Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Faith in Human Nature RESTORED!

That Paypal reversal was all a BIG mistake!!! I have heard from the buyer and there were troubles with her credit card ... so that transaction didn't go through properly! She will re-send the payment and is sorry for the confusion!

YEA! Sigh of relief.

Thanks to all of you for your support ... and to Casey and all the Ravelry users for all the advice!!!

Very Disappointing Development :(

My faith in human nature ... and in knitters ... well, yes, especially Ravelry users ... has been shaken. *sniff*

A person figured out a way to get a couple of my patterns without having to pay for them.

It just never occurred to me that anyone would do that! Now, I'm worried about the integrity of my whole shop. *sigh*

... more later ...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Christmas Ideas and Thoughts of Embroidery ...

For some reason, I started going through my vintage Christmas cards this morning and also came across one of my favorite Little Golden Books ... The Night Before Christmas. I love the little wooden toy that peeks out of Santa's bag! I may try to make a felted toy that looks something like it. Hm ...
Meanwhile, I finished my first ghost for Halloween and I really like him! I had a lot of fun with the eyes. I will post a photo soon, but wanted to make a couple more with different embroidered faces ... which then led me to think about embroidery, in general.
I love Bella Dia's blog and projects, as well as Wee Wonderfuls. I've only just begun my browsing of embroidery enthusiasts! I used to love to do crewel work when I was young. In art class, we made pillows from burlap and then embroidered them with a variety of stitches we had learned. I made a snail. I really had so much fun. After that, my Mom indulged my passion for crewel work with lots of kits.
I had sort of forgotten all of that! But now, I'm very enthusiastic about incorporating embroidery/crewel stitches into my felted projects. I will be teaching a wet-felting class using the ArtFelt technique to a group of homeschoolers this fall. So, I will be spending the next few days working up some fairly easy projects. I think embellishing with embroidery will be a nice addition for anyone who wants to go on to do that. Right now, I'm thinking of can holders, bookmarks, small bags, etc.
On the needles: Another ghost, my black cat's tail, the dragon, the mermaid and a stick horse head!
Will be back soon ... must take both my son and my mother to the dentist today ... which means I get about three hours of knitting time! YEA!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

From My Notebook: Mistakes ... Learning Experiences!

I nicknamed him "weird guy" because I try everything out on him first, including embroidering his face. It's been pulled out time and again! Everybody needs a weird guy in their knitting bag!

See this guy? He's my experiment. I was trying to have arms and legs knit right into the animal so I wouldn't have to sew them on at all. As you can see, his arms are way too small! This made me realize that I must increase many more stitches between the place markers!!! He was supposed to have been an elephant, but his trunk was so tiny and bizarre, I had to cut it off just to stand to look at him! Now, the place where the trunk used to be looks as if he has had some painful throat surgery. (I guess he has!)
His shape is perfect for several other animals/insects I'm working on, though, so I was glad I had finished knitting and felting him instead of giving up and throwing him away.
As for the hair ... well I was trying to figure out a way to root in hair on a felted toy. It works, but not great. Unlike the natural spaces in stitches you have on a knitted toy, you must use an awl to create a space first, then you can knot the hair through each hole. I tried using a safety pin first ... I snipped the safety pin in half and used the part without the head that had the pinpoint on the bottom. I then bent the top like a small hook. I thought I could use this like a needle without an eye. You see, when you latch hair, you want to be able to get the needle off ... this is why a crochet hook works ... well, my little pin needle didn't work very well. It kept hooking the felt fibers as it came out. Then I tried the awl. Very time consuming, but it did work. I think attaching hair, in general, is time consuming ... no matter what method you end up using!
I just was experimenting on my new patterns for Halloween. My ghost needs work, but I can see what I did wrong with his arms and I'd like to have his head shaped a little differently, as well. It really helps me to knit up and felt a few versions of something before I come up with exactly what I want.
I did felt my bookworm, though! He's kind of a sluggish bookworm! I really like him. Now for him to dry so that I can embroider his face. More from the notebook later ...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Waxing Nostalgic ...

It's a beautiful morning ... warm and sunny ... grass and leaves green and moist with dew. The air is soft and full of bird sounds and insects. It's mid July already. *sigh Only a few weeks left and then it's back to school, with all its sense of urgency and schedules. If only I could bottle up this morning and keep it nice and snug ... to pull it out again in those dark, dreary days ahead. I just need to soak up every moment right now.
I usually try to stay away from serious topics or even very thoughtful topics on this blog ... I try to stick to the positive, sometimes the silly ... and mostly, as you know, just knitting. Right now, though, I guess I'm thinking of school because my daughters are gathering their sheets and towels, dishes and refrigerators ... anxiously awaiting the return to the university ... and I'm getting all of my son's books in order and each syllabus worked out for all his subjects. He'll be in high school now! I can't believe the years have gone so quickly. It's been 10 years since he started kindergarten! Life has a funny way of sneaking up on you ... so slowly, day after day of routine ... until finally, the routine has changed and you didn't even notice when it happened.
Looking in on my elderly parents has given me a new perspective on life ... a sobering, not always positive perspective ... I'm made aware of the depth of life ... how often we waste moments that we can never reclaim, throwing our minutes away as if they were nothing more than scraps ... not realizing that's all we have ... not realizing that those moments are what build a lifetime.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A Fellow Ravelry User Knitted up the Teacup and Saucer and the Cookie!

A fellow Ravelry user (who wishes to remain unknown!) has shared her version of the teacup/saucer and chocolate shortbread cookie! She knitted and felted these from my free patterns, available in a pdf from The Pattern Box. If you give them a try, please send me your photos and comments and I'll try to post them here, too. It's always fun to see others' work.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Yea! The Simple Dolls pattern is now available!!!

Phew! Finally! I finished writing up the pattern for all the Simple Dolls, plus their five hats, the cat and the dog! I feel really good about it! I may come up with new faces/people/animals, but they will be variations on these original dolls.
Now, before I get back to my dragon and mermaid, I'm knitting up a little bookworm! He'll be my free back-to-school (YIKES! Shudder!) pattern! I found a lovely light green for his body tucked away in my stash.
Meanwhile, I realized that Fall and Halloween are not that far away, so I've started my seasonal toys! I have in mind a little ghost family, as well as different Jack O'lanterns ... at least one will have arms and legs. Another hopefully will have changeable features that you can stick on with "velcro."
Well, that's all for now!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Finished More Simple Dolls

I finished a few more dolls for the Simple Dolls pattern. I want to get back to my mermaid and dragon, but I keep thinking of some new doll and a face that I'd like to add to the collection before I write up the final pattern! I really like my cat and dog. I think they're my favorites so far. The faces are so much fun. I just have to be patient and wait until the felt is completely dry before I start to embroider ... if you embroider while they are wet, the cotton perl floss tends to bleed! YIKES! Everybody ends up with a 5 o'clock shadow! I'll post the pattern soon on the pattern box and also it will be available on Ravelry.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

My First Tomato of the Season: Old Before Its Time

*sniff* Here's my first tomato of 2008.

When I first spotted my little tomato, the first on any of my plants, a warm, happy feeling washed over me. I couldn't help but smile. There it was. A real tomato, growing on my vines! I did exactly what the old man at the garden center told me to do. And now, I would harvest the fruit of his years of tomato-growing experience! I would enjoy tomatoes this year like no year before! I was now in possession of the SECRET INGREDIENT!
You see, I was looking through the seemingly endless variety of tomatoes when, out of nowhere, an elderly man called to me from across the parking lot. He was getting into his car with an armload of tomatoes, himself. "You want the Better Boys," he called.

"Better Boys?" I asked hesitantly, in case he had really been talking to someone else.

He nodded. "Yep. The Better Boys. Plant them deep ... with Epsom Salts mixed in."

"Epsom Salts?" I asked.

"Yep. Epsom Salts," he repeated. Then said again, "Plant them deep."

He got in his car and drove away.

So I took his mysterious advice and bought Better Boys. I bought a carton (well, really two cartons, but they were small) of Epsom Salts. I planted them deep. (Well, okay, not that deep really. I had to plant them in pots this year ... but I planted them as deep as a pot will allow. I'll say that!) Then I watered them and put Miracle Gro on them.
I was iffy on the Epsom Salts when some of the leaves started turning yellow. I shrugged. "The old man distinctly said Epsom Salts, so I'll wait and see." I thought to myself.
And the plants grew green again. And they got taller and wider! And tiny yellow flowers started blooming!
And then, best of all, little tomatoes started showing up here and there. I kept my eye on the first one. It was beautiful! And it grew round and fat. But it stayed green. It stayed green for a couple of weeks. I kept wondering when the heck it would start to get red! Then, while it was still as green as a grasshopper, it started getting wrinkles on it. And then more wrinkles. It was aging before it even ripened!
Sadly, by the time it turned red, it had a big split in the bottom and a hole in it, too.
Hm. Epsom Salts ... Secret Ingredient or ... Sabotage!?!?

Friday, July 4, 2008

It's a Tea Party and You're Invited!

Finally! It's my grand opening celebration of The Pattern Box! I finally finished putting the finishing touches on my felted teapot pattern. It's available on the "afternoon tea" page for $5. But, just for stopping by, I'm giving away my felted teacup and saucer pattern, as well as two tea-time treats patterns ... just as promised! The treats are a chocolate shortbread cookie and a little raspberry cake.
I've taken a lot of time with my teapot pattern and include in the 8-pages, directions on needle felting a design on the finished teapot.
Thank you all so much for your continued support, kind comments and {{hugs}} of encouragement!! I so appreciate it! As always, if you run into any kind of problem with one of my patterns or if you have a question, please feel free to email me. Even if you just want to say, "hello," I'd love to hear from you.
If you do knit up one of my designs, and you wouldn't mind sharing your photos, I'd love to post them here.
Thank you, again! Now, go on ... go on over to The Pattern Box and have a cup of tea!