular -- and he really liked it.

This wall hanging was designed by the DH, executed by me.

Each figure having a significance for my daughter, her husband, their pets. I told them more figures of animals can be added as need be!

This was the first quilted piece I have ever done that the quilting does not just echo the pieces on the front. Instead I quilted snowflakes across the whole field.

I'm thinking to use this technique on the next quilt I'm working on so that the front and the back can each tell their own story

And this bright and colorful fleece vest was made for my husband. We keep our house very cool, so sweaters, sweatshirts and vests are an everyday item of clothing.

A couple of years ago I had made him a vest with a zipper, and when the cold season began this year he couldn't figure out what had become of it.

I decided a new one was in order, but because we had put ourselves on an extremely small budget for Christmas spending, I decided that I would see if I could make him a new one from things I had on hand.

This is the result -- bright, colorful and warm! (and with the bonus of partly cleaning out some of my stash)

And so today I'm doing some laundry and just moving along slowly as somehow I managed to hurt my back and certain movements are painful today.

Tomorrow I promise to have pictures of some of the great goodies I got from Santa and others (give me time, I'm still reading the manual!)

Hope you all had a great Christmas too!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Ho Ho Ho!

It looks like the jolly ol' fellow has been here already!

the stockings are ready
the cookies are baked
the presents are wrapped

it must be a mistake

this can't be my house a whole day before Christmas -- where is the rushing, the frantic wrapping, the flour and sugar and eggs making glue on the still unmopped kitchen floor?

Somehow with the whole idea of making Christmas simplier this year a lot of the stress went away too -- its a nice side benefit -- who could have thought?

C H R I S T M A S!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

what the well dressed Cati (or Pilar) would wear.....

Ok, just a little sample of the costuming going on for the paper "dolls".....

Its my contention that the little girl caterpillars dream of dressing up as beautiful butterflies......

This is the first of 6 outfits I have created...the drawings are done and now I'm doing the coloring

and I did this as a background

I still have several more pages of drawings to do and the coloring (which I am doing with a combination of very fine point markers and colored pencils -- my friend suggested water colors would make nice backgrounds, but that is TOTALLY beyond my abilities at this point -- maybe later!)

Once I get all the seperate components drawn up I will be trying to figure out the "layering" abilities of my printshop software so I can combine the images and do the print outs.

Today will be full of baking and cleaning. Yesterday I got all the presents wrapped and under the tree. I can tell you there were a couple of items that were a real challenge!

Meantime last night because I was just too wiped out by a sinus headache to work on the drawings or start anything else I cast on the first afghan square for 2008's charity knitting.

Time to get moving, the Yule Log cake awaits being frosted and decorated.....

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Just have to share

this would be Cati and Pilar

the beginnings of the set of paperdolls I'm drawing for my mother for Christmas -- I know its safe to post these 'cuz she doesn't do computers much

I've done some background drawings and the first costume, so we're moving right along on these --- its kind of fun to play with colored pencils,

meantime, all of the other Christmas projects are now done and have been dutifully photographed for me to show off AFTER the big day.

Today there will be cleaning and baking and more drawing

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Dashing through the projects......

my sewing machine is humming, my knitting needles are flying, the needles are stitching

it looks like Santa's Workshop South

Yesterday I completed one particularly auspicious project.

I have 3 others at the "just one more thing" stage, and 2 more still in the "slogging along" period of mind numbing repetition, but there is a light at the end of that tunnel.

There is one more sewing project to work on that hasn't been cut, but that entails making toys for the dog, and will be a very quick do (not much detail, just sturdy stitching required!)

And then it will be on to the kitchen projects -- dog biscuits, kolaches and a first ever attempt at a jelly roll cake (that is a whole story of its own, to be photographed and detailed on Hattie's Kitchen soon)

time to get a move on.....

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Lovely lilac light steppers......

Nice, right!?

Finished these off last night, another item crossed off the "finish it before Christmas" list!!

These are not a Christmas present, just something I had in the works for my daughter that I wanted to have finished before she arrived -- slippers in our house (after all its that tropical 62 degrees!) are pretty much mandatory in the winter.

onward and upward!!

Monday, December 17, 2007

another day another project -- COMPLETE!

and yes, its another of those Christmas things that I can't talk about or show pictures of yet.

Let me say, however, that it came out really well, so I'm pleased with the efforts.

I was tempted on Saturday to add yet another Christmas project to the mix, but I have decided that the project I have in mind I can't start until after Christmas, so the person I had in mind to get this will get an "I. O. U." for this one so I can get proper measurements for the item. (ok, if you understood that ramble, please explain it to me!)

I made especially great progress on one item yesterday too, so hopefully it will be complete today.

Today being Monday means I'm hangin' out in the laundry room, shuffling dirty clothes from the basket to the washer, wet clothes from the washer to the dryer and then clean dry clothes from the dryer to the basket -- all very cyclical -- oh yes, and next week we repeat it all again!

time to go shuffle!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The creative solution

All in all the solution to yesterday's "Oh No" is quite acceptable!

I finished stitching all of the blank spaces on the piece of fabric and now I'm actually ready to cut into the yardage -- Hurrah!

Meantime yesterday I finished 3 other projects on the Christmas list, and made progress on 3 others -- on the whole a pretty productive day.

I'm kind of at the "I want to be finished so I can do something else" stage of projects now, something that happens frequently when I near the end of a project (or I get to the "slog along" stage of anything!).

Today there will be more knitting and sewing and beading and hopefully a couple more finished projects to report about tomorrow.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Its the "OH NO" factor

As I was moving right along through the next step in my Christmas projects I suddenly realized that I had a real problem with the dark blue embroidery project.

What was supposed to be a mirror image pair was in fact an identical pair -- the equivalant of having 2 left feet! Somehow I hadn't noticed that the patterns, while marked left and right were actually both faced to be the left. What to do? I didn't want to start all over again, I'd already done all that stitching....hmmmmmm

After some thought I turned the piece back to the white side and filled the entire space around the pieces with more lines to be stitched on. I'm about 2/3 done with filling those all in, then I will just use the fabric as if it were just a piece of yardage to be cut into.

So the result of the project will be different than originally planned, but the work is not lost.

I got the most amazing card yesterday from a friend in California. He works in multi media collage art and does some truly amazing (and very large) pieces. This card included a photo of just a piece of a triptych he had done for a show that is blues and greens in the most amazing layers and patterns -- I would just love to do a version of in in fabrics -- truly a place to use a fusing technique.

Yesterday's doodling produced these.....with a little work the girl could become a paperdoll. And how about these Byzantine style birds?!

time to get back to working on Christmas presents!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Wined up musical toys?!

No, I did not spell that title wrong -- someone else did!

Let me preface this whole story with a bit of background. We live about an hour away from Denver. After years of being in California where San Francisco and Stanford Shopping Center and all their joys at Christmas were about an hour away, I admit I miss the glitter of this season's decorations in those places. That being said, we have gone every year at Christmas time since we've been in Colorado to the Cherry Creek Mall in Denver.

Not that we actually buy anything, but its an outing that we can do that we enjoy.

After watching the weather (and having had 2 snow storms in a week), we decided yesterday morning that we would make the excursion.

So off we go. It must have been meant to be, we had no traffic problems (a minor miracle in itself), arriving in a bit less than an hour and finding a very close in parking space (I must admit here that the Handicap placard in the front window of the van helps here!).

Our plan was simple -- walk around in the mall, look at all the Christmas decorations, maybe purchase a few things not easily available to us in our area, have lunch in our favorite place to eat lunch and come home.

And so we began.

Having seen the commercials featuring Martha Stewart decorating the store for Macy's, we went in to take a look.

Back in the corner of the second floor was a display of ornaments and trees and musical toys -- WINED up musical toys -- according to the sign -- wait, WINED? don't they mean WIND? Or perhaps they would play "how dry I am" or some appropriate inebriated tune. Evidence that someone didn't proof read, only spell checked!! It was too good to just chuckle and let it go. So, I decided to have a little fun with the clerks. Fortunate for me these were 2 ladies at least my age and with a sense of humor -- I pointed out the sign -- we all had a great laugh! (we're still wondering if Martha knows about those Wined Up Musical Toys)

We have collected Christmas ornaments for many years. Now days we haven't the funds for the many additions to this collection that we used to make every year, but we always look for something that will be a good addition to part of the collection. (Part of the fun of putting up the trees every year is the "remember where" of the ornaments as they go up).

This little "onion dome" was our addition this year. The picture really doesn't do it justice -- its a lovely purple-y coco brownish color with gold glitter tones. Nice!

One our way down the mall we passed the Sees Candy kiosk and had a nice chat with the gal that was working there. Not wanting to haul our purchase for the entire trip, I told her we'd be back on our way to the car. I'm thinking she hears that line a lot (I know I hear it at shows too).

But I really meant it, on our way to the car, we stopped and bought a very small box of chocolates for ourselves and a couple of small gift items too.

For whatever reason, she chose a large shopping bag for our purchases and as we were leaving she said "I put in a few samples for you". These are the FEW samples -- it was adult trick or treating at Christmas!! What a hoot!!

Now days I spend more time looking at things in the stores that I would have never looked at before.

In one of the stores I saw some of the work of a guy named Jay Strongwater.

Obviously influenced by Faberge, the pieces on display were AMAZING!! The bunch of asparagus is a hinged box and inside is another smaller bunch of asparagus and a tiny butterfly. The bumble bee is a pin. He uses lots of tiny swarovski crystals (some of his pieces must have had HUNDREDS of them on them).

WOW! and WOW again!!

And so while we were having our lunch at Johnny Rockets (LOVE their hamburgers and onion rings), I did some doodling in the little notebook I carry with me.
Have you seen the decorations in the Nordstroms stores this year?

They inspired these little bird like creatures

And while we were eating, a lady came in for a cup of coffee. Wearing pants with a large black and white herring bone pattern and a BRIGHT yellow oversized sweater and some of the pointy-est shoes I've ever seen, she was limping right along.

So, I drew this...

And this little (?) bear was doodled in the car -- I think he's kind of cute. Now I'm wondering if I can use him for some larger purpose -- note cards? a Christmas story? maybe a whole new bear design? We'll see....

And so, our Holiday Adventure complete, today we return to other things (got to fetch dog food and a printer cartridge), and perhaps some more doodle time later....

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A hill scene and more finished projects

I did this little piece while I was talking to my mother on the phone last night.

It started off with the wavy lines on the right then just sort of emerged from there. I kind of like the snail on the fallen log, but I think the mouse is a little "iffy"....more mouse works later...perhaps like that clip I saw on TV the other night of that newly discovered mouse with the HUGE ears and the VERY LONG tail (with a furry tuft on the end, no less) that sort of hops like a bunny....odd, very odd

Yesterday I completed another "Project Which Can Not Be Named" ... not to worry folks, I am taking pictures so there will be full disclosure -- just not 'til after Christmas!!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A "what is it" picture

Stare at it for a while and the pattern will emerge.....this, by the way, is but a tiny portion of a white thread on navy blue fabric project I'm working on.....

Lovely isn't it? Its all done in just a running stitch, so aside from needing to turn the fabric this way and that to be stitching in a direction that was comfortable to me, its not difficult.

More on this project later!

Meantime, one more "project which can not be named" is nearing completion, and another one in in process.

Moving right along toward Christmas!

Yesterday we put ornaments on the family room tree and I found the box with the Christmas socks in it -- that one was important!! In a couple of days we should be done decorating.

There has been baking going on, and today there might even be some package wrapping!

time to get going.......

Monday, December 10, 2007

Christmas trees and snow and teddy bears

After 2 days of fog, icy drizzle and snow, we woke to this beauty yesterday morning.

All of this shot from my patio

The trees are especially nice as after all that ice, the soft, diamond dust looking fluffy snow was just laying gently on each and every branch

Every little movement of air would sift some of the snow off the branches so it was like walking about inside a snowglobe -- very cool indeed!

And indoors the tree in the living room is up and the teddy bears have taken up residence under it.

Usually there are a number of other things under the tree too, but since I'm not unpacking all 926 (ok, 35) boxes of Christmas stuff this year, the bears will probably hang out by themselves this year.

Yesterday we rearranged the furniture in the family room and put up the tree there. We got as far as lights on the tree before we both decided we had done enough physical work for the day.

I admit it was nice to not feel guilty about turning on the lights on the tree -- we converted to LED lights in the family room this year, and I strongly suspect from everything I've read about them that they will pay for themselves in electric bill savings THIS YEAR. The other very cool thing about them is they do not get hot. When I turned them off at 10 pm they had been on for about 6 hours and they were still as cool to the touch as they were when we took them out of the box. Yes sir, I can tell you that pretty much all of our other lights will be switched out to these (just not all at once).

And so today is the day for laundry and sorting out of the rest of the stuff I took out of the family room....ordinary stuff....its a dirty job, but somebody's got to do it (oh to have a cleaning service!!)