Friday, August 11, 2017

Drummer Drumming pattern now available!

On the ninth day of Christmas,
My true love gave to meeeee...

Nine drummers drumming!

You may not have expected Drummers as number nine, but the song from the 1700s I'm using as my guide has the order a bit different than the more modern tune. So drummers it is! And there's no need to make nine of them. Although you could! Because now there's a digital sewing pattern in my shops for you: Etsy and Craftsy.

These ornaments are much easier to make than they look! It's all because of a magical printable stabilizer called Sulky Printable Stick 'n Stitch (formerly known as Sticky Fabri-Solvy) that adheres directly to the felt. If you can cut with precision and sew basic hand stitches like a whip stitch, running stitch, backstitch and French knots, then you can make this ornament and make it well. There is no embroidery transferring! You stitch right over the marks and cut on the outlines. You can choose wood toothpick drumsticks or fuzzy cotton pipe cleaner drumsticks.

You can read more about the whole series and how the Sulky stabilizer works in the Twelve Days section of my blog. I hope you enjoy this new pattern!

Doesn't the sweater sleeve in this photo make it look all wintry and crafty and cozy? I had the sweater on my arm only for as long as it took to snap this shot, and then I flung it across the studio. It's only 4000 degrees here in Georgia. My goal is to finish this series this year, so I have a busy fall ahead. Thanks so much for your enthusiasm for this series! You guys are wonderful.

(All the samples you see above were made with the Benzie Color Collection no. 3, same one as French Hen. More posts on that very soon along with a 7-9 pattern bundle in the shop in another week or so.)

Sunday, July 23, 2017

no more 'feed me, seymour' fixture

Recently we were able to call in an electrician to hang our new fixtures and do some other electrical work at the new house. I'm very happy to look at this new, minimal kitchen light instead of the leafy, tentacled one that was there before:

I was surprised at how many folks on Instagram expressed their love for this very large fixture (nine bulbs!). I have missed the style boat on that one. I can see it would look nicer in the right setting if it was all painted white and had some smooth candelabra installed. I'm giving it to a sweet lady at church who loves it. I do wish it well.

Things are slowly coming together in other rooms also. No more large boxes to unpack, but there is a lot of clutter in every corner that I'm slowly finding spots for, or giving away. I have a shocking number of framed pictures currently piled against the stairwell. How did I get this many? Putting in some shelving before September in the school room would be nice so that I can get the hundreds of books off the floor.

I have to keep reminding myself that it took years to organize my other house and arrange everything just so. We had rooms with no furniture in them for a year or two when we first moved in. It's all a process. Like a fun puzzle that is slowly coming together and won't be as much fun when it's finished!

Friday, June 23, 2017

panic averted

...and there they are, at the bottom of the last unpacked box. My Twelve Days samples. Countless hours of hand work and color testing.

I have to admit I could feel the panic start to set in yesterday when I still couldn't find these samples. I rummaged through several studio boxes yesterday, becoming increasingly concerned as I pawed through them. I started chastising myself for letting them be packed at all, "Why didn't you hand carry them, you ninny?"

And then I found another studio box in the hall underneath a box destined for the attic. Yes! Huge sigh of relief and a prayer of thanks.

So now in the studio I have a functioning computer (high fives self, didn't wait for the hubs to set it up for me), functioning internet (after the 7th, yes that's right, the 7th visit from cable guys) and have successfully located my felt, needles and samples. *cues Back In The Saddle Again*

I won't show you what the studio looks like. *cues Welcome To The Jungle* It makes me want to cry when I come in here. Nothing's organized. Baby steps!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

new from Benzie - Entire Twelve Days Bundle, all six color palettes

Hey, guys! Renae from Benzie Design let me know she has a new felt and floss bundle available that contains all six Twelve Days color palettes! That means you can purchase all your vibrant wool-blend felt for making the entire series in one stroke. Genius. (Each palette covers two ornament patterns.)

The bundle includes all the felt shown below. 60 sheets! (And also includes the matching 60 skeins of floss if you choose that option):

Purchase the bundle in her Etsy shop here!
Note: This is not a comprehensive kit. You will need to purchase the patterns and other supplies to make the series. Visit this page to read more about my Twelve Days ornament series.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

what I'm up to

Doors going in. That's Dave, possibly the
best person in the whole wide world.

Was my last blog post really in April? All May I've been in a vortex. Here's almost half of June gone and we are still digging out from our remodel, house move and an unplanned kidney stone surgery for my Schmoopie. (doh!)

May is always completely crazy every year because of:
- ending the homeschool school year
- our anniversary
- couple of family birthdays including my daughter's (13!)
- standardized testing
- Mother's Day
Sooo adding in the remodeling, packing, moving and the surgery just made this May extra action-packed*. Honestly, I was feeling a little desperate on a few of those days. Some hysterical tears were shed (by me). Balls were dropped. Spinning plates crashed to the ground. Hamsters fell out of their wheels. The surgery happened the day after we moved our furniture to the new house. Aaaand I felt like the worst mother in the world when I wasn't present to see my freshman in high school get several awards at the year-end celebration. (" got awards tonight??") Gahhhh. She'll tell it all to her therapist in future years I guess. Gotta let it go. -whoosh- (there it goes)

*most positive wording I can think of.

But it's all good. All of it.
The remodel was finished. Mostly. We are moved. Schmoopie feels better! Thank the Lord! We love the new house. No one got hurt (except a few pieces of furniture were winged).

More memories from the remodel:

All the new doors and wainscoting were compliments of Dave.

Banisters were painted.

Carpet was replaced.

The entire interior of the house was repainted, ceilings, walls and trim. I painted the upstairs bedrooms but left the rest to professionals. I chose grays and whites. No pictures yet of the pretty new paint. Forgot to take pre-move shots! I went with Titanium for the main area, with some White Dove, Simply White, Sedate Gray and Revere Pewter thrown in. You can see a tiny wedge of Titanium on the wall in this next photo.

Oh, and we also had to replace the hardwood floors. Didn't expect that. But loving the new floor! It's hickory. The color is called Prairie Dust. 

We still need to replace the lighting. This evil, tentacled pendant in the kitchen (Feed me, Seymore!) has stabbed all of us in the head at least once. It's going. There's also a dark, aggressive looking Viking fixture in the dining room whose days are numbered. That stuff had to jump down the list for later along with the cabinet repainting.

Presently I'm buried in an avalanche of 20 years worth of stuff thrown into the new house. Squaring it all away will have to wait as we are in the middle of coordinating some improvements to the old house to get it listed:

You might remember the old color. Now the entire house has been painted Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray, which my realtor and her designer assure me is the perfect, appealing shade of greige for house lookers. And it really is! Not too dark either. I think it looks so fresh.

And this carpet is just about to go in. The color is called Mink and I think it will look really spiffing with the new paint. Soooo close to listing the house. Feeling excited to get that going!

And feeling the pull to get back to my craft life -- Mr Drummer has been waiting and the last three of the Twelve Days patterns too, all tapping their tiny felt feet to be brought to life.

I hope your school break is going swimmingly!

Friday, April 21, 2017

final Drummer prototype and Sulky Printable Sticky Fabri-Solvy is now called Stick 'n Stitch

This No. 9 Drummer prototype is pretty tight. Just a few minor changes are needed. I hope you like him! This sample is in the same Benzie color bundle as French Hen. I'll be sewing up new samples with the final changes in place and then writing the pattern. (Read more about this series here.)

And speaking of the pattern, you know that Sulky Printable Sticky Fabri-Solvy is an integral part of sewing the ornaments in this series. I've posted about its many virtues and also the warning about the batch that is faulty. I wanted you to know that it has been re-branded with a new name but it's the same great product as before. If you want to avoid the bad adhesive you should be safe if you purchase new packs that look like this, with the new name: Sulky Printable Stick 'n Stitch.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

what I'm up to

What is going on with me? You may have noticed I've dropped off social media. It's because we are moving! Just 15 minutes away but this process has taken over my life at the moment. After searching diligently for an ideal (slightly larger) house for 2 years we've pretty much found it. Our poor realtor! After about 6 months of fruitless showings we told him to forget about us and we'd just call him when we saw a house we wanted to see. Last month we saw the house listed online, went to view it and whamm-o, that was it. It's been a contracting/mortgaging/packing/painting/flooring whirlwind ever since. And throw in some home schooling and pattern design. And so much coffee.

My two girls are kind of freaking out. I caught Thing 2 hugging our refrigerator the other day. She's not ready for a strange refrigerator. I need to remember they didn't grow up like I did – moving every couple of years. They were excited about finding another house until we found one. They've never lived anywhere else but here. Unlike the moves in my formative years, nothing will change for them except for their house. Church and school are still the same. But it's still an adjustment and I have to remember to be sensitive to that! But not that sensitive. Adversity makes you grow. And there's a huge consolation for two teen girls in the new house: they each get their own bathroom. That will be epic. Plus they get to pick their own paint color for their rooms. Within reason*.

Our current house is pretty great. We built it in 2001. Picked out all the colors. Brought our babies home to it. It's packed with memories. It's our first house. I remember how huge it seemed after we moved here from our apartment. It has an awesome studio for my business. I think the sentimentality will surely hit me at some point. I'll be sad about leaving it. But for now I just ain't got time for that.

*No glitter. No green. No darks. No color that will be hard to look at. Nothing in the pink family. OK, basically they are constrained to white, blue or gray.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

drummer prototype

Here's the latest diminutive drummer prototype. He's number 9 in my Twelve Days series of Christmas ornaments. (The 1780 version of the song is ordered a bit differently from the one you probably sing, but don't worry. The pipers, ladies, and lords are coming!)

This little guy is still minus his hands, drumsticks and embroidery. And possibly his mustache. Still pondering. I'm mostly happy with the sizing except he needs a bigger drum! The next prototype will have some decorative stitching. Time to tweak the pattern again before my next go!

Spring fever is coming on hard and only a few more weeks left of school! I think I might be more excited about that than my two students.

Monday, February 27, 2017

drummer drumming and gray hair graying

What are you up to? I'm prototyping Mr Drumming Drummer, pattern number 9 in my Twelve Days Series. The process is stalled at the moment because we are in the middle of high school play rehearsals and all the busyness that comes with volunteering for the production.

Seems like school is taking most of my time these days. Like seven days a week. Home schooling for 7th and 9th grades is no joke, folks. Honestly, some days I want to crawl inside a pillow fort and barricade myself in with my coffee. Also I might need to ship my 12 year old to Siberia before Pre-Algebra is over. Love her but. Math. It seems unfair that during a time when teen girls usually have irrational hostility toward their innocent, well-meaning moms that I also have to be the target for school teacher hostility. Double dose. This too shall pass...This too shall pass...when they are twenty they'll LOVE ME.

Also I'm growing hair. Going Gray update! Here's where I am these days. Remember my tiny gray sideburns from December? I went for the all-over highlights that soften the line between my true gray roots and my dyed hair. I went to two different appointments a few weeks apart and both times clearly asked for GRAY highlights but I am still blonde. Blonde does not work well with my coloring.

I'll deal. It's not forever.

Also, new hair color problems:
1) Beloved wardrobe items that don't work well with my blonde/gray. Like the unfortunate sweater I'm wearing in the photo^. Clash-o-rama. I'm learning.
2) Startling acquaintances that have not seen me for a couple months. I keep forgetting I look a lot different than I used to. There's a few seconds lag there where they are mentally sorting it and telling themselves not to blurt out something about my hair.

My selfie skills leave a lot to be desired. I haven't figured out how to make myself look like Elle MacPherson. Puzzling. Anyhow, here's the back. It's darker behind. I have more gray up front. Actually these are not really showing the true level of gray, so here's an extreme closeup:

Now you have the full picture. About an inch and half or so of real gray followed by blonde. Can you see the tonal difference? I'm still holding firm to my resolve. I am LOVING not having to constantly worry about root camouflage. Loooooviinnnnng. Picture Julie Andrews on top of the alpine mountain singing for joy. That's me!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

my funny valentine

Throwback! I posted this cynical anti-Valentine on the blog in 2011 and it still amuses me. Minimal effort required. Just print on letter sized regular paper and fold twice. Valentine schmalentine.

If you must, there are also a couple of sweeter ones on my printables page.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

having problems with your Sulky Printable Sticky Fabri-Solvy?

Hello, guys! This is a Sulky PSA. You folks know how much I love their Printable Sticky Fabri-Solvy. I can't live without it! It's an integral part of my Twelve Days ornament series. However, I've heard from several heartbroken crafters just lately who can't get the Sulky stabilizer washed off of their embroidered ornament pieces even though they have followed all the directions and are doing everything right. If this is YOU, you are not crazy. You have some faulty stabilizer!

I've just spoken to Patty Lee at Sulky. She was so helpful and apologetic! She tells me the manufacturer who makes the glue for the stabilizer reformulated the glue without informing Sulky. While the reformulated glue worked for some industrial applications it did not work for Sticky Fabri-Solvy. Sulky was not aware of the problem until some of the faulty stabilizer had already been distributed to resellers.

Have they fixed the problem?
YES! There are no batch numbers to check, so you will need to test your product before using if you have the old packaging and name. The stabilizer has now been renamed and repackaged, so the new stuff should be fine. New name: Sulky Printable Stick 'n Stitch.

Questions? She will be very happy to help:
Patty Lee
(800) 874-4115, extension 173
(If you are outside the US you might need to visit the website to get the correct phone number)

How do I know if my stabilizer is the bad batch?
If you are breaking open a new pack of the old packaging/name (see above), test it first! Go ahead and print the pattern on the stabilizer just in case it's good. Then cut out a blank corner or strip of the page, peel the backing off and stick it on a piece of scrap fabric. If it doesn't soak away in cold water after a few minutes, you may have the bad stuff. This is what it looked like for me. The bad stuff is on the left (turns clear and gooey), the good stuff is on the right (turns white and dissolves away):

I have the bad stuff. What do I do?
Sulky will gladly replace your faulty stabilizer. Please contact:
Patty Lee
(800) 874-4115, extension 173
(If you are outside the US you might need to visit the website to get the correct phone number)

OK, but how do I fix my current project?
There are some things to try! Patty has a list of suggestions that will hopefully fix the problem and she even offered to foot the bill for dry cleaning for your project if that would help. Please contact her.

Thanks very much to the crafters who let me know about this problem! I'm so sorry you ran into it and I hope you will be willing to try another project with the REAL stabilizer (with the new name!) so that you can discover just how wonderful it is!

Monday, January 9, 2017

what I'm up to

Well, hey there! It's me. Can we talk hair color?
See my nice silver sideburns growing in? This photo was taken at the end of December after about three weeks of no color. It's hard to tell but there was about 1/2 inch of gray all over my head at my roots. Creative combing.

I've been covering my gray since I was about 23. Which means I've been coloring my hair for more than 20 YEARS. Almost 25! I can't tell you how tired I am of it. And the last few years in order to keep the brunette illusion I've had to intervene with either all-over color or touching up roots every two weeks. Dumping smelly chemicals on my head every two weeks doesn't seem like a great idea.

So I made a big decision in December (a big decision in Frivolous Beautyland at least). My silver hair wins. I'm going to embrace it. No more squeezy tubes of color and plastic gloves for me. I'm going gray! This decision feels so right. I can't tell you how happy I am to never have to purchase a box of Espresso brown EVER AGAIN.

On the other hand. I feel like I'm violating some universal female pledge to do what I must to look younger at all costs. My wonderful, diplomatic, seldom negative mom says I won't like it. She may well be right. Gray hair might be a large blow to my vanity. I'm going to have to look at myself in a whole new way. My big sister is also very skeptical. But she kindly went with me to get some highlights to help with the transition right after Christmas.

Because. Y'all. I'm not getting a pixie cut. And I can't just let it grow in cold turkey and have a skunk stripe for months. I DRAW THE LINE THERE.

Post highlight picture! OK, so I asked for gray highlights. Hmmmmm. These look blonde to me.

Right? However, it has softened the effect of the gray growing in very nicely, I think. So far. We'll see how it goes over the next few weeks. Next time I go for a touch up I'm going to ask if it's possible to get truly gray/silver looking highlights with a glaze or something. That certainly seems to be possible, judging by the number of twenty-somethings on Pinterest sporting 'granny hair'.

My plan is to keep going every couple of months for probably the next year or two for these highlight touch ups so that my new gray hair blends with my old colored-to-death hair, and then at some point I'm going to chop off the colored ends and be left with my au naturel hair. I'm pretty curious just how much gray I do have. It's hard to tell until it grows in more. But I think it's a lot.

I have a Going Gray Pinterest board under construction if you'd like to be inspired! This lovely young lady is a great encourager. Wish me luck. It's going to be a rough hair year. I keep telling myself when my silver streaks are grown in I can try occasionally dyeing some of them lavender and be really hip and cool*. Can't do that with brunette hair.

*Possibly using the old school words 'hip' and 'cool' make me inherently unhip and uncool but you know what I mean.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

curated felt color collection for Maid a-Milking ornaments

Happy 2017! What a crazy December I had. January life is a little dismal in comparison and sadly lacks twinkle lights, eggnog and sausage balls. Whose dumb idea was it for Christmas to end? I say keep it alive by making ornaments all year round!

All three of these^ Twelve Days Series Maid a-Milking ornaments shown were made with the same Benzie Design wool-blend felt color collection as the Turtle Dove ornament.

Photos courtesy of Benzie Design.

If you would like to make ornaments that match my samples shown above you'll need to purchase the Turtle Dove/Maid a-Milking wool felt bundle from Benzie, and you can also add the optional matching floss shown. Having the matching floss is really handy to sew the ornament parts together!*

*Note: you'll need to purchase additional floss colors for the decorative embroidery. Some of the matching floss colors might also be used for decorative embroidery.

This No. 2 Benzie felt collection (Turtle Dove + Maid a-Milking) includes these felt colors:
1) Peacock
2) Aqua
3) Swan
4) Magenta
5) Burgundy
6) Orange
7) Mustard
8) Ochre
9) Silver
10) Graphite

Here are the color and floss keys for each sample ornament:

OK! First up is this yellow/blue/gray maid above. 

Felt colors:
Body: Peacock for bodice, Graphite for legs.
Skirt: Mustard
Sleeves: Silver
Apron: Graphite
Buckets: Swan
Hat: Ochre

Decorative embroidery:
DMC B5200 (bright white)
DMC 413 (charcoal gray)
DMC 3801 (light red)
DMC 782 (dark mustard)
DMC 3844 (dark turquoise blue knots)
DMC 3846 (light turquoise blue veins)

Now for this maroon/magenta/blue maid:

Felt colors:
Body: Mustard for bodice, Graphite for legs.
Skirt: Burgundy
Sleeves: Swan
Apron: Magenta
Buckets: Silver
Hat: Silver

Decorative embroidery:
DMC B5200 (bright white)
DMC 154 (burgundy)
DMC 3804 (magenta)
DMC 3852 (gold)
DMC 3844 (dark turquoise blue knots on sleeves)
DMC 3846 (light turquoise blue)

Aaaand lastly this blue/yellow/orange maid:

Felt colors:
Body: Graphite
Skirt: Peacock
Sleeves: Orange
Apron: Ochre
Buckets: Silver
Hat: Aqua

Decorative embroidery:
DMC B5200 (bright white)
DMC 413 (charcoal gray)
DMC 3805 (magenta)
DMC 608 (orange)
DMC 3821 (yellow knots on sleeves)
DMC 3845 (medium turquoise blue)

Did you notice there is now a button on the sidebar at the top left for the Twelve Days ornaments resource page? Just an easy way for you to locate all the info about the series, including all the color keys for the samples.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

handmade Christmas gifts 2016 - angel ornaments for Lesley and Paula

I made a similar angel ornament last year for my sweet niece, Erin, who had lost a baby boy. This year Erin helped me make this one for her sister-in-law after they suffered a loss. I hope it's a special way to remember their baby who flew straight to God.

At the same time we made the one above for Lesley I also made this gold trimmed angel for my in-laws. It's to remember their little girl from long ago, Jennifer, born to them in the early 70s. Jennifer only lived a few days. I think it's a sweet way to remember her little life. She's still missed and loved.