Monday, December 31, 2007

Reading Blogs

I have to share my latest "discovery" with you. It's called RSS Feed. I know, it's been around for a long time, but MS Explorer 7 has made it much easier to use so I finally decided to test it out last week.

I can't remember which blog I started out with, but I just marked them as Favorites and would go back and check about once a week. That was OK with just 5 or 6 that I wanted to read regularly. Well, now there are almost 40 - and I seem to add one every day or two. It takes a lo-o-o-ng time to check them all, only to find there are only 5 or 6 that have a new post!

I have to thank SharonB for posting about how she keeps up with her blogs - check this out - because that's when I realized I had put this off for way too long. I also checked Microsoft's instructions here. There are numerous Feed readers available and each one takes a little different approach. Here is my favorite method:

In MS Internet Explorer 7.0, I have an icon on my toolbar that looks kind of like this

When I am reading a new blog that I want to keep tabs on I can click that icon and complete the subscription form. Usually pretty easy. When I'm ready to check for new posts, I open the Task Pane - pull down View menu, choose Explorer Bar and click Feeds - or use the shortcut Ctrl-Shift-J. The Task Pane lists all my subscribed feeds and the ones with new information are highlighted. I know that the others have not been updated since my last visit, so I don't have to go there. Keeping up with all the creativity and neat ideas takes just a few minutes a day now! I can even comment without feeling like a Johnny-come-lately (sometimes I'm even the first to comment. Oh wow!).

Well, this is not really what my blog is all about, but I found it quite exciting. Guess it doesn't take much to entertain me! In the meantime, I have been doing some creative work. Here is a sneak peek of the current project. I have lots of fun things planned for 2008, so this space should be getting pretty busy soon. Stay tuned. Oh - and have a Very Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Merry Christmas Sights

It's not exactly "visions of sugarplums", but my kitchen took on a very Christmas-ey atmosphere today. While the snow blew outside I baked cookies all day. Now, cooking is not really one of my artistic crafts. Fact is, I would be perfectly happy if I never had to cook again - as long as somebody feeds me, that is! But every once in awhile I get the urge to bake. I try to make that urge come out around Christmas because what would the season be without all these goodies? And then you have to wrap everything up in pretty ribbons. And I do love the ribbons!

I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Power of Ice

Well, the power of ice is that it can take away your power! The electric kind, that is. We had a major ice storm last week. Mind you, it was a beautiful sight with the trees and fences all sparkly in the sunshine! But not at all good for the trees. Oh dear! Our lovely maples and walnuts are all broken. Oh, I know they will all be lovely again this summer, but they look so sad now with half their branches spread around their feet. If you have a fanciful imagination (which of course I do!) driving down the road on a sunny day has been like wandering through a crystal fairy land.
So after a full week (lacking just a couple of hours), our little town has power back up and the fellows are starting to clean up. We had a generator which kept the freezer cold and the inhabitants warm at our house. But not much crafting got done. I'd forgotten how much I use electricity these days! I having been trying to catch up on the Take a Stitch Tuesday project, but no pictures yet. Almost done and then on to the next challenge!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Turning Corners

For as long as I can remember (not far these days - LOL!) I've had trouble with corners on bias bindings. I've read lots of how-tos and taken several classes that included corners. Last month I took another class and I think I finally realized where I was going wrong. Well, this week I have been turning a lot of corners. Really a lot! I tried to figure out how many - let's see, four corners each times . . . hmmm . . . carry the . . . no, some have more than four . . . ahhh, nuts. It was a lot!! Most of them came out very neat. By george, I think I've got it!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

A New Toy - er, Tool

My brother found this little time waster. It's called Burning Sand by Max Nagl. It's a computer program you can find here and it mimics falling sand. You place globs and shapes of color and when you activate it, the sand disperses. Here is one of my first efforts (OK, the first one I wanted to save!). There are several different tools and the "sand" behaves differently. I haven't figured out all the details yet. Goodness - I might have to read the manual! Anyway, in the second picture I rotated it so the gray pile on the bottom started falling the other way, and look at the interesting pattern that made.

I'm thinking I can use this for generating designs or at least to jumpstart my creative ideas. For example, I really like that little gray area, kind of like a waterfall. I'm pretty sure I can use that in an applique or embroidery piece. Oh joy - another thing for my ToDo list!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

OOPS! Credit where credit is due

Yikes! I forgot to credit the pattern designer for Batgirl in the last post. That is SUCH a bad thing! If not for all the great pattern designers, I would not be making dolls at all.

Batgirl is an adaptation of Mary Tressler's "Real Women Have Bellies". In fact, seeing her pattern is what made the whole idea gel. When I say "adaptation", it can mean just about anything. Sometimes I just tweak a pattern a little bit - and sometimes it gets modified so much the designer may not even recognize her work. BUT, if I even took the pattern out of the package, then it is an adaptation. So, I want to thank Mary for her great designs and if anyone is offended because I did not give her credit in the original post - well, I'm on my knees - please, please forgive me. I'll do better from now on, I promise!

By Special Request

My good friend, Recie, asked if I could post individual pictures of a couple of the dolls in Show and Tell (see Nov 16). These pictures were taken using my older camera, so the color is not as accurate, but they are not too bad after all.

This is Duchess Honeybee. I made her as part of a "bottle challenge" with the Doll Hags club in Goldendale, WA. Yes, her body is a 2 liter pop bottle. This was shortly after the movie "Divine Secrets of the YaYa Sisterhood" was showing and their web site had a feature for creating a yaya name. My YaYa name is Duchess Honeybee - and it just cried out to become a doll! I had quite a time searching for bee-themed fabric, though.

The other doll is one I call "Batgirl . . . Plus 50". I leave it up to you to decide if that is 50 years or 50 pounds - or maybe both. Have you ever wondered what happens to superheros (and superheroines) when they get older? Wouldn't they be subject to the same problems of aging that the rest of us are? Extra pounds, sagging chins, etc. Well, this is my interpretation of what might happen. At least the costume seems to stretch pretty well!
One of the reasons I enjoy making dolls so much is the research that goes into planning the costume details. I searched the internet for pictures of Batgirl - from Julie Newmar to Alicia Silverstone. What fun!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

My New Best Friend

Yup - it's a seam ripper. My adventures in quilting have taught me several things so far. Today I was reminded that ripping out and re-sewing is not a bad thing. In fact, it appears to be part of the quilting process! Many years ago, when I was learning to sew, I hated having to rip something out and do it over. It felt like punishment of some kind and I hated admitting I made a mistake. Obviously my attitudes have changed (see, I can grow up!) and today I just sighed and reached for the seam ripper. It is always near by. Sometimes I can sew a new patch without having to rip out a seam - and that's when I wonder what I am missing. Must be something wrong here somewhere!

Well, the binding is stitched on one side of the big quilt. Now to begin the hand work. Fortunately, I enjoy doing handwork. Although I cannot watch television while I stitch anymore. I have to wear different glasses for close work and the TV set is a big blur when I'm wearing them. Man, this getting old stuff can be a real pain!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Busy Week

Thanksgiving is over and the Christmas madness is officially started. I am working on Christmas projects right now, but nothing much ready to show off yet. Besides, I wouldn't want to spoil any Christmas surprises.

One person I know won't be reading this blog is my mother. So, I will show you a quilt I have been working on for her.

I got this back from the quilter today. The fabric is something that Mom bought many years ago, thinking she would make a simple quilt to match one a friend gave her. When they moved to a retirement facility (in 2004, I think) all the materials were neatly folded and waiting. I took them - along with a good portion of her unused stash - and finally decided what to do with it all. It's "whole cloth", meaning no patchwork, but I did seam together two pieces to make it large enough for her bed.

Now it needs binding and finishing. This is without question the biggest piece I have ever worked on. If I'm not heard from in a week, send a rescue party!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Show 'n Tell collection

I am getting ready for tomorrow's doll club meeting. It's the last meeting of the year and coincides with the local Holiday Bazaar. We will be displaying dolls we made recently and hope to generate a bit of interest in dollmaking and - maybe - attract some new members. Otherwise we just want to see what everyone has been up to! I gathered all my girls together and they are so-o-o-o lovely. I couldn't wait to show you their picture! Now, these are not ALL the dolls I have by any means, but I guess they are close to my favorites. They represent work I've done from 2004 to last week and are from patterns including Ute Vasin, elinor peace bailey, and Patti Culea, and others - and my own originals! Quite a group, isn't it? Do you see what my poor hubby has to live with? LOL!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Haggard Hattie

She isn't exactly beautiful, is she? This head is made of paperclay and I made her specifically so I can practice making hats. (Get it? Hattie? SO-O-O original!) She stands about 6 inches high and I thought it would be easier to start the hats at a larger size while I am learning. So, she looks a bit worse for wear, huh? Wait til you see what she looked like before!

One problem I still have with sculpting heads from clay is that they come out really masculine. Fine if that is what I am wanting, but not so fine for Hattie! At least the hair helped.

Speaking of hair, there it is on the right. I crocheted a lop-sided circle out of eyelash yarn and then knotted individual lengths around the edge and up toward the crown. I love using the eyelash and heavily textured yarns - you can't see the sloppy stitches at all!

Thanks to everyone who commented on my last post. Reading comments is so much fun it could become addictive. So keep it up, folks!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Meet Birdie

This doll is from our club's "parts" exchange. We all made doll parts for a twelve inch doll. To exchange, we put parts into paper bags and each member drew parts for the person sitting next to them! The parts were all colors and shapes - and even sizes. It appears that "twelve inch doll" is a pretty broad designation for some people! I think I made out pretty well. The doll parts I got were closer in size than just about anyone else's. Mine sure looked closest to a conventional doll! I can't wait to see what the rest of the dolls look like! Saturday after next - a long wait sometimes!

I'm slowly learning about blogging. This one is pretty simple so far, but never fear. Eventually it will be slightly overdone like the rest of my work! Today I learned to put titles on each blog. Nice little box at the top marked "Title:" - duh!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween quilt

This time it worked (uploading a picture)! I thought for Halloween I'd show off one of my quilt projects. This is my first experience with paper piecing.

I have always loved the idea of quilting, but never got very far. Now that I've been retired for two-and-a-half years (!!) I decided to give it some attention.

One thing I am learning is that making quilts is a long, time consuming process, requiring plenty of patience. Oh my - I never have been very good at patience!!

First post

Oh, Hi. It's Liz. You know - Liz in Kansas. This is my first post and, not surprisingly, I'm at a loss for words! So I guess I'll just tell you why I decided to start a blog. I'm a crafter, sewer, and doll maker and I like to share pictures of my work with friends and family. Only sometimes I forget! Or the pictures don't turn out as well on someone else's e-mail. So I will try it this way - I'll post pictures and explanations once - and anybody who's interested can come here and see what I've been up to.

A few thoughts on blogging before we get started. I find it quite frustrating to visit a favorite blog site and find nothing new has been posted for more than a month. Arrgh! So I pledge to really, really try to post at least once a week.

Also, I personally find long blogs with no pictures boring. Short attention span! And this one is all about pictures anyway. I hope to improve my picture taking skills as well, so stay tuned.

This blog is about what I do creatively. Of course, my personal life will creep in occasionally, but if you want to know how my family is doing or what the weather is like in Kansas, use my personal e-mail. If those things are any of your business, you know the e-mail address. (Oh my, that sounded - well, rude - didn't it? You'll survive.)

OK, now I need to figure out how to post a picture.

Some time later . . .

Well, that's not going well. I'll have to get back to you.