Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas to All...

and to all a good night!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Questionnaire

Last year, Mary-Frances of Frequently Wrong, But Never in Doubt, tagged me to answer a Christmas questionnaire – and I was so far behind in my blog reading that I didn’t see her post until after the holidays! I figured I might as well just wait until this year. So here goes:

1. Wrapping or gift bags? I definitely am a wrapper – and a terrible one at that. DH is the best gift wrapper, ever. An artist! His corners are always perfectly even – and he can wrap any shape of package with ease. I love the idea of gift bags, but I’m pretty much hopeless with them, too…

2. Real or artificial tree? We use artificial trees, usually several. For the first few years we were married, we always bought real ones and planted them after Christmas. Only one survived – and its growth was severely stunted.

3. When do you put up the tree? It usually goes up the day after Thanksgiving. We are very late this year because we are in the process of creating a feline-free room where the tree will be safe from the cats and the cats will be safe from the tree.

4. When do you take the tree down? Oh gosh! I always threaten to take it down right after New Year’s Day – but it’s been known to be up until the end of January. I would really like to have a room someday just devoted to Christmas – and then it could be up all year. Can you tell I am into Christmas?

5. Do you like eggnog? Yes! But I just add milk to it - no alcohol! I have a family "legend" to share about eggnog. When I was little, my father worked as a milkman, and he dropped his last bottle of eggnog on the ground right before he was supposed to deliver it. Some spilled out. He panicked and scooped up as much up as he could and replaced it, dirt and all. When he talked to his customer after Christmas, she said it was the best darned eggnog she ever had – and wondered out loud if it was the extra nutmeg… My father, keeping a very straight face, said he believed it must have been, indeed, the extra “nutmeg!”

6. Favorite gift received as a child? That is a tough question. All my Christmases were terrific! My sister and I always had gifts piled high. Does anyone remember the Emenee organ? That stands out in my mind as being particularly desired – and received. DH says he got one, too. That must have been a hot ticket item back in the day. I also remember receiving a doll trunk so overflowing with beautiful new Barbie clothes (that my mom had sewn) that it couldn’t be closed.

7. Do you have a nativity scene? Yes. My sister painted a beautiful ceramic nativity scene for me that I treasure. Unfortunately, I haven’t displayed it for years, because the small pieces are too tempting for the cats to carry off. One Christmas, Baby Jesus was stolen from the manger – and we found him buried in the litter box! Evil, evil kitties!

8. Worst Christmas gift I ever received? I honestly don’t know. I pretty much love everything and am very easy to please! And I never look a gift horse in the mouth…

9. Mail or e-mail Christmas cards? Snail mail, but I’m running awfully late this year. I bought cards over the summer – and can’t remember where I put them…

10. Favorite Christmas movie? My favorite Christmas movie just happens to be my all-time favorite movie, "Bernard and the Genie." We watch it every Thanksgiving to kick off the holiday season… Another movie that is pure magic is "The Polar Express." We just ordered the Blu-ray version so we will be looking forward to watching that.

11. When do you start shopping for Christmas? It’s ongoing for me. I pick up things all through the year – and love to take advantage of sales.

12. Favorite things to eat at Christmas? Same as Thanksgiving - Stouffer’s vegetable lasagna with a nice big salad and a glass of sparkling cider. I’d rather spend the day playing with my new toys than cooking!

13. Clear light or colored on the tree? Martha Stewart would not approve of this, but we love all kinds of colorful twinkling lights on the tree. Plus we throw on a couple strings of reproduction bubble lights.

14. Favorite Christmas song? I love so many of them, it’s hard to pick a favorite. I love the charming French carol, “Noel Nouvelet.” I found a delightful version, here, by the group, Anuna. Another favorite is “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” – especially the words in the third verse:

Hail the heav'n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris'n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

15. Travel at Christmas or stay home? That’s easy, there is no place like home for the holidays… or any other days, for that matter…

16. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer? My first impulse was to say, nope. But then I thought about it and I can name them, after all: Dasher, Donner, Dancer, Blitzen, Comet, Cupid, Prancer, Vixen and, of couse, Rudolph. For the true story on the origins of Rudolph, click here.

17. Angel on the tree or a star? A little angel my mom made years ago. It’s tradition…

18. Open the presents Christmas Eve or Christmas morning? My birthday is Christmas Eve, so I get to open a bunch of presents on both days!!! YAY!!!

19. Most annoying thing about this time of year? I love absolutely everything about this time of year, except the song, “Holly, Jolly Christmas.” See question 22.

20. Do you decorate your tree in any specific theme or color? The big tree is a hodge-podge of ornaments, many handmade by my mom through the years. We have a small tree I used to use in the kitchen, before we were inundated with kittens, that is decorated with fruit-shaped ornaments. I store it decorated. And I have another old world style tree(the ornaments are glued in) that I made for my Mom when she was alive. We used to display that in the bedroom until the kitty deluge…

21. What do you leave for Santa? We can’t leave anything out with thirteen kitties! So far, Briar, the baby, loves coffee, tea, cherry yogurt, pretzels, popcorn, tortilla chips, tofu, brown rice and stir-fried vegetables…

22. Least favorite holiday song? “Holly Jolly Christmas” makes my blood run cold… There, I’ve said it! God help me…

23. Favorite ornament? I treasure all of the ornaments my mom made, of course. But there is also a little tin cat angel ornament that I love (my sister bought it for me) that reminds me of the cats we’ve had over the years who are now in heaven. I always hang that near the top of the tree.

But, Darling, I’m Imprisoned by These Chains…

and I really should be getting ready for Christmas! Anyway, here are a few more rows of stitch variations. From top to bottom: Russian chain, twisted chain, broad chain, tulip stitches, detached wheatear (laced), whipped chain and zigzag chain.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I Can’t Break Away from These Chains…

Here are three more chain stitch variations. The first is aptly named the magic chain. I think the magic must be the way the alternate color thread slips to the back as the stitch advances. It is also known as the checkered chain and two-colored chain.

Next is the Singalese chain stitch. I really struggled to learn this one. But, it’s funny how easy stitches seem, once you learn how to do them.

Lastly, is a row of threaded chain stitches.

Friday, December 05, 2008

A Hat for Pru

DH and I are in the process of turning one of the bedrooms (currently used for storage) into a cat-free room for the Christmas tree and a music room for me. Usually, the big tree is up the day after Thanksgiving, but we are still in the process of clearing and reorganizing. We are also going to be moving my art studio upstairs and our office downstairs - a major project. While cleaning out some boxes, I stumbled upon some partially completed baseball style caps I had designed for woodsman type Santas a few years ago, and, for fun, tried one on my Ellowyne doll. I thought it looked kind of cute so I decided to finish it up for her. I sewed a lining in and covered a small button with material to match the brim. Ellowyne’s buddy, Prudence, is modeling. Of course she’s nagging me for an outfit to go with it…

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Kitten Update

Briar is getting so big! He is thoroughly integrated into the house – and he’s getting along beautifully with the other cats. Here, his chinny chin chin is being scratched by DH. He is extremely lovable – and enjoys being held and cuddled.

Chains…My Baby’s Got Me Locked up in Chains...

I’ve made a start on my chain stitches. Searching the web for inspiration, I found this article on Victorian stitches and wanted to try the double chain stitch right away. I’m not sure if I laced it correctly. Or maybe I should have made the chains bigger? The next is one of my favorites, the open chain. Last, is another version of the double chain, a new stitch to me that I really enjoyed.

Speaking of Victorian things, I found this interesting post on scrapbooking. Scroll down to see pictures from an actual surviving 1880s children’s scrapbook with pages covered in cloth and bound with buttonhole stitches – everything old is new, again…

Monday, November 24, 2008

Back to My Stitch-Along Sampler…

It’s been awhile since I did any stitching on this. Here is a detailed image of a row of alternating half-buttonhole wheels (with fly stitches) and a knotted buttonhole band. Oh boy, am I out of practice… I’m sure there are plenty more buttonhole varieties to explore, but I think I’m going to move on to chain stitches which are similar in execution.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Pin Tangle

I’m sure everyone knows by now, but SharonB has a new blog with a wonderful new look and a very clever name, Pin Tangle. To me, it sounds like a play on the name Pentangle – one of my all-time favorite musical groups.

A Lovely ATC from France...

I received this beauty from Vero of Au Fil du Jardin. I am truly delighted with it. Thanks again, Vero!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Another Santa Finished...

Merrick’s name is English and means “sea ruler.” I had lots of fun with this one. I don’t know why I keep making sea-themed Santas. It’s not like there’s a big demand or anything. I just like making ‘em…

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Vintage Fabric for Santa

Some time ago, I mentioned that my friend (and neighbor) jewelry designer Linda Bertino (visit her wonderful Etsy shop, here) gave me some vintage fabrics for my Santa dolls. Here is a detail of a Santa jacket I’m currently making using a remnant of old upholstery material that she gave me. I love the needlepoint look of this fabric. I used the contrasting selvedge edge for the “placket” and finished all the other edges by turning up the hems and adding blanket stitches. I had just enough of the fabric to make a jacket and cap. And I have some vintage fringe that matches – I love when that happens!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

This is Beardsley...

I finished another Santa for my Shanty Claus web site, although I haven’t uploaded him, yet. His name is Beardsley. The origin of his name is Old English and it means “bearded one” – and so he is! I have a couple more Santas ready to be dressed, so I’m hoping to get them finished soon. I had to order more lovely Cotswold wool – my favorite wool for beards.

Beardsley is holding a neat old (1899) leather-bound Catholic prayer manual that belonged to a priest named William Brody. I’m also including the souvenir card of his ordination at St. Catherine’s Church in PA on December 12, 1915. I do love these pretty little pieces of the past. And I think they lend an aura of history to the Santa dolls.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Another One Done…

and added to my Etsy shop.

Floral Soirée

I’ve been on a “finishing up” tear, lately. Here is a postcard finished for my Etsy shop. The front was done awhile ago – I just needed to add my printed postcard back and the zigzag stitches around the edges. Feels so good to get things done…

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Another Felt Pin…

Here’s a cat brooch I started last winter – and just got around to finishing today.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Have a Heart...

I finally finished up another of the pins I had started last winter in Susan Sorrell’s Funky Felt Pins class. These just look so cute on denim jackets. I had bought a Liz Claiborne jean jacket in Macy’s on sale last spring for my sister’s birthday and pinned one of my felt pins on it before I gave it to her.
She was delighted.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Instant Gratification is Good…

I made these sun prints last week because I wanted to try using Jacquard Dye-Na-Flow paint instead of Seta Soleil paint (an experiment I read about here, in Vicki Welsh’s wonderful blog). I’m rather pleased with the results and will be using Dye-Na-Flow in any future sun printing. I used ferns and leaves that I had pressed in a dictionary last summer – and had forgotten about…

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A Yummy ATC from Scotland!

This beautiful card is from Frances, a wonderful textile artist who lives on the Isle of Lewis, Scotland. She also sent along some lovely samples of Harris Tweed, hand-woven by local artisans – and a sample of Misty fuse so I will finally get to try that...

Another ATC - Available for Trade

I know why I am so drawn to this small format. It is relatively quick compared to my other projects - and it is undeniably satisfying and energizing to actually put the finishing touches on something! While my Santa dolls look simple enough, there are so many steps to completion – they seem to take forever…

This girl with big hair ATC was made on the embellisher machine using Kunin felt, commercial batik cotton, wool roving and rust colored dryer lint. Yep, you read that right – dryer lint… I used black perle cotton for the running stitches. And I had so much fun it was downright scary…

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Buttonhole Stitch Floral Motif

I wanted to break up the rows of stitching on my sampler, so I cut a piece of felt, basted it down and used buttonhole stitches to appliqué it to my ticking background. I used buttonhole wheel stitches to embellish the felt flower shapes. The fern-like stems were done in my favorite variation of the fly stitch.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Still More Buttonhole Stitch Variations...

The first row consists of reversed buttonhole bar stitches. Next, I worked a row of rosette of thorn stitches. The last two rows are fly stitches used to couch down novelty yarn. I still have lots more buttonhole variations to go…

Saturday, August 30, 2008

A Beautiful ATC from Ati!

This lovely card arrived this afternoon from Norway! That was quick! I love the stitching, the color combination and the fabric with the fancy type font! Ati also included a little surprise gift – a gorgeous piece of fabric with gold accents and some pretty lace with heart designs. Thanks so much, Ati!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Wanna Trade, Anybody?

Here are my first three ATCs, ready to trade, if anyone is interested.

Monday, August 18, 2008

ATC Test

I wanted to make a quick test of my printed watercolor paper backings, so I zigzagged one to the back of a small stitchery from last year’s TAST.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

And Baby Makes a Baker’s Dozen…

Just when we thought we were going to get through the summer, unscathed, Mary Frances (a possibly feral stray we’ve been feeding) gifted us with this bundle of joy, Briar. We think he is about two weeks old. DH picked him up, had a good look-see at his nether regions and proclaimed him a little boy. There goes more of our retirement savings...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A Finished Postcard...

A little while back, I blogged about the postcard backs I had printed on fabric using an inkjet printer. Here is an example of a finished back with zigzag stitched edges.

And here is the front (which some of you have seen before).

This is available in my Etsy shop (which I finally opened last night!).

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Printed ATC Backs...

Been über busy, lately - with business stuff and family stuff… Anyway, I finally designed a backing for my ATCs. That was something else on my to-do list. Here is a page of backings ready to be cut out and zigzag stitched to fabric ATCs (or glued to card stock ATCs). The backings are ink jet printed on heavy watercolor paper. I like the idea that I can change the background color behind the logo to coordinate with the fronts of my cards. (I have been toying with the idea of customizing my blog for quite some time and originally designed the logo for that purpose.)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Elizabeth’s Three-Pronged Up & Down Buttonhole Stitch

I went googling for more buttonhole stitch ideas and found this wonderful post by the always inspirational Elizabeth from her blog, Quieter Moments. It is her original buttonhole variation – and she provides clear, photo illustrated instructions on how to do it. I love this stitch! I think there’s an old world, regal elegance to it. Thanks, Elizabeth.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Sampler Thus Far...

Who Knew…

that the buttonhole stitch formed the basis of so many stitches? I worked a little more on my sampler, adding the crossed buttonhole stitch, the whipped buttonhole stitch, the Berwick stitch, the double feather stitch, and, my new fave, the coral stitch. I’ve covered six inches of my sampler, so far – only fifty more inches to go!

I’ve noticed that my upright stitches tend to slant a little to the left – sort of like my handwriting…

Friday, July 18, 2008

A Few More Buttonhole Variations…

First up is the barb stitch, followed by the bonnet stitch. The bonnet stitch is easy but, being left-handed, it felt a little awkward working each stitch from right to left. Next, is the slanted buttonhole stitch and, finally, the knotted blanket stitch, also known as Antwerp edging.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

We are “Fearfully and Wonderfully Made…”

Turn up your volume control. Here is a link to an awesome and highly detailed animation of the inner workings of the human body…

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Band Sampler Start…

I decided to make a band sampler for the “stitch along.” I added muslin strips to the sides of a piece of red and green ticking stripe, so I can conveniently work with a hoop. I’m using the entire width of the fabric, selvedge to selvedge – approximately 56 inches. I’ll probably still be working on this baby well into my dotage…

I’m beginning with the buttonhole stitch. (I left some room at the top in case I want some sort of header.) So far, I‘ve worked a row of laced buttonhole stitches, a row of up and down buttonhole stitches and a row of closed buttonhole stitches.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Victorian Tufting (Herringbone Stitch)

I mentioned earlier that I joined the hand embroidery group at Stitchin’ Fingers. For my first stitch, I chose the herringbone as it is used for Victorian tufting. This is something I’ve wanted to try for a few years and just never got around to it. After the stitches are cut, they feel like velvet. Detailed instructions are in the Fall 2004 issue of Quilting Arts Magazine (page 18).

In the photo on the left you can see the built up herringbone stitches before I cut them open. On the right is the resulting fluffy “grass. “ I will definitely be revisiting this quick and useful technique…

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Preview of My Etsy Banner

I finally got around to creating my Etsy banner and will be opening my shop soon. That was on my “to do” list for this year as I wanted an outlet for my non Santa creations. And speaking of the boys, it’s nearly July, so Santa production is about to head into full throttle…

Friday, June 13, 2008

New Addition to Embroidery Library

I purchased a beautifully illustrated stitch dictionary at Borders the other day, Stitch Sampler, by Lucinda Ganderton. It was $14.95 minus my 30% discount coupon (Woohoo!). I’m hoping to get a lot of use out of it this summer as I have joined the hand embroidery group over at Stitchin Fingers.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Nature Journal: Canadian Dwarf Cinquefoil

These cheerful wildflowers bloom all over the yard in the spring. I scanned my original watercolor sketch, fiddled with various filters a bit and added some text. I used Photoshop Elements - and I must say, that is one fun little program!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Still Experimenting with ATC Backgrounds…

The first image is a painted, glazed and stamped card inspired by a technique in Traci Bautista’s cool book, Collage Unleashed. The second image is another attempt at a fused fiber background. So far, I think that’s my favorite technique – because the results are totally unpredictable.

Friday, May 30, 2008


This is Binky on his blanket at the foot of the bed. He is not quite one year old and he is just as sweet as can be. His fur is silky smooth and as soft as the underside of a rabbit’s tail. He still “nurses” on his older brother, Blake, and on our eighteen-year-old cat, India (who are both very tolerant of him).

Ellowyne’s New Outfit

I bought Ellowyne a pair of cute silver sandals the other day because she needed them for summer. (Never mind that I’ve worn the same old pair of sandals for the past five years!) Then, she needed a little dress to go with them. I made this sassy little number yesterday from a pattern I purchased on EBAY. Again, I used cotton from my stash. El borrowed a necklace and bracelet from glamorous film actress, Gene Marshall, to add a touch of bling. I think she could go anywhere in this outfit, from a Sunday brunch to a summer wedding.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

“Dear Prudence”

This is Ellowyne Wilde’s friend, Prudence Moody. She arrived here a few days ago, and I just love everything about her. Like my Ellowyne doll, she has three wigs – for three completely different looks. Pru came dressed in a cotton gingham checked teddy with striped stockings and darling little white lace-up boots. I’ve spent the past couple of days making an outfit for her, consisting of a long skirt (made from an old piece of quilting cotton), embroidered vest and a chenille tote bag trimmed with vintage fabric and a twinkle button. Now, she’s all ready for a pleasant afternoon of antiquing. Sewing for the dolls is helping me to reduce my “stash.” Hehe, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it…

Below is a close-up view of the embroidery on the vest. I adapted the design from a charming book, 101 Iron -on Transfers for Ribbon Embroidery by Deanna West Hall. The embroidery was done after the vest was near completion, before the side seams were stitched. So the back of the embroidery is hidden by the lining. It was a bit awkward to work this way (as you can see!), but knots would have been unsightly.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Yet Another ATC Background…

Have I mentioned how much I love the Artist Trading Card Workshop book? Every time I open it up, I’m tempted to try another quick technique! I made this background last night from fused fibers and embossing powder. I’m not even sure I did it correctly, but I’m kinda sorta pleased with the results…

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

More Fun with ATC Backgrounds…

I decided to try another simple technique from the Artist Trading Card Workshop book. This is crumpled, painted tissue paper. I’m not altogether sure what I’m going to do with these backgrounds, yet – but I figure when inspiration strikes, I’ll be ready. At least, I’ll be halfway there… and not staring at a blank card. I’m so very easily entertained….

Friday, May 09, 2008

ATC Backgrounds

The other day, I treated myself to Bernie Berlin’s fantastic book on creating ATCs, Artist Trading Card Workshop. It is chock full of simple and effective background ideas that could also be translated to altered book pages and collage. I took a little time (and I do mean little) and played with the painted and torn paper towel technique. One ply of one paper towel yielded enough scraps to cover six cards (with scraps leftover). Here are mine, ready to stamp and embellish… Fun!