Friday, November 20, 2009

Of Gingerbread ... and Life ...

Before I introduce you to one of my latest designs, I want to take a moment to update you ... when I first started this blog, I wrote entries that were quite a bit like the weekly columns I used to write for the newspaper ... I wrote a lot about my life and the quirky things that happen. Once I started knitting so much, though, I sort of changed the direction of the blog and it became more of an update on new projects and patterns and ideas for making fun and festive things.
Well, I have to go back for a moment and let you know why I haven't updated in awhile. My elderly father has been in and out of the hospital and it's been not only physically demanding, but also extremely emotional for me these past weeks. I haven't been able to find the time nor the ability to work on any of my Christmas designs for you ... so I have a feeling that the Christmas 2009 patterns will most likely be available in 2010!
I apologize for all delays, in case you were waiting for the unveiling of the Jolly Gumdrop Dolls and the Knitted/Felted Gingerbread Cottage ... but they've all been on the back burner of my life right now. Things are too sad for me to continue to share this part of my life (and I don't ever want this blog to be sad!!!), so let me dry my tears, sit up straight and find that smile I try to wear when I walk out my front door every day ... and let's see if I can't change the subject back to knitting and dreaming of sugar-glitter-covered candies and colorful gumballs, nostalgic toys and trinkets and all those things that make you feel all warm and cozy inside!

A first glimpse of the Gingerbread Cottage

The actual knitting and felting is quick and easy ... but deciding what decorations to use is challenging! This is a wonderful project to test out and practice all kinds of new embroidery stitches that, perhaps, you've not thought of using before ... such as the Scroll Stitch (which looks a lot like the twirl icing on a Little Debbie chocolate cupcake!) to secure and outline the pink-felt roof base, the blanket stitch for outlining the individual felt roof tiles, French knots to punctuate the middles of lazy-daisy stitches to secure and outline the felt door ... woven back stitches for the red-and-white cottage border ... and even a variation of the bullion stitch for the doorknob. All these (and probably even more by the time it is complete) help to make the cottage more cheerful and fun. I really like the pre-made pieces of felt that have glitter on them already. It just gives a faint hint of sparkle and, when the light hits these pieces, it really adds a dash of magic to the little cottage.
Here is the piece right after felting. You pull it into shape, then stuff. I am not completely satisfied with the bottom and may possibly look into letting the piece dry with marbles in the inside to help flatten the bottom out for standing.
Necco candies make wonderful temporary roof tiles! They really help with placement and color choice. I actually used a Necco as a template for the tiles. They are just the right size.

My first thought was to make the entire roof in shades of pink ...
But I soon decided that multi-color felt pieces gave the cottage a much more festive, candy-like appearance. No one can possibly be gloomy when you look at this!
I have decided to go back and use mult-color French knots inside the lazy-daisy stitches. I think it will pull together the color scheme of the roof while, at the same time, add a little more whimsy to the front of the piece.
I'll update more when I can.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Finished! Bevy of Bathing Beauties ...

Maile and Leilani are in the front, surrounded by all their new friends!

Here are the finished eight additional mermaids.
Each one, although the same pattern, is really unique! The way each felted is slightly different, as are the faces and personalities. Now that they are finished, I hate parting with them!

This has really been a great learning experience for me! I now know why I prefer to design a new pattern than to take orders and make finished pieces from my patterns. I really don't see how anyone who takes on the knitting/finishing of pieces for people makes the project cost effective. The materials, alone, are quite expensive because I had to invest in different colors of floss, thread, Little Flowers novelty yarn and wool yarn ... the knitting, shaping, stuffing, embroidering and hair-making take approximately 14-20 hours per doll! I promised these before I had time to really think it all out ... and then I couldn't possibly charge what I really should have in the end. Oh well! Never again! I have discovered it's so much more fun to make one or two as a special gift than to turn myself into a tiny factory!