Saturday, November 21, 2009

Teenage Boys

Graham had his good friends Aaron and Zac sleep over last night (the alpha and the omega, I now realize). Steve and I took the three of them out to dinner at the neighborhood Chinese food buffet, and then we went home. They saw the needle felting I had done the night before on the kitchen table and seemed really interested. After a few, "that would be really interesting's," and "that looks fun's," and "I'd like to try that some time's," they just came out and asked if they could give it a go. Luckily, I had purchased a set of five felting needles, so there was plenty to go around. I didn't have felting blocks for all of them, so they worked on folded bath towels.

All three of these 13-year-old's were eager students and sat and worked diligently at their projects. They picked the most daring colors I had, all the while saying things like, "This is super fun," "I am going to ask my mom to get me supplies for Christmas," and my favorite (a jaw-dropper): "This is more fun than video games." "Yeah," another one said, "video games are starting to get boring." One more time. A thirteen-year-old boy said, "Video games are starting to get boring." Victory!

Graham's ball is on the right -- he wanted to make his very random (so it has lots of different colors on it.) He had fun picking his favorite colors from the ones I had (brights and darks). Aaron's block stack is in the middle (it's all felted together as one piece). I think it looks very Asian-influenced, almost sushi-like. His felting is very tight and compact, and his use of color was really nice. Zac wanted to make his mom a bird like the one I made the day before. "I never get her anything for Christmas," he said. He was only part-way done last night when I went to bed, and this morning I saw he had stuck at it until he finished. I asked him if I could take it to work to take a picture, and he said, "You can, but it didn't turn out very well." I told him I thought it was wonderful. How tickled would you be if a 13-year-old boy in braces made you a needle felted bird for Christmas?

Aaron's birthday is coming up in January, and I think I know what we'll get him. You never know how someone will react to a new craft. And I had never even thought about showing these boys how to cross stitch. I've never thought they'd take to that, but now I'm not so sure. Life is full of surprises.

Friday, November 20, 2009

A new friend and a new craft

Yesterday my mailman knocked on my door to give me some packages, and when I stepped outside, I could hear a cat meowing somewhere. My mailman said, "Do you hear it, too?" I grabbed my packages, and a quick check of the bushes revealed a little black cat. At first, I thought she was trapped in there (the bushes are really pokey). But when I reached in, she ran out. So, I opened the back door to my shop and went in to get a little of Boo's food that I keep here at the shop, in case she's visiting. By that time, the little cat had run in and was meowing and checking everything out.

I gave her food (she ate every bite), a drink of water (she drank and drank and drank), and then she was really happy. She purred and kind of rubbed on me. To me, she looks like she is about 6 or 8 weeks old or so. We have a lot of wild cats in the lot adjacent to my shop, and I imagine this is a kitty whose mother recently quit nursing her. I scooped her up and put her in a box and took her to the shelter. If she's adoptable and healthy, they'll clean her up, give her her shots, spay her, and find her a home. If not, at least she had a little loving human contact and a full belly. If she were mine, I'd name her Spook.

Also, I tried my hand at needle felting last night (my supplies are the reason the mailman had to knock at my door -- otherwise, he just puts my mail in my mailbox.) I made a little red-winged blackbird, a pumpkin and a bumblebee (not pictured -- it's kind of silly, and I'm going to let the cats play with it. It's round like a ping pong ball and it has kind of googley eyes and it's sticking its tongue out.) I like that you can just come up with an idea and start creating. It's pretty easy, and fun to boot. May make some decorations for Christmas packages.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Noel, Noel, Noel

Here are three little pinkeeps/ornaments that I stitched this year and finished recently. They're all designs by Blackbird Designs. The one on the top is in their newest book, Joyeux Noel, the one on the lower left is from the Just Cross Stitch ornament issue a few years ago, and the one on the right is from another collection book of theirs, and now I can't remember which one. But I just noticed as I was taking the picture that they all say "Noel." Did you know that one of the meanings of "Noel" is a shout of joy because of the birth of Jesus?

Will be spending much of today at the computer writing invoices and listening to tunes. The sun came back out, and the air is crisp and fallish. I'm starting to post things on etsy again (you can find me at You won't find more there than you'd see on my web site, but I'm trying to catch a new audience -- aka hip young crafters. I have already bought several of my Christmas gifts on etsy. If you're looking for something hand-made, one of a kind, unusual, and just right, that's your place. Soooo much to see, you could spend days just looking.

I purchased some needle felting supplies last week on etsy, too, and am waiting for those to come in. I watched a tutorial on YouTube (there are LOTS), and it looks like a lot of fun. Hopefully I won't manage to stab myself too many times with the felting needles.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Banana Split!

No idea on the title -- but wouldn't a banana split be good right about now? I love those things!

Posted a picture here of a design I released earlier this year -- I Love the Birds. It's a really sweet little sampler, and quick to stitch. I even found a verse from Shakespeare that mentions all three birds (crow, lark, wren.) That's included with the graph, but I'll share it here, too:

"The crow doth sing as sweetly as the lark,
When neither is attended, and I think
The nightingale, if she should sing by day,
When every goose is cackling, would be thought
No better a musician than the wren.
How many things by season season'd are
To their right praise and true perfection!" (Merchant of Venice)

I had a productive day yesterday on my weekly "day off," and finished graphing the Jane Philpott Adam & Eve Sampler. I just have to select the final floss colors, fabric, and then check in with my model stitcher, and she'll be off and running.

Oh, and I had the greatest idea this weekend. I had a friend over to stitch, and we looked through my UFO's (not many, not many.) And one was the very start of a dragon pattern I was going to stitch for my son (can't even remember which one) about six years ago. It's one of those multi-page graphs with 100 floss colors that melt your eyeballs. I had finished part of a rectangular area that was about 3 by 5 inches or so. I decided, "I am NEVER going to finish this," trimmed around what I had stitched and put the fabric back in my stash. Now, I am going to make a UFO Pincushion with the piece that I stitched on (I'm going to see if I can find a UFO charm or something for it.) I'll put a picture up when I'm done. Funny!!!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

We survived double-cat-bath-night!

OK, first off, the picture above is a bunch of the lace I bought on last week. It was all waiting for me in my mailbox this morning at the shop. Some of the bobbin lace is especially fine and amazing. I don't know what I'm going to do with these, but they have a good home. Plus, I got a big bang out of the old picture that came with one of the lace pieces -- you can't really tell on the smaller picture above, but the lady doesn't look very happy about getting her picture taken.

Lucy Boo has a little skin thing going on, and the vet said yesterday we better give both cats a bath just in case. Both? Both?! Are you sure? I mean, Lucy only weighs 3 pounds (she gained a whole pound this week!), but Kitty is probably 11 anyway, and is pretty strong and, well, skittish/fraidy/intolerant.

We had never given her a bath before (she keeps herself very clean and soft.) So Steve and Graham and I started the water in the sink, and I swear, the cat did that all-four-paws-on-the-sides-of-the-sink/can't-push-me-in thing you see in the cartoons. At one point she hooked Steve's arm like a fishing lure, and at another, she was completely wrapped around his waist like a girdle. She made noises we had never heard before. And then she spent the rest of the evening in the living room with us, but at the other end of the room with her back to us.

Like I said, Lucy Boo is only 3 pounds, so she was much easier to handle. But she was shivery, so I held her in a blanket while she slept for a few hours on the couch while we watched our Monday night shows. At least she's still talking to us!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Lace shopping

I had fun this week looking around on at all kinds of things. Bought a few gifts, started to spruce my online shop back up, and found some wonderful treasures, including antique laces. I found some antique bobbin laces, including some from Bedfordshire, England. I got a really nice piece of vintage French bobbin lace. I found 12 yards of a hand-crocheted trim for just $15.00 (vintage, of course.) I included a picture here, so you can see one of the things I found. I thought this would be really fun to use for finishing, or who knows? The lace shown is two feet of Victorian handmade bobbin lace and it comes with the antique photograph, too (for ten dollars). Love that moustache!

I think people often under-value hand-work. If you figure the amount of time it took to crochet 12 yards of lace, plus the cost of you come up with $15.00? So glad I can give these a good home. If you want to go on your own treasure hunt, it's easy (you can find other lovely needlework items on etsy -- search for antique buttons, trim, fabric, even quilt squares.) Just go to and start typing away.

Talked to Barb at Blackbird Designs yesterday -- she's so cool. She told me that sometimes when they want to antique some fabrics, they actually sand the fabric with sandpaper. I'm going to give that a try. Nothing like taking something new and making it look shoddy, hm?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Good progress on Jane's sampler...

Yesterday I spent much of the day graphing Jane Philpott's Adam & Eve Sampler from 1837, and made very good progress. It's always fabulous to really dig into a sampler and find all of the little hidden gems, mistakes, compensations, and subtle color changes. Jane had lovely tension, and for a ten-year-old, did very well completing a sampler with a LOT of motifs.

I've been teaching Graham a little here and there about how I do things (he's 13). He came in yesterday while I was at the computer and asked if I had found anything unusual. I told him I found one stitch with another color stitch right underneath it (a dark green one underneath a beige one). I showed it to him, and he thought it was interesting.

The border is complete, and I'm just about done with the bottom third of the interior design (including old Adam & Eve). The tough part is just about done -- the rest should be much easier. I have a model stitcher all lined up, and the plan is to release this one for market in February.

By the way, our new kitten's name is Lucy Boo -- we couldn't decide on which of the two names to use, so you can call her Lucy, or you can call her Boo, but you can't call her Mr. Johnson.