Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Look, an actual completed BEAR!!

I know

you were beginning to wonder if an actual finished BEAR would ever appear here again

well, here's the story on bears -- there's a lot more work to finishing the face of a bear than there is on a bird, so they tend to get shuffled to the end of the work order as they go through all the processes

(and truth be told, I've been in a "been there, done that" thing with the bears of late, so this little critter and the other 3 that are in the que right now are the designs of the DH -- I'm just "smithing" with these)

This is a relatively little bear - only about 8 inches tall. His lower jaw is the really unusual thing about him -- its applied after he's all stuffed almost like attaching an ear -- and it has a wire in it for posing.

In the past I have always used pipe cleaners/chenille sticks for wiring things, but after my daughter's wedding I have some floral wire on hand that ought to get used for something, so I decided to try it out.

I like the stiffness of the floral wire better than the pipe cleaners -- its great stuff! Needless to say, I will be going to a different section of the craft store for future wire needs -- no more kiddie stuff here!

So, now that "Pinkie" is finished, its on to a larger bear today.

It may not look like much, but this is the beginning of the next quilting project

When I started thinking about the angel panels, I had originally thought of doing them in a "stained glass window" technique, but I decided that the pieces were a bit too small for all that black bias tape stitching.

So, I decided to try to make it look more like a Renaissance painting, which meant a lot of use of batik fabrics to get that "brush stroke" look.

Since I now have all of the pieces set up to begin working on this, I needed to get some yellows for the wings and halos, and something to use for the armor on Michael.

Imagine my surprise when I was wandering through the fabric area and discovered that metal looking gray fabric in with the quilt cottons -- and it was on sale no less!! I'm excited about getting started on this project.

No doubt you're looking at this picture and wondering "what the...?!"

This folks is where the fact that I've done a lot of fiber arts begins to create fused techniques

This is a needlepoint frame. Its original use was to hold a large needlepoint canvas while working on it to keep it from doing that diagonal pull thing that needlepoint tends to do (does anyone needlepoint anymore? is it another of the "antique" fiber arts (like tatting) that I know how to do but no one does anymore?)

Anyway.....when I do my pieced/appliqued quilt panels, I use a thin muslin backing that has the entire pattern drawn out on it. I like this approach because I always have a "map" of where I'm going, but its a continued struggle to make sure there's no "bunching" when pieces get stitched to it.

Viola! the needlepoint frame! I'm thinking this will work for these panels anyway. At least I'm going to try it.

I'm also going to be using acohol based fabric markers (Copic) to do shading and such on this one, and there has been some random discussion about having the ends of the feathers in the wings be "free" from the backing -- I'll keep you posted (also notice, the new working "ticker" has been added to the side bar for this project)

this is Mittnz #6!

A more sedate color and a larger size

nice soft wool

and while I was in the store picking up the stuff for the quilt, I saw this lovely stuff in a sale bin, and I thought they looked just like Mittnz #7, so I brought them home and last night I started the first of that pair

And under the catagory of either "Knitters will try anything" or "Playing with your food until its too dirty", my sister (bless her!) sent me the link to this clip that will instruct you how to knit with raman noodles.....

raman noodle knitting

I know, I know, its a little nutty, but trust me, it's actually possible! Go check it out

Ok, enough fun for this morning -- time for me to get busy designing a flyer for the show I'm doing in 3 weeks and some other things......

y'all have a great day!!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Bear what?! {or another trip to the frog pond}

The caption for this picture should maybe read "is that a banana in your pocket or you happy to see me?" -- or alternately "consider a cod piece!"

needless to say, since this critter is a bright cherry pink, that look of male anatomy, just was NOT what we had in mind! (unless of course he's been out in the sun WAY too long)

this is typical of what happens, however, when we start in with a new design

the plan here was to create a bear with a long skinny body, but this is obviously not quite right

so while the head, arms and legs are great, the body will have to be redone --- AAARRRRGGGGHHHHH!!

why am I screaming, you ask? well, because aside from the usual steps for the "frogging" (opening the seams, removing the stuffing, taking out the joints) there is the issue of the fabric

as in, there isn't any more of it, or at least not enough to make a new body

and its a hand dyed fabric that I did by over dying something else

the good news? I have some more of the fabric we started out with

so, today's challenge is to try to duplicate the color -- or at least get close enough that this doesn't end up looking like a bear that works for the Geek Squad (you know, saddle oxford looking VWs?)

it should be interesting ---- looks like a bit of time over the dye pot today!!

I'm now switching into my witch costume {bubble, bubble, toil and trouble!!}

Monday, April 28, 2008

no mittnz, just quiltin'

its all finished -- the dragon that is

this morning I put it in a cold water rinse to take out all the blue markings and its hanging to dry

feels good to have such a big project crossed off my list!

now, on to the next one!!!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Flamingos and penguins and mittnz -- OH MY!!

Just when you though the onslaught of birds was finished .....


This is the latest of the flamingos

I've been doing variations of these funny birds for several years, and just about the time I'm thinking "ok, we're DONE!", someone comes along and buys one and I decide to do "just ONE more"

this particular bird is the best of the bunch I think (evidence that continued practice improves the product perhaps)

Occasionally I get a remnant of feather finish mohair that is actually an appropriately pink color, but not recently, so the pink of this one is a hand dyed piece (would you believe I used Wilton paste food color for this one? -- that actually makes a GREAT dye!!)

His beak is made of two colors of upholstry velour. Prior birds had a lighter yellowish piece instead of this very burnt orange color, and I like this much better.

there is a joint where the neck meets the body so his head can be turned to get the cute pose I did here in the close up shot

Glass eyes and stiff, self supporting legs complete the package

I think he's rather fetching!!

For about 3 years I have done a penguin named "Bill" -- he was short, had little wings and a very long beak, each one of them wore a hand knit scarf. Cute, but after making quite a number of them, I'M DONE! (turning the long very thin beak was a royal pain in the butt every time!)

But penguins, just because they have that cute black and white formal wear thing going on are a great eye catcher in the booth, so we decided we'd try to design a new one.

Well, this little birdie took us almost 6 months to figure out!! For one thing, a bird with an open beak is a whole new challenge (and I'm still not totally satisfied with this one, but its pretty good)

As you can see, he has very long wings that are attached just below the neck joint, and they have a very stiff floral wire inside that allows them to be posed in a number of cute positions

This one has those expressive bright yellow eyebrows above the glass eyes -- the yellow was hand colored with an alcohol based ink marker -- and I've already decided that the next one will have larger eyes

Something about penguins just says to me "I need something draped around my neck", and while the last design had long fringed scarves, this one wears an 8 mm crystal "ice cube" on a string of smaller crystal beads. You know -- penguin -- ice cubes -- hmmmmmm

We'll see how this is received at the next show

Pair number 5 of the Mittnz!

Don't you love the almost floresant blue of these -- a lovely soft wool -- like silk, wool just seems to glow in some colors

So, now I'm working on pair #6, and closing in on the 8 pair goal!!

Last night I put the last quilting stitch into the quilt and removed the last pin. Now its on to the binding!! This means I will have 2 large Christmas projects completed by the end of April -- HURRAH!!

time to get busy

Thursday, April 24, 2008


As I mentioned yesterday, more birds were on the runway!

This is number 5 in the series of toucans I've been making

these have all been bright colors with black bodies, no two of them alike

this one is mostly greens and yellows

and has the lovely, self supporting wire feet (and sharp toes!)

and this one is the rare Royal Purple and White Toucan

a sort of experimental bird, just to see if anyone thinks this color combo "works"

There will be a brief pause in the studio work until Monday as we are heading out to Utah for a family funeral.....these things are not totally unexpected as we get older, but its just not possible to schedule them at our convenience! At least the weather forecast is not for big storms which is a good thing.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Dodos in the Aviary

It must be spring....

the studio door is open

the aviary is filling up!

You may remember that about 2 weeks ago I finished up the puffin. Well, more birds have joined the show!

this is Darcie

soft mohair
upholstry velour beak and feet

steel shot in her fanny (she's much heavier than she looks!)

and this is Darkwing

same sort of fabrics
much bigger attitude!

notice how they are both cross-eyed?

guess that's why they're extinct -- couldn't see where they were going (sort of like me in the wrong glasses!)

Today we have shopping to do, so I probably won't get as much done, but there are 3 more birds on the runway, so this fascination with feathers obviously has not run its course!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

feeling purple?

obviously purple was the color theme in the studio yesterday!

After working on the beading of this for about a week, yesterday I was able to sit down and finish it up

Like the teal and chocolate one I did a while back, this cuff bracelet is all glass beads -- grapetini and pink lemonade bead mixes mostly

I decided on this one to use a muslin backing, and frankly, I don't like it as well as the pelon, so I won't do that again unless I run out of pelon!

and the finished critter de jour is wearing purple too

Stella the alpaca sheep -- ok, now you know why each and every one of these MUST have a hand knit WOOL sweater vest -- its that whole IDENTITY CRISIS issue otherwise and there's nothing more ornery that a pissed off sheep

and then there were these lovelies

#4 in the series of MITTNZ -- wow, that means I'm now half way to the goal on these -- and so far, purely painless!!

today's excursions include putting eyes and wings on dodo birds, and beginning a new piece of jewelery which is entirely an experiment -- this should be fun!

Monday, April 21, 2008

I'm back

from the weekend at my daughter's

it was fun to take a couple of days to relax and just "hang out" with her

since they live at a lower altitude, its already spring for real at their house

when we left home on Thursday, there was about 4 inches of heavy, wet snow on the ground at our place, and it was still "flurrying"

At her house, the dogs got to play outside and it was warm enough to walk around in a short sleeve shirt -- yippee!!

One of the things I wanted to do while we were there was have her take some pictures of me with the new "hair do"

(or perhaps we should call it a "hair don't")

Anyway, here is a shot with the 1/2 inch fuzz -- don't you love the widow's peak!!

This picture I like!

Very cool hat and all that

this will probably become the "about me" picture on my blogs, etc, for a while anyway

As you may recall, I have been working on a sweater for the DH.

He wanted what he called "an old man sweater" -- a wool (or at least partly wool) cardigan with pockets and a shawl collar

After only minimal trips to the frog pond (there was an issue with pockets that could have been stuffed with kleenex and been "falsies"), it is complete!

This was actually a really fun sweater to make, and didn't take all that long

So now its on to other knitting projects -- like the annual Christmas knitting I do for my daughter!

Being in the car for several hours to and from my daughter's gave me time to knit.

This is the 3rd pair of MITTNZ for the challenge, and I have the 4th pair about half done! Its amazing just how quickly you actually can produce a pair of warm, attractive mittens.

One of the other things we did while we were with our daughter was take a trip to a nearby town to view a quilt show. I took LOTS of pictures, and I'll try to get a "review" posted here soon.

today its back to the routine -- laundry and working on projects!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

more stuff on the sticks soon?

this arrived in my mail box yesterday

its my "sample" issue -- and just full of wonderful projects that I would like to try -- I may have a few more projects in the que soon

I can report that our toilet issue has been mostly taken care of -- $150 later -- ouch!! But it no longer rocks or leaks, so its a good thing -- no seat yet as when we opened the box of the new seat it was damaged, so today it will go back to the store for exchange

As much as I dislike the cold and gray of winter, these are a big problem too

the weather channel is reporting that the tree pollen count is HIGH

this would explain why I feel like there's a little man with a hammer pounding beneath each of my eye sockets and I woke up with a dry throat

gotta love allergies -- ick

so, today and until the season is over, extra vitamin C and zinc and LOTS of fluids -- experience has taught me that this approach keeps those irritated tissues from succumbing to what ever nasty virus I might come in contact with!

After weeks of thinking about a new bead project, I pulled out all of the materials last night to give it a try. This may be one of those "well THAT didn't work" things, but unless I actually TRY it, I'll never know. This one entails working black and white beads (with an occasional single row of RED) in peyote stitch over wooden beads and rings to create a necklace. I've done some of this kind of thing before, but never exactly what I have in mind here -- we'll see how this all goes

well, time to go get some tea or juice or something

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Spring time -- or not?

lookie here -- daffodills!

yesterday it was warm, sunny, lovely spring weather

today it will be more like summer and tomorrow we may get snow again ---

oh yes, the joys of living at 6000 in the Rocky Mountains!!

meantime, we spent a lot of yesterday with a doctor appointment and doing laundry, so aside from finishing this pair of mittnz for the 8 pair challenge, not a lot got done here.....

today we will be having a visit from the plumber who will take care of the leak under the downstairs toilet -- so, probably not a lot will get done today either -- oh well, there's always tomorrow!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

all the king's horses and all the king's men...

well, it actually was just little ol' me with my scissors and a fresh roll of scotch tape, but the angels are back together again

You can see the lines where the individual blocks are, but that's ok, especially since this is just the color mark up (full size) to guide me as I put the thing together

next step -- create the black and white full size line drawing that will help me create the actual pattern pieces --- maybe today, maybe not

Elphie is the chief supervisor for this project (and every other project that goes on too!) I loved this -- it looks like she's creating a bit of jewelry of her own -- note the fabric "bracelet" around her right "wrist" -- cute Elphie, very cute!

meantime, yesterday's activities were interrupted by a trip to the hardware store....more about that in "random thoughts" later

after thinking about the bear face overnight I came up with a new idea that I hope to test out today -- think wizard.......

onward and upward!

Saturday, April 12, 2008


As I've spoken of several times here, I do quite a bit of knitting for charity.

Thanks to a VERY generous sister who is trying to clear out a large stash of yarns, I have been able to knit lots of afghan squares for Close Knit Hugs, and several hats for Warm Woolies.

Last week I stumbled into a blog titled Sheep Shots, which right away had me laughing, and she has this wonderful project going to send 1000 pair(!!) of mittens to the Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota during the last week in September.

Her challenge? Knit 8 pair of hand warming goodness -- send her pictures -- mail off your mittnz the last week in September

The picture above was my first pair for this effort (and she posted it on her blog!)

Anyway, care to join me? I think I've got enough patterns for mittens, wrist warmers, etc., to do every one of those 8 pair from a different pattern -- which should also be fun for a knitter that has enough problems doing 2 that match, never mind 16!

I had actually finished this pair a few days ago (it took me a while to get the photo taken), and I'm nearly done with mitten #1 of the next pair -- WOO HOO!!

Progress on the quilt continues -- not so many pins removed yesterday, I spent a lot of time quilting scales in on the dragon -- time consuming stuff that

The sweater for the DH is all knit. So now its on to the dreaded "stitching up" -- I'll be spreading it out on the table for matching and pinning.

I made an attempt at putting a nose on a bear yesterday -- I'm trying to do something a little different on this one, and I didn't like the way it looked, so I picked it out. I do like the look of the needle sculpting I did on this one so far, tho, so that's progress!

Yup, its those angel parts again -- only bigger!

This morning I did the final increasing of 150%, so now I will be cutting the new pieces and pasting them together to create the master color mark up. Then its on to the pattern making, which is always a challenge

time to get started!

Friday, April 11, 2008

quilter's puzzle

the subtitle of this could be: why I can't create my fiber pieces without my computer!

If you read yesterday's post, you might recognize these as yesterday's angels all cut into pieces.

The original drawings were 5 inches wide. Each of the 3 finished panels needs to be about 15 inches wide.

Since I don't have the technology to take the whole picture and increase it 3 times and print it out, I cut them into pieces

this morning I increased each piece by 150% -- or half way to what I need -- later today (after I'm done at the computer) I'll cut those pieces free, lay them together (see jigsaw puzzles!) and make additions/changes/improvements -- then tomorrow when I'm back at the computer I'll make the final increase

someday I'll have a studio arrangement that allows the computer, the cutting/work table and the sewing machine to all be in the same room -- maybe -- anyway, for now this works, but it does help explain why I work on several projects at once!

Quilting on the dragon quilt is moving right along. The compass design which fills the center and has "arms" that extend to each edge is done, one of the four quadrants is complete and I'm moving right along on the next quadrant. I've finally got a good callus on the second finger of my left hand so I can quilt for a longer time each day without having a sore finger! YEAH!!

so today, who knows what I'll work on -- the angel patterns, the dragon and the sweater (on which I'm now doing the decreases for the second sleeve and will be sewing up soon!), but who knows what else --

time to get to it

PS: the answer to yesterday's quiz, from left to right: Michael, Gabriel, Raphael

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Triptych of Archangels

This is sort of the way they will appear when this piece is done too

The DH, the wizard of being able to draw something that actually looks like a recognizable figure, did the original line drawings for me a while back, and the last two days I've been using my colored pencils to create the color renderings. (think adult color book folks!) This is the first place where these pieces start to come alive. The next step is to start creating the full size drawing so I can make up the pattern pieces.

Originally my idea was to make this as a beaded piece (and that idea is not totally dead, just deemed "not do-able right now"). The main problem with that was the difficulty of getting enough detail into a small space -- after all the smallest seed beads readily available are 15s and even that might be too big for this one.

Anyway (digression is a way of life here!)

The idea now is to make this into a quilted wall hanging that measures about 3 foot tall by 4 foot wide -- more or less -- lots of space to do detail stitching and texturing on hair and wings and armour --

I'm thinking of using mostly batik fabrics for this because they have those lovely color variations that look like marble and renaissance painting strokes.

This is a "first" for a quilting project here --- it is NOT a piece intended to warm the body -- instead I'm hoping for warming the spirit here -- feeding the soul with beauty perhaps -- at any rate, I'm hoping for that affect while I'm working on it and perhaps for others when they see it after its finished.

So here is your quiz for the day: Who are these three archangels?