Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Holidays to All!

This vintage postcard was an irresistible Ebay find…

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Last of the TAST: Chained Bar & Spanish Feather Stitches

Hallelujah! I did it! From left to right: whipped Spanish feather stitch, zigzag chain over rickrack, chained bar (over rayon floss), whipped Spanish feather stitch, buttonholed arrow stitch whipped with rayon ribbon, two rows buttonholed chevron stitch. I think the Spanish feather stitch may be one of my favorites, but it always seems to beg to be whipped!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

TAST: Knotted Cable Chain, Berry & Pistil Stitches

I added more stitches to my little sampler: The fourth row consists of a single line of knotted cable chain stitches laced with perle cotton. Next is a double row of knotted cable chain stitches interlaced with heavy novelty thread, used to “couch” a length of silk ribbon. The last row consists of berry and pistil stitches.

Take it Further...

I’m sure anyone reading this already knows about Sharon B’s challenge for 2008, Take it Further. I loved Take a Stitch Tuesday and feel as though I really learned a lot. Being in the group motivated me to push beyond my comfort zone to learn some stitches that I found particularly difficult. Although I’m sorely tempted to participate in next year’s challenge, I’m not sure whether I’ll be able to take the time to complete an extra project per month. In addition to meeting ad deadlines, I have so many projects lined up for 2008... I want to add a new line of Santas with more elaborate costumes, combining embroidery and other embellishments. And both of my web sites are in dire need of some design attention. I would also like to finally launch my Etsy shop. I set it up about a year and a half ago, and still haven’t listed anything. I have pieces that are near completion but just need some final touches… I’m pretty sure the only way to participate in next year’s challenge is if I can, somehow, incorporate the monthly theme into a project on which I’m already working… If that’s not possible, you can be sure I’ll be following along closely, cheering everyone on…

Monday, December 03, 2007

This is Walter...

Walter’s name is of German origin and means “ruler of army.” I realize he’s not your stereotypical military-looking guy, with his pink chenille jacket and floral plissé pants. But he’s carrying a worn old Bible (copyright 1941) and, clearly printed right inside the cover, is the name Walter H. Brown. And he claims that’s him!

His entire outfit is made from vintage textiles, trims, lace and buttons. I added some primitive-looking buttonhole stitches to the seam binding (from my mom’s old sewing box) decorating the hem of his pants.

I experimented with a different kind of wool (Cotswold) for Walter’s beard and am very pleased with it. I liked the other wool I was using very much but there was some fluffy waste – and it gets a little expensive when you can’t use it all. There was no waste at all with this wool.

Monday, November 26, 2007

TAST: Braid Chain Stitch

Yay! I finally did it! And I’m doin’ the happy dance! May it never be said I was defeated by a needle and thread – Oooh, I wax poetic – hehe! I think the trick is to make sure to do the little backward loop at the top of each stitch. If you look at this illustration, you can clearly see that the part of the thread that carries the needle needs to go behind the part of the thread that advances the stitch… It’s an awkward and counterintuitive maneuver for me (maybe because of being left-handed?).

Saturday, November 24, 2007


DH just photographed this little possum (Didelphis virginiana) in the back yard. Just look at those tender little pink toes… The possum is the only marsupial found in North America.

TAST: Thorn Stitch

This is just a fun stitch! Notice how I skipped right over the chain braid stitch challenge? Well, I did try it - and had disastrous results! I have tried to do it every which way and it just falls apart on me…argh!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

TAST: Pekinese Stitch

What a lovely day – very mild – around 70 degrees! I am a little behind on my TAST stitches but was able to take a little time today to play with the pleasantly relaxing Pekinese stitch. In the example below, I used two rows, laced together, to couch down a ribbon.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving to All!

Tomorrow, DH and I will be having our traditional veggie lasagna and sparkling cider (we are such party animals!) - and watching our favorite movie (Bernard and the Genie)! I usually put the big Christmas tree up on Thanksgiving Day but we’re not putting it in the living room this year – too much temptation for tiny kittens! It’s going to have to go in another room – with the door closed!

Here is a link to the Flickr group of vintage holiday postcards. There are some beautiful Thanksgiving greetings there… Wow! I just realized there are nearly 2.000 postcards from various holidays in the photo pool!

Birder Santa...

Here's my latest boy. His arms and legs are wired to give him a bit more pose ability. I was fortunate to find the cute camera and binoculars in a Christmas shop in Ocean City last summer. The miniature Audubon book is an EBAY find. Santa will eventually rest on a birch “stump” (as soon as DH cuts it down to size) and then he’ll be photographed for the web site.

Meet Colvert...

His name is English and it means “seaman.” His outfit is made from tea-dyed vintage chenille trimmed with vintage fringe. His hat is trimmed with a scrap of vintage upholstery trim. I found the coolest old coat button with an anchor design in a box of antique buttons from the Florida Keys. I sewed it to an old doily with tatting around the edges and affixed that to his jacket. He is holding a red, white and blue striped buoy and an antique Tuck patriotic naval themed postcard (postmarked 1908). The card is technically a “Decoration Day” card. “Decoration Day” originated shortly after the American Civil War as a day when flowers would be placed on the graves of soldiers to honor them.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Here’s My Story (and I’m sticking to it!)

I’m not sure if anyone remembers him, but this Santa was created a couple of years ago for my Just Clauses web site. Although he was on vacation, he was supposed to be studying the globe to plan his Christmas Eve route. I had to pull him from the site when the globe he was holding unexplainably exploded. To make a long story short, Mrs. Claus had a fit when she discovered Santa had purchased the defective globe from China on the cheap! And the elves were outraged to discover that Santa had been outsourcing some of their work and threatened to go on strike! Well, it was all too much for Santa and it literally drove him to drink! So here he sits, with an empty bottle of Smirnoff’s Citrus Flavored Vodka on his lap. I had to glue him in his deck chair as he is in no condition to walk, let alone drive a sleigh…

I will be uploading him to my Just Clauses site soon. He really needs a home and someone to look after him…

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Meet Lobster Claus...

This Santa is a tribute to my wonderful late cousin, Johnny Botello, a fishing boat captain from Massachusetts. I visited his home as a child and can remember seeing just the claw from a giant lobster that he and his crew had caught that seemed to take up most of the dining table! Everyone raved and raved about how delicious it was but I refused to eat it (I have never eaten lobster in my life!) – and his wife, Connie, had to cook a hamburger for me… Yep, I was a little pain in the derrière…

Here are more detailed photos of Santa on my Just Clauses site.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Going Home...

Asaph will be off to his new home, tomorrow... He's a happy boy!

I finally finished the Maine Lobsterman Santa (or Lobster Claus - hehe!) and will try to post a quick picture tomorrow if the rain ends... Now, I'm working on a birder Santa, complete with camera and binoculars...

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Gorgeous Quilts for a Worthy Cause…

Australian Homespun and Quilter's Companion magazines are running auctions for two stunningly beautiful quilts to benefit breast cancer research. The links are here and here.

Bjorn and Ursula are Going Home...

- and they are so excited to be heading to their new home out west, tomorrow!

Victoria Magazine is Back!

Woohoo! I just found out that Victoria Magazine has returned! That was my all-time favorite magazine - and I used to practically devour it cover to cover. It went on sale yesterday, so I need to get myself to the bookstore, soon! Did I say Woohoo?

Friday, October 26, 2007

TAST: Zig Zag Spanish Knotted Stitch

Here’s my first stab(!) at the zig zag Spanish knotted stitch. I like!

Peak Autumn Color Poison Ivy…

These decorative(?) leaves are from a poison ivy vine that climbed up the side of the screen house.

Maine Lobsterman's Hat...

Well, here we are in the last week of October. Hopefully, the finished Shanty Claus dolls will be photographed and uploaded to the web site before too long. Both of my web sites are in need of major upgrades. I’m currently working on a new Santa for my Just Clauses site. I haven’t made one of those in awhile… and I really wanted to get back to them. He’s going to be a Maine lobsterman, sitting on a replica wooden lobster trap that I purchased in a shop on the Ocean City boardwalk. I added wire to his arms and legs for flexibility. I spent the day before yesterday creating his hat – that meant drafting an original pattern and figuring out how to put it together. I originally had interfacing in the brim but that made it too stiff – so out it came! Then it was back to the drawing board… Anyway, I finally finished it – see below. I’m working on his jacket, next... Lord knows, I do have fun with this stuff!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Delmar (on Shore Leave)

The origin of Delmar’s name is Latin and it means “of the sea.” He is wearing a jacket and cap made from tea-stained vintage chenille. His pants are made from a vintage piece of decorator fabric with a shell design. His cap is edged with a shabby piece of old upholstery trim. I attached a really neat vintage wooden toggle button to his jacket. The button was found in an old tin of buttons from an antique store in the Florida Keys. I always wonder what stories these buttons could tell…

On his lap is an antique nautically themed Christmas postcard depicting a life preserver and rope. The colors in the postcard very subtly echo the pale teal of Delmar’s outfit.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Playing with Lutradur and Lace…

Here’s the start of my little experiment with the lutradur and lace project in the premier issue of Fibre & Stitch (what a great zine!). I’m not sure whether to add more layers of paint first or just start adding stitches and beads…

Monday, October 15, 2007

TAST: Lace Border Stitch (Kinda Sorta…)

Well, I'm totally clueless here and any vague resemblance to the lace border stitch is purely coincidental…

Sunday, October 14, 2007


Okay, they're cute but they're always looking at me like I'm Spencer Tracy and they're the citizens of Black Rock - and it's about to be a real "bad day..."

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

TAST: Linked Double Chain Stitch

Love this fast and freewheeling stitch. (The hardest part was trying to sew with three small kittens swiping at the thread!) The background is a scrap from a piece of painted cotton I had used to test a stamp. I backed it with quilt batting to add a little loft to the unstitched areas.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Hubert Says Hello…

Hubert's name is Old German for “bright intellect.” Tied around his neck is a vintage scientific toy gyroscope. His coat and cap are made from a vintage tea-dyed chenille bedspread given to me by my dear friend and neighbor, jewelry designer Linda Bertino of Charming Trinkets. The vintage trim on his cap was also a gift from Linda. His trousers were sewn from a lightly tea-dyed vintage fringed tablecloth (an EBAY find). His coat is trimmed with two very old China ringer buttons from my button collection.

Meet Bjorn & Ursula...

Bjorn is Scandinavian for “bear.” He is having a confab with his little buddy, Ursula (Ursula is Scandinavian and Latin for “little female bear.”). Bjorn is wearing a coat and cap made from a vintage tea-dyed chenille bedspread. There are three wonderful, vintage collectible Bakelite buttons sewn to his coat. His trousers are made from tea-dyed vintage cotton in a great old print. Ursula is a new bear but has been “aged” a bit to better match Bjorn. She is wearing a “dress” made from a scrap of tattered old lace. Two small antique MOP buttons trim the front.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

TAST: Knotted Buttonhole & Reversed Buttonhole Bar

Just messing around with this little (ATC-sized) sampler consisting of two knotted buttonhole bands stitched over strips of felt and two half bands finished with beads. I also added this week’s reversed buttonhole bars (with beads). The stitching was done on a base of upholstery fabric overlaid with netting (from a bag of onions).

Monday, September 24, 2007

TAST: Boss Stitch & Rice Stitch

Just trying to play catch-up, here. I finished a 4x6 inch sampler I had started earlier this year with a band of boss stitches at the top and a band of rice stitches at the bottom.

The Last Roses of Summer...

This photo was taken the other day of a spray of roses from a miniature bush in my perennial garden. I love this particular shade of pink – and am beginning to miss summer already – even though it’s still quite warm outside. Been singing Joni Mitchell's "Urge for Going..."

“I'd like to call back summertime
Have her stay for just another month or so
But she's got the urge for going
So I guess she'll have to go…”

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Nursery Web Spider?

I think this is a nursery web spider keeping guard over her eggs, although it seems a little late for her to be having babies. Babies usually hatch in June and July. This shot was made yesterday right outside the door. They do like to come indoors when the weather gets cold. We have a "bug" jar (although spiders aren't technically bugs) to catch them and place them back outside.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Kittens in Playhouse

We named the creamsicle kitten Banning, which is Gaelic for “little blonde one.” The black and white one is Binky (named after a neighborhood cat we used to know and love) and the tortoiseshell is Beatrix. They sure put the “scoop” (the litter scoop!) in The Scoop, Score and Deal – hehe! Taking care of eleven cats is like having a part time job…

Not wanting to be left out is Blake. It’s hard to believe he is still a kitten, he’s getting so big and handsome…

Introducing Asaph...

Here’s a sneak preview of my first Santa of the season, Asaph. His name is Hebrew for “collector.” An avid button collector, he is shown here with his little card of antique buttons.

He needs more photographs taken, and then he will be uploaded to the Shanty Clauses web site.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

A New Life for a Damaged Vintage Postcard…

I had purchased a small auction lot of antique holiday postcards last year – and this was amongst them. It was blank (except for the greeting) and must have had a photo glued on at one time that was later removed - there is a little damage where the paper lifted up. I wasn’t quite sure how I could use it, but I loved the greeting design and the embossed border. I decided to sew some pretty antique mother of pearl buttons to the blank area. This will be an accessory for one of my Shanty Claus dolls.

Monday, September 10, 2007

TAST: Cable Chain Stitch

This is an ATC - sized sampler with cable chain stitches and one of the Shisha mirror variations I wanted to try from Quilting Arts magazine.

Saturday, September 08, 2007


Here are three of the boys goofing off while deciding what they want to wear. Those cool paisley pants were cut from a fringed 1950s tablecloth. I have three more Santas ready to dress plus some extra arms and legs (not quite sure how that happened!).

Monday, September 03, 2007

TAST: Shisha Embroidery

This was another fun stitch I had never tried before. When Sharon announced this stitch last week, I looked it up in a back issue (Spring 2002) of Quilting Arts magazine, thinking I would like to try the wonderful variations provided. And, almost immediately, I misplaced the magazine. I looked high and low for it all week and then decided I’d better just produce something. And, naturally, as soon as I finished this simple little ATC, the magazine turned up. Sheesh-a!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

TAST: Portuguese Knotted Stem Stitch

This is a wonderful stitch for bold outlines.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Ol' Blue Eyes...

Wings Class: FME on a Tulle Sandwich

I really enjoyed making these wings. They are quite thick and substantial and made from snippets of yarn, lace, and fabric (there are even some scraps of Angelina fibers left over from cutting out the Angelina wings!) – all encased in tulle. I love projects where I get to use up leftovers. They make me feel so darned efficient…

Friday, August 24, 2007

Just Blame Al Gore and Global Warming…

Greetings from the Feline Home for Unwed Mothers! Found these little guys (and gal) underneath the pile of wood that was dropped off last week. We lured Mommy into the screen house with food and they are all living in there until we get arrangements sorted out inside. We don’t think Mom is feral but she is terribly frightened. We can’t touch her, although she allows us to handle her babies. So there is much work to be done trying to calm her down – and gain her trust. We figured there is no point taking them to already overburdened shelters. The “experts” say this year’s kitten boom is due to global warming… I always like to quote President Lincoln who said (around 150 years ago), "No matter how much cats fight, there always seems to be plenty of kittens."

Sunday, August 19, 2007

TAST: Scroll Stitch

Here’s my first attempt at the scroll stitch. I love this stitch! I think I’ve said that (or thought that) about each one - well, almost… It occurred to me that, by the year’s end, I will have been introduced to fifty-two stitches, most of which I’d never tried before (some I’d never even heard of!). And that just opens up so many possibilities…

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Personal Library of Stitches Course

For anyone who hasn’t had the opportunity to take Sharon B’s Personal Library of Stitches course at Joggles, it’s being offered again starting October 31st. I took it last fall and thoroughly enjoyed it – and learned so much! I find myself referring to my filled notebook of printed class pages again and again. It’s an excellent resource for design and stitch inspiration!

Monday, August 13, 2007

TAST: Crested Chain Stitch

I was introduced to this stitch in Sharon B’s Personal Library of Stitches course last fall and fell in love with it. Here, I added French knots and experimented with a fall color palette…

Friday, August 10, 2007

Create Your Own Radio Station!

A very nice and helpful person named Terry left a comment on my previous post (where I was grousing about the unjust demise of The Christmas Radio Network) with a link to a music site called Pandora, where you can create your own radio station (or multiple stations) made up of your favorite types and styles of music. I tried it out, today, and it is way cool! I typed in the song, “Silent Night.” It gave me a list of artists with different versions of that song. I chose “The Irish Rovers.” From that choice, a station was created for me with other Christmas songs from multiple artists, all with a folksy acoustic feel; like Jewel, James Taylor, Sarah McLachlan, etc. What fun! You can even bookmark your favorites! This is all based on data from The Music Genome Project which can be read about here. As I always say, “Ain’t technology grand?”

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

More Wings...

My “Tiny Kitty Collier” dolls insisted on modeling the wings. The ones on the left are made from organdy colored with Jacquard Dye-na-Flow paints. I used Angelina fibers and micro beads for the wings on the right. I was surprised at how very sturdy and strong these are, despite their delicate appearance.

I clicked on The Christmas Radio Network the other day for some Santa-making inspiration – and got this message. I’m thinking the Congress could spend their time a little more productively, like maybe ensuring the safety of the nation’s infrastructure…

Saturday, August 04, 2007

TAST: Cast on Variation – Drizzle Stitch

This is a repost of the drizzle stitch (a variation of the cast on stitch) from Sharon’s Personal Library of Stitches course last fall.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

My First Faery Wings...

Here is a scan of my Tyvek wings before wiring. This is such a fun class – I can see where this wing-making thing could become addictive…

Monday, July 30, 2007

Monoprinting with Susan Sorrell (at

If you missed Susan Sorrell’s class on monoprinting at Joggles, she will be teaching it again from her web site starting August 14th. I can’t recommend it highly enough. She is such a gifted teacher and her classes are chockfull of wonderful techniques!

Painted and Heated Tyvek

This is my very first first attempt at playing with Tyvek. What took me so long? It’s such cool stuff! Now, I need to summon up some courage to cut into it for the wing-making class

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Nature Journal: Some Summer Leaves...

More Jolly Joggling!

I signed up for the Fanciful Fairy Wings class at Joggles. I know, I know, I’ve got about a million irons in the fire, but I just couldn’t resist - it looks so fascinating – lots of new materials and techniques to play with – and add to my doll making repertoire…

Friday, July 27, 2007

TAST: Buttonhole Wheels

Well, my wheels are a bit wonky, but I had a great time messing around with this. The background was made on the embellisher with silk scraps, wool roving and bits of a painted dryer sheet.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Changing Allegheny Serviceberry Leaf

I thought this was a particularly colorful Serviceberry leaf - photographed in late June.

Nature Journal: More Daisies

Here are more daisies from the border, looking a little spent but still fun to draw… I snipped off some blooms hoping to stimulate more flowering.