Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Parents' Wish

My sister forwarded me this link to A Parent's Wish ... which probably would be more appropriately placed on my elderly parents blog ... but just had to share it here. These past few years of helping my elderly parents ... particularly this last year ... has brought many aspects of my life ... and "life," in general, into clearer view.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Sipping coffee, looking at Christmas Tree

As I sit here, sipping my morning coffee, I just really want each and every moment of Christmas vacation to happily sink in! I used to envision all kinds of perfect, glossy-magazine-style images for what a perfect Christmas morning would be like ... inevitably I'd be disappointed! I guess it comes with age ... but I don't feel like that anymore. I have no more glossy images in my head. Just being together with my family (dog included) ... no matter how imperfect we all might be or how imperfect the setting might be ... well, that's what makes it perfect in its own way! Ah. The warm silence of knowing all my kids (as old as they are!) are upstairs ... sleeping in ... semester grades posted and everybody did well, thank God. Home for the holidays ... my silly, old arthritic beardie girl, sleeping peacefully on her big, patchwork bed in the corner over there ... the clock ticking methodically on the wall ... *big sigh!
In a few minutes, I'll put the oil on to heat for the long-promised churros. I don't have any thick chocolate to make this morning. I forgot to order more! Oh well. It's the churros everybody loves, anyhow. Hot and crispy on the outside, soft insides ... covered in sifted powdered sugar, like so much snow on a cold morning ... only they warm you instead!
Well, I better go for now.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Felted Popcorn and Cranberry Garland

Here's a last-minute decoration for you ... but after felting a few of the "cranberries" my hands were quite sore! I've posted the recipe on my Pattern Box website. (Shhhh ... I think, really, it's a lot easier to just pop a batch of popcorn and grab a bag of cranberries from the grocery store!) But, if you want a no-calorie version, this one could be for you. I hope you enjoy!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Special Christmas Sale at the Pattern Box!

I am offering a special Christmas Sale at the Pattern Box now through December 31st. If you buy one pattern, you may choose another for free! All you have to do is email me with your free pattern choice after you've purchased one through the Pattern Box.
Please email me with your choice at either: amwheeless@carolina.rr.com or anita@thepatternbox.com

In your email, please tell which pattern you would like and to what email address I can send the pdf file.
Please check out Antique Clip Art for great, free, public domain images like the Merry Christmas one above!

Little "Jackie" Mumm and Toys!

We are putting together photos and videos of my Dad, whose 85th birthday was on Nov. 21, for a "video tribute" that we're having filmed (with him being interviewed) ... and I came across this darling photo of him when he was a baby. Also, I noticed the little doll leaning on his leg! Anybody have any idea what doll this might be? This photo was taken in the early 1920s ... the doll sort of looks like Dolly Dingle, Kewpie dolls and the Campbell Kids ... but it's completely soft. I searched all over Google and eBay and couldn't find anything like her ... Um ... Guess what my next pattern is going to be???

Thursday, November 20, 2008

More Inspiration ... and Sugar Baby Shoes

I just have to share a couple of wonderful spots I like to go and look around for inspiration ... or to go and just think about something really whimsical and nostalgic to take me away from all the problems of the day. For one thing, I love to go to eBay and page through all the Steiff animals for sale. I don't really care for any of the new ones, but I absolutely love the early, vintage Steiff. I also like the ones from the '50s. There is a certain charm that the older animals have that the newer ones completely lack. The Steiff website is a good place to spend some time, too.
I also love to look at Natasha Fadeeva's animals. They are incredibly detailed. I could just look at a photo of one of the mice for hours! (And I'm not kidding!)
I know, I know, I must be kind of crazy, but when a toy (particularly a stuffed toy) or a picture storybook has that certain something, I can feel it. I can look at it and find something marvelous in it ... it evokes a true sense of joy. *sigh
Have you ever been to the Susan Branch website? Right away, I get a real warm and fuzzy feeling, just from her landing page and the little bird that flutters by. Her artwork is terrific.
I also get a lot of ideas from looking at cakes and sweets. Take a look at the wonderful sugar panoramic eggs from Blumchen's ... and all their other sweets and holiday decorations, too. They even have pewter tinsel from Germany! Not the static, light-weight tinsel we have now. I remember loving the lead tinsel when I was a child ... before we knew lead wasn't good for you! We used to roll the tinsel in tiny balls. Try to do that with today's tinsel!
Anyhow, just a few thoughts for you for today ... and here's a completely off-topic thought ... as I was talking on the telephone to my brother just moments ago, I happened to glance down at my shoes. At that moment, they looked to me like giant Sugar Babies!

Okay, maybe dirty, scuffed, old Sugar Babies, but come on, don't they look like Sugar Babies to you? Just a little bit?

Starting Christmas Knitting ... I hope there's enough time!

Well, I spilled the beans on what I'm giving my veterinarians this year ... I kinda, sorta hinted at it way back in the summer when I brought some of my toys in for them to see ... but today, when I went over there just to buy more prescription food and arthritis supplements for Maggie, well, I couldn't help myself. Now I'm committed. I must finish.
I'm working on my squirrel pattern for one of the vets ... I may make two ... depends on how long it takes me with all the other stuff I have to do right now. I'd like to try my reddish-brown lopi lite along with my reddish/gold fun fur for the tail and do a brown squirrel, as well as the regular grey one.
I'm working on birds for the bird mobile I want to give the other vet. There are really four or five vets there and they are all wonderful, but two of them know me and know Maggie quite well. I wanted to give them something more than my usual cookies. Can't believe it'll be 11 years on Nov. 30 since little Mags was born! Time does go by so quickly!!! My little nibbles! Now with arthritis and just as sore and crackly as I am!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

AAACKKK! Take a Look at December's Simply Knitting!

I can't believe it. I always look forward to my copies of Simply Knitting magazine appearing in my mailbox every month, but this time, well ... er ... gasp ... I couldn't believe my eyes. MY Gingberbread Man (no, I should say an IMPOSTER) Gingerbread Man was on the cover! I couldn't believe it. He even has a pocket for fingers and everything!!!! OH NO! The "Icing" was even done in chain stitch EXACTLY like mine!!!
They even had a photo of a cookie sheet with him on it! Just like MINE! My kids couldn't believe it, either. My husband was astonished!
What a weird coincidence, is all I've got to say. And yes, I guess when I stop to think about it ... Christmas time does sort of make one dream of gingerbread people (after all, it happened to me) ... so it's likely somebody would think about knitting one, too ... and there are some differences. I mean, my patterns are almost all knit in the round on double-pointed needles and then most of them are felted ... which MY AUTHENTIC Gingerbread Man pattern is ... and this Simply Knitting one is not. He is knit back and forth on straight needles, then seamed together and not felted at all.
sigh You have to admit, it is a little weird, though! I'll have photos later!!!

Friday, October 24, 2008

A Clean House!

Before I begin, let me just say that I do love our house and I'm so glad we have a house at all! So, that said, now, I'll describe it a little: Our house was built in the '70s ... certainly not old enough to have intricate woodwork or claw-foot tubs, yet, sadly old enough to have cracked porcelain tile and icky fiberglass flooring in the shower stall.
We need new carpeting, new faucets, new sinks, etc., but then, there's always something that needs fixing ... even in new houses. All in all, as houses go, it's a nice house. I mean, it keeps us almost warm in the winter (because we keep the thermostat low, not because our new furnace wouldn't heat it up in a second!) and it's almost cool in the summer (again, our air conditioning works fabulously, but we don't want to spend very much)! We have enough room (almost) and it can look pretty good when it's tidied up.
That's the biggest problem, you see. The tidying-up part. I hate to admit it, but the last time our house was really clean was way back in May when I was hosting the neighborhood bunco night ... and, at the same time, my daughter was hosting her high-school graduation party.
I've never been a particularly good housekeeper. I just have way too many other things to do. Keeping a house clean is really a full-time job. If you use something, you have to immediately put it away when you're finished. And, more often than not, I'm called away at that very instant when I should be putting away!
We all have hobbies that take up a lot of room, too. Guitars, guitar books, guitar cases, amplifiers and pedals fill the living room. Chess sets, clocks, and score pads are everywhere. My yarn and fiber and all the supplies for dyeing and spinning and knitting and weaving take up the entire spare bedroom! Because we homeschool, our shelves are loaded with books and papers ... art supplies, science-lab materials, tapes of lectures and computer programs! Maggie's tennis balls, stuffed animals and squeaky toys line the upstairs hallway like Hansel and Gretel's breadcrumbs! Wow, the list goes on and on. It's difficult to keep a house clean if you simply don't have enough space to put everything ... or enough time to figure it out!
Once the school year begins, it keeps on ticking. We try not to take many holidays so that we can end our school year at the same time the college year ends. (There's nothing worse than moving your college kid(s) home, while you're still working on finishing up the last quarter with the one(s) still at home!) YIKES! So, if the house becomes cluttery and sloppy early on in the year, that's it until Christmas vacation. A sad, but true fact of life around here. There's simply no time to stop and clean it all up.
Well, this past week was a real blessing! Kent was enrolled in his driver's education class, which lasted 5 days, from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Every day! For a whole week! I didn't have to teach! It was like I had a week-long holiday!
Every day this week I've tackled another room until finally, today, Friday, I can proudly proclaim: This house is clean!
What a wonderful feeling! Let me just say that, with all the stress I've been under lately regarding my elderly parents, my underlying fear has been that I was going to have a heart attack ... or maybe a stroke ... and the paramedics would come and everyone would gasp in horror and disbelief at the state of our house!
Now, I can confidently have that stroke or heart attack! Phew! What a relief!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Gingerbread Man is Running Away!

I haven't even finished getting all my Halloween patterns written up when I suddenly had an idea for a gingerbread man! I decided I'd go ahead and experiment. On my third try, I got just what I wanted! You need two sets of double-pointed needles to knit one ... no, you don't use all the needles at once, but it's easier if you let part of him rest on needles rather than on waste yarn.

If you use size US 8 double-pointed needles, your finished cookie will be about 5 inches tall by 4 inches wide (from arm to arm) ... if you use size US 10 1/2 double-pointed needles, your finished gingerbread man will be a bit bigger ... approximately 6 inches tall by 5 inches wide.

If you make one (or two or three) please let me know! The 8-page pattern is available at my store (The Pattern Box) and also on Ravelry. Stay tuned! I have visions of SUGAR PLUMS dancing in my head! Lollipops and other sweets. Wouldn't a garland be nice?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Take-Along Sun Has Gone International!

Bain de Soleil

Christhalinette has paid me the ultimate compliment of translating the Take-Along Sun pattern into French! Please take a look at her blog and see the Bain de soleil. How lovely the pattern is written in the French language! And while you're there, look at her wonderful projects! She's inspiring!
It's so exciting for me to know that people all over the world are enjoying my patterns. I feel a little sunny glow, myself!
Thank you, Christhalinette!!!!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Unexpected Events ...

I feel like I've been away from my blog for a long time! I guess it's really not even been a month, but it feels like it. So many things have happened regarding my elderly parents. It's been very challenging, to say the least. I know there are many people out there facing similar situations. It's so strange as we age the life events that we share ... first, we notice we're suddenly attending lots of weddings! Then a year or so later, we find we're heading to yet another baby shower ... after that, we're in play groups and meeting other moms ... in fact, we're known as "Colette's Mom" or "Oh, you're Amelia's Mom!" and "You must be Kent's Mom!"

Suddenly, just when your children are moving into and out of high school, we find ourselves trying to help our elderly parents ... who are entering yet another phase of their own lives ... a phase they are not greeting with joy!

But, speaking of Joy ... I am working on a gingerbread man for Christmas and my first attempt is in my little felting machine right now. He's been in there for 45 minutes and still not felting to my liking. I think his arms may be too wide. We'll see.

I still have to post my ghost, raven and pumpkin man patterns. They are finished, I just haven't had time to write them up in Publisher yet. *sigh

I hope things will be back to normal soon, but I just don' t know. Why is it so hard to live just one day at a time???

Monday, September 15, 2008

Embroidery Bug Has Hit!

While I have been working feverishly finishing up my new Halloween toy patterns, I have also been dabbling in embroidery and weaving. I have ordered lots of books from Amazon.com and have been learning all kinds of new and different things! Years ago I loved crewel stitchery. Remember all those kits for sale back in the '70s ... with great sayings and "mod" flowers?! I got very good at the lazy daisy and the chain stitch ... French knots, too! Well, I've been refreshing all those stitches from my past, along with new ones just especially suited to ribbon embroidery ... which, by the way, is TONS of fun and quick with fabulous results!!! I'm working on a bit of a sampler right now. Also, I have to say I've fallen in love with redwork ... though, probably I should refer to it as colorwork as there are so many great colors of floss out there to use!
I have been thinking up my own little line drawings of Halloween parties and tea parties and birthday parties, Christmas celebrations and most especially ... my favorite ... the big-top circus! I have high hopes for them, although not sure where they will fit with everything else I'm doing!
My next experiment will be with using embroidery on top of my felted toys. For instance, I am designing a dove right now that will have embroidered features, rather than knitted/felted ones. We'll see. As soon as I'm finished, I'll post a photo.
I also have a cat to work out ... just a gray tabby this time ... and the dragon and the mermaid ... which are on the back burners, but definitely still in the running ... and THEN onto my new Thanksgiving patterns (maybe a cornucopia?) and some vegetables? Or maybe I'll just skip ahead to Christmas, where I have a lot of ideas for gingerbread people, Christmas trees, snow globes ... and then of course, spring will bring about all the Easter-y toys and also I'm hoping for gnomes, mushrooms, fairies, logs, flower gardens, etc.
So many projects, so little time!!!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Ravelry Stoep's Sun!

Here is another Take-Along Sun! This one is by fellow Ravelry member Stoep. Thank you so much for allowing me to share him! He's so cute! I think he'd certainly cheer up my dreary day!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Please Welcome MollyMeow's Wedding Sun!

Mollymeow from Ravelry made this beautiful Wedding Sun from my Take-Along Sun pattern. She has a couple of pattern modifications to share:

It might be worthwhile to knit the rays in the round rather than as halves and then sewing them together, since I found that seaming the two halves led to smaller, slightly bunchy rays. also, I think the space between the legs might have been a little large, though maybe I just wasn’t so great at sewing it up in a nice-looking but also gathered way.
I really like her suggestion to knit the rays in the round! Now, why hadn't I thought of that??? Meanwhile, I do pull my take-along sun's legs together when I use the gathering stitch to close up the bottom hole. But if this doesn't work for you, feel free to play around with the amount of stitches you cast on with the backward-loop method when joining his legs to his body. Just remember to add the same amount to the back as you do to the front!
Thanks, Mollymeow, for sharing your wonderful sun!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Hear ye, Hear ye! Another Patternbox Pattern Knitted Up by Ravelry Member!

Didn't CozyKitty from Ravelry do a great job on my teacup and saucer pattern? She was kind enough to allow me to post her photo here. She shared a comment from her 4-year-old, too and it's so nice, I had to print it here, of course!!!

my kids pretty much ignored the teacups while i was knitting them (since they don’t look like much at that point)

but the very minute i had them up on the counter drying… they were all over them (the handles had not even been sewn on yet)

my 4 year old son said “teacups - can i play with them mommy!”

She also discovered a neat tip when knitting the bottom:

I thought the pattern was very easy to knit - here’s my tip

first you start the cup knitted back and forth and then after a few rows you start knitting in the round - this leaves a hole. I found that if i picked up my cast on tail at this point and knit along with it it closed the hole and wove in my cast on tail at the same time!!!

Anyways - very easy to knit and my kids love them. I will probably make lots more out of leftover yarns

Thank you, CozyKitty, for the kind review!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Teacher's Pet Apple Now Available for Free!

Hi! I'm Teacher's Pet!

Lunch time was never this fun! Tuck this little guy in your lunch bag when you head back to school this year. Click here for the free pattern from The Pattern Box. It's also available for free as a Ravelry download. If you decide to knit him, please let me know! As always, if you have any problems, please email me.

Scaredy Cat Pattern Available!

Just a quick post to let you know my Scaredy Cat pattern is now available at The Pattern Box and on Ravelry. If you decide to knit him, please let me know! I hope to have the other patterns up soon.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Sneak Peek: Free Back to School Pattern and New Halloween Designs

Here is a bad photo(sorry! Will go outside tomorrow for a better shot!) of my new Back to School free pattern: Teacher's Pet Apple

My Black Cat pattern will be available at The Pattern Box and on Ravelry soon!

Here is a side view of his arched back!

Here is my friendly ghost. He'll be at The Pattern Box and on Ravelry, soon, too ... along with a Pumpkin Person and a Raven. These four are my new Halloween toy/decoration patterns.

Here is the Friendly Ghost and Black Cat together (on my new paper cutter)!

Ravelry Members' Finished Projects!

Look at this great felted fish that a fellow Ravelry user has knit from my free felted fish pattern!
It's a lovely goldfish! Thank you so much for sharing the photo!

Another fellow Ravelry member has finished this gorgeous felted teapot from my knitted/felted teapot pattern! I just love the way the middle and the handle turned out the same color. Isn't it wonderful?

I thank both fabulous knitters for allowing me to post their photos. If anyone has knit any of my patterns, and you'd like to share your photos on my blog, please email me. I'd love to show them off!I have just finished my (dare I say the words) Back to School free pattern for Teacher's Pet Apple, which is a knitted/felted apple with a little worm poking out. If I can manage it, I'll post it all tomorrow (Wednesday) ... things have been so hectic here of late, particularly regarding my elderly parents. Please keep us in your prayers.

As an aside ... I have finished a black cat and ghost for Halloween ... and am almost finished with a pumpkin person, but not quite ... and a raven. All four patterns should be up and available at The Pattern Box and on Ravelry soon. I'll be sure to let you know! I think they're quite fun and I hope you will, too!


Sunday, August 3, 2008

Going Over to the Dark Side!

Years ago, I promised myself I would never, no NEVER, EVER knit a sweater. You see, the thing is, I really like to knit toys. I went this route because after knitting scarves and bags, cell-phone carriers and even a beret (that took a long time), most of the recipients NEVER, EVER used the things I knit. I don't know where they've put them, but I've never seen them use them. After awhile of this, I decided I would not knit useful items anymore. I would concentrate on toys that would make me feel happy and silly (even in the most stressful and sad and scary moments of my recent life's journey). I promised myself the one thing I would NEVER make would be a sweater ... which always seemed to take an incredible amount of yarn (which means making a major investment) when I could easily purchase a sweater (already made) at any particular store, for about one-third of the cost.

Now that I'm working at the yarn store, I realize I've put myself into the center, yes, the very soul, the core, the hub, the brain, if you will, of sweaterland. The employees, the customers, I venture to guess even the package carriers, all knit sweaters. They bring in their pattern books. They swoon over yarns. They giggle over stitches. They show the photos of new things to me. Oh, they were sneaky, all right. They'd bring in their finished pieces. Nay, they'd wear them, even, showing off their handiwork.

THEN, the terrible day happened when I was shown a sweater pattern that I fell in love with. At that moment, I knew I had fallen. I had slipped over onto the dark side. I knew I had to join SWEATERLAND and knit one. That one. Would you like to see which one it is? Which sweater made me order 15 hanks of yarn??

Here it is: URIAN from the Berroco Pattern Book 279

I Am Not Spam! Phew!

Mummble-Jummble2 was one of those blogs "mistakenly" marked as spam the other day! YIKES! I know I ramble sometimes, but I didn't think I've ever really been that repetitive! Anyhow, I really only like Spam when it's fried. And I haven't had that since I was in kindergarten ... which, well, was a really, really long time ago. (In the '60s, if you must know). So I am publishing two posts on the same day with totally different topics because I was blocked from my blog the other day. (Until it was determined I was not spam.)

Now that we've established that I'm not spam, I'll move along with my real post! Which is to say that there are a few new developments in my life! I am now working part-time at my local yarn store ... I'm flattered the owner has such confidence in me, as I haven't worked for pay for a LONG, long time. Having been employed as a writer and not a salesperson, this should prove interesting! However, I do LOVE yarn and needles and felting and anything fibery and so I hope I will be able to fulfill her trust in me! The past week, I worked almost every day while the store is conducting inventory. I never knew there could be so many buttons in one tube! Also, when asked to roll a hank of yarn into a ball, I needed help! *sniff* I really have shown myself to be quite inept! Yet, I am not too proud to shout out for assistance!!! HELP!
Hopefully the learning curve will be over soon.

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 ...er ... 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!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

I WIsh I Could Knit Faster ...

Last night, I had a dream about a felted mermaid! I guess that's why I keep a notebook by my bedside! When I woke up, I sketched her out and even knew what yarn to pick out from my stash! THEN I knew I'd have to figure out a seahorse to go with her ... and maybe a pirate or two? THEN I thought I have to knit up a unicorn, of course, and I've already promised I'd do a dragon, which I have sketched out, too. The only problem is, I don't have enough hands to knit them all at once. I am still fiendishly employed at resizing my teapot and finishing up the cookie patterns so that I can post them at The Pattern Box by next week. (That would sort of be on schedule for me ... my own deadline, of course!) And then, I'm still working on the Simple Dolls. I have three more knit, but I have so many faces and hats to do, that I certainly need more of the basic dolls!
I won an auction on eBay for assorted mohair and mohair-type yarns. Most of them don't have any brands or fiber content or anything listed to identify them, but they are lovely colors. I have in mind a whole new set of toys that will not be felted, but will be knit with mohair/blend yarns. One ball that came was in a soft green. Perfect for a little frog! I hope to have a whole garden collection that would include a frog, ladybug, bee, butterfly and dragonfly. I will probably experiment with some of the glittery yarns, too. I have a few lurex balls leftover from when I did the Christmas pickle last year! These might be nice additions to the yarn for the dragonfly's wings.
I am still working on my pop-up puppets, too, but I have sort of put them on the back burner for now ... and especially since the whole mermaid dream, I think I will definitely work on the mermaid and dragon after I finish the Simple Doll faces.
Well, I better sign off for now. Hoping everyone is having a wonderful Sunday!

Devon Clement's Small Hedgehogs!

Thank you, Devon, for sharing photos of your finished small hedgehogs! I love the yarn textures you've chosen and the colors, too! The embroidered faces are wonderful. Thanks so much for letting us all see them! If anyone else would like to share photos of their finished hedgehogs from my patterns, please let me know!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

My Felted Fish is on Craftstylish.com!!!

Felted Fish says, "WOW! I'm almost famous!"

Tina Hilton from Craftstylish Knitting has generously featured my felted fish this week! Take a look at this wonderful site for knitting, crocheting, beading, etc.! And did I mention this pattern is available for free on the Craftstylish website??? Please let me know if you decide to knit one (or two, or three)! I'd love to post photos of your finished fish here. As always, if you run into any problems or if you just want to say, "hello," please feel free to email me.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Simple Dolls Now at The Pattern Box!

I had another one of those breakthrough moments the other day! And voila the Simple Doll was made! I have lots and lots of other face-styles! I just can't wait to make all of the "prototypes" so that you can see them all! If only I could knit faster! I will be posting the pattern on my website soon ... and also uploading it to Ravelry. It's very simple and will include directions for many faces. I've decided not to try to sell the dolls that I make ... only sell the patterns. That's what I'm good at doing, so I should stick with that!
Okay, now I know I have to get back to typing in those remaining animal patterns! I've already written up the description and loaded the photos onto the Ravelry database. All that's left is for me to upload the patterns. I'll be up late tonight, I know it!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Knitting in the Round on Double-Pointed Needles

It seems like a long, long time ago, but I remember when I used to think that knitting on double-pointed needles was way too difficult for me. I remember casting on stitches, only to have them slip off of one needle after the other as I tried to divide them. It was so frustrating. AARRGGHHH! I'd have my trusty book open to the right page and time after time, I'd try it again. Yet, time after time, I'd throw the tangled mess down.
THEN ... one day, I signed up for a sock class. This class was taught by the incredible SOCK LADY! She revealed to all of us the way her grandmother had taught her ... cast on the stitches called for, then KNIT them onto each needle. This will really count as the first round of most patterns ... but my patterns take this into consideration and actually begin counting rounds after that one.
I can't tell you what a breakthrough this was and how much I appreciate the SOCK LADY!
So, the moral of this story is: If you have had trouble knitting with double-pointed needles because your stitches keep falling off before you can even begin, then try knitting them when dividing and your entire life will change for the better!!!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I'm Getting Closer!


White Sheep
Yellow Chick
Pink Chick

Blue Fish

Yellow Duck

Gray Goose

"Pink Pig"

"Blue Jay"

"Scarlet King Snake"

Brown Rabbit

Here are a couple more of the animal patterns I have written in my notebooks! I am steadily typing them up in Publisher, then converting to PDF to upload to Ravelry's database and THEN putting the link there and on The Pattern Box. I can't believe I have four notebooks' full now. And the ideas still keep coming!! (Next on the needles, the colorful carousel horse!)

I must admit, I feel a little discouraged that it's taking me so long to get all of them typed up, but every day I seem to be called away on errands of one sort or another. *sigh ... I was really hoping to have all of this done by now ... and I haven't even attached my giraffe's limbs yet! But he came out just as I had hoped, so I'll try to get photos soon. I have re-knit the teapot in another color and also two teacups and saucers and cookies. I think I may have mentioned before in an earlier post, when I get all of the 20 animals typed up and for sale on The Pattern Box, I am going to offer the patterns for the teacup and saucers, along with two cookies, for free ... and I'll have the teapot pattern for sale. So, I hope everyone will stop by The Pattern Box's "grand opening" and celebrate with me with a tea party! I'll post it here when that finally happens! I hope soon! MUST be before the end of June!!! (That's my goal.)

In the Tips and Techniques section of The Pattern Box, I will have mini videos of attaching the glass eyes and how to string joint. Even if you don't knit up my patterns, I hope the videos will be helpful if you ever make moveable limbs for your toys ...

More later ...

Monday, June 9, 2008

After the Dust Has Settled ...

I can't believe it's June 9 already! The weather forecast calls for near 100-degree temps. today! Incredible! I just want to grab my summer, put it in a jar and save every drop of every day. I looked forward to summer for so long!!! All through that dull, dreary, cheerless winter I thought about how good it would feel to have the sun on my skin ... and to open the windows ... and to hear the birds and the crickets and the frogs.
Anyway, I mention all this because here it is June 9 already and I haven't been to the pool yet! SO, I am going to try to hurry up and work hard this week and get the rest of my patterns posted ... but at the same time I realized (and this realization is the "dust settling" part of this post) that I hadn't intended to sell anything on this blog ... so I do hate to inconvenience anyone, but I'm replacing all the links to the shopping cart with links to shop at The Pattern Box. I hope, if you do like my patterns, you won't mind being directed over there. Having everything at the "shop" will be much easier to keep track of things and keep the business of selling where it belongs. I will have lots of tips and techniques for completing the patterns there, as well. I do also want to mention that felting is such an incredibly fun thing to do. You have so much more control over shaping than you do when you knit normally.
Well, I better grab my cup of coffee and get going so I can see some sun today!! And, as always, I'm so overwhelmed by the number of people who like my Take-Along Sun! Do you know that it was rejected from Knitty.com? So, it's so encouraging that so many like it ... and that it can bring a smile to your face like it has my own.
More later!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

More Patterns Added!

Okay, Okay! You're probably getting sick of hearing about all these patterns, but I just finished uploading both the small and mini hedgehog pattern, along with lion pattern. I still have lots to go, so I hope my blog won't be too boring until I'm finally finished with this part! I have so many other pattern ideas jostling around in my head that I can't wait to finish all this so I can get back to knitting!!!
Anyhow, if you'd like either one, they will be for sale for $5 each at The Pattern Box later tomorrow. Thank you for all your continued support, encouragement and patience as I get all this going!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Two of the Hedgehogs Have Been Added! And my website is down! :(

Well, I was able to write up the Large and Medium Hedgehog pattern in Publisher and save it as a pdf file this afternoon and I've now added it to Ravelry. Since my webserver sometimes has issues, I guess the safest route is to always email me at my regular email address if you have any problems, questions, concerns or if you just want to say, "hi!"

I hope you like the hedgehogs. They, too, are knitted in the round and then felted in the washing machine. The 8-page pattern includes complete directions for both sizes. The patterns for each are slightly different, not just switching down a needle size. In fact, both sizes are knit on size US 10 1/2 double-pointed needles.
Meanwhile, I have two smaller sizes still to put into Publisher ... a small and a mini! If you'd like to purchase the Large and Medium Hedgehog pattern, you may do so at my shop, The Pattern Box, for $5.