Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Snappy Egg!

Here's something else you can do with my free Panoramic Egg and Egg Box pattern. After you've felted the egg, carefully cut the top off (only about the top inch or so), then cut out "V" shapes all around. I stuffed a little bit of my Kool-Aid-dyed roving into the bottom, then put Big Chick in. This is the egg knit on size US 8 needles. Try the smaller version (knit on size US 6 needles) to have smaller chicks or bunnies peeping out!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Gloomy, but Warm

It's a gloomy day today, but it is getting warmer. At least I didn't have to wear my winter coat (which is full of Maggie's hair right now) ... It's raining again, though. I am so very, very tired of the rain.
I should feel good ... I mean, I think I finally found all of my father's information needed for the tax preparer (it's all so confusing to me!!!!) ... and I called in to refill all my parents' prescriptions ... so I think I handled all the details for today. Audible sigh of relief!
Meanwhile, I am still spotting wonderful Dennison Crepe Paper outfits and booklets for paper dolls on eBay. I just love looking at them and imagining the people who played with them ... who, so painstakingly, decorated and cut out those little dresses and then pasted the bits of paper lace trims and things. They are lovely!
I think it's time for another pot of coffee! Oh! And if you are a member of ravelry and want to join the free, Sugarless Panoramic Egg Knit a long, just look for my group (the one with the Take-A-Long Sun as a mascot!) and join in! We're just about ready to get going. It's a super fast, super easy pattern that's very cheerful. It's sure to bolster your spirits even in this gloomy weather. I've heard it's snowing in some spots! So, think spring!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

My New Paperdoll Acquisition: The Creepy Family!

Here is my latest Paper Doll Family. I haven't decided what to name them yet. They are really big compared to my other paper dolls ... and quite old. I'm not sure of their age, but Dad here has a bit of mold growing on his head. I think this is really rather odd, but adds to the overall creepiness of this group. The child is quite big.
I dressed Dad in one of his outfits. Notice how he holds a cigarette! The nanny is watching him closely. I'm not sure I'd feel comfortable leaving my child with her! She looks rather secretive. I just know she's hiding something! Or maybe she knows something!

Here is a close up look at her eyes. What do you think?
I haven't decided just yet what I'm going to do with all these dolls. I originally started collecting them for two projects I'm working on. Yes, I'm working on knitting "paper" dolls that would really be unstuffed and flat, yet two sided. They would have changeable clothing that ... and now, remember, this is all still in the very early developmental stages ... perhaps close with velcro. Remember the Betty Campbell Round About paper dolls? Anyhow, the paper doll is one project and the other is a special anniversary present for my dear, darling big sister. SHHHH! It's a secret that I can't spoil, but I can divulge that it involves old books and paper dolls!

Party Decorations ... and Dinner Party Etiquette Revisited

I have been having tons of fun with these old, crepe-paper decorating-idea books from Dennison Manufacturing that I've been collecting. These were published in the '20s and '30s and they are just chock full of fantastic ideas. I am really quite inspired to make up knitting patterns for all the decorations they have! Centerpieces could very well be one of my (many) next projects. There are still lots of these little decorating booklets out there on eBay, if you're as interested in old-fashioned fun, like I am!
I just have always loved decorating for a party. I have to admit, I'm not much of a party person. I like the decorating, the fixing of party favors and the baking and arranging of delicious foods and greeting everyone at the door (and then, if I could, I would leave)!!! See you! Have a great time! I'll just be upstairs now!
I am the youngest of 5 children, you see, and my siblings are 5-7-10 and 12 years older than I ... so they were all gone away while I was still young. I spent my teen-age years as pretty much an only child. As such, I attended and (helped be the hostess for) countless dinner parties. I got very good at planning, decorating and serving and, if I do say so, myself, I am even quite a very good listener, but it takes a lot out of me. I've never been a particularly social person, so every event was (and still is!) quite draining.
While still a teenager, I noticed a strange thing at dinner parties ... someone will inevitably start a story at the dinner table and everyone is focused on the speaker at first. But then, rather quietly and gradually at first, two-by-two, other little conversations break off into hushed whispers around the table, as if by whispering, no one will notice that they are not paying attention to the original speaker anymore! I became very good at remaining attentive to the poor guy who started his story. His (or her) eyes would hunt around the table and always find mine. I became quite adept at allowing people to finish their stories without having to just trail off into nothingness! As long as the speaker still had one listener, he could at least finish with some dignity!!! I knew just when to add an appropriate "AH!" or "Oh, I see!" while keeping a forkful of food hovering just so over my plate.
Also, it's simply a given that if you are attending a dinner party, you must bring a gift. A fabulous bottle of wine ... a gorgeous plant or floral arrangement ... perhaps a delectable dessert or maybe even a tiny toy for the house dog ... but you MUST remember this! It means so much to the host or hostess!!!
Here's another must: You must be able to ask more questions than you answer. It's common knowledge that everyone wants to talk about himself more than he wants to listen to others. So try not to chat much about yourself for an evening and just try asking questions and listening. It's amazing what you'll find out. You have the honor of remaining quite mysterious because you now know all kinds of things about everyone else, but they know hardly anything about you!
So keep these tips close at hand. Spring officially arrives tomorrow ... sowing the seeds for warm-weather parties and picnics!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Familia Romana ... again!

I am determined. I will learn Latin! I know, I know. This will be my fourth ... or maybe my fifth attempt at joining another online class!!! But this time I will succeed! In reality, I know I probably shouldn't even try, but I feel compelled to do it. Yes! Absolutely compelled! I have so many Latin textbooks and workbooks and cds lying around this house that it's embarrassing! My first attempt (let's not even count all the times I tried without the online groups!) was with a Wheelock's group about 6 or 7 years ago. (My mind boggles at that thought! Could it really have been that long ago?? Yes! It was! Indeed!) Anyhow, after ... I think ... two tries with a Wheelock group, I went on to a Lingua Latina group that used special materials only available from France. I got them all! I started! I admit, it was a bit strange trying to learn Latin through French while not knowing a bit of French! Some kind fellow student who knew French, started translating the whole book for everyone! I listened to Latin (spoken with French accents) while I peeled potatoes. I listened and repeated Latin (hopefully without a French accent) in the car while driving. I had Latin everywhere ... until life got in the way and I found myself slipping behind the group's assignments again. And then there were the tests. AACCKKK! I tried twice with this group, but in the end, life got in the way again. SO, I started with a new group, this time, a different text. I really like these books and cds the best out of all of them. Familia Romana. There are stories that you read and the text sort of flows. Not to mention, the characters are very interesting people! Anyhow, again, as you probably know by now, life had that way of taking control and I was left behind. But now, the moderator of this group, such a kindly and wise person (and extremely generous with her time) is starting yet another! It begins on March 19. This weekend, I am going to assemble all my materials again and THIS time, I will succeed!!! Salvete!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Doing My Part to Help the Economy! New Lower Prices at The Pattern Box!

Last night, as my husband and I were chatting about the economy, I decided to do something. I'm lowering all the prices on my patterns to $2.50 each. I hope this enables you to knit a toy! Remember: It's not a temporary sale. This is now the regular price. I've also adjusted all the prices on Ravelry.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Happy Family!

Looky! Looky! I just won these on eBay and they came today. I know why they're so happy! They are wearing shorts! (Okay, so dad has weird, long socks on, but still, he's wearing shorts)! And look at that sun outside!
Aren't they wonderful? They came with tons of clothes and the house, too! It's all in perfect condition and copyrighted a year before I was born! Gee, that makes me feel well preserved!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Fun with Crepe Paper! How to Make Crepe Paper Nut Cups!

Here's the finished nut cup

When you cut out the paper to cover your nut cup, cut across the grain of the paper ... as opposed to cutting with the grain. The grain runs from top to bottom, so cut across from side to side. Measure your strip so that it will be about one-half inch taller than the cup. Stretch the paper strip around the cup. The taller part will fold over the top of the cup all on its own! Use only a little bit of glue. The old books recommend paste and this actually might work better because paste is dry.

I looked all over the place for directions on how to actually sew crepe paper to make a ruffle. I experimented and came up with my own directions, as I couldn't find exact directions for the longest time! Gabriela Delworth's website had the best explanations. What you do is this: Set your sewing machine to a straight stitch and set it for the longest length you can. (I put mine on 4.) and then sew a straight stitch right through a strip of crepe. I used a streamer for this example, but the folds are much heavier and better to work with. Anyhow, when you finish, cut the thread, leaving a long piece so that you can pull. Pull the thread, gathering the crepe paper. You can make the gathers as tight or as loose as you like.

Attach the crepe paper ruffle to the now-covered cup. (I covered the cup in darker pink so you could see it.) I positioned the ruffle so that the stitching comes right at the lip of the paper cup. I used a little bit of glue ... again, I wished I had paste, instead!

An easy way to make a decorative handle is to twist strips of crepe paper.
Attach the crepe paper strip to a spindle ... just fold a little piece over and loop it around the hook on the spindle. Twist it together with your fingers to get it to stick together. Then, give your spindle a good spin!

To twist the crepe paper, you can either do it by hand or ... Yes! You can spin crepe paper! And it's FUN! In fact, it might be a great place to start when learning to spin, in general, as you can easily see the drafting "triangle" and watch the twist travel up the paper. You can also knit with crepe paper, which I will demonstrate next time! Dennison, the famous crepe paper manufacturer, came out with a "Crepe Paper Twister," but these are hard to find these days. You can purchase an inexpensive spindle for about $12 ... or make your own with a cd and a dowel! Start by cutting long strips of crepe paper cut from folds or use streamers.

I took a vintage Easter card and cut this little bunny out. I glued a little glitter on it before attaching it with paper tape. You could attach all kinds of embellishments to the handle and to the outside of the cup. A few thoughts would be paper flowers, sequins, beads, stickers, seals, tinsel, etc. This is the really fun part!

Embroidery Stabilizer Is Wonderful Stuff!

Up until last week when I was pondering how to embroider my Doll Baby's face, I always embroidered free hand. In fact, I had tried water-soluble and air-soluble pens before, but the felt and knitted faces were too bumpy and didn't really take to be written on top of ... so I just winged it. Most of the time I had to re-stitch the face again and again because it wasn't the face I saw in my head. Well, when it came to Doll Baby, her face was so large I knew I'd never be able to just wing it, so I tried my fabric-like embroidery stabilizer ... the kind you need boiling water to remove. (I have a HUGE roll of it that I needed for a different project.) Well, it worked. Not only did it work, but the stabilizer actually added some kind of stiffness to the embroidery that makes it much stronger and sturdier and not as apt to get pulled or snagged. I really love it!
So, last night, as I was doing a face on one of my smaller toys, I thought, "Hey, why can't I use the stabilizer for this, too??" So, I drew the face I saw in my head right onto the stabilizer, then I positioned the piece on the doll's face and embroidered right over my drawing. I melted it off with boiling water and VOILA! The face is PERFECT, if I do say so, myself!!! And the colors didn't bleed ... which is what I was really worried about. The black, the red ... why, they just stayed there all in one piece!
So, this proves that, no matter what size face you're working on, go ... GO NOW ... and get a big sheet of embroidery stabilizer and give it a try! It's wonderful stuff!